Shanna Swendson (shanna_s) wrote,
Shanna Swendson
shanna_s

Where's Book Five?

Another day, another ice/snow event, and I just got the news that all choir stuff has been cancelled for the night, which is good because I doubt I could have sung. This cold snap has been well-timed to allow me to be ill without missing anything other than a ballet class. I'll have to take the jazz class for a month to make up for all the missed ballet in the last couple of months, between holidays, ice, injury and illness.

And I have to brag a bit: Yesterday evening, I was making dinner (well, reheating dinner), and had the microwave, toaster oven and electric teakettle going. Well, it turns out that they're all on the same circuit, along with the refrigerator, because there was a loud pop and then they all stopped. I could swear I've done the same thing before, but I suspect what happened was the refrigerator kicked on at a bad time. At first, there was whimpering because it was after five on the day before an expected ice/snow storm and I'd never get anyone out to fix it. I could move the toaster oven and teakettle, but what would I do without a refrigerator unless I moved everything outside where it was cold? After the whimpering, I decided to look at the circuit box, and between the very sketchy diagram of which switch controlled what and a game of "one of these is not like the other," I figured out the bad circuit, flipped the switch off and then on, and it all came back on. I was very proud of myself. Okay, so flipping a switch isn't exactly rocket science, but considering I'm still somewhat addled by the evil cold, I was pleased that I solved the problem myself without outside help and without even any good instructions.

So, today is supposed to be Enchanted, Inc. discussion day, but I don't have any questions that aren't potential spoilers or that can't be answered in one or two words. So, I thought I'd address (again) the number one question I get asked in reader mail and a few of the related questions.

There are currently no plans for more books in the series to be published in the United States. The publisher that released the first four books doesn't want more books -- and my agent nags them about that every time she gets royalty statements on those books, since the earlier books are still selling pretty well. However, no other publishers are interested in later books in a series where the first four books are with another publisher -- and, yes, my agent has made the rounds to see if there was any interest. Selling a new book also tends to raise sales of the backlist, and that means the new publisher would be the one taking the financial risk with the new book, while the old publisher with those four books would get more benefit. Plus, they wouldn't want the later books if they couldn't control releases of the first books. You'd want the earlier part of the series to be available when releasing a new book, and if that's with another publisher, that's a problem. There's also that old shelving issue. The first four books were classified as "chick lit," and since chick lit is considered dead, no other publisher wants them that way, but even the fantasy houses aren't interested in a fantasy book when the first four books in the series are shelved as chick lit.

This doesn't mean more books will never be published. There are a number of things that can happen to change things:

1) The books go out of print, the rights revert, and then the entire series, plus new books, can be sold to another publisher.
This probably won't happen anytime soon, since the books are selling steadily. I'm in a bind here, where the sales are too good for the publisher to release me but not good enough for more books. Oddly, the first book still sells the most (which makes me wonder what happens to all those people who are still buying the first book if they don't go on to buy the rest), so it will probably be the last one to go out of print, and no new publisher would want the whole series minus the first book.

2) The people making the decisions get their heads out of the place that isn't at the top of their necks.
There's a lot of turnover in publishing, so you never know, it could happen. From what I hear, a lot of the problem has to do with decision-making people looking at classification, not content, so books in that classification are "dead" and don't do well in mass market. It would take someone at a higher level being willing to look at it and realize that it really is fantasy, which would change the bean-counters' formulas.

3) The movie gets made.
That probably would change a lot of things because release of a movie would drive book sales. There would be a tie-in edition with art from the movie on the cover, or at least a "now a major motion picture" label on the cover.

4) I become a bestseller or at least well known for something else at another publisher.
If I get reclassified as a fantasy author, that might encourage the old publisher to change how they treat my books, and if I become well-known, they'll want to ride the coattails. I've got a new series proposal on submission right now, so we'll see if it works.

Now, what about self-publishing, e-books, etc.?
Right now, I'm not considering those options for a number of reasons. The four things above are not outside the realm of possibility, and if I self publish or e-publish more books in the series, that could make it impossible for them to be published the traditional way if any of those things did happen. I'd also be driving sales of the earlier books, making it less likely for the rights to revert. I'm also not keen on the idea of an e-only book right now because book piracy is so rampant. There are many times more downloads of pirated books in this series than there are sales of legitimate e-books. At least with a traditionally published book, the vast majority of sales are in printed books. If the book is only electronically published, that means it will be limited to a tiny fraction of the readership, and it means it's very likely that more people will read pirated copies than legitimate copies, with no print copies to balance that. It's just not worth the effort when something is only going to be stolen that readily. Most of my Google alerts on my name and book titles these days are only links to download my books for free or people asking for places to download them for free, and that makes me far less inclined to consider an e-only option.

In case you weren't aware, my books are not legally available in their entirety for free download. If that's how you obtained my books, neither I nor my publisher received any payment for that because it was stolen. It also means my publisher is not aware of that as a sale and it contributes to their reluctance to publish more books in the series. If the books aren't making enough money for them, they won't publish more, and if the books are being spread around through file sharing, they aren't making money.
Tags: enchanted inc
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