Friday, March 30, 2007

Timing is Everything

A few years ago, I was talking with another editor about the next novel from a major bestselling writer. The book was scheduled to come out in several months, and galleys would be arriving soon. The author routinely sold about 400,000 copies in hardcover, and another million in paperback. Yet despite ten bestselling novels and over 40,000,000 copies in print worldwide, the author had never hit #1 on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list. It wasn't that his sales didn't justify it--many authors have hit #1 despite selling far fewer copies--it was that his books always came out in the fall, when the competition was at its fiercest, and more books were competing for almighty consumer dollar.

Then I made a (somewhat) bold prediction. I said that the author's next book would hit #1 in its first week out. Sure enough, months later, that book became his first hardcover #1 New York Times bestseller. How did I "guess" that this would happen? Well, it wasn't a guess really. I just looked at the schedule of upcoming books and realized two things:

1) This author's book was the only major (i.e. over 100,000 first printing) fiction release that week.

2) Several major bestselling authors were publishing books in the weeks leading up to it, but based on their track records their second and third weeks on sale would be well below what this author sold in his first week.

In the end, I determind that this author would hit #1 not because this book was head-and-shoulders better in terms of quality, but because, unlike his previous books, he was the one and only attraction that week. There were fewer books competing for readers, and more shelf space could be devoted to this author's book.

I think about this when prepping for the release of THE MARK. I'm constantly checking Barnes & Noble and Amazon to see what books are coming in my genre, in my format, within several weeks of my release. My motives are simple: I want to know what other books are competing for dollars that might otherwise be spent on my book.

THE MARK is a debut novel. It's coming out in July, a crowded month for commercial fiction. My publisher is pushing the book in the hopes that it will stand out in this crowd. Early reviews and feedback have been largely positive, but at the same time it is a debut. I can't expect people to pay for my book at the exclusion of a familiar (and reliable) author they've read before. Coming out as a paperback original, thankfully if a reader wants to take a chance on my book they won't have to pony up $17-25 when there are others they've already earmarked that much money for. So if a thriller fan buys the paperback of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's bestselling THE BOOK OF THE DEAD and Karin Slaughter's TRIPTYCH, then take a chance on mine too, they're only out $23.97. Or the price of one undiscounted hardcover. Not a bad deal for three books.

But at the same time, each book that comes out in July takes up valuable shelf space, and the fear is that I could be squeezed out. So when Daniel Silva's THE CONFESSOR comes out in July, as well as Kelley Armstrong's EXIT STRATEGY and Sandra Brown's RICOCHET, I'll be fighting established bestsellers for that priceless co-op.

In the end readers will respond to the book based on quality, but timing plays a huge issue in just how many readers will find the book, spend money on the book, then read the book. Just like in comedy, there's nothing more important than...


Wednesday, March 28, 2007


That's the new title for the second Henry Parker book, coming February 2008. It narrowly beat out 'The Calamari' and 'The Fahrvergn├╝gen.'

Monday, March 26, 2007

The 10 Flimsiest Excuses to Receive a Signed ARC of THE MARK

10. I need a leg for my dining room table.
Scott Seegert

9. I'd like to win a copy of THE MARK to get back at everyone who's ever told me I was "missing the mark."
Gerald So

8. Well, see, I lost my fingernail file, and gunk is accumulating under my fingernails. If I win THE MARK, I can use the corners of the pages to keep my fingernails looking pretty.

7. My dog ate my only book.
Pattinase Abbott

6. I'm running out of materials to line the bottom of the bird cage.
Mystery Dawg

5. My computer chair legs are uneven and IT is too thick.
Michele Lee

4. My name's shorter and easier to spell than the name of the previous winner.
John McAuley

3. Winning a signed copy of THE MARK will make me a better mother.
Brita Miko

2. I'd like an ARC of The Mark as a distraction to help cure my internet porn addiction.
Eric Christopherson

1. I have a baby ferret on a respirator and reading THE MARK out loud will save his life.
Angie Johnson-Schmit

Congrats to Angie, who wins a signed copy of THE MARK which will hopefully help keep her baby ferret alive. I have a soft spot for ferrets. Or is it marmots? Oh well, congrats anyway Angie, and thanks to everyone who entered. There were a ton of flimsy reasons to consider, and it's great to know there are so many cheapskates always looking for the easy route.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Weekend Update

Smatterings for the weekend:

--Lots of great entries for this week's contest. The winner of a signed ARC of THE MARK will be announced Monday.

--Looks like the second Henry Parker novel is undergoing a title change, stay tuned.

--I'm currently prepping for my fantasy baseball draft, which begins tomorrow at 3:00. My desk is currently buried under a pile of rotisserie magazines and printouts, and I've bookmarked about a dozen websites. After a strong 2nd place finish in 2005, my team plummeted to 8th (out of 10) in 2006. I blame the poor finish on injuries (damn you Rich Harden), subpar performances (damn you Coco Crisp and Mark Buehrle) and the depressing nature of having to root for A-Rod.

