Thursday, September 10, 2020

more publishing terminology

Dearest QOTKU,

I've just received Kristin Nelson's August newsletter. She mentioned a couple of terms which confused me... and seeing as you're my enlightenment for all things publishing, I thought I might brave some teeth and ask...

1. On deal-making, "one of which was a pre-empt for a debut author." What's a pre-empt? 
A pre-empt is when you have multiple editors interested in making an offer, and one of them offers enough money to seal the deal.
And you take the money and run.

This is a big deal for a debut author because you're buying something without much real time knowledge of how it will do.

2. She wrote about 'mid-list authors'. I thought authors had back-lists (and possibly mid-lists too? I don't know) but this was the first time I'd heard of an author BEING mid-list, and I'm puzzled where I'm going wrong.
Backlist and midlist refer to very different "lists".
A backlist is the work you've previously published.
For example: When Patrick Lee's book Runner was pubbed, his backlist was the Travis Chase Breach series.

When he published The Breach, it was his first novel so he didn't have a backlist.

Midlist is a reference to the pubishing hierarchy.
Best Sellers are top of the list.

Everyone else comes after.

Midlist are the authors down the ladder from that. 
Fewer sales is generally the hallmark.

But make no mistake, midlist is the backbone of publishing. Books that do well year after year after year often fund the big splashy debuts that sink without a trace.



Mister Furkles said...

A friend of my brother was, or is, a midlist author. His novels never, as far as I know, made the NYT best seller list. He had a regular following for his mystery novels. They sold a steady volume and made a profit for his publisher. He continued with his daily work as a college professor and editor of a literary journal.

MA Hudson said...

I heard someone on a publishing podcast mention a ‘cool list’ recently. I wondered whether it was an official thing, like maybe the ‘NYT Cool List’ but then I realised it was just the interviewer’s accent and she’d been referring to an author as the ‘coolest’.

John Davis Frain said...

And the laundry list authors, such as myself, who are still trying to clean ourselves up and get published, but even Kristin Nelson refuses to acknowledge us in her newsletter it seems.

Steve Forti said...

Laundry list. Oof, that sounds familiar. One of these days we'll finish that load.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Oh! Thank you my Queen, for answering my questions :)
To be pre-empted (is that a word?): how 'cool' (accent or no accent) would that be!
And no wonder I was confused about the 'lists' - I wouldn't have guessed that there were two different ones!

AJ Blythe said...

Two terms I did actually know! I've always thought that there is something to be said for mid-list because you're the bread and butter of the industry.