Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dilemma

When I got the call last year that Night Lost debuted at #21 on the New York Times mass market extended bestseller list, I was dumbfounded. That had never happened to me, and I had basically resigned myself to the fact that it never would.

Once the shock wore off, however, I calmed down and pegged it as a one-time fluke. Maybe it was a slow month, maybe the bookstores unpacked my boxes first, or maybe a couple of thousand people were bored, wanted something new to read, and decided this while standing next to the V shelf. No way would it happen again.

I kept up that attitude until January, when Evermore debuted at #21 on the Times list, and hung on for a second week at #30. Amazing stuff, or so I thought until I got yelled at for it.

You see, as it has been explained to me, it's not making the list another time, it's what number your book makes on the list. According to my publisher's rules, their marketing people may not refer to me as a NYT bestselling author until my novel makes it to #20 or better. So while my books have appeared on the extended list three times now, I'm still publicized as only a USA Today bestseller (I notice that my series, however, is being touted on online bookseller sites as a NYT bestseller. Different set of rules for the books, I guess.)

Since my second experience of having a novel make the Times list was pretty much ruined by all the unhappiness it caused in NY, I couldn't look forward to my next release. In fact, for the last couple of weeks, I've been dreading it. I keep thinking, with my luck? The book will hit #21 on the list again, and this time they'll send someone to the house to break my legs.

So, before my next release hits the shelves on July 1st, should I:

A. Leave the country and hide out in Europe until it's all over and they're mad at someone else.

B. Have my phone and ISP service turned off until it's all over, etc.

C. Hire a sweet-voiced secretary to say I can't come to the phone or answer e-mail because I'm suffering from a case of acute tinnitus and pink eye.

D. Hire a mean-voiced secretary to say I'm not available and not to bother me or I may decide to make a living writing dog food commercials.

D1. Check out the exciting career opportunities available in the dog food commercial writing field.

D2. I do love dogs almost as much as I love cats.

D3. I'd get to work with David Duchovny, too, if Pedigree signed me, right?

D4. But David's still married, and I'm in a committed relationship too.

D5. Rats.

E. Get a prescription for Valium and stay on it for the entire month of July.

F. Practice New Age excuses for the book not performing to expectation, like, "The planets weren't aligned correctly" or "I forgot to have my chakrahs balanced" or "Someone must have drained the energy from my writing aura."

G. Blame it on a conspiracy by the Times to keep me at #21 in retaliation for all the times I've made fun of their badly-worded annual rec lists.

H. Hire some big guys from the old neighborhood to answer the phone and casually mention how much they love me, how willing they'd be to stomp into the ground anyone upsets me, and how quickly they can be in New York.

H1. Hire some big guys from the old neighborhood to break both of my legs as a preemptive move, go into the hospital that doesn't have WiFi, and unplug the room phone.

H2. Okay, pretend to have them break both of my legs.

I. Start a Times list betting pool for the new release, and put all my money on #21.

J. Start a rumor that #21 on the Times list is better than #20 and, in fact, usually outsells them.

K. Put my fingers in my ears and sing La-La-La continuously for the next five weeks.

L. Have a highly-publicized nervous breakdown, and twitch and foam at the mouth uncontrollably whenever someone says the words "bestseller list."

M. Consider that I'm already having a nervous breakdown and just haven't realized it yet.

M1. Try to find a therapist who won't break down in tears halfway through the first session.

M2. There's no shame in going back to the therapist, you know, or making her cry again. The poor woman probably needs the emotional outlet.

N. Become a Victoria's Secret Lingerie Model and make Heidi Klum my BFF so I can get Seal's new albums and some of those cute four-leaf clover gold earrings for nothing.

O. Hey, I'm fantasizing here.

P. Have the part of my brain that worries surgically removed.

Q. Take a very looooooooooooooooooong nap.

R. Call Alison Kent and keep her on the phone for five weeks.

S. Go alligator hunting and get lost in the Everglades with a large, single, strapping young male guide who finds me wildly attractive and hasn't had sex since Clinton was in office.

S1. P.S., Bring lots of vitamin E, good sunscreen and strong mosquito repellent.

