Category Archives: Uncategorized

View From the Hotel Window, 9/10/14: Chicago, IL

Well, not Chicago precisely — somewhere near the airport since my event is in a northern suburb and I will need to be back at the airport relatively early to head toward Lexington. So: Airport hotel! Yay!

Tonight: I’ll be at the Warren-Newport Library in lovely Gurnee, IL, at 7pm, for an event sponsored by Lake Forest bookstore. If you’re reading this, don’t wait! Get on the highway now! There’s still time! And remember: Bring every single person that you have ever met. It’ll be a blast.

Tomorrow: I’ll be returning to Lexington, Kentucky, and to Jospeh-Beth Booksellers, for another event, again at 7pm. The Lexington Jo-Beth is one of my favorite places to do an event, so we should have a ton of fun. Please come by!

View From the Hotel Window, 9/9/14: Iowa City

A smidge overcast here in Iowa City, but it’s still a nice day, and Iowa City a lovely town.

Tonight: I am at the estimable Prairie Lights bookstore, at 7pm. Please bring yourself and everyone you know (and if you’re a professor, give the kids extra credit for showing up). My understanding is that tonight’s event will be recorded for radio and aired at some point in the future, but it’s still always better to catch the live show.

Tomorrow: I will be at the Warren-Newport Library in Gurnee, IL, at an event sponsored by the Lake Forest Bookstore. Also 7pm. Do the library a favor and let them know you’re coming, please.

nnn

How Lock In Is the #1 (and #20, and #107) Book in the US

If you’ve been following me here and on Twitter this week, then you know I’ve been delighted that Lock In has been doing very well in terms of sales: It hit the New York Times Hardcover Fiction best seller list and a few other lists as well. And in doing so, the list shows that the book is seemingly all over the charts.

For example, Bookscan, whose lists note sales at bookstores (well, some bookstores — the ones that report to Bookscan) reports Lock In as the #1 front list science fiction seller last week. The New York Times reports it as the #20 hardcover fiction book. The USA Today bestseller list, which I got sent to me today, ranked the book at #107 — which seems a far cry from #20 or #1. So what’s going on?

The answer is that all these lists report different things. Bookscan, as noted, reports bookstore point of sales, and the list in this case is confined to science fiction books (or even more specifically, books identified as science fiction), and to “front list” — books that are new to the market. Bookscan gets reports from many but not all bookstores, and focuses on print sales. So many sales won’t get reported — sales from some indie stores, sales of electronic books and audiobook sales are not part of these reported numbers. The discrepancy is sometimes significant.

The New York Times, as I understand it, uses a combination of sales, sampling from specific bookstores and a few particular guidelines for each list it generates to create its rankings. So the Hardcover Fiction list focuses (generally) on new releases in (surprise!) hardcover fiction, not considering electronic or audio sales at all (NYT also has electronic only lists, as well as combined print/electronic lists, plus various fiction and non-fiction lists).

The USA Today list doesn’t make any distinction between fiction and non-fiction or between older and newer books, or between print and ebook (although I think audio is still excluded); it simply puts them into one big pile and tells the ranking of everything that is selling that purports to be a book. On the USA Today list, Lock In competes with everything from 50 Shades of Grey to To Kill a Mockingbird to Minecraft strategy guides.

So each of these lists tracks sales, but does it in a different way, using different metrics and lumping books in different piles. As a result, Lock In is legitimately the #1 book, and the #20 book, and the #107 book, in all of the United States. The #1 NYT hardcover fiction book last week, The Long Way Home, is #5 on the USA Today list. The #5 NYT hardcover fiction book (The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks — congratulations Brent!) is #26 on the USA Today list. And so on.

These variances may lead you to ask which is really the most accurate bestseller list, and the answer is: Well, based on what? Bookscan is based on pure sales — but only sales that Bookscan tracks. NYT chops up sales into categories and adds a few twists to the pure sales number, presumably to give a clearer picture of what’s really moving among newer books. USA Today loads all books into the same pile but also does “analysis” based on sales. Again, each of these lists (and any other list you might name) are working off different numbers, and using different ground rules.

At the end of the day, what the best seller lists do is not exact. What they do, both individually and as a gestalt, is give you some idea of which books are the front of sales and front of mind, from week to week. I’m happy to say that what it means for me, no matter how you slice it, is that Lock In did pretty well for itself in its debut week. And that works for me.

View From the Hotel Window, 9/8/14: San Diego

San Diego! One of my favorite cities on the planet. And it’s a gorgeous day here, too. What more could you ask for.

Today, I’ll be at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore at 7pm. It’s one of my favorite bookstores, and Mysterious Galaxy has always been a huge supporter of me and my works, so I’m always happy to come by and spend time with them. You should come by, too, and, of course, being everyone you’ve ever met.

Tomorrow, I’ll be at Prairie Lights in Iowa City, Iowa, also at 7pm. It’s the first time I’ve been to the bookstore since 2007 and my first book tour, so I’m excited to be back again. Come on by!

