Category Archives: Business

Fabulous news is fabulous!

Guys! One of my editresses is getting published!! This is super exciting awesome news!

Danielle Ellison’s FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS, in which a girl escapes a controlled community and races through a forgotten world in hopes of saving everyone she loves before time runs out and their existence is wiped away, to Kate Kaynak and Patricia Riley at Spencer Hill Press, in a nice deal, in a three-book deal, for publication in April 2014, by Rebecca Mancini of RightsMix (World).

I’ve been super giddy since I read this this morning and the giddiness hasn’t faded!

Happy Young Woman (c) Vera Kratochvil

Go here to read more about this amazing breaking news straight from the source!

Day jobs, writing, and the business of success.

Office Building 1 (c) beermug

Yesterday I wrote the first two chapters of Sing, Sweet Nightingale‘s sequel (currently titled TDWS Book 2). Again. Seriously. This is the fourth time I’ve tried to start writing this book. And I will probably do it at least one more time if the end of SSN changes again. I told my mom this  last night and she just shook her head and said, “I don’t know how you do that. Sitting down to redo the same thing that many times would drive me crazy.” Honestly what drives me crazy is knowing that for the next eight hours I can’t sit down and work on those chapters I’ve already worked on so many times.

On John Scalzi’s blog Whatever, he has a wonderfully blunt article called Utterly Useless Writing Advice. Seeing as I disagree with the title, I’m going to recommend you read it. It’s long, but worth it. In the introduction, he explains a little bit about who he is and why you should listen to what he has to say:

People are always asking me for advice on how to become a writer, because they assume (ha!) that I am a successful writer. My psychological and egotistical needs being what they are, I won’t argue this point. I am, in fact, a fairly successful writer, if you define success as “making a good living doing nothing but writing.” I do make a good living; I don’t do anything else for a living but write. (If you define success as “being Stephen King,” of course, I’m a miserable freakin’ failure. But let’s not.)

I’ve been a professional writer since June of 1990, when I got my first paid writing job as an intern for the San Diego Tribune, where I wrote music and concert reviews and other entertainment pieces. That was the summer before my senior year in college; when I got back to college, I wrote freelance entertainment articles for the Chicago Sun-Times. After college, I got — far more through an amazing stroke of luck and the fact I was dirt cheap than by my own talents, let’s be clear — a job as the movie critic for the Fresno Bee. I did that for five years, after which I joined AOL as its on-staff writer and editor. AOL laid me off in 1998 (this is a polite way of saying I was fired, since it was a layoff of one) and I became a freelance writer. I’ve been doing this ever since.

What follows is more introduction and twenty questions writers need to know the answers to. Scalzi answers most of the questions from the perspective of a freelance writer, but honestly most of the info applies to writers of any sort. And it’s a really great reality check. This one in particular:

10. I’ve sold an article! I’ve sold two! Should I quit my day job?

Hell, no. Don’t be an ass.
People who want to be writers look on their current jobs like they’re chaining them down. If only they could break free of these jobs! Then they could write all the time! And be free! Oh joy!

Crap on a stick. Fact: Most people couldn’t write all the time, even if they were free to do so. Even full-time writers (i.e., reporters and such) aren’t writing every single moment of the work day; they’re doing other stuff, including (yes) avoiding writing — because once writing is actual work, one desires to run away from it from time to time. I sure as hell don’t write all the time, and this is my day job.

Another Fact: Most writing pays for crap (more on this soon). Quitting your day job to write full time, especially if you’re writing freelance, means you take a HUGE salary drop, no matter how little you’re making now. And if you’re just starting off, it’s hard to make sales — so you’ll be doubly screwed.

My suggestion: If you’re starting off as a freelance writer, do it in your spare time — after work and on weekends. Don’t ditch your day job to become a writer; let your day job support you as you work on perfecting your craft. It’s a risk-free way of building that writing career (also, if the writing career doesn’t pan out, you don’t have to come crawling back at reduced pay and status). Most beginning freelancers don’t have enough work to keep them busy anyway — they just spend most of their time worrying about how the hell they’re going to pay their bills.

But, I hear you say, that’s extra time I’m working! Yeah? So? If you weren’t working on writing in the evenings what would you be doing? Watching Friends, or Survivor or playing video games or some crap like that. Yeah, you’ve got the time, pal. You just have to decide you want to do it.

