For those of you in the Science Fiction Book Club, you’ll be happy to know that The Ghost Brigades is now available in an SFBC edition. If you’re not in the SFBC but the idea of being so gives you a wiggly feeling inside, the book club’s current introductory offer lets you get five books for 50 cents each, and TGB is eligible for that deal. And as we all know 50 cents is pretty cheap for a hardcover.

I’ve been asked privately by folks from time to time as to whether I’d prefer they buy the non-SFBC edition of book over the book club edition, and my response is always the same, which is: Don’t care. My own preference with SFBC (of which I am a member) is to use it to pick up hardcover editions of classic SF books (i.e., by dead guys), grab convenient compendiums that help me catch up with a long-running series, and for SFBC’s own anthologies, while picking up newer releases from living authors in the stores. But if you use it to get the new SF releases, including my own, that’s fine with me. We sold a ton of Old Man’s War through SFBC, and I won’t mind doing the same with TGB.

I’ll tell you a funny story involving SFBC: At Boskone I introduced myself to Ellen Asher, the editor-in-chief of the SFBC. After we exchanged pleasantries we talked a bit about some of my future projects, and I mentioned The Android’s Dream, and went into detail about the first chapter, which as many of you may remember is basically one extended fart joke. Ms. Asher listened with what I suspect was growing horror at my description of the first chapter, and when I was done, said, as diplomatically as possible, “Well, I suppose we may have to put a warning up about that book.” I found that very amusing.

I’ll be interested to see what she thinks of the actual chapter (not to mention the rest of the book) once it comes her way. It really does sound horrifying when I try to describe it, but in the actual writing it plays a bit better. I swear.

12 Comments on “TGB @ SFBC”

  1. John: It really does sound horrifying when I try to describe it, but in the actual writing it plays a bit better. I swear.

    I don’t believe you. I think we need the first chapter posted here on the Whatever so that we can make up our own minds. :)


  2. Hey, if you’re lucky you could get a book banned. Then you’d really be cool. I mean, come on, persecution drives book sales. Just look at Harry Potter.

  3. Being banned from the SFBC wouldn’t be much of a rallying cry, I’m afraid. And anyway, after the first chapter, fart jokes decrease rapidly.

  4. Well, I meant banned in general. Or, preferably, by some fundamentalist wackos. That would get you some readers. Hey, if you were SUPER lucky, people would buy you book to burn it.

  5. John, TGB was available for preorder as of 02/09, and they claimed to have shipped my copy as of 02/21.

    The author must be the last to know…

  6. No, I knew it was available as a pre-order, but I was reminded it was live on the service because of the e-mail I got today from SFBC reminding me it was an alternate selection for the month.

  7. So how does it work, please?
    I buy a book from your publisher that they made somehow more “collectible” (for those who don’t read, but do invest) and you get a ‘nickel’ (a royalty). Ok, a credit against your advance.
    I buy a book from a book club for a lot less (because they bought a bunch?) and, out of that squeezed margin, do you still get your ‘nickel’? or is that squeezed too because it comes in a big check, or something?
    Thanks for coping with my nosiness.

    — ml

  8. With a book bought in the store, I get a direct cut of the cover price (10% for hardcovers). With a book in the book club, I get half of the licensing fee the book club pays to the publisher in order print and distribute their own version of the book.

    I make more from conventional book sales as opposed to book club sales, but to be entirely honest, at my current levels of sales and pay, the disparity is not great enough to matter terribly. Also, as a still-new author, it’s rather more important to get the book in front of readers than it is to worry about whether I’m getting slightly more from one edition rather than the other.

  9. Regarding those “warnings”: My first job in New York publishing, 22 years ago, was with the Literary Guild, a sibling to the Science Fiction Book Club and several other book clubs, all then owned by Doubleday in those pre-Bertelsmann days. I worked just a couple of cubicles over from Ellen Asher and her assistant at that time, Moshe Feder.

    One day, in a meeting of book club editors and their assistants, the subject of those adult-content warnings came up. “We have to be careful with those,” Ellen remarked. “We often put them onto books that don’t deliver enough objectionable content, and then we really get complaints.”

    At that moment, Grasshopper was illuminated.

  10. (That said, the idea that “persecution drives book sales” is a comforting lie. In most cases, persecution damages sales and rips up lives.)

    Color me corrected. I was always under the presumption that any publicity was good publicity. But then, I don’t have even a tenth of the experience as you do in the business.