One of my favorite bits of bookseller marketing is the Mass Market Paperback Flat, which publishers send along to bookstores a few months in advance of the paperback release. Here you see the flat for The Last Colony, which is imminently headed toward paperback. I like them because among other things, it’s the actual cover of the paperback, so one can admire all the pretty stamping and foiling that will be on the first printing of the paperback (the nice touch on this one: gold edging on the title — it makes me feel special). On the backside is all the information booksellers need to know, such as release date (July 29, 2008 — just head of the release of Zoe’s Tale), order-inspiring blurbage, images of other paperback books available and so on. And, apparently it’ll also have its own mixed floor display available. Man, I want one of those for my own.
This is part and parcel, however, with my general fascination with marketing, and particularly marketing here in the publishing world. I quite naturally have an interest in the marketing of my own stuff, of course, but in general the mechanics and practices fascinate me. It’s de rigeur for authors to be ambivalent about this stuff, since we’re not supposed to acknowledge that the success of our art depends to a greater or lesser degree on the business of selling books. But as you can imagine I find this studied ambivalence to be a little silly. I’m writing to be read by as wide an audience as possible, and successful marketing does me a world of good in that goal. So it’s important to me to know how that marketing works, and to be engaged in and cooperative with it. It does help that the Tor folks know what they’re doing with this stuff — it makes my part of it a lot easier. Note to self: Send a big fruit basket to Tor’s marketing folks.
Anyway, this is what the paperback cover of TLC will look like. Folded over 336 pages, that is. It won’t be as flat, then.