Wednesday, February 04, 2015

My Hijacked Release Date

The big news in the publishing world yesterday was that Harper Lee is finally releasing a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. It's actually a book written before the one that was published and takes place 20 years later. Apparently, an editor who saw this book told Harper Lee she was more interested in the events the main character remembered from her childhood and wanted to see that story, so she went back and wrote the book about the childhood events, then never published the original book. There's a bit of controversy about whether she wanted this book published. She'd said she didn't, but there's a new attorney in charge of her estate after the death of her sister, who previously controlled it. I've seen a remark by someone familiar with the situation that this book might have been a fallback in case the income was necessary to pay for Harper Lee's care in a nursing home (my current retirement plan is to stockpile books that can continue to be released in my "retirement," so that makes sense).

And guess who shares a publication date with this highly anticipated book? Yep, me. Both the sequel and my Rebel Mechanics will be released on July 14 (unless my publisher blinks and switches it).

I suppose there is both good and bad potential here. On the bad side, this means that there is absolutely no chance I could have a #1 bestseller that week. Not that I was in much danger of that. I don't have a "lead" title, so it wouldn't get the kind of promotion and bookstore placement necessary to have a bestseller. It's also likely that I won't get much publicity, since all book news that week will be on the highly anticipated book. Not that I expected a lot of mainstream publicity.

On the good side, this means that a lot of people will probably be going into bookstores that week, which increases the chances they'll be exposed to my book. That is, if the stores don't devote all display space to the other new book that week and don't bother to shelve anything else. I don't think there's that big a crossover audience, actually. As beloved as To Kill a Mockingbird is, I suspect that the majority of its sales come because it's required reading in so many schools. I know book people are drooling in anticipation, but there are a lot of people who may not be that excited about the sequel to a book they were forced to read in junior high. It will be interesting to see what happens with this release. I'm sure a lot of people will buy it because of the hype, and people who write about books are excited, but how does this really trickle down to the general book-buying public?

Now I can see myself visiting bookstores during release week and saying, "Hi, I'm not Harper Lee. I'm the slightly less reclusive Shanna Swendson, and I also have a book out."

I'm sure I can have fun with spinning this into some publicity advantage.

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