I’ve received glad tidings from Allison & Busby, namely that The Cipher Garden is to be reprinted shortly, with new cover artwork in the same style as that for The Serpent Pool and the recent reprint of The Coffin Trail. An early version is illustrated above, although there may be a few changes before it is finalised.
This is pleasing news, because one of the unfortunate aspects of life as a published writer – if you are lucky enough to hang around for a few years, and produce a number of books – is that it’s all too easy for your work to slip out of print. This can be frustrating for several reasons. In my own case, I do find that people attending talks I give are sometimes keen to buy the early Harry Devlin books, and I don’t have that many of my own stockpile of copies left!
Yet the truth is that I was relatively lucky. The Devlin series did have a second life – after the books first came out, Hodder reprinted the early titles in the late 90s, as well as publishing the sixth and seventh entries in the series – but even that came to an end. As a result, when I wrote Waterloo Sunset, I was quite careful to make sure that someone could read it without any previous knowledge of the Devlin saga. And at least Waterloo Sunset – a book I enjoyed writing enormously - remains readily obtainable.
As for The Cipher Garden, I wonder if the fact that it’s been quite extensively (and positively, thank goodness!) reviewed on Amazon is a factor in its continuing sales and longevity. I guess that it may be. Whatever people may think about Amazon reviews, they do influence buyers, with five-star reviews clearly pretty important, and I’m certainly very grateful to those who have reviewed this and others of my books kindly on Amazon. One quite prominent writer recently told me of his dismay about negative reviews on Amazon of his latest book, and this rather sad story illustrates, I think, the impact of Amazon reviews on writer morale as well as on sales.