Victoria Strauss — Some Interesting Recent Blog Posts and Articles

Below, links to some interesting and useful articles and blog posts that I’ve encountered recently in my travels round the Web:

– On Nathan Bransford’s blog, guest blogger Eric, a sales assistant at a major book publisher, provides a primer on how publishers sell books into bookstores. An eye-opening post that points up, among other things, the vital importance of sales reps.

– As a new author, you’re an unknown quantity–which means (from publishers’ and agents’ perspective) that you’re a risk–but also, possibly, that you could break big. Once you’re published, however, you are largely defined by your sales numbers. If you’re a US-published author, how do publishers and agents know your sales numbers? From Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70% of all bookstore sales in the USA. Bad BookScan numbers can torpedo your next sale–and if you think you can just change your name, or slide on over to a new agent or publisher, think again: they have BookScan too.

But how accurate is Bookscan, really? It doesn’t, for instance, track sales from big-box retailers like Walmart, so if you’re lucky enough to get placement for your novel in one of those stores, those numbers will be missing from your BookScan total. Even for bookstore sales, BookScan may not tell the whole story. This interesting series of posts from agent Andrew Zack, sparked by his discovery of a major discrepancy between the BookScan numbers for one of his authors and the author’s actual royalty statements, explores that issue.

– From the Shelftalker blog, the do’s and don’ts of promotional emails–very good advice for authors (and publishers) looking to promote their books.

– From Editorial Ass, a balanced post on when, why, and possibly why not to hire outside editorial assistance.

– Ever wondered what the heck a blog tour was, and how to organize one? The Book Publicity Blog answers all your questions.

– From John Scalzi, why “new” novelists are often kinda old.

– For the procrastinator in us all, a wonderful essay from author Ann Patchett on the scariness of starting a new book: Why Not Put Off Till Tomorrow the Book You Could Write Today?

– What do writers really do with their time? Novelist J. Robert Lennon lets you in on the secret. I absolutely adore this article–if anyone ever asks me about my writing process, I’m just going to refer them here.


  1. That Lennon detail about writing reminds me of a scene in "The Singing Detective" (the original, with Michael Gambon), in which the author is lying in a hospital bed, silent, apparently asleep. A nurse comes in to poke or prod him for some reason or another, disrupting his solitude.

    Flustered and angry, he shoos her away, saying, "Leave me alone. I'm writing!"

    Such a great bit. I think of it all the time.

  2. After reading John Scalzi's article, I'm seriously considering throwing in the towel (not on writing – just on my ambitions of ever finding an agent let alone getting published by a big publishing house).

    I have a half-finished book that I haven't touched since my son was born over five months ago. I have no time or energy for writing or querying for my last MS. I'm fast approaching 40.

    Knowing how seriously the odds are stacked against me, AND that even if I do get published the odds are against being successful enough to get another book published … well, I may have to re-think my priorities. I may just be one of those writers who has to be happy if family and friends get to read my work.

    I'm thinking of just self-publishing through Createspace. If I tell myself that it's only for family & friends I can live with it. If I tell myself that anyone else may find it & consider it a gem – I get discouraged.

    I have yet to find anything by a self-published author in my genre that I would pay money for. I don't WANT to be lumped in with all the drek. But, if I'm just doing it for my family & friends I guess it'll be okay.

  3. Victoria, you've collected together some lovely links here: I wonder, though: would you do me a favour? Coincidentally, this morning I blogged about those various industry roundups that we can subscribe to but my list is short, and very much biased towards the UK. If you get a spare minute, would you mind adding your links to my list? I'd be very grateful.

  4. And here I just sent it to my wife so that she would understand that reading blogs is legitimate writing time. 😉

  5. Jacqueline, I don't use a feed reader. It's a combination of Google alerts, Twitter, dropping in regularly at my fave industry blogs, and, especially, the several e-newsletters about publishing that I subscribe to.

    MisterChris, I know exactly what you mean. We mustn't let our significant others read that article, though.

  6. Victoria, I absolutely LOVED the article on the writing process.

    And here I thought I was the only one who would carry on a conversation, stop, and fall into a fit of evil chuckling while writing the next great obstacle or humorous passage in my head…

  7. Thank you for the list of items of interest to the business end of writing.

    I always feel that I'm hunting these things at random.

    How did you find them? I use feeddemon — did you use a keyword search in an RSS feed reader?

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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