Wednesday, 6 July 2011

It's A Jungle Out There!

Do you ever wonder why publishers only accept a very small amount of the submissions they receive? Do you ever wonder why so much is spent on conceiving cover art that will attract readers and help to direct book buyers to novels they might enjoy? Do you ever wonder why recognised bestselling authors are always supported by a greater degree in a monetary fashion by publishers.

This might shed a little light. I was checking out some forthcoming novels that I've had my eye on earlier this week, and suddenly realised that, if you're an author releasing a novel on 7th July, you must be quaking in your boots in terms of the competition. How on earth are you going to make it so that your novel is the one picked up?

Here is an interesting list for you....

If you're just a reader of speculative fiction (that being fantasy, science fiction, horror, urban fantasy and the ilk) you can get your hands on the following:

1) Waking the Witch - Kelley Armstrong
2) Bearers of the Black Staff - Terry Brooks
3) Heartless - Gail Carriger
4) Goddess of the Sea - P C Cast
5) Jack Cloudie - Stephen Hunt
6) Den of Thieves - David Chandler
7) Echo City - Tim Lebbon
8) Hell Ship - Philip Palmer
9) Sin Undone - Larissa Ione
10) Tempting Evil - Keri Arthur

Ten books! That would be a stretch for me to read all of them in one month, and I count myself a fairly swift reader...

If you occasionally appreciate a foray into YA titles, you can then add the following novels:

11) The Immortals: Everlasting - Alyson Noel
12) In the Sea There Are Crocodiles - Fabio Geda
13) Deathwing - Hunter Cole
14) Highway Robbery - Kate Thompson
15) Island of Thieves - Josh Lacey
16) Solstice at Stonewylde - Kit Berry

Hmm, starting to get *really* challenging, non?

Now let's add in crime - a number of us like a good crime novel, don't we?

17) The Reversal - Michael Connolly
18) The Temple Mount Code - Charles Brokaw
19) Buried Prey - John Sandford
20) The Devil's Light - Richard North Patterson
21) Spider Bones - Kathy Reichs
22) Burned - Thomas Enger
23) Conspiracy in Death - J D Robb
24) Fallen Gods - Quintin Jardin
25) The Devotion of Suspect X - Keigo Higashino

Okay, I don't think even a quick reader is going to tackle all of the books above!

Finally, I'm going to show you a sample of the novels given for 7th July under the "Fiction" category:

26) The Caspian Gates - Harry Sidebottom
27) Suspicious Minds - Mary Larkin
28) Rule 34 - Charles Stross (which really should be categorised under science fiction, surely?)
29) The People Next Door - Christopher Ransom
30) Go To Sleep - Helen Walsh

31) Beatrice and Virgil - Yann Martel
32) Black Sea Twilight - Domnica Radulescu
33) Days of Gold - Jude Deveraux
34) Love and Marriage - Patricia Scanlan
35) Mistress of My Fate - Hallie Rubenhold
36) Patronage - Maria Edgeworth
37) Rage of Lions - Curtis Jobling
38) Seven Days One Summer - Kate Morris
39) Sunshine State - James Miller
40) The Coffee Story - Peter Salmon
41) The Elephant's Journey - Jose Saramago

42) Agent 6 - Tom Rob Smith
43) Fallen - Karin Slaughter
44) Happy Birthday - Danielle Steel
45) Red Plenty - Francis Spufford
46) All For You - Sheila O'Flanagan
47) House of the Hanged - Mark Mills
48) Killer Move - Michael Marshall
49) The Captive Queen - Alison Weir
50) Pegasus and the Fight for Olympus - Kate O'Hearn
51) The Roots of Betrayal - James Forrester
52) Graveminder - Melissa Marr
53) Behold a Pale Horse - Peter Tremayne
54) Atlas Infernal - Rob Sanders

Okay, I'm going to stop, I think I've done enough! There are more released on 7th July. Way more.

It should be said that some of the above are the paperback releases of hardbacks, and some are re-releases of older novels. Even so.

That is ONE day. On ONE day in the year there are almost 60 novels released. No wonder authors are encouraged to get out there and promote madly. No wonder it feels like we, as readers, can never possibly catch up.

I know many of you read one genre almost exclusively, but even within just one genre, there are often over ten books released on one day in a month.

So... I want to know from you:

- whether you ever think there are TOO many novels being published?
- whether there are any books listed above that you were desperate to read, but didn't know was coming out until you read this post?
- whether there are any series/authors you keep up with, regardless of all the other new releases coming out?
- whether you feel sorry for new authors getting lost in the swirl of releases every month?
- whether you despair about ever catching up?