T. Write a blog post about bestseller list dread, laugh at myself, and then just let it go.

U. But check on the availability of the guys from the old neighborhood, just in case.

Cast your vote in comments.

40 comments:

  1. I vote for taking a nap. (Not that I'm any good at it, but still.)

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  2. Hard choices.

    I'm going for
    H
    M
    H1 in that order.

    Of course I think T is the winner.

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  3. I like the therapist idea, but bring the guys from the old neighborhood just in case.

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  4. I'll vote for betting. This way you could actually make a bundle of money, regardless of sales.

    Actually, regardless of sales of Dog Food Commercials too.

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  5. Oh, I'm going for S.; but can I come with?

    There's also option V: Take a twenty-four hour flight to Australia, then another eight hours or so to the Outback and stare at the vast, beautiful landscape for five weeks. No mobile telephone service, no internet connections. Just you and the wildlife (otherwise known as a Bachelor and Spinsters Ball - though the name is a misnomer).

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  6. Anonymous5:20 AM

    I vote for F--the planets must be misaligned if you don't make the top 20 :-)

    Kyra

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  7. I vote for U but then I can also see the benefits of a long nap.

    Just to let you know that I completely value your books and always look forward to them.

    Robyn

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  8. LOL. I think you nailed it with T. *hugs* I look forward to your newest release hon. LOL. Did I mention I love the cover? *WEG*

    I vote that you go on a mini vacation for a bit (even if it's the solitude of no phone -- unplugged -- for a couple of weeks).

    *hugs*

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  9. Hey, naps are beneficial. Stress relief plus plotting time. Plus if significant other naps with you, could lead to more stress relief. *g*

    Calling guys from the old neighborhood might not hurt, either.

    Just in case it helps I will be in line to buy Twilight Fall the second it's out.

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  10. I laughed out loud, Lynn.

    I'll never make it anywhere near the NYT Bestsellers list, so I congratulate you on hitting #21 more than once.

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  11. First, NY was not happy that you debuted at #21 twice in a row? I agree it should have been higher, but how is that your fault?

    Back to voting:

    I think "G" definitely has to be in there, but you're not much for excuses, so you probably won't go for it.

    I'm thinking you're counting on Murphy's Law in "I," but that could backfire on you.

    "L" is probably true, and you don't have to have the nervous breakdown to get to that point, but if you want to make "M" et al true, go for it.

    While "S" is tempting, the young male guide was probably a child during the Clinton administration. On the other hand, at our age, "young" takes on a decidedly different tone, and he could have adult children and still be considered "young" at this stage of our lives.

    I'm watching for guys from the old neighborhood after that last comment.

    Since I'm pretty sure you went with "T," you're wondering where all these comments are coming from. And book release? What book release? You forgot all about it, didn't you?

    Good luck!

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  12. I am clueless here. Can you explain? Who, exactly, yelled at you for being #21?

    And how dare they?

    No, really. How dare they?

    Is this one of those weird publishing things where you have to sell more and more books each time even though your print runs are smaller until you finally have to get a pen name and start all over?

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  13. How about if you fly around the earth really fast in a couterclockwise direction until you reverse time a week, then launch a huge campaign where your book is sold to unsuspecting grande mocha latte buyers as a two-fer, then relax in Tahiti while your book soars to #15.

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  14. I vote for "K," but I ask you set up a Web cam to allow us to see you and hear you.

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  15. Jean wrote: First, NY was not happy that you debuted at #21 twice in a row? I agree it should have been higher, but how is that your fault?

    I'm still working off the theory that it's not my fault that the books hit the list. I'm trying to be a successful midlist writer here, not a Name. Every Big Name I've ever met were very unhappy folks. ;)

    Margaret wrote: I am clueless here. Can you explain? Who, exactly, yelled at you for being #21?

    I will say one thing in their defense -- one of the drawbacks of being a tough old battleaxe writer is that people in the biz very often assume that we are devoid of feelings (because how else could we have survived so long?) So they tend to say whatever is on their mind without even considering how inappropriate or hurtful it is.

