That's one of those sayings my mother used when I was growing up. The imagery was very effective in settling me down when I was trying to do too many things at once. And for that reason, if no other, it applies to me today.
It's also a term borrowed from the world of traditional publishing. It refers to a book that starts off with slow sales but then begins to get some notice in odd places and eventually becomes a perennial best seller. In the traditional publishing world, a new book generally gets a grace period of about six months to hit it big. Publishers all try to get bookstores to give their newest volumes front and center space -- a shelf or display all to themselves -- cover facing outward -- signs in the window -- ads in the newspapers. But if it doesn't work, the book disappears into the back of the store, stored spine-out on a shelf with several hundred other wonderful books that just didn't quite make it. A Long-Tailed Cat is a book that customers keep asking for, even after the publicity hype is over. Most books hit the remainder table outside within a year, and after that are either returned to the company or sold off in bulk to fates better not even thought of. Long-Tailed Cats survive.
In the world of electronic publishing, however, there are no storefronts to dominate, no bookshelves to fill with the covers facing outward, and no need to move out to make room for the newcomers. Remainders are a thing of the past. Electronic books (at least theoretically) can live forever. And that means that we can have lots more long-tailed cats!
My first one appeared almost exactly a year after publication. Beyond All Price hung around on social media sites until I had sold a copy to everyone I knew. But when I had exhausted the list of friends and relatives who were willing to cough up the price of a book, it appeared doomed. I had been conditioned by that traditional publishing world to expect a run of no longer than a year. So by the summer of 2010, I "remaindered " it, at least in my own mind. I offered it for free on Smashwords and prepared to forget all about it. Then the long-tailed magic happened. Amazon price-matched the book and featured it on one of their website lists (what made them choose that book, I have no idea). And without my turning a hand on its behalf, Nellie Chase's story began to grow its own tail of some 47,000 copies..That was some three years ago, and Beyond All Price still sells well. Today, I even had an inquiry from someone who would like to do narrate the book in audio format, so it looks like the tail continues to stretch.
The best news today, however, is that I'm beginning to detect another long tail. The Road to Frogmore has been published since November, 2012. Sales have been steady but slow. There just hasn't been a "buzz" about the book -- until now. When things happen in threes, I am superstitious enough to take notice, and Frogmore has had its three already this week. A couple of days ago I mentioned the quarterly online magazine of Military Writers Society of America, which revealed that The Road to Frogmore had been chosen as Book of the Month for last November. And then a second commendation included it on the Author of the Year's recommended reading list for Winter 2014.
And then, today, I woke to an announcement that the Association of Independent Authors had decided to feature the trailer for Frogmore on its front page for the month of January. (You can view it here). Already there has been a small flurry of new sales, as word of the book begins to spread out. This true story of a strong and determined woman, who almost single-handedly established successful schools for newly freed slaves in South Carolina during the Civil War, is not fluffy reading, but it tells an inspiring story. Those looking for both entertainment and enlightenment will find them here.
To celebrate and encourage Frogmore to become another Long-Tailed Cat, I am cutting the price of the Kindle edition. Starting tomorrow and for the rest of the month, the electronic version will cost just $1.99 instead of $3.99. And if you bought the paper version from Amazon, (or if you plan to do so now, ) you can claim your matching Kindle edition for just $.99. Let's keep the tail growing!