Friday, March 19, 2010

Million-Copy Print Run

Personally, I have a hard time imagining a million-copy print run for a book. I’m sure the Harry Potter books had ‘em, but, wow, a million copies of your book. That’d make a picture for my Christmas cards!

Is a million print run more common than most of us think? What kind of book gets that big of an initial run? I wonder if there’s a list somewhere.

Publishers Weekly announced Wednesday that Dutton is doing a million print run for John Grisham’s first book for readers ages 8 to 12. The book is called Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer. It’s about a 13-year-old amateur [duh] attorney who gets involved in a murder trial.

Christopher Healy, in his blog, Kid Pop, noted that this is the first in a series and Grisham is applying his “tried-and-true formula to children's fiction.” He also points out that he’s not the first big-name author to turn to kid-lit. Others include James Patterson, Stephen King, Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen.

While Healy doesn’t analyze Grisham’s new kid book (it seems pretty clear how it relates to his adult books), he does break down how the other four authors apply their successful formulas to their kid lit books. Definitely enlightening.

As to Grisham’s million print run? I’d like to see a picture of that many books stacked up.
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35 comments:

  1. Wow, a million print run for an author's first foray into a new genre seems excessive to me.

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  2. That is unbelievable, a million copies oh my. I've always enjoyed John Grisham's books but hadn't thought of him as writing children's books. Interesting.

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  3. It does seem excessive. Will kids want a book about a kid lawyer? Will they know who John Grisham is and ask for his books? My guess is that the publisher will be doing boo-coodles (that's a technical term) of publicity for this. They have a lot riding on the book's success.

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  4. Wait a minute ... Now is the lawyer a vampire by any chance? Then I might be able to justify the 1,000,000.

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  5. A million is a little mind boggling. Okay, a lot mind boggling. :) Wow.

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  6. Joanne, somewhere along my Internet hopping, I was reading an agent's blog. She said, basically, no more vampire manuscripts - stop sending them in, they're passe - come up with something new.

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  7. I'd like to see that many stacked up, too!

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  8. Thank God for the agent who said no more vampire books. And perhaps the publisher is counting on parents who love Grisham to buy the book for their kid.
    Karen

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  9. Sadly, the numbers show that 31% of all hardcovers are returned. That is a staggering number of books stacked up, too!

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  10. I'd like to have a book published that had a run equal to the 31% return that Diane mentioned--I won't be greedy to start.
    I've only read one Grisham book, which I think was his most recent, and maybe it's good that he's going to write some kid lit as I was not very impressed by that book -- and I certainly wasn't the only one.
    Lee

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  11. I suppose one could read this print run as an encouraging sign in publishing?? Aren't the big authors like Grisham, King and Brown supposed to save the publishing world? That said, i hope he sells every single copy!!

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  13. Granted, Grisham probably sells through with his adult fiction, but YA is a vast frontier with a LOT of competition.

    Methinks his publisher is counting on Grisham's name to carry him through. But will kid readers think the same?

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  14. Sounds interesting. I was just thinking about the Encyclopedia Brown series and wondering why there haven't been any new series like it. Guess I wasn't alone.

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  15. I don't think many kid readers even know his name. But parents do and they're the ones who buy books (or pay for the ones kids pick out). Name recognition and a big publicity push will help sales. Don't know if it'll be a million though. Depends on how good it is. Potter would never have been the phenomenon it was if kids hadn't identified with Potter and devoured the first one.

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  16. Nothing screams confidence more than a million print run! Guess they expect this book to be the new Harry Potter.

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  17. It is the stuff that dreams are made on.

    I'll take a helping of that. Pretty please?

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  18. I think printing a million books is a bit wasteful. They could do a re-print but what if this new gig doesn't go so well?

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  20. I would love to see that many books with my name on!

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  21. Part of the problem with publishing today is returns. It's like they're stuck in a rut and can't get their wheels out of it.

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  22. That's ambitious. I hope he doesn't end up with a few hundred thousand copies to prop up his coffee table. You would think the publisher would be more cautious with a genre switch like this.

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  23. parents who love Grisham WILL buy for their kids (I LIKE Grisham, but honestly have prefered his non-lawyer couple), but this RISK seems excessive. They can tell FAST whether they will need more, and I agree--kids won't care about his name.

    I bring my son (age 11) books all the time, but I do it from the library, because if he doesn't like it by page 2, back it goes. And a kid lawyer? Not so much... PI? Yes.

    I mean I guess it might be great, but I think you have to sell the idea FIRST and I don't think the concept 'kid lawyer' is an instant winner like 'boy wizard', or 'evil genius' (Artemis Fowl), or 'Demi-god'

    I hate seeing publishing risk on big names, and skimp on good ideas from newbies.

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  24. wow, talk about the dark age of materialism! I wonder, not so much about the print number, but why a prolific writer like Grisham wants to bust through to a new market. It will just make all those giving it their honest attempt shrink back. Oh well - the free enterprise system isn't for sissies.

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  25. I enjoyed Christopher Healy's analysis of the books by other big name authors who turned to YA books. Thanks for the link.
    Regarding the print run. I think it is excessive. As others have said, the YA market is so different from the adult market, but perhaps all the grown ups who like Grishom will buy it for their kids.

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  26. In the course I just took, the professor said that John Grisham (among many other famous authors) writes at a 7th grade reading level...interesting to see how a book about a 13-year-old will read. A million copies? Whew!

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  27. After a lengthy blog break--and a fiasco--I am back in the world of blogging. I've missed you all, and hope to stay this time--with no more changes (however, still trying to get my original website back up).

    This post nearly blew me away! A million books? How many zeros is that?

    BTW--check out my blog tomorrow--I just got back from Atlanta where I visited the Margaret Mitchell museum (which is the apartment where she wrote Gone With The Wind. Fun and fascinating!

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  28. After a lengthy blog break--and a fiasco--I am back in the world of blogging. I've missed you all, and hope to stay this time--with no more changes (however, still trying to get my original website back up).

    This post nearly blew me away! A million books? How many zeros is that?

    BTW--check out my blog tomorrow--I just got back from Atlanta where I visited the Margaret Mitchell museum (which is the apartment where she wrote Gone With The Wind. Fun and fascinating!

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  29. A million-book run is really ambitious, but I bet if anyone could sell them all, it's John Grisham. I noticed you said Stephen King has gone into kid lit... I'm not familiar with what that might be, unless you count Eyes of the Dragon, which is kid-friendly but not exactly marketed towards children.

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  30. A million. I can hardly imagine. Good luck to anyone who can sell through that.

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  31. No one would get that kind of a print run unless they were already a big name either in books, movies, or something with a lot of exposure. And your publisher would have to believe you could sell them.

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  32. Compared to the 11 million copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that sold in 24 hours, 1 million is nothing!

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  33. Those numbers are mind-boggling, Jenn. A million still sounds big to me, though. Am I astounded or envious, though?

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