    And how dare they? No, really. How dare they?

    6% versus 94%. :) Tact and consideration have never been publishing's strong points anyway. I've also probably contributed to the problem by not telling them to blow me when applicable.

    Is this one of those weird publishing things where you have to sell more and more books each time even though your print runs are smaller until you finally have to get a pen name and start all over?

    There seems to be only one wholly acceptable direction for an author to sell these days. Always up, always more. If your book does the same as the last one, this is not viewed as a success. I think that's remarkable clueless thinking, but competition is fierce, and publishers want success stories.

    I prefer the long-term building of a readership versus the skyrocketing bestseller who grabs everyone's attention because they've sold well or are the new flavor of the month. Writers like me tend to keep their readers longer, and that's important if you're writing mainly series novels.

    Don't worry, Margaret, I wrote posts like these to laugh at myself. I do worry too much about keeping them happy, and I need to focus on what I can really do effectively -- writing my best. That is something that no list can control or affect (unless I let it.)

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  16. I know you wrote this to entertain and amuse, but the whole thing just makes me sad.

    Clearly, it's time for me to lay in this month's supply of Midol and Dove bars.

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  17. How about every reader on here pass the word of the new release onto others so that sales propel you past that dreaded #20.

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  18. I and then M and maybe some valium for good measure.

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  19. I have often used K if only temporarily. Cause sooner or later you have to deal.

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  20. Not sure five weeks is long enough to cover everything.

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  21. I vote for S because that sounds HAWT. S1 shows good planning. I've always like the letter S. Ssssssss

    Wait. This was about NYT best selling list right? Forget about 'em!

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  22. Go alligator hunting and get lost in the Everglades with a large, single, strapping young male guide who finds me wildly attractive and hasn't had sex since Clinton was in office.

    Then you'd be in a real life version of a Carl Hiaassen novel.

    I vote for not stressing about it any more - and taking a nap.

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  23. Steve wrote: How about every reader on here pass the word of the new release onto others so that sales propel you past that dreaded #20.

    That's a lovely and generous thought, and I appreciate it. I know it would make my publisher very happy. Thing is, that should happen naturally, because people actually want to talk about the book. If I can't make it on the strength of the writing, I'd rather not see it on the list at all.

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  24. Anonymous1:17 PM

    My first thought, before even getting to you list, was to send some guys my husband's uncle knows to New York. :)

    But, after reading S, I'd got for that, _and_ send the guys too.

    JulieB

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  25. hahah i love this list! which one do you plan on going with? I would add a V ... face the situation? cute list though :)

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  26. I actually think Twilight Fall is the best of the series so far. I've recommended it to all my friends, and pre-ordered a copy to give as a gift, since someone is eyeballing my copy. Can't have it. It's mine. Mineminemine.

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  27. Those are all hilarious options, and fun to read, but you left one off:

    V-Realize that what you have accomplished in your career is amazing, and wonderful and debuting at 21 ONCE is something thousands upon thousands of authors will never do, doing it twice and more is reason to celebrate, and tell those New York stuffies to ... aw dang I can't say that on a public blog

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  28. Uh? I'm sorry, I don't get it. I mean, I follow another series, and the last book hit #1 in the NYT hardback best seller list and #2 in USA Today. Let me tell you, I didn't buy the book (I did read it though), and I'm very happy I didn't waste my money in it. The costs of buying the book, plus having it send overseas are enormous, at least for my thin Third World pocket.

    Conclusion: I stopped buying her books. And if she doesn't change course ASAP, I will stop reading altogether. Pity, because it's been a long way together (16 books.)

    Don't get me wrong, I don't expect the author writes the story or characters as I want it. I only want a decent story. You know, having a beginning, a middle and an ending, and all that correctly developed, without holes or textual incoherences with her own canon? The usual. Ah, and a little plot and character development would be appreciated. As much as I enjoy well written erotica, too much (bad) sex doesn't replaces plot. JMO.

    The book was torn apart by the critics (justifiably so, I must say, which not always is the case with critics).

    Still it made the top of the list.

    WTF?!