So, when should you quit your day job? This is easy: You should quit your day job no earlier than when the amount of money you regularly and consistently make from writing exceeds your current day job income by 30%. That’s right, you ought to be making more as a writer than you do from your day job in order to quit.

Why? Because the minute you quit your day job, you lose your employee benefits, your 401(k), and your employee contribution to your social security taxes. You have to pay for all of that yourself now. The minute you become self-employed as a freelancer, your tax burden jumps at least 15% (self-employment tax, don’t you know), and you have to file quarterly.

You have to earn at least 30% more than what you make from your day job in order to live like you do did off your day job income. This can be ameliorated somewhat if you have a spouse or significant other whose health insurance or benefits you can latch onto, but no matter what, you’re still taking a big hit.

Here’s the deal: Unless you’re working at Burger King getting people their fries, you probably won’t make as much writing as you do at your day job. So unless the thought of continuing work at your day job fills you with such a suicidal horror that you want to slit your wrists the moment you slip into your cubicle, don’t quit. And if you do quit your day job, think about getting a different day job that has all those cushy benefits and 401(k)s, one that doesn’t make you want to perforate your skull with a power nailgun.

Don’t ever quit your day job unless not quitting your day job starts cutting into your total income potential. Really, that’s what you should consider.

Remember also that many famous writers wrote books and columns and whatnot while holding down day jobs. Grisham and King had day jobs (lawyer and teacher, respectively). Scott Adams kept his cubicle job until he was a millionaire. Wallace Stevens, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and my personal favorite example of day-job-ness, was an insurance executive until the day he died. And so on. Day jobs don’t keep you from writing. In fact, in a lot of cases, a day job can keep you writing, building your craft and your clip file while keeping you and your family fed.

Give it serious thought before you let your day job go.

This is the kind of thing I need to read on days like today where I start getting all grumpy that my day job interferes with my creative work. Without my day job, I wouldn’t have enough money to eat, would have no car insurance, no vacation time, nothing. One day I’ll quit and do it with a smile on my face, but for now I just have to make notes on the legal pad on my desk when ideas pop into my head and go back to the work that pays my bills. Because success in the long run sometimes means sacrifice today. 

Decisions, choices, and sacrifices.

There May Be Trouble Ahead 2 (c) B Cleary

There is no right way to get where you want to go. At least, not when we’re speaking metaphorically. There are methods that make the most logical sense, but there’s always at least one story about someone who went in the complete opposite (and seemingly roundabout) direction and ended up being wildly successful. The point is, you have to find the path that works for you.

This is good, general advice for life, but right now I’m thinking about it more in the context of writing and the choices writers have to make early in their careers. Most authors will warn you not to quite your day job too early, but what about switching jobs? Cutting back? Giving yourself something with fewer hours and less stress and making do with less money for a while? That’s what I’m considering right now. Cause, in the end, being happy is a lot more important than extra money, yes? Plus, I’m counting on the possibility that one day what makes me happy will be bringing in my extra money. 😉

Now what?

(c) Craig Lucas – Stepping Down

I have been working toward a publication deal for years. YEARS. Now that I have one I find myself blinking at my computer screen thinking (or pestering my editors asking) “Now what? What’s the next step?” Perhaps because I have been pondering these questions, an article I saw recently struck a particularly strong chord with me.

Marie Lu is the author of Legend and Prodigy and recently posted on Pub(lishing) Crawl about the surprising skills she suddenly needed to develop after publishing her first novel, specifically:

The ability to be a socialite
The ability to say ‘No’
The ability to be a hermit
The ability to manage money  

Even though I haven’t reached the same place in my career as Marie yet, I can easily see how all of those statements are true. But they don’t give the whole picture. Already I have discovered an author also needs to be the following sets of seemingly dichotomous traits:

