People have told me re Robin Hobb that the name made a difference--Random
House people here have told me that because it was androgynous, and also
carried quasi-mythical echoes(Robin Hood, of course!) somehow it stuck in
people's subsconscious. But I think myself as a writer and reader that names
don't make _that_ much difference--people may buy the first one based on
that: but if it's rubbish, no glamorous name in the world is going to
persuade people to part with their hard-earned dosh again. I think that
there is a version of the 'every dog has its day' proverb for
writers--somehow, some mysterious alchemy seems to click n: sometimes at the
beginning of a person's career, or much further down the track. I think of
people like James Lee Burke and Martin Cruz Smith--who both wryly commented
that their 'overnight success' actually took them twenty years to achieve!
From: Donovan Mattole <mattole@...
Date: Thursday, 10 August 2000 23:01
Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Potter publisher promotion
>I'm afraid I have to support Ted on the marketing of the first HP
>book. It just didn't exist. This is a small point and might be a
>waste of a post, but I couldn't help jumping in here. Being on the
>front lines of bookselling (and after nine years of retail, graduate
>school or a career change is looking better every day) I see all of
>the crazy marketing stuff months in advance. If a book begins to
>take off I hear about in conference calls, talk about it in meetings,
>and get way more advertising stuff then I know what to do with. In a
>couple of weeks I will be flying back for a week conference with
>other GM's where we will be spending days talking about how we are
>going to promote all of the big titles that will be releasing this
>Fall (Jordan, King, Martin, and the list goes on) - talk about a
>boring conference. Anyway, Harry Potter caught us all by surprise.
>I still kick myself almost every day for not buying the 1st US
>edition. I first heard about it along with many others across the
>country on NPR's fresh air (or whatever the evening program was) as I
>was driving home from work. It sounded as though it was something I
>might enjoy and the next day I looked it up and we had three copies
>on-hand. I put one on hold, but then reshelved it thinking I
>wouldn't end up buying it. Needless to say I wasn't alone and when I
>changed my mind a few days later the books were gone and the hype had
>began to build. Within a few months we did have stacks and yes it
>was definately a bestseller and hasn't stopped, but when it first
>released there was no hype or big marketing push in any of the
>I agree with most everyone on the Rowling and Pullman comparison.
>They are completely different.
>I just started reading a Robin Hobb book, Ship of Magic. I'm
>curious, has anyone else read her before and if so, what are your
>feelings. She's from the Seattle area and I know she never was
>popular in the 80's when she wrote under the Megan Lindholm name.
>Ever since she changed her pen name to Robin Hobb her books have sold
>like crazy. She's coming to town in a few weeks, so I decided to
>give her a try. Any thoughts? Did she re-invent herself, do you
>think the name made a difference, or was it just the early 90's when
>a lot of the current big selling names first came out with books?
>Borders Books & Music
>The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org