Like most things in life, writing has a pecking order. It's easy to see who's at the top. They're the authors who hit the best seller lists. Their books are the wallpaper at big chain bookstores. Publishers call them the A-list.
The next level is generally called mid-list. I did a long presentation on mid-list at a writers' conference a few years ago. One of these days, I'll pull that speech out and sling it across this blog. For now though, let me define mid-list.
Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away
Okay, maybe not in a different galaxy, but it sure seems like it.
A couple of decades ago, mid-list was the B-list for publishers. These were solid books written by good writers that sometimes made it onto the A-list by word of mouth and big sales numbers. For the most part though, a mid-list writer lived and died on the mid-list.
Still in that far away galaxy, the bottom of the pecking order was genre writers. They were the C-list for publishers and turned out quantity rather than quality, or so conventional publishing wisdom went. These were the romance, mystery, horror, science fiction, and fantasy books that have devoted readers with voracious appetites for new stories. Genre writers, though accorded less contract money, no publicity money, and little respect, were the bread and butter for many a publishing house.
We still have the A-list, but the rest have kind of merged into a mid-list that's got a pecking order. It's composed of writers who write stand alone books or series books that aren't part of a "line."
Line? What line you ask? Well, a line is a book publishing program that produces a specific number of books each having a specific word count on a regular basis. You may be most familiar with the Harlequin and Silhouette publishing program wherein they publish romantic suspense in Harlequin Intrigue or emotional angst in Silhouette Special Edition or hot, sexy romances in Harlequin Blaze. Those are line books.
Romance genre books have healthy sales, and some of these authors actually break into the best seller lists with them. The authors get publisher support for the line, and their advances and royalties can grow from minimal to real income.
This contemporary mid-list has writers with publisher support at one end and genre writers, also with publisher support for the line, at the other. Right in the middle, kind of a no man's land, are good writers producing critically acclaimed books with little of no publisher support.
In case you think the books found on those tables at big book stores are these unknown middle of the mid-list authors, let me set you straight. Those books have received big monetary support from publishers. It costs about 10 grand for a publisher to have a book set on that table. They've probably got decent advances too. Those writers are the top echelon of mid-list writers.
No, the mid-list middle are the authors struggling for name recognition and struggling to grow an audience through their own devices. And there are a lot of them out there.
I want to introduce you to 10 mid-list authors in hopes you'd like to take a chance and get one of their books for a gift or for yourself. Order from your favorite online bookstore or by at least requesting the book be ordered by your local library system. They will do this. All you have to do is make the request and fill out a form with the information below. Then pass on this info to a friend who reads.
The great thing about all these books is that they're different. So if you've been bored with the fare on the shelves, check these out.
On with the show
Mike Befeler has Retirement Homes Are Murder (ISBN 9781594145155). His next book in the Paul Jacobson geezer-lit mystery series is Living With Your Kids Is Murder. These humorous mysteries from Five Star Mystery take place in Boulder, Colorado, where 85-year old Paul Jacobson, who suffers from short-term memory loss, is the sleuth.
Maria Hudgins book Death of an Obnoxious Tourist (ISBN 1-59414-467-2) features Dotsy, an empty-nester and ancient history professor who travels with her scatter-brained friend, Lettie. Obnoxious Tourist is set in Italy. Her next Dotsy Lamb Travel Mystery is Death of a Lovable Geek, out in May 2008, and set in Scotland.
April Star is a first-time novelist with Tropical Warnings: A Wanderlust Mystery (ISBN-10: 1594144796) that has early retirees who travel across the United States in their Bluebird Wanderlodge motor home as sleuths who find murder, mystery and mayhem in the camping resorts they roll into.
Jon F. Baxley has a medieval fantasy epic, The Blackgloom Bounty (ISBN: 1594144516 445).
Michael Bergey has New Coyote (ISBN 978-1594143229) and Coyote Season (ISBN 978-1594146107), both genre-defying. They're fantasy/adventure involving Native American spirit legends.
Patricia Hubbard writing as C. C. Harrison has The Charmstone (ISBN 978-1-59414-579-7), a mystery set in Monument Valley on the Navajo Reservation where she lived for a time as a VISTA Volunteer. Her next book is Running From Strangers, about a child advocate, running for her life with a child in her care, also from Five Star Mystery in September 2008.
Michael Allan Mallory with Marilyn Victor have Death Roll, starring a zoologist as sleuth, set at a zoo with lots of animal lore and a behind the exhibit look at what goes on.
L. C. Hayden has Why Casey Had To Die (ISBN 1594144931) which deals with geocaching. This book is an Agatha Finalist for Best Novel. Her next release will be an inspirational mystery novella, Bell Shaped Flowers, from a different publisher.
Lorraine Bartlett writing as L. L. Bartlett has Murder On The Mind (ISBN 0373266154), a paranormal thriller with an emphasis on the three main characters, who've all been victims of downsizing. The sleuth is Jeff, a former insurance investigator whose mugging left him with the "gift" of sensing others' emotions. This one's available only in Paperback from Harlequin's website.
Beth Groundwater has A Real Basket Case (ISBN 10: 1594145474), a mystery with a strong romantic subplot crucial to solving the murder. Kirkus Reviews said: "Drugs and jealousy add up to a Rocky Mountain murder. A tense, exciting debut." Her next book is a Large Print Edition of this one, out in January 2008.
Read. Discover new writers. Adopt a writer. Often.