11.05.2005

TPO doesn't mean toilet paper

Several Snarklings picked up on a comment from a previous post and asked:

Miss Snark, What Do you think of trade paperback originals for debut authors?

I love them particularly if it means I can get an author published who would not make the cut for a hardcover debut novel.

TPO (trade paper original) is not the scorned downmarket loser disrespected category that it once was. Lot's of publishers are finding readers prefer trade paper, particularly book clubs and reading groups.

The downside is it's harder to get reviews, and it's harder to get library sales, and there’s less money in it both upfront and on the royalty rate. You can make it up on quantity but you work harder for it.

That means I'm VERY careful about who I push for TPO. I try to push people I think can sell, can sell to book clubs, have a strong regional presence, and will be able to make the jump to hardcover within two or three books down the road.

I also push it for authors who've had some, but not enough, success. It's a way to boost sales, build name recognition, get the author some reader exposure s/he hasn't had.

This decision is NEVER made by the agent alone. Editors and their bosses are the biggest part of the decision. Where it's important to have an agent who believes in the value of TPO is when the agent makes the list of editors to pitch. Some editors acquire ONLY for a hardcover list.

2 comments:

Mark Pritchard said...

I may be misunderstanding something. You say: "(For paperback originals) I try to push people I think can sell, can sell to book clubs...."

It almost sounds like you're saying you take a role in pushing your authors' books to book clubs. If so, do you mean institutions like Book of the Month Club? Or do you simply mean you choose books which bookstore book clubs will like?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Mark, as a 'hopeful to be published' novelist, I wouldn't care whether it was an institutional book club or a bookstore bookclub or whether they whistled Dixie while they read. I just want to sell books.

I looked at your site. Yikes! I don't think book of the month club will take them!