Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Question: digital backlist

As a reader, is there anything I can do to advocate an author's backlist being made available digitally? There are several authors I love (such as Brian Jacques and Robin McKinley) who had some well-known books a decade or two before ebooks were a thing--and these books aren't available digitally. Who's best to talk to--authors, agents, editors, or publishers? Will my begging do any good?

The best person to talk to is the author. Generally the author controls any unexploited rights (which is what you're talking about.)  If you and many others clamor for an ebook, the author is the one who can show the demand to a publisher, or see there's a enough market to publish themselves.

Even if the author is sadly dead (as in the case of Brian Jacques) there's generally a way to get in touch via the webpage.

Fire off an email!


french sojourn said...

ever the obtuse one, I will be again.
When I read...
"Even if the author is sadly dead..."

two things sprang to mind. Billy Crystal and Carol Kane..."only mostly dead."

and from Bert and I (Maine Humor)

"I heard you had to shoot your dog, was he mad?" Bert said.

"Well he weren't to damn pleased."

sorry for the obtusity of it all.

Julie said...

Firing off emails to deceased authors such as Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley are most likely to produce interesting - possibly even exciting - results.

(And, @French, from Monty Python: "I'm not dead yet!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGFXGwHsD_A)

Kitty said...

Contacting the author does work. Back in the 1980s my son was a big Stephen King fan. There was one book he couldn't find because it was out of print. So I took a chance and wrote King and got a reply. He said there were others who were trying to find the book, so it was going to be re-issued. I still have the letter he typed and sent from Bangor. And my son got his book.

Colin Smith said...

Sorry, but I'm having writing competition withdrawal:

Words: Jacques, dead, book, publish, writer

At first I couldn't believe it. Jacques has been dead a few years so how could he publish a new novel? I arrived at Barnes and Noble and joined the line snaking down the aisle. Thirty minutes later, I stood before a wispy figure smiling up at me from behind a table. He picked up a book with insubstantial fingers. It was by Brian Jacques. He turned to the title page, pen poised.

"Your name?"

"Sorry, but you're not Brian Jacques… are you?"

"No," he chuckled.

"But this is a new book!"

"That's right," he said. "I'm his ghost writer."

[Exactly 100 words]

french sojourn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
french sojourn said...

“And you are?” I said to the bookish little man in front of me.
“Jacques Clouseau.”
“Oh, I didn’t recognize you without your scuba suit and tank thingy’s on.”
Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau,” He said.
I walked to the library and pointed to the dead writer on the floor. Beside him was a bloodied pipe wrench. Professor Plum arrived and sat on the green sofa. He lit a pipe and watched the smoke swirl upward to the rafters.
“I am being afraid, the writer is dead.”
“How did you know he was a writer?”
“I have all his unpublished work.”

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Okay colin AND french sojourn, your on:

He stood before me slender and wet, squinting from the sun and smelling of the sea; Jacques Cousteau the dead author of oceans, writer of all things bathed in salt. If he were alive, Janet the maleficent would urge the man to publish a book about what the oceans were like before she found her place below the surface. They would have conspired, those two, he the expert, she the feared, on the merits of salinity in language. Is it ‘baise’ or is it something else?

LynnRodz said...

Carolynn: As you suggested a few days ago, I'm blaming all this on George's future sib!

(Sorry! I'm traveling right now and can't join in the fun!)

Terri Lynn Coop said...

I'm in!


It didn’t bother me when you butchered my book. I’m a writer and that’s part of publishing.

But when you sent back the salad with a note, “delete unnecessary vegetables,” I started to have my doubts.

Then you bypassed the funeral home and drove straight to the cemetery. “Your mom’s dead. I’m eliminating the boring parts.”

Last night was the last night. When I found my new Jacques Milay nightgown in the trash and you said, “nothing should get between me and the action,” something just snapped.

Darling, as an editor, I’m sure you’ll understand.

I had to kill you.

(100 words)

Julie said...

The Reacher Shark swam moodily around the corpse-littered reef. Nothing today, she thought. It's all been crap. Pure, unadulterated crap.

A diver's headlamp approached; a lurid grin crossed her hungry visage. We're having diver tonight!

The black neoprene form swam closer. It held something out.

Laminated... paper? She glanced at the mask in scorn. What are you, from the twentieth century? Still...

Her eyes traversed the words.
A cowboy; a dead Angel; children's hospital...? She glanced back at the mask. It nodded.

Bubbles floated weirdly toward the surface. Faster and faster she read until... It's insane, but... yes... YES! THIS COULD WORK!

Anonymous said...

I'm in (thanks Hank for the alert...!)
First officer on the scene investigated the cause of death and reported in to his captain.
“Well, seems he dropped dead, right where he stood.”
“Who told you that?”
“His agent.”
“Mr. Jacques is a writer then.”
“What did the agent say, exactly?”
“Turns out he’d just given him good news regarding his book. Said it was going to be published.”
“Yeah. Guess it was the shock of it, and all.”
“Poor bastard, what’s the title, you know?”
“Well, he appears to be a subject matter expert, don’t you think?”


100 words. Colin - the idea of bogarting the Shark's blog with a contest - brilliant! Well, only brilliant until we see her deadly grin.

Amy Schaefer said...

