Thursday, April 29, 2010

Drawer Books

What are drawer books you ask? Those are the books you write but your editor/agent/whoever felt that it wasn’t quite the right market/right book /big enough – you fill in the adjective – and you stuck it back in the drawer. These are books you loved, invested in and thought were good enough but these are the books that in the end got rejected.

Now don’t get me wrong, on some level I love drawer books. I have like ten of them and if I ever become an NYT Bestselling author I’m going to make a killing off of books that I’ve already written.
But here is the problem. As a reader I can smell a drawer book from an established author ten miles away. (Okay not really – I have to start reading it first – but then I can tell.)

The writer in me can usually appreciate these books. They give you a sense of the author’s growth. How they started smaller and eventually made their way bigger. I like to see that. I started reading Nora in single title and eventually went back to her category stuff. I enjoyed seeing the originations of the character types she would later perfect. Good stuff.

But what I don’t like is when they package and try to sell it to me like something new and for more money than the first book! I really think there needs to be a disclaimer. If for no other reason than to protect the author.

Now we’ve all read amazing debuts by authors followed by so-so seconds. But usually this is a direct result of the time the author had to write book one vs. the deadline the author had to produce book two. I get that and forgive them for it. As readers we want that follow up and we want it fast. So if the second or third book in the sequel seems a little rushed I’m still willing to give that author another try depending on how well I loved the series. Of course after a while if I don’t see them pick that pace back up then I get a little weary. I understand deadlines and I understand when something hits you have to act fast, fast, fast. But after a while a writer should develop a groove.

But then comes the drawer book. That sneaky book that doesn’t relate to the series, isn’t part of a new series, but instead stands alone and when you read it it’s like a shadow of that first debut you fell in love with.

When I read them it reminds me how smart agents and editors are. I just read what I’m SURE is a drawer book of an NYT author. It’s the author’s voice, the style… but it just doesn’t compare to the debut.

I think as writers most of us know that we usually do improve. My guess is this author wrote this book and garnered a lot of attention from the publishing world. But the agent or editor said… close but not close enough. Let me see what else you got.
You know what… the agent or editor was right. This book is an example of someone on the cusp just waiting for that right that story. And sucker that I was I paid twice for that drawer book than I did the original. Damn those sneaky publishers!


Molly O'Keefe said...

A few years ago (and by a few I think i mean like 15...) Elizabeth Lowell had a gazillion of her old catagories reprinted but THEY HAD DIFFERENT NAMES!! I thought it was shameless.

I like those old drawer books too - or when suddenly a contemporary author releases a historical? Or vice versa - you know that book had some dust blown off it.

Kwana said...

Love this post. I wonder what will happen with all my drawer books. Will they ever see the light of day. Scary thought.

Maureen McGowan said...

Yes, sometimes I expect you're right, they are drawer books... but sometimes they are reissues like Molly said. I remember hearing at least one NYT Bestseller complaining that they have no control over that or chance to edit.

Angels and Demons was a drawer book for Dan Brown... I didn't read but a few people told me it was actually better than the Da Vinci Code... And Grisham had a few drawer books that did okay, too...

But it is a scary thing. I'm editing a drawer book now and do think it's benefiting from these edits and what I've learned writing 3 books after I slid it into the drawer. But still hope it gets published.

out of the wordwork said...

Interesting post! I definitely have drawer books with potential but need serious revision. Wonder why those NYT bestsellers don't just revise the heck out of the drawer book before it goes out?

Eileen said...

Mmm. I have some drawer proposals. My actual drawer books don't even belong in a drawer. They belong in the heap of ashes at the bottom of a fireplace.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...