Book sizes

You refer to "trade paper original" and "mass market." I don't know that I've ever heard the phrase "trade paper original."

Trade paper original, or TPO, is a book that's first published in paperback, but in the bigger size, not the small mass market size. Mass market size are the ones you see at the grocery stores, retail price $6.99.

TPO are bigger, just slightly smaller than a hardover, and retail for $12-$15 and up.

There are other offbeat sizes too, but don't worry about those.

Generally rights are divvied up as: hardcover (hc), trade paperback (tp) and mass market (mm).

Any of those sizes can be original if the book is published FIRST in that form.

This kind of information is useful and you can find a lot of it in one place in Writers' Market books. Even year old editions can be useful if you want to save dough. The contact info in them is outdated almost as soon as it's published....they asked for our updates for the 2007 edition in January of 2006 to give you an idea of lead time.


domynoe said...

Is trade paperback the same as quality paperback?

I have one author I try to get all her books in quality ppb since I can't afford hard cover but adore her work enough to WANT to buy it in hc. Quality paperback is my compromise and each book costs between $11 and $16 or $17.

Do authors have any input on which way their book will come out? (I'd imagine new authors don't, but since i have yet to publish a book, I have no idea.)

Anonymous said...

Book size, indeed. This is why I've been reading this blog every day since I discovered it two weeks ago, and will continue to read it as long as it exists. I have done so much research on this business, yet already I've picked up countless tidbits of important info from Miss Snark, not to mention useful links and snippets from her readers. Thank you, thank you.
All right... I confess. I don't read it every day. I read it SEVERAL times a day.
And can anyone tell me what a "boutique" agency is? Is it a really, really exclusive one? Or am I way-y-y off track?

Elektra said...

I think a botique agency (MS, correct me if I'm wrong) is a very small one, with only a few clients a year.
I've always wondered about the different book sizes. My book, I can tell right now, is too short (65k) to come out as anything other than mass market. How would that affect the pecuniary side of things? Would it mean a much smaller advance an pretty much no royalties at all? If so, I can definitely see why no agent would want to touch it.

Elektra said...

Oh, and I've also just looked at the text stats for similar books--they're all on the very short end of the spectrum (the longest was 80k, the shortest 30k)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Elektra, for that definition of a boutique agency. That makes sense. I wondered about the book sizes too, but never got around to checking.

Anonymous said...

I know Miss Snark seldom answers questions that are asked in the Comments, but this pertains: why are European publishers and authors perfectly OK with having a book come out in trade paper first and possibly only, but American publishers and authors feel like it is somehow less prestigious, and must have a hardcover edition from the getgo, however inappropriate the book is to the format and the audience?

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, on a recent trip to America (from Australia), I noticed that books that had debuted in Australia in trade paperback were in the American shops as hardcover. These were books I'd never expect to see in hardcover in AUS.

Takes all kinds, I guess.

David Forbes said...

My agent was shopping around for a hardcover deal, but we got a good offer from HarperCollins for a mass market original, so we took it. My advance was a bit larger than the norm. It won't be published until March 28 so I have no idea how long it will take to earn out (or if it will). My editor has had some pretty good success with getting similar authors onto the USAToday bestseller list, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

So there's really no hard-and-fast gauge as to which format will garner the most money. My agent said the goal is to get into hardcover eventually, but that will be dictated by sales.

Love the site, by the way.