The Collapsing Empire’s First Week

So, The Collapsing Empire had a pretty good first week! In terms of total sales, i.e., actual units sold, it had the best first week of any book I’ve written, ever; as I noted on Twitter, I’ve sold more copies of it in a week than some of my novels (including at least one Hugo nominee) sold in their first year. That’s a decent career progression! It’s the #1 science fiction hardcover according to Bookscan (which tracks sales at a substantial portion of the bookstores in the US) and the #17 hardcover fiction novel of any sort. It’s the #2 audio book on Audible’s weekly top ten list (that’s among all audio books, not just science fiction). It’s #25 on the USA Today Bestseller list, which tracks sales of all books (not just hardcover, not just fiction), which is the highest debut of any of my books on that list ever (previous record holder: The End of All Things, which came in at #31). We missed the NYT Hardcover bestseller list despite the book being my actual best seller ever, which suggests some other hardcovers are having a pretty nice sales week too. Good for them.

Also, hey, remember this tweet?

Well, this is what that was about.

So, in sum: Top selling science fiction hardcover in the US, second-best-selling audio book in the US, my highest debut on the USA Today bestseller list, and a TV deal.

That’s a pretty good week, y’all.

And as you may imagine, I am appropriately grateful. I’m grateful for everyone at Tor who worked hard to get the book out of the gate in such a spectacular fashion. I’m likewise grateful to the folks at Audible who made the audio book a very very big deal. I’m grateful to the booksellers who sold the hell out of the book. I’m clearly hugely grateful to everyone who picked up the book in print or ebook or audio. This has been a terrific debut, and I really couldn’t be happier, or luckier, or more mindful of how my success relies on others. Thank you, folks.

And now I’m going to catch a plane to spend a few days at home. And then: on the road again starting Monday, to see more of you on tour. This has been a great debut. Let’s keep it going.

65 Comments on “The Collapsing Empire’s First Week”

  1. Incidentally, and because I know people here will ask: The disinformation campaign of a certain sadly envious individual and his pals, which included putting up a “me too” book with a “me too” cover and poor reviews of TCE on Amazon, appears to have had no real impact at all on sales or the overall critical reception of the book. Which, mind you, is not exactly a surprise, either to me or to anyone who actually understands how publishing works. But be assured that this fellow and his pals will find a way to spin this week’s sales, listings and deals into a smashing victory for themselves. Bless their hearts.

  2. Congratulations, sir – this is richly deserved recognition of an excellent book!

    Enjoy your break with family and pets, looking forward to seeing you in our little burg soon.

  3. I am very excited to read it. Just finishing up a re-read of a favorite series first.

    Mr. Scalzi — Re: TV deal: I assume a lot of that work is done by your agent(s). But how much of the sales of the TV rights is done by you? Do you have to write pitches? Write draft scripts? Stand up in front of potential buyers and make your case? etc…

  4. Congrats! Looking forward to seeing you next week in Brookline. If one were to bring a ukulele, would it need to be in tune for you?

  5. Congratulations! I’m almost through reading Collapsing Empire. Terrific novel. Love the premise.
    I swear I pronounce Nohamapetan different every time I encounter the name. They couldn’t have just been the Jones family? But how DO you come up with these names?
    Badass Kiva is my new hero.
    I do not want it to end, so I’m dragging my feet.

  6. I was wondering how the book of your ‘nemesis’ was doing. Thanks for clearing that up.

  7. Thanks for the stats, always interesting. I enjoyed the book quite a bit (though I understand the feeling of “it was short”… I think it just read pretty fast). Not my favorite you’ve ever done (oddly enough my favorite is “Agent to the Stars” just because of the humor) but a really interesting Sci Fi read and I’m curious where it will go next :).

  8. John, does “TV deal” mean that it’s planned to actually go into production? As in, it’s more than just a bought option? Or is it in the same boat as OMW &c have been (to my knowledge, anyways) at various times?

    Either way, way cool! Congrats!

  9. Congratulations! Really enjoyed the book, very much looking forward the next and next and next…

    On the TV deal – I really hope that this ends up on a “premium” channel (i.e. HBO/Showtime/Starz/etc.). Anything else will mean they have to water down Kiva and that would be a tragedy. I’ve always liked your characters but that mouth of hers is really something special.

  10. Took longer for you to kick me out of #1 in Kindle Space Opera than I expected *G* (and, strangely, I haven’t seen a certain other book anywhere near even the kindle-only bestseller lists)

    Seriously, congratulations, the book is doing fantastic.

    I’m guessing you have no idea on timeline for the TV show?

  11. Sorry I didn’t purchase the book but picked it up via my local library. So far I’m considering buying it tho! Yes, that means I like it.

    Love your character development. Kiva is a badass as others have said.

    Hoping the TV news goes further than the announcement. Unfortunately I have seen others have that happen but the success of The Expanse series gives me hope.

  12. As always I will be ordering a signed copy for my husband John Scalzi from Jay and Mary’ we are a tad behind in reading it but congratulations on all the fantastic news!!! Very well deserved!! Let us know which coast they will be shooting the show, would be a riot to have another John Scalzi in the credits! Huge congratulations!

  13. Our road trip to Vegas from Phoenix (and back) was greatly enhanced by the audiobook. Thank you (and Wil!) for making the drive infinitely less boring. I will have to pick up a hard copy at some point, because I NEED to know how all of the names are spelled. It’s extra fun trying to guess, though!

  14. Congrats on all the external validation and TV deal (I guessed it was something like that, woohoo, hopefully more SF on TV!)

