The next interview I'll be doing for The Swivet will be with debut author Morgan Howell, author of a new mass market original trilogy called Queen of the Orcs (the first of the series, King's Property, is on sale now from Del Rey Books; the second book, Clan Daughter, will be out on August 28th; the third, Royal Destiny, on September 25th). I've already read the first two in the trilogy - both of them wonderful and both of them incredibly fast reads.
These days, mass market originals don't get the kind of attention they really deserve. Although editors will always be champions for the format (for the right project), the rest of the publishing industry is sort of stacked against mass markets.
There are a number of reasons: Mass merchandise distributors - the folks who determine what books you'll be seeing in your airports and drugstores and grocery stores - are demanding more and more coop monies for placement with fewer and fewer actual placement slots to offer. Most of those slots are reserved for paperback reprints of books by big name authors: Dan Brown, John Grisham, Janet Evanovich, etc. This means that the total actual sales for mass market titles have plummeted over the past ten years; mass market original sales make up just a small fraction of those sales.
In addition, print reviewers tend to think of the mass market format as somehow less worthy of their attention. Publicity and marketing departments at most large publishing houses usually can't justify spending the time or money to promote them. There are simply too many other high-profile projects that demand their attention. Most of the time mass market originals don't get galleys; sometimes mass market originals don't even get a review mailing.
But when all the pieces fall into place for a mass market original, amazing things can happen. Witness Naomi Novik's Temeraire series.
It'll be interesting to see what happens with Queen of the Orcs. Del Rey is using the same publishing strategy with these books that they used for Naomi Novik, publishing all three titles one per month back to back. And the books themselves are just a blast to read, traditional epic fantasy in a shorter format, featuring a kick-ass - and intelligent - female protagonist that I'm guessing Del Rey hopes will draw in readers who currently enjoy the strong female characters more often found in urban fantasy. Only time will tell.
Historical fiction writer Scott Oden recently read the first in the trilogy and writes about it on his blog here.
(And don't forget to pop back in here on August 28th to read my interview with Chris Barzak!)
Anyway, look for my interview with Morgan Howell sometime around the second week of September, kids!