Hi all. This is my third week on MagicalWords.net, under the new format. It’s also both confession time and two weeks to the day that my most recent book came out (BLACK ARTS, Jan. 7th release day). Let’s start with the book.
Last Wednesday, on the 15th, (if you are doing the math, that’s eight days after release day) BLACK ARTS came in at 56 or 57 (I honestly forgot which) on the USA Today list of all books. It’s a hard list to make at any position, because every book (hardback, fiction, non-fiction, e-book, trade and massmarket paperback and maybe e-books, I’m not sure) are vying for the list all at once. Just making this list is difficult and I was delighted when I hit in the 70s two books ago. So, yes, 56 or 57 is fabulous!
I got the information via an email note from my publicist at ROCthe/Penguin/House. Then a note from my publisher, then a phone call from my editor who was over the moon, practically squealing with delight. As she told me, “This is BIG.”
Well, sorta. And also, at the same time, absolutely! Let me lay out how it works for you.
You may not know how the list is structured and you may be saying, “You made the list the last three books. So what?” Actually I never made the list until this book. The NYT is structured so that that only books from 1 – 20 are on the “The List”. Anything lower, (21 – 30) are on the Extended List. Not a bad place to be, but unless you reach the magical position of better-than-20, it really doesn’t count. And you have to make “The List,” to be allowed to use the title, “New York Times Bestselling Author.” Otherwise you are a “national bestselling author.” To people in the business, there is a major distinction. So that is the absolutely part of the above, underlined paragraph.
Oh – and did I mention? I hit 16 (tied with 15)? Yes I did. I even got flowers from my publisher for the first time in 20 years. That is huge.
But I neglected to mention that I got there, even though the massmarket paperback sales were no better than the last book. Right. I climbed from 27 (I think) to 16 (tied with 15) and I sold not one single more copy. Why? It’s like a horserace. You may win, but if you are racing against slower horses, it’s easier to win or place. This is the sorta part of the underlined paragraph. And that is also the confession part of this post.
That is why big names jockey for position on release months. For instance, if a writer is trying for the top spot, number one on the NYT, they don’t want to be released on the same month as JD Robb or Nora Roberts. Yes, the same person. She sells no matter what, and consistently at number 1! She is impossible to beat.
A publishing house will move a hopeful writer’s release date to another month to avoid Robb/Roberts’ competition. Publishing houses that are trying to get better numbers for a particular writer, will move that writer’s release date from one month to another if they discover that any Big Name is releasing that month. Or worse, several Big Names.
If a publisher is hoping for a writer to hit the top ten position, they might aim for January or November (traditionally low sales months) if no big names in their genre are releasing that month. So, for instance, a publisher, if they decide a writer is worth some push to get into the top ten doesn’t want an urban fantasy writer released in the same month as LKH or Jim Butcher. March, sometimes is a good month. No one wants March for some reason.
To summarize, this means that a writer (like me) can move up ten spots if the competition is poor (as I did). I will admit that I did nearly double the sales of e-books, so it wasn’t a total fib that I moved up 10 spots, but since the e-books don’t count for that, uh, yeah, it was a total fib. Yes, I am rolling my eyes. I find gambling boring, so playing with numbers seems silly. But making The List (yes it is capitalized in the business), and going up more than 10 points as I did, even under what feels like artificial means, makes a huge difference to a writer’s career.
It means that I get promo money that I never did before. It means that BROKEN SOUL, when it comes out in October, will have PR money to get adds in magazines and online. It will get placement money (money that publishers give to stores to get their books in special places), and it will have New York Times Bestselling Author Faith Hunter on the title. My name may be bigger on the cover. So yeah. It’s huge.
What else? Oh. It means that my agent can hold out for a slightly bigger advance on a new series set in the same world as Jane Yellowrock. It’s a new series, so the money will be only slightly bigger than planned and that money was, honestly, quite lowball. But since I quit my job, it’s all good, all needed, and all important.
