Friday, September 01, 2006

Early freedom leads to more work

Task(s): Drafting a book proposal -- Finished draft of author profile; listed key contacts for publicity; listed potential target markets for the book

Time stolen from: Company let us leave 2 hours early today, so I used it.

I'm following the Nonfiction Book Proposal Cheat Sheet that Stefanie Von Borstel from the
Full Circle Literary Agency gave everyone during her presentation at the Columbus Writer's Conference last weekend. She was a great presenter, very animated and used excellent examples to illustrate her points. She answered the one question about the book selling business that I have never been able to find a definitive answer to: How can you find out how many copies a book has actually sold? How are these numbers tracked? Her answer was that there are no real reliable ways to do this. You can use BookScan, if you are a major retailer, but even then the reported numbers are wildly inaccurate, not counting sales to libraries, book clubs, and other loop holes.

It sounds to me as if agents too have a difficult time getting accurate sales totals on books that they don't directly represent, so I don't feel so bad about this now. Several months ago I had chased this lead everywhere, searches, statistics, Publishers Weekly, I even asked Roxanne at Barnes and Noble how BookScan worked, and she didn't really know. They used it primarily for ordering books. i now realize that chasing down this data was just another way to put off the work of writing the proposal, a trick that the Inner Critic played to throw me off track, and force me to look for something that would be nice to have and make me think that it was essential for the proposal. WRONG!

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