The End of a Whatever Era

It looks like this blog is no longer the first term that pops up when you enter the word “Whatever” in Google — it’s been supplanted by a YouTube channel of the same name. Thus ends a decades-long domination by Whatever of the word on the world’s pre-eminent search engine. All glory is passing.

How do I feel about this? I am curiously lacking angst about it. One, it’s still the number two entry for the word, i.e., not at all difficult to find, really. Two, YouTube is a Google property, so I would not be surprised if it lends YouTube channels a little extra search engine juice. If so, that’s fine too. Three, well, you know, a decade is a good run for owning a relatively common word in the English language on a search engine.

In any event, I still have the corner locked on “Scalzi” on Google, which is, strangely enough, the word people search on most when they are looking for me. I suspect I will be fine, Google-wise.

I See This View a Lot These Days

The airport. There are individual variations depending on the airport, mind you. But the gist is the same. It’s interesting to think that this particular assemblage of these particular people will never happen again — that the airport is always different. Heraclitus would probably roll his eyes at me for the observation, but that dude’s dead.

Today’s event: Vroman’s, in Pasadena, CA, at 5pm. This event is the midpoint of my tour. After this, there are more tour events behind than ahead. It’ll be nice to be on the backslope. If you’re in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, please swing by and have some fun with us.

Tomorrow: San Diego and a 7pm event at Mysterious Galaxy. I was just there!

What I Did With My Post-Event Time Last Night

There was a hashtag going around last night on Twitter called #ExplainAFilmPlotBadly. And I thought, hey, I can do that.

Because I suspect some of you might want to guess about the films or otherwise comment, the thread is open for a couple of days.

View From the Hotel Window, 9/5/14: SF, Plus Stuff, Plus Open Thread

The view out my hotel window is not hugely inspiring today, unless I want to do a San Francisco version of Rear Window, but on the other hand I get to stay in this hotel room for three whole days. Which is three whole days on not having to wake up early to catch a plane. Which is awesome. I slept ten hours last night. Which is also heaven. San Francisco is heaven, is what I’m saying, even with this window view.

For those wondering why I didn’t post this picture yesterday, it’s because I was so busy I didn’t actually get into my hotel room until 11pm. My check in earlier in the day was literally dropping off my bag and then hopping back into a car two minutes later to get down to Google, where I had an event. Then a few very nice hours hanging out in Mountain View with my friend Diana, and then the event at Books, Inc, which was lovely could be.

Event tonight: Petaluma, at Copperfield’s, at 7pm. It will be a ton of fun, so if you live north of San Francisco, please come, and bring every single human you know. Tomorrow, I will be at Borderlands Books in San Francisco, one of my favorite bookstores on the planet, for an afternoon event: 3pm.

Other Stuff: One, editorial cartoonist Ted Rall, whom I have known for years and consider a friend, gives me a cameo in his cartoon today. And yes, this is why I do carry at least a little cash on me (for what little good it would do me in the scenario Ted posits). And I do like that he drew me with a little more hair.

Two, this little tidbit, which I will use a tweet to convey:

(For those of you wondering about terms here, “front list” means newly released books. Books that have been out for a while are “back list.” So Lock In is the best selling new science fiction book out there this week. Back list best seller is almost certainly Ender’s Game.)

Three: For those wondering, the tour is going fantastically well, although I am slightly discombobulated. I am on tour time, not real time, which means I have frankly no idea what day it is any more, as I am outside the rythym of the days. I had to confirm with my wife this morning that today was actually, in fact, Friday. It’s a pleasant discombobulation, but it’s also a bit weird. I mean, I’m a writer — it doesn’t usually matter to me which day it is anyway. But now it’s even more so.

Finally: I’m opening the comment thread here for a couple of days to let folks talk about whatever they want. Because why not? Chatting amongst ourselves is fun. So: How are you? Are you on tour time too? Tell me. TELL ME.

Publishing: Not a Zero-Sum Game

A Twitter rant I’m storing here for posterity. There’s in the second tweet it should read “sells more than me” and not “sell me than me.” Also, it should be “a profoundly stupid way,” instead of “a profoundly way.” Errors, man.

View From the Hotel Window, 9/2/14: Denver

I’m back on the road, and here’s what the road looks like today. Not too bad. The hotel room I’m in tonight has a jacuzzi. I feel like I should listen to some smooth jazz or something.

In any event: Denver! Come see me tonight! 7pm at the Tattered Cover Bookstore on Colfax. Here are all the details. Come and (you know this part by now) bring everyone you know. The more the merrier.

Tomorrow: Seattle, at University Bookstore, also at 7pm. Also will be a blast.

For Those of You Who Have Read Lock In and Wish to Discuss It

The good folks at Making Light have created a (spoiler-laden) discussion thread for it. Just click this link to go there.

