Author Archer Mayor’s CHAT, the 18th book in his "Joe Gunther" series is about to be published by Grand Central Publishing later this month and St. Martin’s Press has just signed for books 19-21…but his back list of 17 previous books in the series are out-of-print. So Mayor, a death investigator for Vermont’s medical examiner, mortgaged his house and lined up investors to publish all the previous Gunther books himself. Publishers Weekly reports:
Mayor said he was encouraged to bring back his books in part because of his consistently good reviews. The New York Times Book Review has called him “one of the most sophisticated stylists in the genre.” And Publishers Weekly has
given six of his books starred reviews. He is also a recipient of the
New England Independent Booksellers Association Award for Best Fiction.
Despite the attention, his books still average only 18,000 copies in
He’s focusing his efforts on a regional approach, sticking to his local stomping ground but hitting it hard.
Mayor has 88 signings over the next two months. “I’m going to
cover New England like a wet T-shirt,” he joked. He kicked off the
campaign by taking a table at the NEIBA trade show in Providence last
month, where he got orders for 300 units. The sales rep for Hachette
even gave him a stack of galleys for Chat so Mayor could promote the new book with his backlist.
“We ordered tons of his new editions,” said Lynne Reed, co-owner of
Misty Valley Books, who has Mayor on her fall events schedule. “I think
once we get all the books back in stock, people will be very happy.
They want to start with the first book in the series and read them
Mayor is being conservative with his initial print runs, 500 trade paperbacks of each.
Unlike other self-publishing ventures, Mayor has several advantages. He is starting with titles that he was paid to write and that were previously published, were well-reviewed and already have a following among readers and, most importantly, booksellers.
On top of that, he has four new novels coming established publishers that will have national distribution and that could stoke interest, and sales, in his previous titles.
He also made two very smart and realistic decisions — he avoided the POD vanity presses for his venture and he’s focusing his sales and promotional efforts on one region of the country, rather than trying to blanket the nation.
I’m sure that lots of other mid-list authors with a big back list and a new book in the offing will be watching how he does, but I doubt that many of them have the financial resources or the guts to attempt the same high-stakes gamble.