  • Gratifyingly compromising and annoyingly stubborn
    This essentially boils down to the cliche but true saying “Pick your battles.” Most of the time, your editors know what they’re doing. Only when it’s imperative to your vision of the story should you put your foot down and say, “No. We’re doing it my way.” If you are willing to compromise on the little things, it’s more likely you’ll get your way when it matters. If you try to pick a fight over every change and every single marketing move, it’s more likely you won’t ever get your way or you’ll suddenly find yourself without a contract. 
  • Highly creative and extremely analytical
    Writers are (obviously) creative souls. They see a picture or overhear a bit of conversation and can spin a whole elaborate story off of that one spark. That’s good. Great, even. You need that if you’re going to make a career out of being a writer instead of writing a book or two and calling it a day. However, once that draft is written, you need to turn on the analytical side of your brain (or, if you don’t have one, you need to develop it). My editors have already been giving me pre-edit homework assignments that are making my creative brain work in ways it’s not used to. Is it easy? No. Do I see the purpose and push forward anyway? Definitely. Without accessing the objective side of your mind, you’ll never be able to dig into your manuscript and pull out the parts that aren’t working and you’ll never be able to handle anyone else doing it either.
  • Ridiculously patient and insanely productive
    Hurry up and wait. And then do it again. That is the publishing process and you’re just going to have to deal with it. You push to get your draft done and then wait as agents and editors look over it. You push to get your edits done and then wait to get a response. You will have deadline after deadline to meet and then stretches of dead space in between. Do yourself a favor and keep busy on a new project. It will help protect your sanity and hopefully keep you from aggravating your editors with “just checking in” emails.
  • Great at telling stories and even better at keeping secrets
    After you sign a contract, your book and the things that happen to it are no longer yours. Well, no longer just yours. You have to be able to present the news you can share in a way that will excite people and get them interested in what you have to say, but you also have to know how to keep your lips zipped. And sometimes this will be the hardest thing to do. Sometimes you may get news you’re just itching to share, but for legal or promotional reasons, you can’t. Maybe once news of your book sale gets out, people start asking you if you can just send them a copy of the file. Don’t. The book doesn’t just belong to you anymore so if you’re unsure about whether or not what you want to share is allowed, ASK FIRST. Better safe than losing a deal or ending up on the wrong side of a lawsuit.

I’m sure there are more things I’ll learn along the way, but this is enough for now. I need a chance to master these skills before anything else gets piled up on top of me!

Also, a big THANK YOU to the people who pointed me toward and the photographers who load their images there for use. I missed having pictures on my blog!

Photos, the Internet, and Rights

Over the next few days you’ll notice a lot of changes to the pictures posted on my blog. Namely, most of them will be disappearing. I thought about going back and replacing them as I went, but the thought of doing that with almost 300 posts made me want to cry. So I’m not going to.

Why am I doing this? Because of Roni Loren’s post on her blog.

For anyone who blogs, tumblrs, or whatever else, be warned. And if you use imagery on your blog that isn’t yours, do something about it for your sake as well as for the photographers. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly, especially if you expect the same treatment in return.

News: Coming Soon!

There are big things brewing in my world. Big, BIG things. As soon as it all is tied up all nice and pretty with a bow on top, I will be making an official announcement, hopefully next week, but I can’t resist saying now that I am so excited about absolutely everything involved in this news!

Check back on the blog in the next two weeks for the breaking headline! 😀

Publishing: An Internship Opportunity

Spencer Hill Press, an awesome independent house, is calling for interns! If you’re at least 13 and love YA books, you qualify! Read below or click here for more details:

