I’m so honored to be here. Thanks to the Seekerville gang for hosting me again.
It’s hard to gauge how long I’ve been in publishing. Do you start from the time your dream to pursue publication started (2002), when you got your agent (2009), or when your first novel published (2012)? I’ll let you gauge how long my time has been, but now that it’s been a number of years there are certain things I would change if I had the magic wand to do so.
I’ll be anxious to engage with Seekerville readers about what they would like to change. I’ll be focusing on the traditional publishing model (and other quirky publishing things) as I’ve not yet gone indie—though hope to later this year.
Now that my fourth book, Fractured Memory, just released, I feel like I have a solid understanding of publishing. This is what I would change.
1. The emphasis on trilogies. It’s very common in publishing to have an author do trilogies. The thought behind this is if a reader gets hooked on the first book then they’ll happily buy the whole series. What publishers don’t tell you, but seems to be well known, is that readers consistently fall out of the series and the third book generally has the least sales. What would I like to see? I would like to see Christian fiction try what works well in mainstream fiction by perhaps embracing a strong character that repeats through several stand-alone novels like Jack Reacher, Alex Cross, or Kay Scarpetta. Readers have expressed frustration that character arcs not being resolved in each book (this is what generally crosses over multiple books) even though the plot may be resolved.
2. Focus on social media. Social media following translates into a certain number of sales and therefore the bigger the numbers the better the author’s sales will be. This tends to be the focus more in non-fiction than fiction, but this emphasis is increasing for fiction authors as well.
First of all, I haven’t seen any hard data that proves this is true. That if an author has ten thousand followers then the publisher automatically knows that one hundred books will sell. Second of all, social media is a huge time vacuum and, more often than not, distracts the writer from writing and spending time improving their craft. Should authors drop out of social media? No. But nor do I think social media following should be a tipping point of a publisher’s decision on whether or not to take on an author. The quality of the story should always prevail. Would a publisher prefer a bad book by a social media star and a one-time, quick million because the person can’t write? Or, should they work to develop an author they like who writes well who can sell a million copies eventually, but consistently over the long term after taking the time to build a readership?
3. Author development. Don’t drop an author you like due to poor sales after one book or a trilogy. Work with them to develop a new idea both of you like. I akin this to orienting a new nurse to the ER. It takes a lot of time and money to get someone “up to snuff”. When that person quits, it is wasted time and money, hence a lot of talk in nursing circles about retaining employees. I think the opposite happens in publishing—that if a certain number of sales aren’t achieved, then drop that author in hopes a new one will sell better. But what if you like that author—as a person? They work well with your staff. They did a lot of marketing outside the publisher’s efforts. They were kind and respectful. What was lacking was their sales and/or follow-up idea. Would it not be easier to stay with a known quantity and develop a strong idea together? And then jointly aid the author in building a readership?
4. E-book prices are too high for debut and newer authors. I truly believe that if you have five books or less published, your e-book should not be priced higher than $3.99. I honestly think it doesn’t help a new author build a readership to have e-book prices higher than that. The goals are different for a new author from their more seasoned counterparts. A debut or new author is trying to build a readership. For readers to take a risk, the price of the e-book should always be low.
Say a reader loves Fractured Memory (currently, the e-book is $4.99) and they want to check out my other titles. Each of the Bloodline Trilogy e-books is priced at $9.99. Personally, I think a publisher should only price an e-book that high if the author has reached reputable best-selling status (such as the ECPA list) and has a committed, large readership. I don’t mind paying $10-$14 for an e-book for well-established authors. But an author that’s new to me? I won’t risk it.
5. Goodreads allowing authors to rate their own book. This is my quirky one, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. I don’t know why Goodreads does this. Of course, who won’t give themselves five stars? If you rate yourself lower, are you putting out a book you didn’t think was good enough?
I actually did come across a book that received a one-star review from the author. Their reason? "I hated to write about the topic of this book, but felt these things needed to be said."
I just don’t know what to think about that.
I’d like to know what you think. Do you agree with the things I would change about publishing? Why or why not? If you could wave a magic wand—what would you change about the traditional publishing model?
***As a side note, I have very good relationships with all my publishers and this blog piece isn’t speaking specifically about any one publisher in particular, but is an amalgam of stories from other authors and some of my own experiences.***
Jordyn Redwood is a pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense novelist by night. She hosts Redwood’s Medical Edge, a blog devoted to helping authors write medically accurate fiction. Her first two medical thrillers, Proof and Poison, garnered starred reviews from Library Journal. Proof was shortlisted for the 2012 ForeWord Review’s BOTY Award, 2013 INSPY Award and the 2013 Carol Award. Poison shortlisted for the 2014 INSPY Award and the 2014 Selah Award. In addition to her novels, she blogs regularly at Redwood’s Medical Edge and the WordServe Water Cooler. You can connect with Jordyn via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, her website and via e-mail at email@example.com.
Jordyn's giving away three print copies of Fractured Memory. Winners announced in the next Weekend Edition.
United States marshal Eli Cayne saved Julia Galloway's life once…and he's prepared to do it again. But his task would be easier if she could remember him—or the murderer who almost put her in an early grave and seems to be hunting her once more. To protect Julia from the latest threat against her life, Eli has to consider the possibility that he put an innocent man in jail. Julia has no memories of the serial killer called the Hangman, though, and no reason to trust Eli. But with the killer getting closer, she must work with Eli to confront her past—and the feelings growing between them.