    I simply refuse to believe the book reached #1 on its merits. It doesn't have any, IMO, and the very first books in the series are WAY better. In any case, this is proof enough to me is that numbers in those lists mean nothing.

    I'm going to pre-order the book asap, or ask my friends to buy and send it to me, but I'll make sure to add my small grain to your race to the top of the list.

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  29. Blogger hates me. I know that has nothing to do with this discussion but I just decided to toss it in anyway.

    Hands Down it's D1. I used to be a copywriter and you would be so good at dog food commercials. Why waste your talent on fabulous books? In fact, why not merge the Darkyn world with the dog food world. Michael hawking doggie treats. Robin pushing kibble. Richard singing the praises of squeaky toys. Think about it.

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  30. You forgot one. Blame your publisher for not sending you on a book tour and demand that they do so immediately or else you won't make it past 21, and then give them your list of all the places you want to visit but have never been able to afford to. Hire Sven and Bobalicious from the local hunks are us to carry your bags and arrange for daily deliveries of cheesecake, chocolate and champagne and then head off for five weeks of pampering and relaxation, all on the dime of your publisher.

    Come on . . . you can be persuasive.

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  31. J.
    It's all about who gets their message out there first in the Main Stream Media. And we know that the MSM is just a stenographer, never actually does any investigation, any real reporting.

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  32. I agree with what Miss Write said. I was so confused because I could not, for the life of me, in this universe or any other, figure out how #21 BESTSELLER was a bad thing!

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  33. V. Start a petition to have people buy the book on the first couple of days of release so that you hit number 19. :D

    My bet is you come in at 19 or 17. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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  34. Maybe T. is the best plan but that alligator hunting mentioned in S. has some serious good perks. : ) K. also works very well too---just keep your ears plugged, sing La-La-La and keep writing great books.

    I've never been able to figure out exactly how they come up with the NYT's list anyway but I do know not every book sale is counted (depending on when and where you purchased it) and therefore their list isn't that accurate in my opinion.

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  35. You guys are the best. Thanks for your comments and the lovely e-mails. I don't deserve you.

    Whatever happens, whatever is said about the new release, I know I'll look for the humor in it. One way you do survive in this business is to find ways to laugh at it. They never expect you to do that. ;)

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  36. I am all for #H! That publisher is a real downer, don't listen to them! Listen to us! Once people read Twilight Fall *deep sigh with a touch of pant* that book will go to #1 :) Your devoted readers are in for a HUGE treat!!! 'Cause that book is FANTASTIC!

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  37. 'Cuse me? You got yelled at for hitting 21 on the NYT? Are they crazy? Nevermind, don't answer that.

    If my local Borders is any indication of your books' popularity, third time might be the charm, Lynn.

    Good luck - it's gonna be great!

    Terri

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  38. Oh I forgot --

    Since it's the publisher's support and backing and print runs and placement and coop money that plays a big part in any book making it onto the NYT, it is really up to them to get you there! All you have to do is write the wonderful story that your readers expect....(that's all?!)

    But of course, publishers will take the credit and lay the blame depending on what works for them..

    Terri

    (still feeling positive about this one)

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  39. Dear Lynn,

    Don't take that CRAP from your publisher!!!. Remember they're lucky to have you. You're one of the few vampire writers who isn't turning them into cutesy-cutesy guys with a minor dental problems, your vampires still have a bit of darkness about them.

    Remeber, those who can, WRITE. Those who can't write, do everything else in the publishing industry. Without you, they don't have jobs.

    Besides the NYT list is more about marketing than how good a book actually is. I've read some books that are brilliant and they haven't gotten anywhere near an NYT list and others that have made No. 1 and I've considered the book a waste of money.

    Finally, please tell me that you they are going to release Twilight Falls as an ebook in the msreader or mobipocket formats as I'm in Australia and the only way I can get your books is online. It also helps save some rainforest and space.

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  40. I volunteer as C (Sweet voiced secretary). But I think you're doin' fine with T and should treat yourself to a whole case of your favorite treat when the book releases. What IS your favorite treat? Mine's fresh cherries by the flat.

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