Monday, November 10, 2008

Sales

So, checking in at Amazon.com today I saw this, regarding the paperback version of Death Star:

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #9,660 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

#22 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Series
#31 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera
#55 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Movie Tie-Ins.

What is interesting about this is that the book isn't being published until November the 25th, so nobody can get it for a couple weeks yet.

Reaves and I have high hopes for this one's sales, in that it is coming out in time for Christmas shoppers, and even at eight bucks a pop, is cheap entertainment. In a family of readers, a book can be passed around. And then you can take it to the used book store and get credit on another book.

Given the financial tenor of the times, cheap entertainment is a good thing.

(Of course, in order for us to make any money on it, given our itty-bitty piece of the royalty, it will have to sell better than ice water on a summer day in tropical Hell, and blow everything else off the top of the bestseller lists across the board. Which, we know realistically, isn't going to happen. But, like buying a lottery ticket is less about winning than it is in buying the brief fantasy that you could win, we can pretend we might hit #1 and get rich -- until the book actually comes out ...)

Inside-your-own-head fantasy is a wonderful entertainment. What if?

Whereas somebody who is dead broke might fantasize about buying a new house or a jazzy new car, paying off debts, putting the kids through school, writers I know get grandiose when they fantasize -- because they can. Observe:

So I write this book and bam! it takes off. Oprah loves it, the New York Times loves it. It sells six million copies in a one-day worldwide laydown. Top of every major bestseller list in sixteen countries.

My phone rings and it's a conference call -- Brad and Angelina are on the line, they love it, they want the rights so they can star in the movie, is ten million and a big piece of the net enough? and I shake my head and say, "Oh, wow, I'd love to work with you kids, but I just don't think you're right for it ... hold on a second, I have another call coming in" -- and it's Spielberg and Lucas, and the doorbell rings, and, oh, my, it's George Clooney and Will Smith duking it out to see who gets inside the gate first, and look -- it's Jennifer Aniston tapping at my office window ...

Harry Potter? Yeah, that series did okay, but compared to my book? Peanuts ...

When I have a fantasy, I don't mess around.

During the Great Depression, movies became very popular. Even though a nickel or a dime admission was relatively a lot in the 1930's, it was probably easier to come up with that than the current nine or ten bucks a pop each nowadays. Taking the family out for movies at the local cineplex, and factoring in popcorn more valuable than gold by weight, and soft drinks that cost more per ounce than French perfume, going to first-run movies is a somewhat spendy proposition these days.

I expect that a lot of folks are going to be staying home, reading used books or paperbacks, and watching a lot of television for the immediate future. If I wasn't swapping books in trade at Powell's, I couldn't begin to afford to read all the books I want to read ...

10 comments:

Ed said...

Steve for many reasons I hope the new book really does go through the roof for you --- the main reason is selfish for me --- it will give you more time to work on Matador books and movies - you won't have to worry about that ugly money stuff. Good Luck!!!!

Dave Chesser said...

i would like to read it but I'm turned off by the complexity of the whole Star Wars "universe" thing. i can't keep track of it all. It's too fan-boyish.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

>"it will give you more time to work on Matador books and movies"<

I hate to break this to you Ed, but Steve recently confided to me that he was giving up sci-fi to concentrate on his romance novels. He wants to do more "sensitive" work, as he put it. We probably won't see the Matadors again.

Sad, really. But what can you do.

Ed said...

Sad, yes sad Bobbe - and I thought the Matador series was in many ways the "sensitive" series. Thanks for your insiders focus.

J.D. Ray said...

Inside-your-own-head fantasy is a wonderful entertainment.

And cheap!

steve-vh said...

We only go to the local community funded refurbished 80yr old movie theater. $3 a ticket, $2-3 for popcorn and usually movies in their 2nd or third week. And they have free popcorn one night and 2/one another night. No way we go to first run theaters. If it doesn't come here, we don't go to see it. That's about the extent of our Family entertainment these days, maybe a high school football game.

Steve Perry said...

If you are a fanboy, you have lots of places you can go, and expanded, shared-universes offer some fun playgrounds.

I don't write primarily for hardcore fanboys in any of the universes in which I play. There will be a nod here and there, just to show I'm a fanboy myself, but you can't please the really dyed-in-the-wool fans no matter what you do, so there's no point in trying.

I try to write Star Wars material to the level that anybody who has seen the movies and enjoyed them can keep up. I don't read every book or comic that comes out, and neither will most of my potential audience.

Lot of folks skip over the shared universes and that's understandable. Of course, I do spend a little time playing with martial arts in pretty much everything I write, so there are some fun sequences in Death Star concerning my art Teras Kasi, and -- if I must say so myself -- a pretty good fight scene at the end. Might not want to wade through the whole book to get there, but I do believe I paid it off pretty well if you do.

Dave Chesser said...

Steve,
I was wondering how you handled that. I don't have the time or money to wade through the books, comics, and cartoons in the "universe." So I tend to stay away from the Star Wars books because I can't tell where in the saga they fit any more.

But based on your answer maybe I'll pick this one up.

Steve Perry said...

If you saw the first Star Wars movie, "A New Hope," which was actually Episode IV, that's all you need to keep up with Death Star.

Technically, you don't need that -- but it will add some to the experience, since part of the fun for us writing it was to replay some of the scenes from the movie from a different viewpoint.

We saw Vader and Obi-wan duel from Luke's viewpoint. In the novel, we are inside Vader's head when it goes down. Like that.

It does have a lot of SW's tech-talk in it, more than I wanted. Since it is PG, our cursing is sci-fi and not real. Worst we could get away with was "Feke!" and a few other words that don't mean anything outside of the universe.

Some hardcore fans didn't like it because there weren't enough exploding heads, we dialed down the action in favor of character development, always a risk among fanboys.

It was what it was. One-star or five-stars, people loved it or hated it. Had fun writing it, and answered some questions the movie brought up, such as why the hell did they put a heat vent there for Luke to attack?

Dave Chesser said...

Sounds good. I'd like to read Vader's POV. :)