Curse you all! I am moving house from one country to another today, and my ride will be here in forty minutes! And I still have to wake the kids and feed them something.

But if I can write something up in the car and find internet at the airport, I'll be back...

Elissa M said...

Heh, heh. I'm no good at these contests, but I sure love reading them. Official or not.

Anonymous said...

Come on Amy! Elissa! Amy Amy! Elissa Elissa!

Signed, ME

(your personal cheerleading squad)

DLM said...

Straight comment, not a competition entry - I use the "I'd like to see this on Kindle" button on Amazon perhaps more than any other function (including purchases). I realize this is irrelevant to the non be-Kindled and/or Kindle-apped (I'm an apper myself), but it is at least one way to send the message at least. I have worn this button out on the late Donald Harington's works.

Good luck!

Julie said...

"'Bang!' A single blast to his brain." He drew deeply from his cigarette. The smoke curled around him in a ghostly miasma.
"Just like that?"
"Just. Like. That." His cigarette glowed. "Anyone can die, Leon. Anyone."
"But - his last book..."
"l'll write that ending."
He sank easily into his plaid recliner. His ankle traced circles in the air.
Leon shifted uncomfortably, hands in his jacket pockets. "The body?"
"In the drink." Puff.
"Huh." Leon pursed his lips. "Seems appropriate."
"Spit it out, Leon." Puff.
"Well." He coughed. "I've been waiting for Cousteau's last book..."
"Anyone can die, Leon."

Yes. I know. Different Jacques. But Reacher's a Shark. (grin)

Sandra Cormier said...

I couldn't resist....

"I'm not doing it," Emil straightened his red wool cap and backed away from Jacque's aqua lung. "It's a death trap."

"If you do eet," Cousteau answered,
"You'll go down in 'istory as the first man to breathe underwater."

"Won't matter if I'm dead."

"Ah, yes," Cousteau countered, "But at least you will leeve on forever when my book is published."

Emil peered overboard and watched a shark swimming slowly around the research vessel, chewing on a query letter.

"Do it yourself," he replied. "She seems to prefer writers."

Cindy C said...

Long day at work, no spark left to create anything tonight, but I love what everyone else wrote, and admire your bravery in hijacking the QOTKU's blog!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

SISI, gee I hope we don't get yelled at.

Dena Pawling said...

“Hey, Peon, get me my coffee.”
“Yes, Mr. Jacques.”
“You decide to finally get something done while I was at lunch?”
“Yes, actually. I answered a call and wrote a letter.”
“Wow, all that. I'm so impressed. Not.”
“My agent.”
“Your agent? Like you wanna be a writer? That'll be the day.”
“She told me the auction closed. I have a publisher for my book.”
“Ha! Dream on.”
“Here's the letter. Says I resign. Get your own damn coffee, deadbeat.”
I flipped him the bird and walked out.

Lance said...

“Son, it is time for you to jump in the water with the shark.”

“No, Papa! I am too young.”

“You cannot fight your destiny.” He moves away from the rail.

“I hate the ocean.”

“You cannot hate the ocean, your are foreordained to be an oceanographer like your Papa.” Jacques holds the wetsuit.

“Where is it foreordained?” Phillipe knocks the wetsuit from Jacques’ hand.

“In the outline for my book. Your encounter with the shark is key to act two.”

“You would sacrifice your son for a story?” He edges toward the wheelhouse.

“You’ve learned nothing. Story is everything.”

Anonymous said...

"Hello, my name is Jacques and I would like my book 'The Mystery of the Dead Writer' published.

Would this be possible?" I was staring straight into my friend's eyes, hoping he would say yes.

I had waited for a whole year while he read my book, thinking it over. He was my only hope, for I was shy and did not like meeting new people.

"I'm sorry Jacques, but your book is too bad for us."

"WHAT! Why?" I exclaimed. I was so furious I felt like punching him then and there.

"Haha, just kidding! Your book was amazing!”

Colin Smith said...

Wow--so, I guess I'm not the only one craving to write some flash fiction! :) This was fun, wasn't it? Perhaps QOTKU will get the hint... ;)

Terri Lynn Coop said...

Hey, when the Shark's away, the chum will play . . .

*hears JAWS theme*

*drops empty cupcake box*


Julie said...

@Terry - I didn't get a cupcake. (Pouting.)

Last night, I was climbing into bed, having press-ganged my husband (who had already taken his nightly Ambien ;) ) into reading some of the above. I was explaining, "Puff! You know, he was puffing on his cigarette!"

"Oh," he said, "I think you should have put "Puff...er fish."

He fell asleep, and I realized that if you have to explain something three times, it probably is an indicator of... something. :D

Nevertheless, I woke him up. "You know," I said, "The cigarette! It was the scene!"

"Oh. I thought that the dead body was emitting fumes or something."

He snored, and I sighed.

Don't bother, I thought, he really doesn't get it...

Nevertheless. I woke him up again.

"Noooo! It was the CIGARETTE! The BODY was in the WATER, see? This is AFTER the fact, and they're... Brian? WAKE UP!"

"Right. I'm with you. Body's in the water. You should've used Angel fish."

Yeah, I conceded, that would've been good... but...

"I only had a hundred words!"

"I could've done something better."

"Well go AHEAD then!"

He flopped over and fell back asleep.

Everyone's a critic.