Pub Rants

The Slow Build

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Status: Winter finally decided to show up in Denver. Eight inches of snow and boy is it cold.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? 1983 by Neon Trees

One of the things I love the most about repping titles in the children’s world is the very different expectation children’s editors have for a debut author.

In the adult world, sometimes a new writer is treated via the spaghetti test. Let’s throw it out there and see if it sticks. If it doesn’t, time to move on.

In the Children’s realm especially for middle grade, there is an expectation that most successful mg titles will be through a slow build. With this in mind, the publisher expects to support the title for the long run. Now it’s not to say there aren’t successful titles straight out of the gate. There are and trust me, editors are excited and happy about that.

The difference is that they understand that an instant success is the exception to the rule rather than the norm. And this is what makes today’s news so cool.

A year and a half after initial publication, Janice Hardy’s first book in the Healing Wars series is now starting to get recognition.

Finally we can share some big news out of the UK. THE PAIN MERCHANTS (the US title is The Shifter) has been shortlisted for the 2011 Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize. This is a big deal. We’ve known for 2 months but couldn’t say anything until today.
We also found out that in the U.S., THE SHIFTER is a nominee for the 2011-2012 Truman Readers Award for the state of Missouri.

The coveted state reading lists—landing on one is usually a sign that a title/series is starting to penetrate the reading market—especially for teachers and librarians.

So huge news—and coming quite a bit of time after initial publication. I’m thinking this spaghetti strand is definitely going to stick!

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28 Responses

  1. Shauna said:

    Woot! Such exciting news. I can’t believe you’ve had to sit on that for two months. That must have been painful.

    Congratulations Janice, they’re wonderful books and deserve al the recognition they get.

    it’s my turn to pick for my book club and we’re going to read The Shifter. So fun, and with a lot to discuss.

  2. Sarah Nicolas said:

    Yay! I saw Janice announce this on her blog earlier today.

    I love The Shifter and Blue Fire. And Janice is such a sweet, awesome person! Congratulations!

  3. Tara Maya said:

    This is interesting in terms of the last post about self-publishing. I think that also depends on slow build. In some cases, perhaps, glacially slow, but it is the long tail model. Even a rather inept writer who puts out regular books and sells a few a month, given years, can sell thousands, and being his own publisher, need not fear being dropped or going out of print.

    I think that the abandonment of the mid-list and slow build in adult fiction is responsible for driving some authors toward self-publishing.

    On another topic, let me just say I love both of those covers. However, I always thought The Pain Merchants was a much better title than The Shifter. (I’m sorry, but that makes me think of werewolves.) Am I wrong that The Pain Merchant’s was Janice’s original title?

    Anyway, I am glad to see this wonderful series is doing well.

  4. Alwyn said:

    I actually noticed “The Pain Merchants” in the YA section of the Waterstone’s Picadilly here in London just this week (I clocked it because I follow the blog and because, well, shiny cover!). And the next day I got the email about the Waterstone’s Children book prize since I have their Bookstore card. The Huge Picadilly Waterstone’s is dangerously close to my gym in SoHo so I keep finding myself using books as workout rewards, and was just thinking that this one should probably be my next reward 🙂

  5. Ellen Brickley said:

    Delighted to hear this, I love Janice’s writing 🙂

    I did notice a great presence in bookshops over the last few weeks (I’m in Ireland) which I took as a good sign.

  6. Margaret Yang said:

    I’ve wanted to read that book ever since you mentioned it in your webinar on query writing. The more I hear, the more I want to read it. (Darn my extra-large TBR pile.)

  7. littolearnby said:

    THE SHIFTER sounds awesome, and has ever since I decided to read it about four months. (Better get on that.) I love the incongruity of the series’ title, too. Congrats to author and agent!

  8. KO said:

    I have been hearing about this book EVERYWHERE lately. Multiple times a week from very different sources. It sounds like it’s taking off big time. Can’t wait to check it out!

  9. Joseph L. Selby said:

    I always like UK covers better. I think this one in particular better fits the tone of the series.

    @Tara It was a blog post a year or so ago that the title was changed. IIRC because of Barnes & Noble not liking the title, but I could be misremembering that part. Frankly, I always thought THE PAIN MERCHANTS was a thousand times cooler. I would have picked up the book much earlier with a title like that. It took Kristin’s “first pages” post to convince me to give that book a try.

  10. Buffy Andrews said:

    Super excited for Janice, who always gives so much of herself on her blog. You go girlfriend! And she was awesome to donate a signed copy of Shifter for the charity auction I’m coordinating. Yahoo!

  11. Kristan said:

    Congrats to you and Janice! That’s so exciting. I must say, she has a great blog (as do you) and I LOVE the concept of her book. So I’m not surprised that such a strong team would end up with some attention. 😉

  12. Krista V. said:

    I really liked THE SHIFTER and have been waiting for my library system to order BLUE FIRE.

    Happy to see the UK publisher stuck with the original title:)

  13. Elena Gleason said:

    Awesome! I love The Shifter, and am constantly talking about how amazed I am that there hasn’t been much buzz surrounding it. It’s on my list of best books read in 2010. 🙂

  14. Slush said:

    So exciting!!! Congrats to the author and your agency. I know how great it must feel for all that hard work to start paying off.

    This book is still on my “have to read” list and now I can’t wait to get it.

  15. TKAstle said:

    Awesome news! I have been in love with the cover of The Shifter since I first saw it here so long ago. Just beautiful. I really must move it up in my TBR list.

  16. Natalie Aguirre said:

    That’s so interesting the expectations for middle grade debut authors. I wish there were more blogs that spotlighted middle grade books like there are for YA authors.

    I’m so excited for Janice’s good news. I loved both books. The Shifter I knew I had to have from its cover advertised on PW Children’s Bookshelf. And I’ve been a follower of Janice’s blog for a long time. She gives amazing advice on the craft of writing.

  17. Alice said:

    Congrats to Janice and you. Several months ago I saw this on your website and purchased it to read. One I’ll always keep. The best wishes to everyone involved.

  18. bfav said:

    I’m also in Denver, but I love an excuse to wear my sorrels everywhere.

    Congrats to Janice. I read her fabulous blog too. And for a aspiring MG writer, the slow build is encouraging. Thanks.

  19. Benoit said:

    wow congrats to Agent and author. I am guessing that since you mentioned this slow build phenomenon in regards to YA books that they are the only genre that normally see this type of slow growth over time. Am I correct or is this common with other genres as well.