Monday, January 14, 2008

The girls are back in print!!

I've published 17 novels, but for years only three of those books have been available anywhere outside of used book stores or libraries. Well, guess what?! I'm serving champagne today! For the first time in many years, all ten of my Jenny Cain books and all three of my Marie Lightfoot books are back in print! They are ALL now available on-line from most independent stores, the big box stores, and retailers such as Amazon.

This happened in a funny kind of way.
A few months ago, I asked my agent to see if we could get back the publishing rights to all of my books that were out of print. Instead of returning those rights to us, however, the publisher chose to turn them into "print on demand," thereby keeping to the letter of my contracts. This allows them to hold onto me, in a way that's the cheapest possible for them. But you know what? That is just fine with me, because I get what I want, too--all of those books IN PRINT and AVAILABLE to my readers. That's all I've ever wanted. Well, and royalties. :)

To say I'm delighted and grateful is an understatement.

I also have to say, however, that I have writer friends who don't approve of this kind of thing. They refuse to allow their backlists to be published as print on demand (for reasons I outline below). I don't feel that way. For years I've had to tell my readers who wanted to buy my other books that the only place to find them was in the used-book aisles or in libraries. While I was happy they could still be found at all, I thought it might be nice (snark) if I could also earn royalties from them. Now we're all happy. Readers can now get NEW books. I get paid. They're happy. I'm happy.

The downside, and the reason some writers don't like POD, is that most brick-and-mortar bookstores won't stock print-on-demand books, because publishers won't let those books be returned if they don't sell, as other books can be returned. Also, publishers give a much smaller wholesale discount on POD books. (That doesn't affect the retail price or my royalties.) But bookstores will order them for anybody who requests them. As for buying them on-line, that will be just like ordering any other book from an on-line bookstore.

These new editions are trade paperback, using the original hardcover or paperback covers. I haven't held one in my own little hands yet, but copies are being sent to me. I'll let you know what I think of the quality. I suspect I'm going to feel satisfied with it. It's still a major publisher, after all--Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster)--and their original art for my covers was first-rate.

On her blog the other day, our pal Conda reminded writers to celebrate the triumphs. Sometimes, as my friends know, I'm not as good at that as I might be. But not this time. This time, I'm openly, happily making the announcement and popping the cork on the champagne!

Thanks for celebrating with me. :D And tell your friends the Girls Are Back in Print!

Note: There are a lot of old copies of my books, which makes for a crowd of titles--most of them no longer useful--on line. The new ones are very easy to find, however, if you will enter the title of the book you want, along with my last name, e.g., No Body, Pickard. The new edition will pop right up, first in line.


Nancy P said...

When I see you in the morning, I'll be serving mimosas, too. : D

AndiF said...

Mazel tov! I'm raising my drink to toast the well-deserved return of all your very good words to clean, white pages and the price that's printed on the back.

Maria Lima said...

Nancy - that's AWESOME!! Congrats!

::lifts a mimosa in your honor::

Lorraine_Bartlett said...

Congratulations! May you find many new readers. said...

Wow, Nancy! Great news! The B.O.D.s are reasonably priced and look great at And this way the movies folk can grab your backlist in an instant when they decide to take all your books to the screen.

katiebird said...

!! This is Thrilling news !!

I bet the people you've met at book clubs would like to hear about this.

AND what Ghost says.

Rick Bylina said...

Congratulations on getting your wish. I've been privy to many discussions regarding this issue, publishing houses retaining rights to novels by making them POD books.

One of the things that was suggested was a time limit when including this in a contract. With POD, it appears that the publisher can retain first rights to your book in perpituity, regardless of your wishes years from now.

Still, this is great news for your fans, and hopefully, your pocketbook. We all could use a few more doughnuts and gatorade.

FARfetched said...

Bravo! hoists a mimosa Um, by the way, what's a mimosa?

Having dealt with printers directly in my day job, I stand amazed that print-on-demand is even an option. It costs a hideous amount of money to set up the press, but once you get that far, everything else is paper & ink — so the more books they print, the more that up-front costs gets spread out. So we tend to try to use print runs of 10,000 or so. 'Course, nowadays the only thing we print are quick install guides — the bigger manuals are PDFs on a CD (or a website).

Just curious, what would you have done if they'd turned the publishing rights over to you? Ebooks?

Nancy P said...

Thank you, andi, maria, lorraine, ghost, katie, rick, and far!!

What does the coffee cup say, Andi?

Lol, Ghost, and yeah, I like the looks and prices, too.

Far, a mimosa is champange and orange juice. Cheers for breakfast.

Far, we would have tried to sell them to another (other) publisher(s). With no new books coming out in either series, it might have been impossible, or maybe we'd have sold a couple of them, or maybe. . .I'll never know. There is a small press here in Kansas that wanted to publish a special edition of Bum Steer, but that's the only actual nibble I've ever had. So it's hard for me to imagine that I'd have seen all 13 of them in print again, and all at one time, too, as I am now with POD. I could have ended up with all my rights back. . .and still no additional books in print. Plus, Pocket would have held onto the two books they still had in print, which would have broken up each series.

Rick, it's a neat little trick by the publishers, all right. One of the reasons this seems to work okay for me is that Pocket has the rights to ALL of the books in both series. If they held the rights to just a few of them, and wouldn't let go, that could really screw up any effort to resell them to other publishers. This way, they're all in one place at a major pub, so it works pretty well, I think. We'll see. I'm optimistic. I do think, however, that the idea of a time limit in contracts is probably a good one. These were all books on old contracts before POD was even an issue, I think.

