Daily Archives: February 28, 2008

Sock Addiction Claims Another Victim

Not even Ghlaghghee is immune to the charms of a catnip-filled sock.

Shortly after this picture was taken, Zeus wandered by and tried to run off with the sock. Ghlaghghee’s veto of this action was fairly robust. Yes, she is cute and fluffy, but she’s definitely no pushover.

And now I’m off. Illness over the last couple of days has messed with my sleep schedule and my work output; time to correct at least one of these. You guess which one.

Publicists/Editors/Writers: I’m Seeking Big Ideas

Hey there, all you crazy book publicists, writers and editors:

As most of you know, once or twice a week I like to use this space to put a spotlight on writers with new and recently-released book, specifically in a feature I call “The Big Idea” — in which the author writes a bit about one of the big ideas on his or her book, how they factored that big idea into the writing, and what challenges working with that idea presented in writing the book. So far this year, the authors who have discussed their Big Idea here have included Marcus Sakey, Phillip Palmer, Paul Melko and Jami Attenberg.

However, at the moment the cupboard is bare, so I’m looking for more writers to share their Big Idea here at Whatever.

Why here? Well, the Whatever receives between 30,000 and 40,000 unique daily visits every weekday, with occasional spikes in the 45,000 daily visit range and sometimes even above. That’s a lot of folks — most of whom like books and learning what’s new in the bookstores. So it’s good exposure to a literate and generally friendly crowd.

To date, most of the authors participating in The Big Idea have been writing in science fiction and fantasy, but it’s not a requirement — indeed, I would love more participation from novelists in other genres and from non-fiction writers, as well as graphic novelists. I don’t read just science fiction and fantasy and neither, I suspect, do the readers here.

If you are an author who would like to be spotlit in The Big Idea, or are a publicist or an editor who is working with an author, here’s what you have to do to get rolling:

1. First, authors must not be self-published, or solely electronically published, or published by a publishing house that offers $1 advances and/or can’t get distribution into bookstores. Yes, I know. I suck. But this is the line in the sand. Deal with it.

2. It’s helpful for me to be sent the work in advance of the publication date. Please visit my Publicist Guidelines for how to send me stuff.

3. Contact me 4 – 6 weeks before your work/your author’s work is due to hit the stores and we’ll see what availability is. The best way (read: really the only way you should try) to contact me is via e-mail, at “john@scalzi.com“; please make your interest in doing a Big Idea feature clear in the subject header to help me flag the e-mail. There’s some flexibility with this (for example, at the moment I’m looking for Big Idea entries for the next month), but since this is largely “first come, first served,” the earlier folks alert me, the better chance they’ll get something in.

4. Generally speaking it’s useful for me to have the author’s Big Idea piece a week before it goes up.

Any questions? Drop me an e-mail. And feel free to let folks know about this. I like promoting the work of authors, so I want authors to know the opportunity is here.

Thanks, and I look forward to reading and sharing your Big Ideas!

Only One Can Prevail!

Today was sent not one but two copies of Superpowers, the upcoming super hero novel by David J. Schwartz, which immediately made me suspicious. Two copies? Of a super hero novel? Nonsense! One of them is obviously from Bizarro Earth (or the nearest non-trademarked version thereof) and sent to confuse and trouble me. Either that or one of them is the evil twin, recognizable by the goatee.

And sure enough — well, as you can see here, one of the copies is clearly made of pure, hirsute nefariousness. Soon the two copies will join into an epic battle over the fate of the earth, and only one will survive, hopefully the clean-shaven one. All us mere mortals can do is witness their titanic struggle.

And the one that wins – well, I guess I’ll read.

Happy Birthday, Deven

Today is my pal Deven Desai’s birthday. He’s, uh, 36, I think. 37? Maybe 37. Somewhere in that area. Yes, it’s bad I can’t remember specifically, but it’s early and I’m groggy. This is my excuse for the day. For all day.

What I do remember is that he’s a fan of Siouxsie and the Banshees, and of the Beatles, so here’s a somewhat pixellated version of the former’s cover of the latter’s “Dear Prudence.”

Those of you with sharp eyes and long memories may spot the Cure’s Robert Smith in the video; for a time he was a member of the Banshees, including for Hyena, the album this song was on. If your response to this is, “well, duh,” you are officially a Goth Nerd. Revel in your time, my friend.

Incidentally, Deven is one of the featured bloggers at the Concurring Opinions legal blog. Why not go for a visit?

Some Stats, Post-Free eBook

I was curious whether releasing Old Man’s War as part of Tor’s free eBook series would have any sort of immediate impact on sales of my books, so I had a friend with access to BookScan check out if there was any sort of significant movement in the last week. So, according to BookScan, in mass-market paperback:

The Ghost Brigades sales are up 33% from the week prior;

Old Man’s War sales are up 20% from the week prior;

The Android’s Dream sales are up 9% from the week prior.

Now, percentages are not impressive if you’re not selling huge numbers (if you sold three books last week and this week you sold four, that’s a 33% jump, after all), but each of these books is still selling hundreds of copies weekly, so the increase this week is not insignificant in terms of sales numbers.

The real question is whether these sales bumps are due to the eBook release or to some other factor(s). And, well, I have no idea. I asked my friend if science fiction sales in general were up last week; he said that BookScan noted a 6% bump from the week before in the entire category. TAD might be part of the general movement, but OMW and TGB are significantly outside that. The last week has been busy around here, thanks to various topics and links in from Boing Boing and Instapundit among others, so that might have been a factor as well. But ultimately the biggest news in terms of my books in the last week was the free eBook release of OMW.

My thought on the matter is that while I don’t think there’s definitive proof of this, I do suspect that the free eBook release did have an immediate impact on sales, and that the impact was positive. Now what will be interesting to see is how the books — and particularly the mass market paperback of OMW — do over time.

So there’s some data for you folks to chew on.