Saturday, January 22, 2011

Edgar Allan Who?

On Wednesday, January 19, 2011 -- Edgar Allan Poe's 202nd birthday -- my thriller The Queen of Patpong was nominated for an Edgar by the Mystery Writers of America as Best Novel of 2010.

I've argued with myself over whether to write about this here, and I'm happy to say I won the argument.  This kind of thing doesn't happen all that often, and it's easily the most interesting event of my week.

It's especially interesting because it follows my being dropped by HarperCollins, which had dampened my spirits substantially.  It also follows my agent's brilliant inspiration to ask HarperCollins, who were feeling a little guilty, to return to us the audio book rights, with which they had done nothing.  Within 24 hours of the Edgar nomination, we signed a very sweet deal for the audio.  And we get to keep all the money.

Now I want to know who's going to be reading the books aloud.

So as of today, Poke is Edgar-nominated but homeless and about to make the transition to audio.

One other thing HarperCollins hadn't done much about was foreign rights.  The day after the Edgar nominations were announced, an international e-newsletter called "Publishing Perspectives" led its front page with a suggestion to publishers all over the world that they take a look at The Queen of Patpong and three of the other nominees in different categories.  I hope somebody reads the newsletter in Japan and Germany, because those are the two "big" markets (in terms of advance) where Poke has not been sold.

The full list of Edgar nominees in what I like to think of as "my" category is:

Caught, Harlan Coben
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, Tom Franklin
Faithful Place, Tana French
The Queen of Patpong, Yours Truly
The Lock Artist, Steve Hamilton
I'd Know You Anywhere, Laura Lippman

That's a strong list, although I have no idea why all seven of the writers on this site aren't on it. Year in and year out, there's one book that didn't get on many people's radar and makes them scratch their heads and go, "Huh?" and this year I wrote it.

If I'm going to be honest, I have to say that the nomination completely and totally blindsided me.  I hadn't given it a thought.  The world is such a small place these days that the first person to send me congratulations was Ken Bruen, over in Ireland.  Then the e-mails came in twenty and thirty at a time, and all my friends at Murder Is Everywhere were among the early responders.

So, world, what's next?


  1. "If I'm going to be honest, I have to say that the nomination completely and totally blindsided me"

    Didn't you read the book? I'm sure no one who read it was surprised.

    Congratulations. This is as well-earned nomination for a major award as I can remember.

  2. Tim, is the next Poke book going to be available on audio alone?

    The nomination of THE QUEEN OF PATPONG goes along way to proving that the group of people who participate on every level of the nomination process are reading good books not just books that make a lot of money.

    Speaking of which, I hope the nomination has translated into increased sales of the THE QUEEN, one of the best I have ever read.

    What is coming next? Is in another Junior Bender, the second after CRASHED on Kindle or is it going to be the new Simeon Grist? I have been re-reading the Simeon series. It was one of my favorites when they were first published. I was disappointed when they disappeared. I don't have a Kindle but I have the Kindle for the PC, so I have the old Simeon's sitting right in front of me.

    There is always time for more Hallinan. This blog and the Blog Cabin on your website are nice to have while waiting impatiently for the next book.


  3. I just love this Hallinan story. Good triumphing over the evil empire (small e's).

  4. Hi, Dana, and thanks. The Edgars weren't on my radar at all. In fact, the first e-mail I got about it, written by someone who hadn't had his daily coffee yet, read CONGRATS ON THE HUGO. I sat there staring stupidly at it, wondering when I'd written a sci-fi book (I hadn't had my daily coffee, either), and suddenly the screen filled up with new e-mails, and every one of them had the word EDGAR in it. So I got my coffee and read all of them and then went upstairs and woke up my wife, computer in hand, with the Edgar page on the screen.

