View From a Hotel Window 4/17/18: Ann Arbor, MI (Plus: Release Dates in 2005 and Today)

To start off my travels, I am on a high floor overlooking a church. However, the brick building at the right of a picture is a parking garage, so I think we’re in good shape in terms of the “where is the parking lot” aspect of my travel pictures.

Tonight: I am at the Literati Bookstore here in Ann Arbor, and everything starts at 7pm. If you’re in the area, come be the guinea pigs for the rest of the tour, and hear everything first!

Tomorrow: I will be in Iowa City, at the famed Prairie Lights bookstore, also at 7pm. If you live in or near Iowa City, come on down, and bring everyone you know!

Etc: I got an email from a reader who noted that Head On is my 13th novel (which is true, uuuh, I think) and wondered how a book release day is different now than it was when Old Man’s War, my first published novel, was released back in 2005, and if it’s still exciting 13 years on.

Well, some of the things that are different:

* Old Man’s War came out on January 1st, so Head On isn’t competing with a major holiday where most people stay at home watching football and/or nursing hangovers. So that’s a positive!

* I was at home for the Old Man’s War’s release, not only because it was New Years but because I wouldn’t do a book tour for a release until The Last Colony in 2007. I’ve toured with every new novel since Fuzzy Nation in 2011, which means that for the last seven years, I’m usually somewhere else when the book comes out; like, for example, Ann Arbor, where I am today. This is not a complaint, incidentally. I like touring my books and it’s a thing not every author gets to do. But it is different from when I started out — now when a book comes out, I’m on the road.

* I’m a lot less stressed about the book release, in terms of sales. When Old Man’s War came out I was constantly checking Amazon rankings and wondering how the sales were and so on. These days and for the last several books, I don’t really check online sales rankings. One, because I know that they’re not exactly indicative of actual unit sales, and two, because as I go along and I understand the dynamics of my own sales profile, there’s less reason for me to sweat my opening numbers. In terms of sales, I’m generally a marathoner, not a sprinter, a fact that’s useful for backlist and royalties. Knowing that makes me less anxious about my opening numbers. Don’t get me wrong, I like it when I’m up near the top of sales numbers; that’s always nice. But I’m not constantly pinging my Amazon rankings.

* Likewise I worry less over reviews. I like it when they’re positive — who doesn’t? — but I don’t worry too much when they’re, shall we say, less than glowing. Part of that is simply having been a pro critic myself and remembering how the sausage gets made, and another part is simply always having had something of a thick skin. But the other part — the part I grew into, shall we say — is realizing that with very rare exceptions, an occasional bad review doesn’t hurt a book. The example I give for this is Redshirts, which got two of my worst trade reviews ever from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus, but then went into the bestseller lists and won several awards including the Best Novel Hugo. Perhaps more accurately, if every review of a book is a negative one? There might be a problem. But the occasional pan that comes as part of a whole range of reviews? I don’t lose sleep over them, and they don’t bother me (or cause me to want to respond) as they might have when I was new out of the gate.

* What hasn’t changed is, simply, my fundamental excitement that something that started off in my brain is now out there in the world. And some people like it! And talk and think about it! And want more of it! I mean, how can that ever get old? It can’t. Well, I guess it could, but I’m glad it hasn’t for me. I still have what I think is the coolest job in the world. I felt that way in 2005, and I feel that way now.

21 Comments on “View From a Hotel Window 4/17/18: Ann Arbor, MI (Plus: Release Dates in 2005 and Today)”

  1. While you are in Ann Arbor, see if you can find the Bagel Factory. Their Fragel is a cinnamon raisin bagel which rather than being boiled then baked, is deep fried and rolled in cinnamon sugar. Truly a heart attack in your hand. And worth it!

  2. Dear Bob,

    No that is **NOT** a bagel. It should be illegal to even describe it in the same paragraph with the word “bagel.”


    pax / Ctein

  3. I was planning to attend tonight, John, coming over from Windsor. Unfortunately, my body decided to hit me with aches, pains, and a complete inability to sleep last night. If it’s a flu starting up, then thank me for sparing you from it!

  4. I was up till 3 AM reading it, so I’m bleary-eyed but it was really, really good. Loved the cat.

  5. Ha, I see someone else did the same thing. Hello, other person in my time zone! Do we know each other? We ought to. Email me! (I did watch some TV last night too)

    That’s actually a nice view for once.

    My pal Ctein is correct. That isn’t a bagel. It’s a donut. I would eat it, though.

  6. Glad to see the parking lot got first paragraph billing. Book information, pfft; parking lot, importanto.

    The book hasn’t arrived here in New Zealand yet even though we are supposed to be about 18 hours ahead.

  7. “In terms of sales, I’m generally a marathoner, not a sprinter…”

    Any thoughts on how publishers recognize that? I hear about how important pre-orders and first-week sales are, and I wonder whether publishers give new authors time to become marathoners.

  8. I’ve stayed in that Hotel! Perhaps in the same room given the view.

    Bob Severs – I don’t think that the Bagel Factory is there any more. Sad…those Fragels were tasty!

  9. I think you’ve set a new standard with multiple parking structures in that photo
    Theres the white-ish one directly in front plus the one to the right
    Woohoo !

    Oh yeah great news about the book tour :P

  10. It’s interesting that you say you’re a marathoner, but not a sprinter, when it comes to your sales. Because that’s my relationship to your books, I’m never thinking “I gotta read that as soon as possible!!” but I always eventually buy them. I don’t think that’s any kind of criticism either. It’s more like I’m in the mood for some fun new sci-fi, and I think “oh yeah, Scalzi put out a new one a couple months ago.”

  11. Too late for John, but you can still get fragels at Bagel Fragel on Plymouth Rd. Common birthday treat in our office.

    Went out into the chilly evening yesterday and really enjoyed hearing John at Literati. Starting Head On this evening after finishing a reread of Locked in yesterday.

    I had missed the first time through that Chris was not explicitly gendered in the book. I thought Chris was a man both times, partly because the interaction with parents seemed more son-like. And despite having a daughter that climbed everything in sight, I had a hard time imagining a girl setting up a ramp to do BMX jumps on.

  12. People have made me hungry with this Fragel talk. I found them to be neither bagel nor donut, but still more bagel-ish than donutlike. I suspect that, like proper bagels, they’re boiled before the final cooking step; they have that bagel-y chew. They’re also prone to having gooey bits of semi-cooked dough, but I ended up thinking that that was part of their charm.

  13. Noah’s is also not a bagel. It’s bread in the shape of a donut. It does, however, make good sliced toast.

    John, as a reviewer myself I like having lots of company. I feel more willing to give a bad review when I think it’s deserved if I know that other voices will express different opinions and I won’t be single-handedly responsible for killing an author’s sales. I don’t wish the author to starve, I just didn’t like the book.

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