Friday, November 03, 2006

It's all in the numbers.

Running behind schedule as usual, I am just now getting around to an interesting post on book sales by the gals over at Bookends.

Regarding Neilsen Bookscan's tracked sales of books for 2004 (1.2 million), here are the results:

  • Of those 1.2 million, 950,000 sold fewer than 99 copies.
  • Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies.
  • Only 25,000 books sold more than 5,000 copies.
  • Fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000 copies.
  • Only 10 books sold more than a million copies each.
  • The average book in the United States sells about 500 copies.

Okay, we all know the bulk of the "99 copies and under" category came from POD publishers. What's really disturbing is that only 25,000 books sold more than 5,000 copies. Talk about a dying industry. I think I'm going to burn my television on the front lawn.

And fewer than 500 books sold more than 100,000 copies? What? The fact that the term "bestseller" represents how fast a title sells really distorts the total sales of a book. Most people (who are not in the publishing industry) assume a bestseller has sold hundreds of thousands of copies--even millions.

And only 10 books sold more than 1,000,000 units? I'm not even sure I believe that. I can think of 20 off the top of my head that I assumed sold that many. That means each major publishing conglomerate (bad word, I know) only gets 1 or 2 million-copy-seller per year?

We're lucky to get advances at all.

The only way to sell your title in this day and age is to think outside of the cube, man.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

If it's good enough for Viggo . . .

Yes, big/fun news in the world of self-publishing: Viggo Mortensen started his own imprint (like a thousand other authors) to sell some of his books (as well as others). From the NY Times article, it seems he is actually using a print run instead of POD, but his goals (and frustrations) are really no different than what so many other authors have tried to do, like Jeremy Robinson.

And why, for the love of rocks, does the NY Times tout Viggo's literary attempts as Indie when the rest of the self-published world is viewed as vanity (or worse)? And more importantly, why can't more men look like Viggo? I mean, seriously.

Another self-published book rockets (sails? drives? walks?) to commercially-published success. Here is another cross-over deal listed at Publishers Marketplace:

President of Bridges, Branches and Braids Ruth King's HEALING RAGE: Women Making Inner Peace Possible, previously self-published, to Lauren Marino at Gotham, by Laurie Fox of the Linda Chester Literary Agency.

In case you didn't know, Gotham is part of Penguin Putnam.

And regardless of your political affiliation, you'll enjoy this quiz where you have to match the sex scene with the politician who wrote it. I only got 5 out of 13 right. (The Kenneth Starr excerpt was a gimme).

Monday, October 30, 2006


I'm not an avid Who fan. And most of their (best) stuff was written before I was even born. So why can I recite almost every lyric from Who's Next? Why was I the only girl (not to mention toddler) on my block who could spin my arms around windmill-style to the chord thrusts in Baba O'Riley?

Older siblings.

For an entire year my brother, Thomas, would not come down for dinner unless someone yelled up to his room, "Tommy, can you hear me?"

Recently, I finished a commercially-published nonfiction book on Morrissey, the lead singer from 80's British alternapop band The Smiths, so I was ripe for another biography on a rock star. And let me tell you, Wilkerson's book on Pete Townshend blew the other book away.

AMAZING JOURNEY is (hold on to your oats) over 600 pages of detailed, meticulous research, all written so well you'd expect a Da Capo logo on the spine. I can't imagine how long it took Wilkerson to pull together the immense information in this book, but it clearly reminds me why I would not be successful at writing biographies. The book is outstanding, covering the famed musician's entire life, and managing to entertain and surprise you along the way. If Pete Townshend was considering writing an autobiography one day, I'd kindly suggest he forget it. This book is more than enough. Here you'll get all the goods on the man who once wrote, "I hope I die before I get old."

Wilkerson writes a fair and balanced look at the guitarist and songwriter (unlike the worship-fest I suffered through with the Morrissey book). If you are a Who fan or even just a lover of 70's rock, this is a must for your collection. Ignore the price; it's like buying three books at once.

You can get it on Amazon for $34.95 or pick it up ten bucks cheaper directly from Lulu (or download it for under $7.50). I'd call that a bargain. The best I ever had.