--To get my mind right, I started reading Sam Walker's FANTASYLAND, a narrative of his entry into "Tout Wars," the most competitive fantasy baseball league in the world. It's wildly entertaining, with solid A+ writing. Anyone who's played fantasy baseball will identify with Walker's miracles (picking up a guy off waivers to fill in for an injured player and watching him flourish) as well as his blunders (bringing up a player at auction you don't want in the hopes of depleting your competitors funds, only to be stuck with him when nobody else bids).

--My team name is 'Shooter McGavin.' Major points to anyone who can guess where it comes from.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Last Chance Saloon

The contest to win a signed ARC of THE MARK along with another secret goodie (or is it 'goody'?) ends today at noon PST. Latecomers can check out the rules here, and send their entries to me at

The top entries will be posted on Monday, along with the grand poobah who came up with the flimsiest excuse and shall be exalted henceforth as "Supreme Moocher."

Quirky Book Tidbit of the Day:
Browsing a neighborhood bookstore yesterday, and discovering that Snoop Dogg's novel LOVE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE was shelved in the fiction section under 'D' for Dogg. For some reason that killed me.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Nobody Does it Better

Many congratulations to Laura Lippman on this fantastic news. I had the pleasure of finally meeting Laura at her Black Orchid signing last week, and she is as kind and funny as she is talented. More proof that cream rises to the top.

Just over a day remaining to get in your entry to win a signed ARC of THE MARK. For a refresher, check out the rules here. Entries are coming in fast and furious, but the contest ends Friday at noon PST. The entries range from incredibly flimsy to, "Hey, that's actually a pretty good reason."

The flimsiest entries will be revealed on Monday, so get your excuse juices flowing...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Win a signed ARC of THE MARK

Time for another contest. Like the last one, the winner will receive a signed advance reading copy of my debut novel, THE MARK. Unlike last time, I might have another goodie to throw in the package.

Here's the deal:

The person who can come up with the flimsiest reason to get a copy of THE MARK, wins a copy of THE MARK.

Example #1:
Jason is my long lost nephew, and this book will bring us together.

Example #2:
Winning a signed copy of THE MARK will cure my glaucoma.

Send entries to (do not post as a comment). The contest will end on Friday, March 23rd at 12:00 PST and the top entries will be posted next Monday.

Best of luck, there must be some darn flimsy reasons to win THE MARK...

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Just got the fantastic news that THE MARK will be Levy's "Need to Read" selection for July. Recent "Need to Read" picks include Vince Flynn, Kim Edwards and Christopher Paolini. Only problem is there are no Wal-Marts in NYC so I'll have to drive to Secaucus to see the promotion (cue world's smallest violin).

To celebrate, I'll be running a new contest starting Monday. The winner will receive a signed ARC of THE MARK, and maybe another goodie as well.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cat's Out of the Bag

I will be starting a great new gig on March 26th. These past few weeks have run the full spectrum of emotions, and it amazes me how fast information moves when you're the subject of the news in question.

On the other hand, those who've read THE MARK might appreciate the tremendous irony in this whole situation.

Monday, March 12, 2007

THE MARK--teaser trailer

So I bought a moviemaking program, did some fiddling, and here it is, my first crack at a teaser trailer for THE MARK.

Let me know what you think!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Namechecking Goodness

Duane was kind enough to give a shout out to THE MARK in an interview on CHUD.

Thanks for the nod, Mr. Swierczynski, your karma meter is rising.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Shield - Season 6 Promo Teaser

I. Cannot. Wait.

I could go on and on about how "The Shield" is my favorite show on tv, or how it throws conventional wisdom about the typical series out the door. In most ongoing series, there's a feeling of "we need to make each episode/book/movie accessible to those who've never heard of it." In my opinion, completely ignoring previous installments cheapens what's come before. Many do it quite successfully, maintaining a high level of quality. Yet unless the characters' actions leave scars, you can't reach an emotional pinnacle like last year's Season 5 finale.

Season 5 was so damn powerful because Vic and the Strike Team are finally getting their comeuppance due to events that happened in the very first episode, and Vic is finally realizing that he's led his team down a path from which there is no turning back, and no redemption. I don't think it's a coincidence that the ratings for season 5 were the highest for the series.

If you haven't seen "The Shield," start from the beginning. If you have seen it, you know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


There have been some pretty significant changes in my professional life this week. But when one door closes, several more open. And sometimes you have to take one step back to take two forward. Not to mention the rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.

Now enough with the platitudes.

Thanks to all the well-wishers. Books are in my blood, they're my passion, my life.

And I ain't going nowhere.