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A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Business Stuffs

So one question people ask is whether reviews sell books.  I recently had a good chance to look at that when Jeri Westerson's fine debut mystery VEIL OF LIES was reviewed in the Boston Globe.  Like a lot of in-genre debut hardcovers, the initial orders have been modest.  At the major chains, the main ordering was by B&N, which took a few copies for their better stores in the mystery category.  This wasn't the first good review for the book by any means.  It is quite a fine debut novel, and it had gotten a starred review in Library Journal and good reviews in Publishers Weekly and Kirkus, Mystery Scene and Crimespree, and the Richmond (VA) Times Dispatch and Historical Novels Review, among others.  It had a decent and steady Amazon ranking; most times I've checked it's been in the mid-20Ks as it is now, which I consider to be a very good showing for a first genre novel especially since it has been steady.  Prior to the Globe review running, it had sold 7 copies in Boston, according to Nielsen Bookscan.  In the two weeks since the review ran, 49 copies have sold in the Boston market.  So yes, the review has definitely sold some books for Jeri Westerson.    Down in Richmond, the Times Dispatch review saw sales reported to Nielsen Bookscan go up from 1 copy in the Richmond market to another 3 selling the week following.  So all told, 8 copies before, another 52 after.  It's possible to look at that and go "big whoop, 50 copies."  But I think it's pretty exciting to know that there are 50 people reading a review and picking up a book pretty much for that reason alone, and there are probably more copies than that.  Bookscan isn't capturing any sales at Kate's Mystery Books in Cambridge, MA.  There might be people in Hartford, CT or Washington, DC who are in the distant circulation areas of the newspapers that also picked up a copy.  What about the people who went to their local library, and the libraries that took an extra copy or two because of the review.  So I'm pretty psyched by this

The same week I was tracking the Boston market for Veil of Lies, I noticed another book that saw an unexpected and inexplicable 1000-copy increase in sales, a mass market paperback that had come out a few months ago where you don't expect to see sales spurt up like that.  So I did some asking around at the publisher, and found out that Target had taken a position on the book.  So now you know that reviews do sell books, and that having your book on the shelves at Target can sell even more.

1 comment:

Michelle Gagnon said...

I'm curious; which mass market paperback were you monitoring?