It doesn't take long hanging around people who read Christian fiction before the usual names come up. Janette Oke. Francine Rivers. Karen Kingsbury. Dee Henderson. Ted Dekker. Frank Peretti. These are the best-sellers...the authors everyone knows. But there are so many authors who get less coverage but have huge amounts of talent. Today, choose either an author you think deserves a wider readership or a book you wish more people had read and share about them on your blog! Because as you all know, we need to add to our TBR (to be read) lists!
Last year I was introduced to D. Barkley Briggs. He wrote a YA novel called The Book of Names (click for my review). To see the trailer go to the bottom of my blog. It's supposed to be part of a series called The Legends of Karac Tor. My fantasy lovin' daughter and I really thought this book was fantastic! We have been waiting somewhat impatiently for Corus the Champion to be released. Unfortunately, I don't know if it will be possible to read it. Recently I read Dean's post on Facebook. Here's what it said...
"Well, the economy is in the tank and publishers are feeling it. Secular and Christian houses are laying off staff, canceling titles, reducing their commitments. Having not yet discovered the magic power of Personal Immunity, trouble has also come knocking on my door. A few weeks ago, bad news came from my publisher, Navpress. Since then, I've felt rather stuck, unsure how to respond. It seems The Book of Names has simply not sold well enough for them to continue their commitment to the series even though the second book is already typeset, cover designed and ready to print---due for release next month! I've wrestled with how to properly respond to this, especially in light of the early reservations I held about entrusting my stuff to a smaller publisher that may or may not "get it". Furthermore, my original conversations with them focused on committing to the series, not just a single book. I was given assurances. And no doubt, they are feeling the squeeze. They're a business. In that equation, I lose.
So what do I do? In my opinion, though a new fantasy series could explode out of the gate, more typically it will build a devoted fan base that expands over time through word of mouth. In that scenario, judging from fan emails, notes to me at Facebook and Shoutlife and Amazon reviews, Navpress is being short sighted. Readers have really become engaged and committed to the series. We had a great launch, with true fans. Something to build on. (Thanks to you guys, BTW!).
Only one big problem: there's just not enough of those folks up front I guess.
I've wrestled with trying to mount an email campaign direct to the senior editor.... a "Save Karac Tor!" kind of thing. What do you think? It's hard to give up on the world I've spent years creating. Beyond the series itself, I've poured a lot of time and money into a great web site and was committed to expanding the storyline with each new title. I've had Book Blog Tours, and paid for a great deal of marketing at my own expense. But so what? Sales are sales. Navpress needs a justification to continue. My series launched right as the economy started nosediving. To borrow a NASA metaphor, the booster rockets were never able to break free of gravity, it seems. I've invested four years in imagining, dreaming and writing this world---I'm finished with the third book for crying out loud! Here's the rub: it would have been better for Book 1 to have never been published than to sink the whole series with a poorly timed release. Ironically, my editor and other early readers believe the second book, Corus the Champion, is an even better book than the first. And the first was no slouch! The arc of the series was headed in some great, fun directions.
So now I'm stuck with great reviews and a small cadre of fans looking forward to Book 2...just not enough of them buying books to keep it going. And how can I blame them? Times are tough. Everyone is tightening their belt. I would even be willing to chalk it up to bad writing (failure of the book), except for all the 5-star reviews at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as multiple great reviews from online review sites.
Here's where it gets complicated. If I try to persuade Navpress to continue (which may be impossible anyway), am I just dooming Book 2 to the same fate Book 1 now faces---death by starvation? If by some slim margin of negotiation I pull this deal out, will any more readers pony up in the days ahead? Or should I take my lumps, and either 1) Move on the the next project (essentially abandon ship), or 2) Trust that with a little time and a better economy, my series might still have a future since only one book has been released and tested in the market (and that, during a major downturn which is gutting the whole industry). In other words, I could gamble on re-releasing the whole thing in the future. Slim chance, right? Yet perhaps that is the more realistic option than pushing ahead at this time. Would a publisher in 3-4 years be more forgiving of a poor starter released during the "Crash of '08", a period they will certainly remember as difficult across the board? Related to this line of thought, but standing in contrast, I suspect that if I do "succeed" in getting Navpress to move forward, the possibility of no better results---poor sales on Book 2---would almost certainly gut the whole franchise on a permanent basis. I might win the battle and lose the war. On the other hand, if I don't push for a resuscitation now, am I living in dreamland to hope for later? In the words of Apollo Creed to Rocky Balboa: "There is no tomorrow!" And I truly hate to just let it die!
Ahhh....it all may be moot. No matter what I do, The Legends of Karac Tor may be dead.
I welcome all comments and feedback! And please know, fans of The Book of Names...I'm sorry. I've left you in the dark for too long as I try to figure out the best course of action. I was writing all the way up to the bad news. Now...what?"
D. Barkley Briggs
I'm so sad to hear about this. I can't imagine how many fantastic authors are having this happen. This economy is taking it's toll in every area. If you have a youth who enjoys fictional stories (think Sharon Hinck for kids) this would be a fantastic book. You can also find him on FB if you'd like to send him some encouraging words. You can also visit D. Barkley Briggs website at http://www.hiddenlands.net/