April 8, 2012 · 3:13 am
So, your Codorus Press was listening to the first Cheap Trick album today, and got to thinking about why we bought it in the first place as a little kid.
And that reason was that “I Want You To Want Me” had exploded on the radio, and a buddy recorded “Budokan” for us on a cassette, so we went out and started getting anything we could of Cheap Trick, like the “Dream Police” 45 (which had “VOICES” on the flip), and realizing, holy shit, there are like 4 other Cheap Trick albums out there! We got them all. And, you know, “In Color” wasn’t that great, but we sure did like the other ones.
Back in the day, big record labels would sign you to a developmental deal, and you’d do like 3 or 4 albums before having one hit big, and they were ok with it, because they had the longview (to a point). Think about Rush, and even Bruce Springsteen. His album sales before “Born To Run” were pretty weak, despite that “Next Dylan” push from the PR machine. The label was about to drop him when he delivered that little watershed.
It’s not that way anymore. Especially not for writers. Nobody’s taking a chance on first-time fiction in the marketplace, unless you’ve got the time-honored pedigree that might (might) mean sales. Especially since the developmental editor position seems to have shifted away from the houses to agents. When the agent is the one choosing the work, they’re gonna choose profitability. (“You bit me!” … “It’s in my nature.”) If you don’t fit the cookie cutter, you don’t get baked.
That’s the prime reason Codorus Press exists. And we’re glad to have an old-school record label attitude toward our writers — we’re all really in developmental deals. All of our books out right now are first books. And we’re struggling with getting sales and building an audience (hell, FINDING an audience), but the best intelligence I have is that it tends to take 5 books from a writer before anything resembling a widespread readership catches up.
When each of us hits a “Budokan,” or “Born To Run,” or “Moving Pictures,” we’re sure the kids are gonna go back and get “In Color” from us. Especially if it was an undiscovered “Budokan” in the first place.