    How do you feel about the book, now it’s all out in the big wide world on its own? Are you happy with the story/how it turned out after you’re looking at it from a little bit of distance?

  15. Congratulations! I’m glad everything is going so well for you with this release! Seriously, the only thing I didn’t like about it was that there is not yet a second book to continue reading. :p ;)

    It was wonderful, and I’m very much looking forward to the continuation, whenever it may come. Cheers! :)

  16. Stayed up way past my bedtime reading your book! Thanks for an enjoyable read, and congratulations on the reward for all your hard work. And also it’s just fun to watch someone who seems to be a really good person succeed.

  17. Congrats on the success!
    Interesting that you mention someone mysterious dogging you. Also on Twitterscream yesterday someone did a long thread on a mysterious disingenuous friend/abuser soaking up people’s energy. I have no idea who either of you are talking about . . . and will count my blessings for that.
    Congrats again! You deserve the recognition, and not just for the quality of writing, but also for the time and effort you put in to the genre itself. Thank you!

  18. Finished Collapsing Empire and loved it, and I think it will make great TV as long as they can maintain your snark and don’t tweak the characters into something unrecognizable like they did with The Expanse series.

  19. Personally, it was my favorite novel of yours that I’ve ever read. It helped that it was fresh and whole cloth. I’m also not one to read a lot of description, so even though your book was on the shorter end of sci-fi it felt longer than a similar length novel. Will buy again, 5/5.

  20. Congrats! `I have the novel in my hot little hands, but have not yet started to read. Congrats on the TV deal. Have you become the Gene Rodenberry of our generation? Have fun on your tour and all the best to you.

  21. When I finished reading chapter 11 I said to myself “this would be AMAZING as a TV adaptation”. Nice to see someone else agrees with me.

  22. Loved, loved, loved this book! Was desperate for a good, juicy, intrigue filled Space Opera. This fit the bill, and more. Can’t wait for next one! So, well done, you, Mr. Scalzi!

  23. Congratulations! I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m loving it so far. Way to go!

  24. Congrats! I loved the book, and practically inhaled it. It actually reminded me a bit of the Battletech books/game I’m fond of, in terms of the political intrigue going on, but Kiva…oh, Kiva is awesome and I want more of her. I adore her. I am very excited for the tv series, and for the next book!

  25. Adding my Congratulations! to the chorus. It was also a quick read for me (I anticipate at least a couple of rereadings – a slower one, to savor the work; and one right before I read The Last Emperox).

    I have it from Kobo, btw – my attempt to assuage my need for “books available at all times” and my lack of bookspace (books double-shelved, boxes piled) with a desire to support Indy bookstores.

  26. I was glad to get to see you in Lexington, and just as glad to see you’re enjoying this much-deserved success. If all your potential TV/movie deals work out, someone will have to establish a stand-alone Scalzi streaming service!

  27. Enjoyed the book greatly, but there’s gotta be more to the story! I like all three of your POV characters, if in different ways, though if I had to pick one I guess I’d pick Kiva, as lots of others have.

  28. Count me in as a two-fer: I bought the e-book (had it on preorder, so it showed up automatically on release day) and also used an Audible credit for the wonderful chance to hear Wil Wheaton’s acting on that version. He makes the miles fly by on the freeway.

    Sadly, it will take us two years to see the next chapter! boohoo!

  29. Great story. Loved getting back to hard core military space story. An added bonus was Empire bringing to mind some of Iain Banks wonderful Culture novels. Thank you very much.

  30. It came onto the Kindle at bedtime, I read till 4 AM, woke up at 9 and finished it. If it wasn’t for that darn sleep requirement, I’d have read it straight through.

    Also, I want to see a swear-off between Kiva and Avasarala from The Expanse. Perhaps A is a distant ancestor of K.

  31. Congratulations on all these awesome milestones for release week! I started listening to TCE this morning on my walk and was immediately drawn in. Kiva is, of course, my favorite. :)

  32. Congratulations! I really hope this one actually gets made into a show, it sounds like a really cool hybrid of “The Expanse” and “Dune”!

  33. Mazel tov! I enjoyed your “influences” article–definitely saw shades of Dune and The Goblin Emperor.

  34. Congrats. I am waiting to buy mine in Boulder, CO. I’m sure you can guess the day.

    While at home, do you ever find yourself reading something aloud to your family. Maybe sign something, a grocery list or something….

    Glad you get a few days at home. Having seen you in Denver before, I am amazed by how you put yourself out there. The pure amount of energy and time, with grace and friendliness, I admire.

  35. That’s really good news that TCA is doing so well- you thoroughly deserve it. Looking forward to my copy turning up so I can see for myself.

  36. Just picked it up from the library and waiting to dig in on my next commute. Reader to Author question. you still get paid if I take this out of the library or better for you if I buy (not all authors get this option form me :-) )?

  37. The Dayton Metro Library system is pretty darned good. Quick turnaround on requests out of their holdings, and I’ve gotten a handful of really helpful technical books through the Interlibrary Loan service. I’m delighted to pay the chunk of my real estate taxes that goes to the DML system.

  38. Very yummy read. It’s also the first time I’ve read “squick” in print as opposed to an alt.tasteless post. Good on ‘ya. :)

  39. Finished the book on the first leg of my flight today. I didn’t realize my seatmate was paying close attention to my reading speed until I closed the book and he said “Wow, you read FAST.” Only when it’s something I like, dude.

    My copy-editor brain twitched at “emperoxs” until it retuned and decided it’s not the author’s fault if humanity in the 36th century can’t spell plurals.

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