Now I’ve enlightened you with my new knowledge, let me say I am still squeezing. And terrified. Or, rather, working to keep the terror at bay. Because now the horse racing begins, and the gambling starts, and my career moves into a new realm. What new realm? I need to move up the list. I need to move up at least 2 points to 13 or 14.
I need to keep my wonderful street team, The Beast Claws, excited and working for the series. I need to keep the reviews coming. So, far on Amazon, I have 138 reviews, the vast majority at 4 and 5 stars, which makes Amazon perk up and pay attention. The Claws did that. I need to let my PR firm push me a little harder. And I have a book (BROKEN SOUL, the 8th Jane Yellowrock book) due on Feb 1. So I need to get cracking.
My life is different. And totally the same. I’m taking questions about anything today. Hit me with your best one.
Oh – and here’s the opening to BLACK ARTS.
Insanity’s Not the Point
The crash shook the house, sounding as though the front wall had exploded. I whirled as my front door blew in, icy wind gusting with hurricane force. My ears popped. The bed skirt blew flat beneath the bed. My Beast rammed into me, the light going sharp and the colors bleaching into greens. Beast-fast, I grabbed two nine-mils from the bed, off-safetied, and chambered rounds into both. Raced into the foyer.
The door was open, the knob stuck into the wallboard, the hinges bent. The glass of its small window was busted all over the floor. Again.
Gale-force winds rushed through the open door. No one stood there. Icy air whirled through the house with a scream. I heard windows breaking in back. My ears popped again. A table in the living room tumbled over. Daylight patterned the wood floor off the foyer and reflected off broken glass shoved by the wind into the corner. Not vamps, I thought. But I’d been a target for blood-servants and scions for months. This wasn’t the first such attack, but it was the first that had gotten this far. And then the frigid cold tingled up my arms, blue and golden, flecked with darker sparks of frozen force. It smelled like the air over a glacier, fresh and full of suspended, preserved power. It circled over me, tried to latch on to my skin.
My Beast rose and batted the spell away. Magic, she thought. Air magic. Angry, like storms rising on horizon. Witches.
I advanced the few steps from my room to the front door, the frigid squall pushing against me. In my peripheral vision, I saw Eli at the top of the stairs, his hunting rifle in one hand, a blade in the other, a small subgun on a sling over his back. The former Ranger was wearing boxers, his dark skin slick with shower water.
There was no music in the attack, no wind instrument, no whistling, no singing, none of the usual methods air witches used when they attacked. And the wind seemed random, blustery, not the tornado of might from a focused attack. More like wild magic, the kind teenaged witches might toss when their power first fell on them, out of control and turbulent. I danced into the doorway and back, getting a glimpse out. Despair pelted over me, sharp and burning as sleet, as I identified him. Sorcerer Evan Trueblood, my best friend Molly’s husband, was standing in the street, attacking my home.
Eli raced halfway down the stairs, his bare feet placed with rooted precision, his wet skin pebbled from the cold.
“No guns,” I shouted to Eli.
“Are you insane?” he shouted back.
“Probably, but insanity’s not the point. It’s Evan.”
Understanding dawned in the set of his shoulders and Eli raced back up the stairs. I turned my full attention to the open door. “Whaddaya want, Evan?” I shouted.
The wind receded marginally.
“I don’t want to fight you,” I called out. “I know I’d lose.” Maybe. Possibly. Okay, not likely, not with Eli and Beast on my side, but why stir a frozen pot? My big-cat huffed with agreement. “Talk to me, Evan! Please!”
“Tell Molly to come out and I’ll leave your house standing.”
My eyes went wide. I hadn’t seen Evan’s wife, Molly, in months, not since I killed her sister. Instantly I felt my hand on the knife as the blade slid into Evangelina. Hot blood gushed over me. I blinked away the unexpected tears that the cold wind stimulated and the memory evoked. I had killed her. I’d had no choice.