A call for publishing interns! We are looking for enthusiastic, capable, organized interns to be part of our team. You must be a lover of Young Adult fiction and be able to work remotely.  
We have four different internship tracks/opportunities available for interested applicants.
1. Reading interns. Do you like to read YA paranormal romance, sci-fi, urban fantasy or magical realism? Can you express what works or doesn’t work in a story? What makes it original? What potential lies under the surface?
Our reading interns will read and evaluate submissions that we receive. With a set of guidelines, you will be given a manuscript and asked to return one-page reader reports outlining your thoughts on this story. This is an ideal position for potential editors, book reviewers, or people who just love a good story.
2. Editorial interns. Do you like to read YA fiction? Do you have a passion for analysis of a story, it’s characters and it’s writing? Are you able to offer suggestions for line editing and big picture editing of a book?
Our editorial interns will work hands on with some of our editors to do editorial passes on novels. Starting at the ground floor, our goal is to help you develop your skills for critical observation and analysis of a story, and communication of those thoughts to authors and editors. We want to equip you for a career as an editor. Some of these duties will initially overlap with the reading interns.
3. Copyediting/proofing interns. Can you look at a sentence, and know how to fix it? Are you great with the small details, like grammar and punctuation? Did you notice the extra commas in those questions?
Our copyediting interns will be our eyes for the books we publish before we release them. Copy Editors look at manuscripts for typos, grammar errors, inconsistencies in a manuscript, etc. Copyeditors are an integral part of the team and we are looking for people who want to get a foot in the door.
4. Marketing interns. Do you have an interest in marketing? Are you passionate about sharing your excitement with books? Do you want to learn what it takes to promote upcoming books and events?
Our marketing interns will work hands-on with our Marketing Coordinator to help promote our upcoming and already released titles. Marketing interns need to have good organization skills and an outgoing personality. This job involves a lot of talking, so you must not be afraid to talk to strangers.
Submissions close July 26, 2012. Please allow at least two weeks for a response. Must be at least 13 years old to apply.
If you are interested in applying for any of these internship positions, please email with position(s) you are interested in applying for as the subject. (ie: Reading Intern) Include in the email:
·         First & last name
·         Email (one you check regularly)
·         Birthday
·         Blog/twitter/place we can find you on the internet (if you have any)
·         Phone number
 Good luck if you plan on applying!

Edited to add: Because of the high volume of applicants, Spencer Hill closed their screening process early. Keep your eyes on their Twitter or Tumblr pages for other opportunities, though! 🙂

Debuts: Why Publishing Your First Novel Is Like Running For Student Body President

Because this is a topic much on my mind lately, I found this post on Writers Digest extraordinarily timely! I also loved the comparisons and the fresh way of looking at things. I enjoyed it so much I’m reposting the entire thing here. 😀

Why Publishing Your First Novel Is Like Running For Student Body President
By Michelle Haimoff
Guest column by Michelle Haimoff, writer and blogger whose writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Huffington Post. Her first novel, THESE DAYS ARE OURS (Feb. 2012, Grand Central, starred review from Publishers Weekly), is available nationwide. She can be found blogging on and on Facebook and Twitter.

Picture being a new student at a high school where you don’t know anyone (1). And now picture dementedly wanting to run for school president (2). Lord knows why you want to run for school president, but maybe you think you’d make a terrific president. You have really good ideas and if people would just give you a chance you could make this school the greatest school the world has ever seen (3). You know it’s a long shot but it can be done, so you set out to do it.
1 – writing your first novel
2 – publishing your first novel
3 – it is possible that your novel doesn’t suck

You start making signs (4) and trying to get student groups (5) to let you talk at their meetings . But nobody knows you so they tell you that they don’t have time for you to talk at their meetings (6). The kids on Yearbook (7), Model UN (8) and Debate Team (9) won’t even look at you (10) when you approach them. The ones in Band (11) and Chess Club (12) say no way, but the Community Service Committee (13) says they’ll think about it. You make sure to say hi to all Community Service Club members in the hallways (14) anytime you pass them. They never say hi back.
4 – writing emails
5 – newspapers and magazines
6 – review your book
7 – The New Yorker
8 – New York Review of Books
9 – The New York Times
10 – respond to your emails
11 – Daily Beast
12 – Salon

13 – The Atlantic Salmon Journal
14 – retweet their tweets

Your signs (15) are made out of loose leaf (16) and graph paper (17) because you’re paying for them with your own money and you can’t afford oak tag (18). But you notice that other candidates, the jocks maybe, have signs (19) that are professionally laser printed (20) and hang as banners in the hallways (21). You look at your dinky graph paper sign and then at the enormous sign in the hallway and you wonder how you’re ever going to get anyone to vote for you (22). Also, you wonder where they got the money for those signs. But you shrug it off and keep your head up because you’re an optimist (23). An unrelenting optimist (24).
15 – publicity
16 – Facebook status updates
17 – tweets
18 – a publicist
19 – personal websites
20 – really fucking well designed
21 – come up first in a Google search
22 – buy your book
23 – an idiot
24 – an idiot with an inflated sense of self

