Thursday, October 23, 2008
A Great Book and an Author's Worst Nightmare
The challenge for any agent is to simply keep up with the flow of information coming in. And by information, I pretty much mean anything that my brain has to process. From submissions coming in to submissions going out, from royalty statements to reviews, hardly anything comes in that can be simply ignored.
The details that go into publishing every single book in America would stagger the average person's mind. Books require micromanagement on a scale generally only seen in custom businesses, e.g., custom jewelry, furniture, dresses, etc. Sure, you can print mass copies of a book, but the different sales channels, different publicity channels and review outlets, as well as formats in which any book might be published are overwhelming. Add in that you can't just sell a book and forget it—books can be returned from most accounts to the publisher for credit—and you have so many moving variables per title that it is inevitable that things go wrong.
Take for example a new title about which I am very excited, The Brenner Assignment: The Untold Story of the Most Daring Spy Mission of World War II, by Patrick O'Donnell, award-winning author of Beyond Valor, Operatives, Spies & Saboteurs, and We Were One. Somehow, Barnes & Noble never ordered the book. The buyer said they were going to order the book, but then never did. So the book comes out. It's getting great reviews and the author is promoting the hell out of it on the radio. But the largest bookstore chain in the country had no copies. OMG! And most authors think it's bad when the one store they are appearing at and doing a signing at doesn't get the books on time. This is the entire chain!
Meanwhile, here's what folks are saying about this great book:
"O’Donnell clearly enjoys narrating war’s gristle along with its meat; small successes and failures ground the story in the reality of sabotage, reconnaissance, capture and escape, torture and murder. Along the way, the participants’ motivations, allegiances, thoughts and actions come alive in vigorous, exciting prose. A taut real-life thriller.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Remarkable and very readable. Patrick O’Donnell has transformed an obscure World War II spy mission into a vivid and improbable adventure yarn.”—Rick Atkinson, best-selling author of Day of Battle.
This book cries out to be made into a movie. Two heroes on the same quest, a grand setting, evil Germans, spies and traitors, and a beautiful countess. What more would it need?—The Internet Review of Books
If you are a fan of WWII nonfiction and love a dramatic and emotional story, this one's for you. So check with your local bookstore or just buy it right here and right now. You won't be sorry.
Posted by Andrew Zack at 11:02 AM