December 29th, 2008

A Pocket Full of Murder

How to make an author crazy

So thanks to the kind offices of colyngbourne and Michelle Harrison (whom I had not met before she messaged me the other day, but I have to say her book looks very tempting), I have learned that Knife is already available in bookstores across the UK. The release dates, they mean nothing! So I am quite harrowed to the depths of my soul excited about that.

Some authors practice Amazonomancy*, which is to say that they follow their Amazon rankings with obsessive fervor in the belief that this will tell them how their books are actually selling. But such things are not for me, because they involve numbers, and numbers mean nothing to me. I resent numbers for not being letters (or failing that, pictures) so I cannot bring myself to care about whether my Amazon ranking is in the tens or the millions.

Instead, I have found a much better way to drive myself crazy: Waterstone's (one of the leading UK booksellers) has a thing on its website that allows you to find out which of their stores have my book in stock, and how many!

It is very happy-making to realize that my book is available in Aberystwyth, for instance. But what does it mean that their stock level is at Medium? Does that mean they have sold some copies (yay) but not a lot (boo)? Or does it mean that they only chose to stock a few copies and nobody has bought even one yet (boo hoo)?

Like all arcane methods of divination, it leaves much to the interpretation of the reader. Should I be miffed at Woking Peacocks because their stock level is Low, or should I be delighted to hear that they have so few copies of Knife to offer? I have no idea!

However, I do seem to get the impression that Knife is being carried in quite a lot of stores, regardless of the actual quantity available. So at present I am looking upon this web page as a positive sign, rather than a baleful portent of dwindling stock to come.

(And if you are reading this post and coming to the conclusion that authors at any stage of the creative process are basically nuts, then yes, you would be quite right.)

* Link is to a very funny post by Justine Larbalestier, who did not invent the term "amazonomancy" but does a very good job of describing the craziness of writers.