Every so often you stand at the entrance to the cafeteria (25) and take an informal poll to see how many students are planning to vote for you (26). One day two students tell you that they’ll vote for you (27)! But moments later the captain of the football team trips you (28) causing you to run and hide (29).
25 – go on Amazon
26 – check your ranking
27 – you were ranked lower than #400,000
28 – Amazon recommends that you check out the Fifty Shades Trilogy
29 – close all tabs

At this point you have a moment of sanity and wonder what the hell you were thinking running for office. There’s no way you’re going to win (30), you should just be focusing on your homework (31) and graduation (32). It is at that moment that French Club (33) tells you they want you to speak at their next meeting (34). You have tried so hard for so long and you are overjoyed by this minor victory. You come out of the meeting knowing that you got more votes.
30 – make any money doing this
31 – getting an office job
32 – saving up for retirement
33 – a blog you’ve never heard of
34 – is going to review your book

The election comes and goes and you don’t become student body president, but you don’t get the least number of votes either (35). The kids that voted for you (36) wish you better luck when you run next year (37). And now you actually have some friends in this school, or at least more people to say hi to in the hallways (38). And because you really don’t know when to quit, you think, “Hmmm. Maybe I will run again next year (39)… maybe I will (40)…”
35 – some books aren’t even in the top #400,000 on Amazon
36 – your readers
37 – tell you that they’re looking forward to your next book
38 – Twitter followers
39 – there is this other book idea I have…
40 – and my second novel will definitely sell better than my first…

Bookstores: Not Much Has Changed

Like books themselves, bookstores haven’t changed much in essentials in a very long time. Sure most bookstores don’t act as libraries anymore (cause we have actual libraries for that now), but otherwise the last century hasn’t seen the bookstore changing in leaps and bounds.

Yesterday I found this essay thanks to someone I used to work at a bookstore with. Written by George Orwell in 1936, it talks about one of the most common complaint of booksellers: the customers. I found the whole thing really interesting, so now I’m posting it here in its entirety. Enjoy!

George Orwell

Bookshop Memories

['Books' - Drawing by Maksim Barhatov]

When I worked in a second-hand bookshop — so easily pictured, if you don’t work in one, as a kind of paradise where charming old gentlemen browse eternally among calf-bound folios — the thing that chiefly struck me was the rarity of really bookish people. Our shop had an exceptionally interesting stock, yet I doubt whether ten per cent of our customers knew a good book from a bad one. First edition snobs were much commoner than lovers of literature, but oriental students haggling over cheap textbooks were commoner still, and vague-minded women looking for birthday presents for their nephews were commonest of all.

