Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Suroopa's spectacular sales.

The posting I did about my royalty statement has attracted the most comments, and drawn the most visits, of any posting I've put up so far.

It prompted an email from my fellow MNW-er, Suroopa Mukherjee, author of Across The Mystic Shore, in which she reveals her own highly impressive sales results. She also has something interesting to say about how her book has been received in her home country of India.

With Suroopa's permission, I'll quote from the relevant bits of her email:

I got my own royalty statement, though the cheque will only reach me after the tax bit is cleared. In my case across countries. I was truly surprised to discover that my book has sold as many as 2918 copies, with 1756 in UK (hard back) and the rest in India (paper back). I think MNW has done a great job in the way they have taken care of the books, both in terms of the constant support and encouragement and publicity. I have no idea what other publishing houses do as a norm, but certainly the kind of flak that MNW got was misplaced. I think the 6 of us "first authors" have no reason to complain.

My book sold despite the fact that I had virtually no support system in hand (no fond friends and relatives, not even a website) so clearly MNW has an efficient system in place. Many thanks to both Will and Sophie! The best words of encouragement came from Mike. He wrote that many of their best known authors would not have done better with their first novel. Words I will treasure! Would you believe it, in India my book was reviewed and interviews were published in all the major dailies and literary magazines. I counted - 18 and 3 more to come. I think the Macmillan name carries its own weight. I believe what authors, first time or otherwise, really need and look forward to is a system that sustains talent, rather than all this hoopla about commercial viability.

I had one added advantage in India. The controversy died down soon and my book was evaluated on its own terms. The only bit of criticism that got my goat was the frequent reference to poor editing. Many of the grammatical errors that were listed, is really the way I write English as someone who approaches it as a foreign language, third removed from our Indian reality. Naturally we make the language stand on its head! I am glad my editor saw the quirkiness and decided to retain it. So for any flaws in my writing I take the blame. My editor was fantastic.

You can find out more about Suroopa and her writing, including her plans for her next book, here.


Anonymous said...

Do you think you six 'first' authors had the advantantage as Macmillan tried to counter the negative publicity with a big launch for the first books? How have the later authors done, and have they had as much support.
BTW well done to both of you - 2000-odd hardbacks is fantastically good for anyone.

Roger Morris said...

Hi disgruntled,

There was certainly always going to be a lot of attention on the first six books. Some of the attention was positive, some of it not. I don't think Macmillan ever felt the need to counter the negative publicity. I don't believe they ever changed their plans because of any publicity. Everyone at Macmillan was committed to making a success of the New Writing imprint, which meant they would devote as much time and energy as they could to marketing and publicity for the books. No publisher wants a book they publish to fail, so they do everything they can - within the constraints of resources.

As for later books, I dunno. Last month I went to the launch of Blood and Water by Lucy MacCarraher. It was a very great turn out at Goldsboro Books again - who have been fantastic supporters of the imprint. Last week I heard Lucy on the radio - on the Today Programme no less, talking about adoption issues connected to her book in the wake of the Madonna story. That surely came about, indirectly possibly, as a result of Sophie's efforts to spread the word about the book. Peter Bourne's book, The Deserter, has come out this month, and he too had a launch party, though unfortunately I wasn't able to make it.

I think if any publisher decides to set up an imprint exclusively for new writing, there will be some attention when the imprint first launched and the first books would probably benefit from that.

In truth it's probably too early to say how the later books are doing, and how successful the imprint is turning out to be overall.


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