Keeping close tabs on your book sales is a good sign that you’ve got too much time on your hands. Still, technology makes the process irresistibly simple. Click! The page is refreshed, and look at that—you just sold the third copy this month of an eVersion of a pseudonymous book you dashed off fifty+ years ago. Ka-ching!
If there’s anything I haven’t got these days, it’s too much time on my hands. And yet I somehow find myself taking a moment here and there to monitor sales, and what I can’t help noticing is a heartening upturn in sales for the very first book I self-published, The Night and the Music.
TNATM is a collection of all the Matthew Scudder stories, including two appearing for the first time in its pages. It was just about four years ago, in the late spring of 2011, that I thought of doing the book, and it struck me that (1) it wasn’t a richly commercial title, likely to appear at the top of any publisher’s list or to fly off bookstore shelves, and (2) it would be a marvelous opportunity for me to have a shot at this new world of self-publishing.*
Screenwriter/director Brian Koppelman contributed an introduction detailing his long personal history as a Scudder fan, and I wrote “One Last Night at Grogan’s,” a final story for the volume, and the good people at Telemachus Press helped with the heavy lifting, and in September of 2011 the book came out. The reception was better than I expected, and TNATM‘s been a steady seller—as an ebook and in paperback—ever since.
So where’s the story here? “Book Still Selling” is a headline right up there with “Francisco Franco Still Dead.” It may be reassuring news, but it gets a low reading on the excitement meter.
Well, here’s the thing. Four years after publication, the book’s sales have taken a distinct upturn. Last fall, when the rising tide of Liam-Neeson-as-Matthew-Scudder-in-A-Walk-Among-the-Tombstones lifted all boats with a Scudder connection, TNATM got a definite boost. What’s remarkable (to me, anyway) is that it’s held and built upon this momentum. In ebook and POD paperback, at Amazon and B&N and Kobo and Apple, it continues to find its way onto customers’ eReaders and bookshelves.
My agent sold audio rights to AudioGo, and I provided the narration. Then he sold the book in France, and just recently the Calmann-Levy edition was published, with a great noir cover and, in short order, a bevy of laudatory reviews. (Even if you don’t speak French, you can probably work out their title. Note that they’ve put the music before the night, and make what you will of that…)
Because the book’s eleven stories were written over a thirty-five year period, extending over the full span of the series, I’ve come to regard The Night and the Music as a novel, the 18th in the Matthew Scudder series. And I’m delighted to see readers continue to embrace it more fervently than they’re apt to embrace a book of stories.
I should add that the first story in the book, “Out the Window,” has been translated into German by Stefan Mommertz. “Aus dem Fenster” is its new title, and it’s widely eVailable for Kindle and Nook and Apple and Kobo and Tolino; it’s the opening volley in a barrage that should see die ganze Sammlung Scudder on offer in the German language. Stefan is already at work on The Sins of the Fathers, and in time you’ll even be able to download Die Nacht und der Musik—or, with a bow to the French, perhaps he’ll render it as Der Music und die Nacht.
Time will tell. It generally does.
*Oh, all right. Actually it’s the second book I self-published, preceded by twenty-five years by my writing seminar in book form, Write For Your Life. Sothat makes TNATM my first self-published book this century. And WFYL, something compels me to add, has also enjoyed a recent bump in sales, with no movie to explain it; the new trade paperback edition seems to increase sales every month. And all of y’all are happy for me, right?