Friday, December 07, 2007

Scary good news?

It's December crunch (right on the back of October crunch, which, for me, at least, only ended YESTERDAY) so I'll make this a super-short post. I just wanted to explain why even great news--like my #2 of two days ago--can make an editor panic. (Hence my state of "mild" current panic that will probably sustain itself/snowball until the manuscript is completely off my desk in early February.)

So I've talked about sell-in and sell-through before. (I don't want to bore so q quick recap: sell-in is when bookstores buy books from publishing companies; it's a commitment that happens about 4-6 months before the pub date. Sell-through (or sell-out) is when the customer picks up the book, walks up the register, and pays for it.)

Generally speaking, what makes a commercial bestseller in a brick-and-mortar? The answer is book presence. If you make it to the bestseller list, you're more likely to be a bestseller the week after, since people walk in and see your book on the front tables and bestseller displays. In other words, sales beget sales. A bookstore carries more of your book when you've proven yourself, and customers buy your books when they see more copies, because lots of copies mean a book is "good" and has gotten attention.

So the key to bestsellerdom, clearly, is to magically work your way into large presence at bookstores at the beginning of the cycle. Here is the sell-in part. Amazing sell-in numbers are almost essential to bestseller potential (there are examples of books that succeed on low sell-in numbers, but they have other exceptional circumstances behind their success). Also, large sell-in numbers make print runs much more affordable and thereby allocate more money for other concerns like marketing and publicity (this applies to mine and other small companies; bigger companies less so, since they have departmental allocations. But nevertheless big sell-in numbers make things much smoother for everyone).

One catch: great sell-in numbers DO NOT guarantee great sell-through. Other factors--including a high-quality product--are important for making things work smoothly. But if a book is sold in fantastically and there is a large printing to accommodate these great numbers, the publishing company can get into seriously deep doo-doo if the book underperforms on the sell-through level. You see, all books are sold into chains, distributors, and indies on a returnable basis. If there's no sell-through, they simply return their money for the cash back. The publishing company, unfortunately, cannot so easily return a book to the printer.

So yay!! I have had great sell-in and the groundwork laid here for a potential bestseller that might change the course of my career!! But now the pressure to edit the book well--and to have amazing luck--has just quadrupled as the expectations for the book have quadrupled. Hence my "mild" anxiety.

Anyway. Back to the redlining for me. Happy Friday, folks! Keep your fingers crossed.

14 comments:

Precie said...

Oooh! Moderate happy dance for you!

Kaytie M. Lee said...

Scary good news, indeed! But I know you can make it happen! And thanks for the informative post, my dear!



And that's too many exclamation points before coffee. :p

The Trouble With Roy said...

Pressure only exists for people who are good at what they do; being good NOW means you have to continue to be good -- or be better, LATER.

So congratulations! Pressure means you're making it.

Aprilynne said...

Good Luck!

angelle said...

hee hee.. short post indeed.

no but really, this is very good. good pressure. we like good pressure.

Cakespy said...

Scary good news indeed...Eat cake for some energy and carry on!

BTW I found it fascinating to find out a little more of the backstory behind what it takes to have a successful book. My mom is a children's book illustrator so bestseller info is vital to me if I can hope for an inheritance. Kidding!

Jill Myles said...

Hooray for you! And interesting about the sell-in vs sell-through. :)

Ello said...

That is awesome news! Yes, I understand your concern, but simply awesome! Congratulations! now get back to work!

cyn said...

happy friday and good luck, MR!!

Church Lady said...

If we only knew what the book was, or who you are and what scandalous past you are hiding, we in the blogosphere could buy this book like hotcakes.

So whoever you are, a book-reading book-editing gal living in New York, Good Luck and Best Wishes!!!
;-)

Josephine Damian said...

Moonrat, WTG, getting a linked nod from Nathan on his blog. He mentioned me once in a post but didn't give me any linky-love :-(.

Great post, BTW.

Church Lady said...

Josephine, what are you referencing?

Shameless said...

What great insights into your world. It must be a bloody anxious time though. I'm keeping everything I can cross, crossed! :-)

Bryan D. Catherman said...

This is a great point on becoming a bestseller. As a book buyer, I look at many sales lists. The best ones are always the sell-though lists. And it's always better for an author to have many copies in a prominent location in the bookstore.

I see great sales while we have lost of copies of a title, but then for whatever reason, the last one or two copies just sit like they have cooties. As soon as I order more copies, the sales pick up again, like magic. I see it time and time again.