Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Publishing Frustrations #1: unfinished book series

Fans complain about this all the time. Unfinished book series. Believe me, for all of us who work in publishing, it's equally as frustrating. We spend a lot of time working on these books, which is often a labor of love, and when the series gets canceled for any number of reasons, it's a very very sad day.

Series -- at least the English editions -- get cancelled for a variety of reasons: 1) the books aren't selling in the US market, and it's no longer economically feasible to continue publishing, 2) the publisher goes out of business (we've been seeing that a lot lately), 3) contract negotiations fall apart between the Japanese and US publishers, or 4) the manga-kas don't finish the series!

When I first started working full time for an English manga publisher (I'm sure most of you know who that is), three series were cancelled because they weren't selling. Historically, the first volume in a collection will sell better than it's subsequent volumes, and very rarely to you see a volume 2 selling better than a volume 1. So, if volume 1 only sells, say, 1500 copies, it's safe to say the numbers aren't going to go up from there. That's not to say that the book is bad... I think a lot of the time the book wasn't published at the right time (Worst would do so much better now that Naruto is out), or the book wasn't advertised widely. If no one knows about the book, no one's going to buy it.

In the case of a publisher going out of business (US companies), it really doesn't bode well for a title. Companies are very wary of picking up a title if they can't publish the first volume, unless they feel that a title has enough of a fanbase already to make it worth their while. Aurora Publishing picked up a few of Broccoli's titles, and I do with Aurora all the best. Likewise, Udon Entertainment picked up the Robot series when contact negotiations fell through for DMP. So far, they've published up to Volume 5, and I do hope they continue. It's a beautiful series. When Biblos went out of business in Japan, it put a whole lotta book series in limbo. Actually a handful of books that I did the production work on never did get published. I hope those books see the light of day. :D

Contract negotiations with Japanese companies are always tough. Just 10 years ago, very few Japanese properties were being published here in the US, so Japanese publishers were far less stringent about the requirements in their contracts. But, nowadays, Japanese publishers are savvy about the English market, and ultimately would like to have US offices. Kodansha is the latest publisher to venture (once again) in the US market. At least that was the rumor last year. I haven't heard any new news since then.

And the most frustrating of all... when the manga-ka doesn't finish the series!!! Eiki Eiki... what happens in The Art of Loving 2???? Youka Nitta... please please please come out of "retirement" and finish The Prime Minster's Secret Diplomacy 2!!!!!!

And... I want to know... how is Gabba King related to Pampi?? (Props to anyone who knows what book I'm referencing!) LOL Boo on DMP for dropping the series!!!



Meg said...

Wow Allie - looks like Tissie's bad influence in regards to grammar is rubbing off. *snickers*

Tissie said...

Yay! Bad grammar!! My favorite!

aoi_aka said...

And here I was thinking that I could read a blog in English and I didn't have to go "oh, that should've been 'wish' not 'with'" but oh well. At least she's not speaking l33t. O.o

But anyway. Yeah! Where's the rest of Art of Loving?! That drives me crazy. We finally got Our Kingdom restarted. I really want to get my hands on the second volume of Close the Last Door.

Don't get me started on Drama Queen. Just thinking of them makes me ulcer act up. I can almost forgive BeBeautiful but not Drama Queen. And Aurora Publishing? Forget them! I tried to buy books from them on their sale and I was totally ignored. So I don't have a good image of them either.

Suzu said...

What? maybe your emial didn't make it through the spam filter. It happens to me a lot. Try a different mail adress.

Suzu said...

Sorry for the typos, too bad I can't edit that post. ^^'

Meg said...

What's wrong with 1337 speak? j/k

Regarding publishing, I think it's hard for a company to balance what fan's want and what they are capable of doing in terms of workload and finances. And when a company promises more than they can deliver, it causes problems. I'm not defending them but I can understand their position.

I'm still waiting on Flower of Life but at least DMI hasn't cancelled it - it's just taking forever and I can be whiny about it now. >_<

aoi_aka said...

I can't read l33t! Have you tried reading L33t D00d's dialogue in Megatokyo?! I just skip his speech bubbles and guess the rest.

@Suzu: nah, the woman sent me a spreadsheet and I sent it back to her filled out. She said she'd send me a link through Google later to pay. A month passed. So I e-mailed her again and she gave me a lame excuse saying that the spreadsheet wasn't meant for me (right) and that she'd sent me a link to pay for the books before but she would send me another link "later". Never heard from her again. Apparently my money is not good enough for them. And no, I clean my spam folder every time I check e-mail and never saw such an e-mail.

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