Client Mike Hartner’s Historical Adventure I, WALTER has sold 929 e-copies and 300 softcovers thus far, with 102 of the print-version sales occurring in June. What’s extremely significant about these numbers, other than the gross sales figures exceeding 1,000, is that Mike’s readership is not only remaining steady but building. His print-to-digital ratio, which is greater than 25 percent, is a true testament to the print medium’s being alive and well. This clearly shows me that people like to hold a book in their hands, even if it can be purchased at a substantially lower price in an e-format.
His book, as well as James Babb’s THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE and Dave Mallegol’s THE BRONZE HORSEMEN: THE FIRST PEOPLE TO TAME HORSES, shows me that readers will purchase a well-conceived story, and the material does not have to be given away, as each book is sold at a traditional retail for its respective medium. Readers gravitate toward enjoyable narratives that are presented in a comfortable-to-absorb manner. This is why I stress readability to my clients as the number-one issue to pay attention to, especially when starting out, as a story that’s easy to read can cover up many of the warts that would otherwise prevent a book’s acceptance. I’ll write on article on this sometime in the near future so there won’t be an confusion about what I’m saying. In microcosm, I’m not implying that substandard material should be published; instead, that agents and publishers tend to look too much at “old school” literary calculus without regard for the pulse of the reading public.
I want to make one other comment regarding James Babb, and it’s to once again stress just how big a deal it was that THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE won a Bronze IPPY Award. Here’s a blurb on another winner that appeared recently in Publishers Marketplace regarding this book’s placement by a major agent with a mainstream imprint: “2014 IPPY award winning S.K. Falls’s book…to Leah Hultenschmidt at Forever Yours (a Hachette Group imprint), by Thao Le at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency (World).” As I wrote in a previous Newsletter, James’s award is no small deal, as his narrative competed with 6,000 other stories. I have high confidence that if his sequel, THE DEVIL’S TRAP (which I’ll be working on with him shortly), does comparable numbers to TDB, Mr. Babb will get a call from an agent and will ultimately see himself with a Big 5 imprint.