One of the major objections to POD is that physical stores won't stock them, but they were never going to put more than one or two of such old series on their shelves anyway.

Time to open the next bottle? :)

Jen said...

Big congrats, Nancy!

katiebird said...

A red fox JUST ran through our front yard - It was glowing in the sun!

Nancy P said...

Thanks, Jen! :)

Katieb! Last night I got to watch a pair of them in the neighbors' yard. How funny that now you get one, too. Aren't they gorgeous?

They're an omen. :) The only other time I've seen two red foxes was right at the start of a great relationship. Since you already have a great relationship, you can consider your fox a good omen for something else.

Beth said...

Many congrats, Nancy! Now I can order them meself! As soon as my Christmas presents arrive from my sister, and I know what she bought me, so I can start buying books again.

That's very exciting! Yippee! Ready for that mimosa, even if it IS before noon. Thanks for sharing your great news with us!

Conda said...

Yay! Congratulations, Nancy! This is excellent news.

Years ago, before POD, I worked for a bookstore that specialized in mysteries. One of the main problems: some readers won't start a series, any series, without starting with the first one, then the second, etc. So many excellent series went unread by those readers! (And they were often the same customers who waited until a series was well established and then complained that the first book was out-of-print. Go figure.)

POD solves that problem. And I have ordered more than one POD book. Nowadays the book arrives in a week or two. Who can't wait that long?

So, celebrate, Nancy!

Nancy P said...

Thanks, Beth and Conda, and Conda that is so right about series mysteries. Readers want the first one, etc.

The publisher was excellent about keeping my Jenny books in print as long as I was writing new ones. The minute I stopped, they stopped. Man, that was a blow I never expected--both financially and otherwise. Things got worse with the Marie series. The first one came out, was an Edgar Award finalist, a Mary Higgins Clark Award finalist, got great reviews, good sales. . .and by the time the second one came out a year later the first one was already going out of print! By the time I went on tour for the third one bookstores could no longer order the first one. Killed that series on arrival.

Better to have books in print, than no books in print. :) That's my motto, and I'm stickin' to it.

AndiF said...

Nancy, the cup says "1994 Hope Ride" which is an annual organized bike ride in Hope, Indiana that always has some sort of cow theme (because the ride is in mostly farmland country). This is my favorite cup because of the clever graphic where the bike rider creates part of the cow's face.

And I've been saving this unbelievably cute picture of Sniff for a special occasion and I think this definitely counts (plus I just wanted to post it).

Nancy P said...

Awwww, that is sooo cute!

Thank you Andif, for giving me my photo for tomorrow's front page. :)

AndiF said...

You're welcome.

I have a caption for it too:
That's it. I just can't face one more second of micro-analysis of the primaries.

Nancy P said...

Perfect. Arrgh.

Kimberly Frost said...


That is fantastic news!! I'm so excited for you. A couple of months ago I struggled to find a mystery that's out of print. I'd love for every author's backlists to be available POD. That way the author could get royalties instead of all the profits going to Amazon & used books stores.

Nancy P said...

Thanks, Kimberly. I'd love for every author's backlist to be available like this, too. And do you know--when I wrote about the used books, I forgot about all of the money Amazon has been making from those.

maryb said...

Good news!

Kelly McCullough said...

Congrats, Nancy! That's fabulous.

Hi everybody (waves now empty mimosa glass), I'm back, sort of. Will be mostly lurking till I've caught up with the stuff I didn't do while away.

Nancy P said...

Thanks Maryb and Kelly, and welcome back, K. I hope you and Mrs. Kelly had a perfect vacation.

olivia said...

Congratulations Nancy! Wonderful news!

Beth said...

Blue hole - we didn't discuss it, Nancy, but I can imagine. When I was over 11' of water, I kept oozing back to the 5' section. I've seen pictures - it looks amazing. But vewy vewy scary.

Hi Kelly! Welcome back! We missed you.

Nancy P said...

HI, OLIVIA!! And thank you. :)

Nancy P said...

Blue Hole.
vewy vewy scawy, lol. Yes.

Nancy P said...

I'm off to a book signing for some other authors, so I'll see you later. There's more champagne cooling in the fridge, so help yourselves.

boran2 said...

Congratulations, Nancy! Having recently completed one of the old girls, I can say that this is wonderul news.

A silly story. After finishing Dead Crazy, I thought that I left my recently purchased postage stamps in the endsheets. Subsequently I found in a bag hanging by my door.

Kathy McIntosh said...

I'm up for a mimosa, Nancy, good news for you and your readers and readers to be. I loved the girls, but don't have all of them. This will be lots easier than haunting used book stores...and provide some profit to you. Does that wonderful bookstore in the Bay Area, Book Passages, still give royalties to authors on used books? I went to one of my very first workshops there, years ago.

Nancy P said...

Kathy! Thank you, and I'm sorry I haven't replied until now.

I don't know if Book Passage still does that, but it sure was a generous idea.

Mari said...

POD books have changed a lot in the last few years. IF the publisher decides to make the books returnable with bookstores, bookstores will stock them. IF you choose the right POD printer, they are available with major distributors and available in as little as 7 days when ordered. It's a win/win situation for hew authors, authors who want their books back in print and a LOT of publsihers who traditionally would not consider POD.

Nancy P said...

Hi, Mari. That's great news.

Alas, Simon & Schuster isn't making mine returnable, but I'm happy about everything else in the deal. Maybe one day they'll do that, too.