Many of the people who came to us were of the kind who would be a nuisance anywhere but have special opportunities in a bookshop. For example, the dear old lady who ‘wants a book for an invalid’ (a very common demand, that), and the other dear old lady who read such a nice book in 1897 and wonders whether you can find her a copy. Unfortunately she doesn’t remember the title or the author’s name or what the book was about, but she does remember that it had a red cover. But apart from these there are two well-known types of pest by whom every second-hand bookshop is haunted. One is the decayed person smelling of old breadcrusts who comes every day, sometimes several times a day, and tries to sell you worthless books. The other is the person who orders large quantities of books for which he has not the smallest intention of paying. In our shop we sold nothing on credit, but we would put books aside, or order them if necessary, for people who arranged to fetch them away later. Scarcely half the people who ordered books from us ever came back. It used to puzzle me at first. What made them do it? They would come in and demand some rare and expensive book, would make us promise over and over again to keep it for them, and then would vanish never to return. But many of them, of course, were unmistakable paranoiacs. They used to talk in a grandiose manner about themselves and tell the most ingenious stories to explain how they had happened to come out of doors without any money — stories which, in many cases, I am sure they themselves believed. In a town like London there are always plenty of not quite certifiable lunatics walking the streets, and they tend to gravitate towards bookshops, because a bookshop is one of the few places where you can hang about for a long time without spending any money. In the end one gets to know these people almost at a glance. For all their big talk there is something moth-eaten and aimless about them. Very often, when we were dealing with an obvious paranoiac, we would put aside the books he asked for and then put them back on the shelves the moment he had gone. None of them, I noticed, ever attempted to take books away without paying for them; merely to order them was enough — it gave them, I suppose, the illusion that they were spending real money.
Like most second-hand bookshops we had various sidelines. We sold second-hand typewriters, for instance, and also stamps — used stamps, I mean. Stamp-collectors are a strange, silent, fish-like breed, of all ages, but only of the male sex; women, apparently, fail to see the peculiar charm of gumming bits of coloured paper into albums. We also sold sixpenny horoscopes compiled by somebody who claimed to have foretold the Japanese earthquake. They were in sealed envelopes and I never opened one of them myself, but the people who bought them often came back and told us how ‘true’ their horoscopes had been. (Doubtless any horoscope seems ‘true’ if it tells you that you are highly attractive to the opposite sex and your worst fault is generosity.) We did a good deal of business in children’s books, chiefly ‘remainders’. Modern books for children are rather horrible things, especially when you see them in the mass. Personally I would sooner give a child a copy of Petrenius Arbiter than Peter Pan, but even Barrie seems manly and wholesome compared with some of his later imitators. At Christmas time we spent a feverish ten days struggling with Christmas cards and calendars, which are tiresome things to sell but good business while the season lasts. It used to interest me to see the brutal cynicism with which Christian sentiment is exploited. The touts from the Christmas card firms used to come round with their catalogues as early as June. A phrase from one of their invoices sticks in my memory. It was: ‘2 doz. Infant Jesus with rabbits’.
But our principal sideline was a lending library — the usual ‘twopenny no-deposit’ library of five or six hundred volumes, all fiction. How the book thieves must love those libraries! It is the easiest crime in the world to borrow a book at one shop for twopence, remove the label and sell it at another shop for a shilling. Nevertheless booksellers generally find that it pays them better to have a certain number of books stolen (we used to lose about a dozen a month) than to frighten customers away by demanding a deposit.
Our shop stood exactly on the frontier between Hampstead and Camden Town, and we were frequented by all types from baronets to bus-conductors. Probably our library subscribers were a fair cross-section of London’s reading public. It is therefore worth noting that of all the authors in our library the one who ‘went out’ the best was — Priestley? Hemingway? Walpole? Wodehouse? No, Ethel M. Dell, with Warwick Deeping a good second and Jeffrey Farnol, I should say, third. Dell’s novels, of course, are read solely by women, but by women of all kinds and ages and not, as one might expect, merely by wistful spinsters and the fat wives of tobacconists. It is not true that men don’t read novels, but it is true that there are whole branches of fiction that they avoid. Roughly speaking, what one might call the average novel — the ordinary, good-bad, Galsworthy-and-water stuff which is the norm of the English novel — seems to exist only for women. Men read either the novels it is possible to respect, or detective stories. But their consumption of detective stories is terrific. One of our subscribers to my knowledge read four or five detective stories every week for over a year, besides others which he got from another library. What chiefly surprised me was that he never read the same book twice. Apparently the whole of that frightful torrent of trash (the pages read every year would, I calculated, cover nearly three quarters of an acre) was stored for ever in his memory. He took no notice of titles or author’s names, but he could tell by merely glancing into a book whether be had ‘had it already’.
In a lending library you see people’s real tastes, not their pretended ones, and one thing that strikes you is how completely the ‘classical’ English novelists have dropped out of favour. It is simply useless to put Dickens, Thackeray, Jane Austen, Trollope, etc. into the ordinary lending library; nobody takes them out. At the mere sight of a nineteenth-century novel people say, ‘Oh, but that’s old!’ and shy away immediately. Yet it is always fairly easy to sell Dickens, just as it is always easy to sell Shakespeare. Dickens is one of those authors whom people are ‘always meaning to’ read, and, like the Bible, he is widely known at second hand. People know by hearsay that Bill Sikes was a burglar and that Mr Micawber had a bald head, just as they know by hearsay that Moses was found in a basket of bulrushes and saw the ‘back parts’ of the Lord. Another thing that is very noticeable is the growing unpopularity of American books. And another — the publishers get into a stew about this every two or three years — is the unpopularity of short stories. The kind of person who asks the librarian to choose a book for him nearly always starts by saying ‘I don’t want short stories’, or ‘I do not desire little stories’, as a German customer of ours used to put it. If you ask them why, they sometimes explain that it is too much fag to get used to a new set of characters with every story; they like to ‘get into’ a novel which demands no further thought after the first chapter. I believe, though, that the writers are more to blame here than the readers. Most modern short stories, English and American, are utterly lifeless and worthless, far more so than most novels. The short stories which are stories are popular enough, vide D. H. Lawrence, whose short stories are as popular as his novels.
Would I like to be a bookseller de métier? On the whole — in spite of my employer’s kindness to me, and some happy days I spent in the shop — no.
Given a good pitch and the right amount of capital, any educated person ought to be able to make a small secure living out of a bookshop. Unless one goes in for ‘rare’ books it is not a difficult trade to learn, and you start at a great advantage if you know anything about the insides of books. (Most booksellers don’t. You can get their measure by having a look at the trade papers where they advertise their wants. If you don’t see an ad. for Boswell’s Decline and Fall you are pretty sure to see one for The Mill on the Floss by T. S. Eliot.) Also it is a humane trade which is not capable of being vulgarized beyond a certain point. The combines can never squeeze the small independent bookseller out of existence as they have squeezed the grocer and the milkman. But the hours of work are very long — I was only a part-time employee, but my employer put in a seventy-hour week, apart from constant expeditions out of hours to buy books — and it is an unhealthy life. As a rule a bookshop is horribly cold in winter, because if it is too warm the windows get misted over, and a bookseller lives on his windows. And books give off more and nastier dust than any other class of objects yet invented, and the top of a book is the place where every bluebottle prefers to die.
But the real reason why I should not like to be in the book trade for life is that while I was in it I lost my love of books. A bookseller has to tell lies about books, and that gives him a distaste for them; still worse is the fact that he is constantly dusting them and hauling them to and fro. There was a time when I really did love books — loved the sight and smell and feel of them, I mean, at least if they were fifty or more years old. Nothing pleased me quite so much as to buy a job lot of them for a shilling at a country auction. There is a peculiar flavour about the battered unexpected books you pick up in that kind of collection: minor eighteenth-century poets, out-of-date gazeteers, odd volumes of forgotten novels, bound numbers of ladies’ magazines of the sixties. For casual reading — in your bath, for instance, or late at night when you are too tired to go to bed, or in the odd quarter of an hour before lunch — there is nothing to touch a back number of the Girl’s Own Paper. But as soon as I went to work in the bookshop I stopped buying books. Seen in the mass, five or ten thousand at a time, books were boring and even slightly sickening. Nowadays I do buy one occasionally, but only if it is a book that I want to read and can’t borrow, and I never buy junk. The sweet smell of decaying paper appeals to me no longer. It is too closely associated in my mind with paranoiac customers and dead bluebottles.

