The hardback came out and got great reviews and sold well. (Heh - I'm biased, but I think it's a great book! - Scroll down to check out some of the quotes below....) It was translated into thirteen languages, the Chinese government banned it, and the Washington Post made it one of their Notable Books of the Year.
And then my editor left the publishing house to become an agent.
And the new editor wasn't interested in my next book, and so I found a new publisher. And within a year The Drink and Dream Teahouse was out of print.
This is how daft the modern publishing industry is.
Of course, I wanted it back in print, but the publishing industry isn't geared up for backlists. Marketing revolves around the buzz of a new book. There was no interest in getting this great book back in print. Not even as an ebook.
And until recently there wasn't much an author could do about this.
Thankfully this has all changed. Technology means that authors can publish and distribute their books, and readers can get to things that the publishing industry can't or wont publish.
Personally I'm excited for the possibilities this now offers. I'm working on a series about the Battle of Hastings, and there are parts of the story that don't really fit into the novels I'm writing. But there are many parts of the story that would work well as short stories. But no one publishes Historical Fiction shorts, so ebook publishing again offers great opportunities for authors and readers to get around the limitations of legacy publishing.
Praise for The Drink and Dream Teahouse
‘A vivid portrait of a small community in provincial China…Hill gives us plenty of insights into contemporary Chinese politics and its new economic rigours…his main interest resides in the domestic: family meal times, romantic mishaps, and nights out at the Number One Patriotic Karaoke Nightclub’
Emma Hagestadt, Independent on Sunday
‘Justin Hill knows China inside out. Every sentence is filled with knowledge, affection and a poignant sense of loss’
‘A fine novel… The Drink and Dream Teahouse is very well written and creative, a wonderful antidote to much writing about China, whether the three-generation-fiction style of Wild Swans or the backward-looking bitterness of most recent memoirs’
Frances Wood, Times Literary Supplement
Peter Ho Davies, The Independent
Peter Carty, The Observer
Mary Loudon, The Times
Stephanie Smith, New Statesman
Jerome Boyd Maunsell, The Times
Gabriella Boston, The Washington Times
Lee Milazzo, Dallas Morning News
'The Drink and Dream Teahouse is noteworthy as one of the relatively few novels in English set in the China of ordinary people struggling to live according to rules that are constantly rewritten’
Times Literary Supplement
Asian Review of Books
Bradley Winterton, Taipei Times
The Bookseller, Star Rating
Matt Inslone, Time Out
Edward Stern, The Independent on Sunday
Elsa Gaztambide, Booklist
Sinead Gleeson, RTÉ Online
Jessica Mann, Sunday Telegraph