Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday Morning Egg McMuffin (We're in a hurry)

This is BYOB (bring your own breakfast) day at the cafe. Fear not, though: the beer is flowing like . . . beer.

Chug this: Today's P5
(what is this?) . . .

(1) SUFFER IN SILENCE: 8,122 5
COOKIN' FOR LOVE: 56,349 6
(4) A SMALL CASE OF MURDER: 94,398 5
(5) INFERTILITY SUCKS: 111,190 5

What about this tasty tidbit (courtesy of the master of the [publishing] universe, Michael Cader, over at
Publishers Marketplace):

-- New York's Mercantile Library is celebrating its devotion entirely to fiction with the initiation of an annual Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction, honoring "an editor, publisher, or agent who over the course of his or her career has discovered, nurtured, and championed writers of fiction in the U.S." The first winner is Nan Talese.

What is going on here? We're run out of ways to award authors so now we need to get their editors and agents into the picture? Sounds like a great idea. Let's award someone for taking 15% (and 20% on foreign and film!) of another person's work. Or better, lets give an award to an editor for having the best agent contact list. I mean, c'mon. These people don't produce anything. Even my agent and editor will admit they can't write worth a stone. What next, awarding Sports agents?

People are always asking me (besides who are you) what I am reading. Well, the answer is this: the first few chapters of a lot of very bad books churned out over at Lightning Source. (As well as a handful of PODs that just light my world on fire! See the list to the right.)

I do, however, infuse some traditionally published books into my diet, to assure myself that good books get published, and to make sure I do not let my own writing deteriorate from exposure to inferior text.

So . . . what's on my nightstand, besides a two-gallon jug of wrinkle cream? Here you go (all are excellent, by the way):

LUNAR PARK by Bret Easton Ellis

FLIRTING WITH PRIDE & PREJUDICE edited by Jennifer Crusie


FREAKONOMICS by Levitt/Dubner


See you next week, with treasure posted first thing Monday morn (before the sun rises!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Judging books by their . . . sales?

Your P5 for Wednesday, September 28, 2005:

(1) SUFFER IN SILENCE: 8,765 5
(3) COOKIN' FOR LOVE: 28,325 5
(4) THE CIRCLE OF SODOM: 155,723 6

In case you haven't checked out this article--The Book Standard Honors Bestsellers--you should give it a once-over. Not so much for the award discussion, but to get a realistic idea of what a bestseller is. (Granted, the figures are based on Bookscan data, but it's the closest thing we have to real sales results.)

Many people think the term bestseller means sold a million copies. Not even close. Further, it depends on what bestseller list is claiming the book. Obviously, the NY Times is the one to watch (among others.) But believe me--when a book sells a million copies, they will make that very clear on the cover of the book, and they'll choose their wording well:

Over a million copies in print!

Because they want to claim all those remainders, too.

If you look at the list, you'll see the (*yawn*) obvious entries like HARRY POTTER (6,397,000 units) and DA VINCI CODE (2,261,000) but some others might not clock in the way you think.

Like Malcolm Gladwell's BLINK, which moved just under 600K units. Having been on so many bestseller lists, most folks would assume he sold millions.

How about READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN? Under 500,000 copies.

THE HISTORIAN? 282,000. A success, for sure. But a mega-blowout? Not exactly. Little, Brown paid over $2M for it, so--even though they claim it as a victory--the jury may still be out.

Perhaps most disturbing is that HAMLET only moved 36,000 copies. Poor Shakespeare would have had to dump his SoHo apartment.

And now that Ms. Winfrey is back to plucking literary stars from the sky, expect to see James Frey top (or be near the top of) all the bestseller lists.

Just one final note to drive the point home: Ranking your Romance:

Fantasy: BLUE DAHLIA (Roberts) 554,000 units
Suspense: MURDER LIST (Garwood) 202,000 units
Historical: THE QUEEN'S FOOL (Gregory) 134,000 units
Time Travel: OUTLANDER (Gabaldon) 39,000

Yes, that's right: 39,000. That is the bestselling Time Travel Romance of the year. A book that has been in print for over a decade. Not a good thing for other folks writing in this genre.

As for my book? Just over 20,000.

And counting desperately.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I couldn't have grouped these books better myself

Amazon proves its search methodology is quite sophisticated. It truly seems these books should be together when searching on Willem Meiners. (Click image for larger view.)

Monday, September 26, 2005


I had this book slated for later this year, but after my gentle rant about book titles last week, how could I not review this one next? I mean, c'mon--who doesn't want to own a book with nipple in the title?

Truth is, this is one funny, well-written book about the joys (shock, embarrassment, confusion, frustration . . .) of being the father of a newborn. For those of you who picked up Michael Crider's GUY'S GUIDE TO SURVIVING PREGNANCY, CHILDBIRTH AND THE FIRST YEAR OF CHILDHOOD, this will take up where you left off--or rather, serve as a friendly companion.

Roger Friedman's NIPPLE CONFUSION, UNCOORDINATED POOPING AND SPITTLE: THE LIFE OF A NEWBORN'S FATHER starts at week 35 of the pregnancy and moves on to the less, um, predictable days of childbirth and child-rearing. He hits the nail on the head about all of the things you expect to have happen naturally, but are anything from naturally easy (i.e. delivery, breastfeeding, even buying clothes) as well as the common falsities (yes, a baby girl's pee shoots across the room just like a boy's.)Friedman's book manages to teach and entertain at the same time and will deliver more than a few out-loud bursts of laughter.

NIPPLE CONFUSION is highly entertaining, and gives a genuine glimpse into the life-changing events on the way (or, if you're lucky, out of the way.) Friedman's storytelling is very comfortable and glides by easily, as if he is telling you these stories over a beer in a local pub--and a hundred miles away from the nearest stinky diaper. It's a nice relaxing read after some the heavier books I've been reviewing recently. Enjoy.