George Orwell: ‘Bookshop Memories’
First published: Fortnightly. — GB, London. — November 1936.

— ‘The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell’. — 1968.
Machine-readable version: O. Dag
Last modified on: 2004-11-24

Bestsellers: Behind The Scenes

Before I say anything else, I have to make a statement: I can only go clothes shopping if it happens spontaneously. Otherwise I find NOTHING. Last night I went to Sports Authority for a new backpack for my trip and decided on a whim to stop by the clothing section. I end up walking out of the store with seven (yes, seven) dresses. Oh, and the backpack. Luckily, the dresses were all FIFTY PERCENT OFF! And I didn’t know this until I made it up to the register. Best surprise ever! And so I took the money I thought I was spending and went to Target where I bought four pairs of shorts and a bunch of shirts. And now I probably won’t shop again for about a year. 🙂

Anyway, moving on…

Have you ever wondered how some books take off like a rocket and others only drift along like a helium balloon? The hows and whys of this are changing, but right now it still has a lot to do with bookstores, booksellers, and book addicts. People who don’t read often are probably going to take their book buying advice from someone in one of those positions, so if a local bookstore employee loves a certain book, suddenly that book is selling like ice cream in the middle of summer. Seriously. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve done it during my time as a Borders bookslave.

Not too long after the release of the Hunger Games movie, I found a detailed article online about the behind-the-scenes efforts to make this book fly. Obviously, it worked. The article on gives a detailed look at the life cycle of this book from proposal to publication to bestsellerdom and lets us peek behind the curtain at what can happen when you have the influence of a really excited industry behind you. Read it. It’s worth the time.