Thursday, July 19, 2007

Lots of Link Love

So I'm guest blogging at two places today:

First, head over to Writer Unboxed, where I discuss how often people mistake your fiction for your real-life. Ugh.

Then, check out Trashionista, one of my favorite book review sites, for the story behind my story and why cancer can be funny. Really.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Numbers Game

Thanks everyone so much for your thoughts on Monday's post. I'm really not so concerned about my son - who demanded a book last night at dinner - but I thought it was great fodder for a discussion, and I certainly picked up a few tips. Hope you guys did too.

So, the question I'm most asked, now that TDLF is out there in the world is, "How are sales going." I mean, I'm seriously asked this several times a day. And I have to give the vaguest answer, which is, "They seem to be going well. It's still in the front of stores." And that's the truth. They do seem to be going well, but the reason that this is such a bland answer is that honestly, from what I've gleaned, no one has concrete numbers about the sales of books.

Huh? Seriously? What?

Okay, for real. From what I understand, publishers don't track exact sales, and even when your royalty statement comes in - which, incidentally, isn't until six months or so after your release date - these still might be incomplete or inaccurate. It's mind-boggling. Truthfully, I don't understand the intricacies of it all - and maybe someone else here can explain it - but evidently, while publishers do get numbers from Bookscan (which your agent can occasionally prod your editor to receive), which reports sales at Borders, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Walden and some others, these numbers aren't complete. And this doesn't then include the libraries, independents, and a slew of other distributors, including the big box stores like Costco.

I just don't get it! I'll talk more in the future about how publishing seems to be one of the few industries that does little to no market research, but this just seems like such a glaring situation. I mean, beyond the obvious accurate numbers for royalties and monetary situations, don't publishers want to know say, what actually sells books? If, say, there's a review in the Seattle Times and sales shoot up, or if doing a radio tour has some impact on overall sales or whatever?? It's not a huge surprise that some people equate buying a potential best-seller with throwing something against the wall and hoping it sticks because this situation is just an clear indication of one of the major lapses in the industry, IMO.

(Disclaimer: I do want to say that I have nothing but happy things to report about my own publishers, so please don't take this as an indictment on them!)

Anyway, this has been really eye-opening for me. It's truly mind-boggling that the publishers don't have all the fine print on how books are selling, and true, someone, somewhere, probably does have those details, but in general terms, most people at the house don't receive them.

Have you ever heard of anything so crazy?? Now you see why my answer to my sales question is so vague. Because, other than Bookscan estimates, I really have no idea.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Help My Kid Read!

So my husband and I are having a convo about our son last night at dinner. Well, it was also about us. See, I am an avid reader. (Obviously.) I can read just about any book in two-days, and once I pick up a juicy one, I'm completely oblivious to the world. My brother is the same way...I mean, he reads more books and reads them faster than any human being I've ever seen.

My husband, however, is not so eager to dive in. In fact, I'd go so far as to say (as would he) that not only doesn't he read very often, he doesn't particularly enjoy it when he does. (Trust me, it was a huge accomplishment in our household when he read TDLF.) To be fair, he spends a good deal of his day reading for work, so it's not like he's illiterate and it's not like he's not freakishly smart: he is. He just doesn't enjoy reading for pleasure.

So this comes up last night as we're discussing our son, who is almost 3. Now, Cam really digs it when we read to him, which we do every night, and I often do while he eats, and at intermittent periods during the day, etc. But he also plays around with us: we ask him to point out letters, and even though it's obvious that he knows them, he jokes that he doesn't and pretends that certain letters are numbers, etc. This, I know, is just part of his personality: he's a ham and finds the whole scene hilarious.

But there's a niggly feeling in me that wonders if we're not doing enough to turn him into the readers that my brother and I became. I mean, I'm an easy-going mom. He's allowed some TV, and spends a lot of his day just playing, and certainly, I'm not interested in pinning him to the library and turning him into a superhero reader. But I do want to impart how much joy books can bring into his life, and how they can take him places that TV and other mediums can't. (I should add that I'm not truly concerned that he won't love to read or doesn't love to already: he's surrounded by books and a writer mom, etc, but I'm more interested in what you can do to fashion a good reader.)

So, I know that a lot of you out there are avid did your parents help you get there? Why are so many kids out there completely disinterested in reading these days? Is it because TV is just so much easier and since a lot of kids are lazy to begin with, they'd rather plop down in front of it and zone out?

And yes, I do plan to ask my mom what she did right...but I'm curious to hear what other people are doing for their own kids or what nurtured their own love of books.