I hold my hand up to the last. I want to read SO many books, and there are just SO many more being released.

What do you think authors/publishers have to do these days to stand out when it comes to the jungle that is book publishing?


  1. I think that a lot of books are longer than they need to be. I could read a lot more books if they were all a bit shorter. I know some need to be longer, but I have been putting off reading The Gathering Storm for months purely because of the physical size of the thing.

  2. Fact is, books are released on thursdays over there, right? Well, as far as it concerns fantasy books, it is to be remembered that nobosy will want to release a fantasy related book on the same day as "A dance with dragons" which will be released next thursday... and maybe even some non-fantasy books were anticipated/delayed...

  3. In a way, I think that yes, sometimes too many novels are being published. Not just too many for people to read (because even if we enjoy reading one particular genre, we're not all going to read every book released in that genre -- out of the first 10 books you listed, I think there's only one that caught my interest, and there are other books I'd need to read before it anyway), but what bothers me is that not only do good authors get lost in the maelstrom, but more and more I'm coming across books that read like they could have been written by me... when I was in high school. And I'm not just talking about the self-published authors who don't bother to proof-read, either. I'm talking about authors published by major companies. On one hand, this is a good thing, because not only does it mean that I feel I stand a chance if/when I try to get what I've been working on published, but it also means that companies are clearly willing to take more chances on untried and previously-unpublished writers who otherwise may not get any chance, let alone a slim one.

    On the other hand, the lowered standards that mean more books are being released means that there are fewer really good books out there, and things are hitting the shelves that sometimes should probably be hitting the "rewrite" pile.

    I doubt I'll ever catch up on my reading pile. I took stock of my Kindle files earlier this week and realised that if I read at a pace of 4 books per week, I probably have a year's worth of reading material right there. That's not counting any physical copies of books that I own and haven't read yet, or any books that will be released in the future. A large number of books is great for variety, great for decreasing my savings in a way I'm more than thrilled to do, but yeah, it does get overwhelming sometimes. And more books means that authors do have to claw their way through the mass, tooth and nail, just to be known. Self-promotion was always good, but nowadays it seems like it has to be the equivalent to a full-time job for the author just in order to make sure that people know their book exists. It's daunting, and scary from both ends.

    But be that as it may, I don't really see an end in sight, and to be honest, if the increased number and variety of books convinces more people to read for enjoyment, then I can be satisfied.

  4. Most novels are dead commercially before they're even published because the sell in is too poor to keep the publisher happy. Those books that do get 3for2s and money off deals in Waterstones (rarer than you might think) can still fall to being racked late, being stuck in the dreaded Waterstones Hub (think Heathrow baggage clearance run by a psychotic robot), or simply have the wrong cover... There were a thousand books a week on average being published in the UK when I left publishing in the 90s. Suspect it's now many more.

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  6. You're not including the many fine offerings provided by indie press and the huge, huge amount of ebooks that are increasingly available online.


But that's the joy of readership. There is no rush. Not certainly for the bulk of those who read. I think bloggers like yourself can get caught up in the immediacy of such publication dates. 

While you have TBR piles, and ARCs piling up - the bulk of people reading books just walk into a shop with their feet, or online, browse through a few, scan a review, or because they've heard of a single title - viola, they have a book and get to reading it.


I've books on my list to read, that are thousands of years old. The only rush is that I get to them before I die, or before zombies or mutant rats take over and built steam-powered idols out of all the printing presses.

    Even publishers throwing loads of money on adds, or demanding embargoes for retailers, reviewers and bloggers in order to whip up a buying frenzy on a particular date, only penetrate a dim few feet into the undergrowth. After that, what the explorer comes across is far more black magic than science.

    So relax, slow down. It takes years to write a book, why worry that you have to read them all in the same week which they come out? They'll be there, and the great ones will survive the test of time while the rest are eaten by crocodiles.

    Enjoy the ride, and whatever you do, stay on the boat. There are tigers out there, after all.

  7. Wow, that's a lot of books for one day! But I don't think it is a bad thing, because it gives us, readers, an opportunity to choose what we like the most. However I am desperate to ever catch up with all the reading I would like to do AND to keep my financial status under control after doing some book shopping -.-

  8. Publishers are playing it safe these days, so best way of getting published and having a chance of commercial success? Make your Fantasy novel as plot-driven as you can, stick in as many genre cliches/conventions as you can, and jump on as many passing bandwagons as you can. With a bit of luck, Tor or the like will pick your novel up and it'll be in Waterstones with some photographed leather-clad warrior woman or hooded assassin on the cover standing in front of a badly-made CGI background. Good luck!