    Thanks, Beth. The audio contract covers only the four books to date, with an option (mutual) for the fifth. The next Poke will be, at the very least, an e-book, but I'm hoping for a paper publisher as well. There are talks going on now, but the stigma on a canceled series is not lightly dismissed. In fact, that's part of what the new Simeon (the first since 1995) is partly about -- the limbo in which out-of-print series characters exist. The next book will be INCINERATOR, Simeon 5, followed by LITTLE ELVISES (Junior #2), THE BONE POLISHER (Simeon #6), and then PULPED. I'm finishing that now and working on MUTHER'S DAY, which is Junior #3 and THE FEAR ARTIST, which is the next Poke. So there will at least be books.

    Hi, Jeffrey, and thanks. I have to say that the people whom I dealt with at Morrow were all delightful; dropping me was a business decision, not one made on the basis of lack of affection or even lack of enthusiasm for the series. HC invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Poke, and they just couldn't get the sales moving.

    Oh, and Beth, yes, the sales on all the Pokes have gone up since the nomination.

  5. Lovely stuff Tim - all power to you. I'm out in the cold publisher wise too, at the moment, also as a business decision (though I'm not quite so magnanimous as you...) so I can appreciate how good this feels. Richly deserved.

  6. Thanks, Dan -- You're way too good a writer to remain homeless. The Edgar nomination may or may not help my cause -- I feel like it should, but who knows? These are hard times for publishers and writers alike, although I will say that it's largely the fault of the publishers, who managed to turn e-books, which should have been a bonanza, into a threat. What amazes me is that they had the example of the music industry before them, and they didn't learn one f**king thing from it.

  7. Tim--

    "What's next?"

    Breakthrough year, that's what. Recognition and results you've busted your Patpong to earn.

    Enjoy the ride.


  8. Ahh, Lenny, if only you were in charge of the world. I'd bring you chocolates and everything -- in an appropriate manner, of course.

    Thanks so much.

  9. Hello Tim,

    I am currently reading through the Edgar nominations (something I do every year and adore). I am about 75% through QUEEN OF PATPONG and I LOVE IT!!! Love, love, love.

    Best of luck come April 28th!

    - Kinley, Bookseller, Murder By The Book

  10. Tim,

    You've made me a star. Last night I kicked off my book tour for "Prey on Patmos" at Murder By The Book in Houston, and when I mentioned you in quoting your "return to order" observation on the value of mysteries, Kinley...see above...said, "You blog with THE Tim Hallinan." I humbly said, "Yes."

    You are THE man, man:)

  11. Hi Tim (The man) - you will win. It will be wonderful as much deserved rewards are supposed to be.

  12. Hey, Kinley Very sweet of you, and I wish I were in Houston with you and Jeffrey.

    And thanks, Jeffrey, for the ego boost. Isn't that a great store?

    Yrsa, that's the sweetest thing you could have said. Can you get onto the judging panel?

  13. Congratulations! You deserve the nomination and recognition.

    Every website and blog that has had reviews and/or comments about "Queen" has raved about it.

    But it is such a hard time in the publishing world for so many authors. So many books don't get promotion as they should, and then if the book doesn't sell like crazy, the authors literally pay the price. It's awful.

    Hope that the Edgar helps in the further success of "Queen."

  14. Hello, kathy, and I have to admit that the nomination has made my internal scenery a little more cheerful. One good thing is that Morrow is pushing up the publication of the QUEEN trade paperback to April (from December!), so it'll benefit from the sales bump, if there is one.

    The problem with publishing (ONE of the problems with publishing) is that nobody knows how to sell a book. Including, unfortunately, me.

  15. That's good news on the paperback.

    Well, all of the reviews, websites and blogs can link to a bookseller directly, let's say Amazon or whoever is best.

    National promotional emails can go out linked to the bookseller(s).

    Publisher can do promotional give-aways at well-known mystery readers' websites.

    Publishers know exactly how to do this; they, however, need pushing.

    An independent bookstore in my city did not know about an excellent book, which a mystery
    bookstore 2 blocks away was promoting, with the author visiting. So, somewhere the publicity fell down. I told them about it, and they looked it up.

    So, perhaps emails to list-serves of independent bookstores, mystery bookstores. They also need to put the book in their front windows on display.

    But you know all of this, and Morrow knows a lot more.