Two things to be aware of:

1. The discussion thread there has several spoilers for the book, so if you haven’t read the book, don’t go there unless you’re willing to have the book spoiled for you.

2. The folks at Making Light are as militant about moderating comment threads as I am (if not better), so make sure that you’re full of good manners when you comment there or you might find yourself disemvowelled or worse. Not that I’m worried; you all know the drill. But I just want that out there.

I am not likely to participate in the commenting, because I think it’s good for people to discuss the book without the fear of me dropping in. So feel free to air criticisms of the book as well, if you have them (which some folks in fact already have done).

Enjoy!

Various and Sundry, 8/31/14 + Open Comment Thread

I’m home! For Two days! And so, a couple of things of interest:

One, here’s a power wall of science fictional art, here in my office:

From the left, that’s a black and white sketch of the French cover of Agent to the Stars by Paul Kidby (I also own the final color art), the John Harris art for the paperback versions of Old Man’s War, and the Donato Giancola art for the hardcover of the same title. I recently acquired the Harris art; my wife had it framed and then hung it in the office while I was out on tour. They’re all lovely and look lovely together. My wife also cleaned and organized my office, proving yet again that she is the best person in the world and I clearly do not deserve her, although I will continue to try to.

Two, catching up on some reviews of Lock In that came out this week, for archival purposes and for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter:

* USA Today: “Lock In cements the award-winning writer as one of the best in today’s sci-fi community”

* NPR: “Once he’s gotten past the tricky part of building a near-future world and putting a dead body in it without getting bogged down in the details of either, the rest is all cake and hand grenades.”

* Toronto Star: “One of the best SF novels of the year, and one with substantial crossover appeal for non-genre fans as well.”

* Winnipeg Free Press: “Scalzi ably employs his usual smart plotting and sarcasm-infused dialogue in the service of the mystery thriller format. Lock In should please veteran whodunit readers and Scalzi fans alike.”

* Bookpage: “John Scalzi’s latest novel, Lock In, interweaves the threads of a number of familiar genre conventions to impressive effect.”

More reviews later as I find them and/or remember where they are in my Twitter queue. The short version is that so far the book is doing pretty well with the reviewers, and I am naturally pleased about that.

Three, for those who are curious, so far the tour is going very, very well. Good crowds at every event, people seem happy to see me and are enjoying the things I’ve been reading on the road, and there have been hardly any ninja attacks. The only real drawbacks so far have been the whole “get up waaaay too early in the morning to catch a flight” thing, and the occasional “you forgot to eat again” thing. I’ve been taking care of the latter with room service. I deserve it!

I’m home today and tomorrow and then I’m off again, starting with Denver, and then Seattle, Mountain View, Petaluma, San Francisco, Pasadena (CA), San Diego, Iowa City, Lake Forest/Gurnee (IL) and Lexington before I get another couple of days off (with an event even then, in Troy, OH). Full tour schedule, in case you’ve somehow missed it all this time, right here. Hope to see you while I’m out there on the road.

Four, because I am off the road until Tuesday, for those of you who need a Whatever commenting fix, the comments here are open and will be for the next couple of days. Comment your brains out! Consider it a mostly open thread, which means you can chat about whatever, although do me a favor and try to keep from being too contentious. I’m mostly tired from travel and prefer to keep things mellow if at all possible. Sound good? Groovy.

Lock In Through the Lens of Disability

Over at Huffington Post, writer David M. Perry takes a look at Lock In, with special emphasis on how disability matters are handled in the book — because, after all, the protagonist is someone who is “locked in” and uses technology to interact with the world. “To my knowledge, this is the first science fiction novel based largely around the complexities of providing reasonable accommodations for disability,” Perry writes.

I’m not sure I would make such a claim myself (the SF field is vast and someone probably has essayed this particular topic before), but I will say it was an aspect of the book that I, as someone who does not suffer from any disability greater than nearsightedness, was well aware was territory that would allow me to show how little I actually knew about it. I expect that there are subtleties that I’ve missed and things I’ve gotten wrong — and I expect I’ll hear about those and see the criticisms about them online.

Which, actually, will be fine, and for which I am ready to take copious notes for when (or if) I ever do a sequel to Lock In. This is a field which I am happy to know more about, from people who have to live in it. In the meantime, Perry’s article seems like a good first response to the novel from that direction. Check it out.

View From the Hotel Window, 8/29/14: Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is just a short jaunt from Raleigh, so I didn’t have to get in an airplane, I just got into a car and was driven. Hooray! Not that I don’t love air travel, mind you. But a nice little trip in a car is good, too.

Afternoon: Catching up with friends. This evening. Me at Flyleaf Books, at 7pm. If you’re in Chapel Hill, won’t you please come by? And bring everyone you know? It’ll be fun. This is the fourth stop on the tour. I’ve got it all down now. You will be entertained.

Tomorrow: Decatur, and the Decatur Book Festival. My event will be 4:15 at the Decatur Recreation Center Gym. Should be fun!