May 22nd, 2007

I don’t buy this guy’s premise

The New York Sun has an article that basically calls “And Then We Came to the End” a perplexing failure because it has only sold 50,000 copies after being on the cover of the NY Times book review.

I DO believe this from the article: “It used to be that books had the shelf-life of a container of yogurt. Nowadays it seems more like hamburger meat. If a book doesn't make it to the New York Times bestseller list within the first several days of arrival, it never will.”

And this was sadly familiar: “Part of the problem may be that bookstores don't pay close enough attention to reviews. I went to look for "Then We Came to the End" at the Lincoln Square Barnes & Noble the day after the Times review, and experienced the kind of scenario that leads authors into years of costly psychotherapy. No one knew where to find it. Three clerks and 10 minutes later, I'd bought one of the store's last three copies.” That made me feel oddly better.

But calling the book’s sales “mid-range” DOESN’T ring true to me. Most authors would kill for 50,000 copies sold hardcover. 10,000 is usually the sign of success.

I think the author had a premise: reviews don’t translate into sales. And then he wrote to that premise.

What do you think? You can read more of the article here.



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Thinking outside the box for a book tour

The standard book tour looks like this: you do a little media in the day (if you're lucky), go to some bookstores for "drive-by" signings, and have an event in the evening that is pretty much interchangeable with the one you did in the city before: you, your book, a Q&A.

But Daniel Handler and Harper did something a little bit different, as reported in The Oregonian. "The different kind of reading Sunday at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing -- billed as "Daniel Handler in conversation with Colin Meloy" -- delivered a droll exchange between the author and the lead singer for the Decemberists that started with Dracula's daughter and ended with "Peter and the Wolf."

The event was the last stop on a tour for the paperback release of "Adverbs" that was, Handler said, "an experiment on the part of HarperCollins and myself." The tour included "conversations" with author Christopher Moore ("You Suck: A Love Story," "Dirty Jobs") in the Bay Area; journalist Jason McBride in Toronto; David Rakoff (essayist, writer and frequent contributor to NPR) in New York; and Gregory Maguire ("Wicked," "Lost") in Boston."

Karen Karbo did something similar for the release of her book Motherhood Made a Man out of Me. In each city she was accompanied by a different mom/author.

This kind of thing is great. You get cross-over appeal, and you make the reading an event rather than something pretty ordinary.

You can read more of the article here.



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