from manuscript to bookstore -- the publishing process

About reading chicken entrails
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From Sally:

"You gotta admit jumping 100,000 slots makes a better day than moving up, oh say, 15. Doesn't it make you wonder how many "slots" there are? (And do you peek to see how other people's titles are doing?)"

I was going to answer this in the comments (and thanks, Sally, for bringing the B& ranking to my attention!) but I thought this might be something everyone was interested in.

First: Jumping 100,000 slots is better than 15 when you're down around 1,000,000 as I was. But I'll bet when you're at 100, making it to 85 is a hell of a kick.

There are as many slots as there are books. Remember, this is a relative ranking. All it means is that 920,088 books were bought more often than mine was in whatever period of time this covers. (The past two weeks, I think.) It doesn't say anything about how many copies that actually is. So every book gets a slot.

The bestseller lists, btw, are the same. You don't sell a certain number of books to get on a list, you sell more than almost everyone else whose books are for sale that week. That means you can get on the list with lower sales in slow weeks than in active weeks. It also means if two or three "big" books come out the same time as yours you could be sunk.

I don't check on other people's books because that way lies obsessive compulsive madness. There are always books I don't admire that will do better than mine, and there are always books I loved, or books I liked by people I love, that aren't doing as well as I'd want them to. You could spend all day tracking everyone on these lists. I enough trouble restricting myself to once a day when it's just my own book.

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