Friday, November 15, 2013

Guest post: On Digital Books and Reader Expectations by Leigh Russell

The first Geraldine Steel murder mystery, Cut Short, came out in print in the UK in 2009. In one of the first US reviews, which appeared in the Compulsive Reader, it was described as a 'fine police procedural, with a convincing if disconcerting feel of contemporary Britain.' I remember the thrill of reading a review on an American website, never dreaming that one day my books would find a US publisher.

A fellow author suggested my publisher bring it out as a digital book. It seems strange to recall that just four years ago I wasn't really sure what that meant. Nevertheless I sent a polite request to my publisher to bring my debut out as an ebook. No one thought it was important, but six months later the digital version duly came out. 'Of course your books don't sell on kindle,' someone in the know told me. As for me, I still had only a vague notion what a kindle was. Exactly the same happened with Road Closed in 2010.

But reading habits were changing. When Dead End came out in 2011, the digital and print books were published on the same day. By the time Death Bed appeared in print in 2012, the digital book had already  been available for six months. This pattern has been repeated in 2013, with digital versions of Stop Dead and Cold Sacrifice available for download six months in advance of  print books. 

Nowadays, no one says my titles 'don't sell on kindle'. Not only have the print books reached bestseller lists in the UK bookstore chains and on amazon, but the ebooks have reached Number 1 on kindle.

Every British author aspires to be published in the US, so I was very excited when, following the series' success in the UK, all of the Geraldine Steel books were acquired by a US publisher. They are also publishing my new spin off series for Geraldine's sergeant, Ian Peterson.

Harper Collins US are publishing my books at a rate of one a month, starting with Cut Short in November 2013. It is exciting, but times have changed since Cut Short was first published. Harper Collins are publishing my titles as ebooks first. I doubt if I anyone will suggest I send my US publisher a polite request to bring my books out in print. How times have changed!

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