The December 2004 Newsletter.

I intended to send this on December 31st, but then my internet provider's e-mail system went down for a good part of the day. Of course, I wasted a lot of time fiddling because I thought it was me. But it can serve as a welcome to 2005 and best wishes to all for good health, happiness, and success.

My local paper, the Victoria Times Colonist, has begun a tradition of printing short stories each day in the week between Christmas and New Year, and this year I was invited to write one. It's a challenge to write a romance in 2500 words, but I did my best and enjoyed it, especially sliding in some Jane Austen references. I couldn't put it on the web before it appeared in the paper, but it's there now, as a belated Christmas present to all my readers. Enjoy!

Read the story.

Of course it's not long now until the release of the next new book, A MOST UNSUITABLE MAN. the official pub date is February 1st, but as you know, it could appear earlier in some stores. Many stores will let you order a copy, which means you'll get it as soon as it comes in, and it also often encourages them to order more, which is good for me.

Readers sometimes ask about how to buy books to help authors move high on the bestselling lists. This is a subject of great interest to authors! Making lists isn't everything, but the publishers do take notice, which means they're likely to be more generous with a list-making author and that usually means more books for the readers. This can come about simply by the publisher buying more books from her, but it can also mean more money, meaning an author can give up a day job, hire a cleaner or in some way free up more writing time.

So I thought I'd write a bit about it. There are three major lists that people watch -- the one in the New York Times on Sunday, the one in the USA Today on Thursday, and the one in Publisher's Weekly. You can see the romances on all three lists on the . Romance Writers of America site here

Also there is the Waldenbooks Bestseller List, compiled especially for RWA. It's interesting, but not one of the big three. There's also a list called Bookscan, but that's not available to the public. In fact they charge the industry big bucks to get the information. In the UK, however, it is made public. You can see it here.

It's interesting to see how it matches and differs from the US lists.

The USA Today list is here. This list compiles actual sales from most outlets for all types of books -- fiction, non fiction, hardcover, paperback, childrens and adult.

The NYT is here. As you'll see, there have different lists for different types of books. They collect data from a more limited range of outlets but are still considered the gold standard in New York. NYT Bestseller lists.

Publishers Weekly lists.

To help an author appear on these lists, or rise higher, the most important thing is to buy the book as soon as possible after it comes out. It's sales in the first few weeks that really make the difference. Some books do extremely well and never make a list because the sales were slow and steady over months or longer. As I said above, that's good, but publishers like the glitter and glitz of list placement.

Generally speaking, book store sales are more likely to be counted toward list numbers than small outlets such as convenience stores, but sometimes the lists do count those via the distributor who stocked the shelves. If that's confusing, don't worry about it. All it boils down to is that if it makes no difference to you whether you buy from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target or the corner store, choose one of the bigger places.

And that is about all you can do to help your favorite authors shine except, of course, to talk up the books everywhere you can think of so that other people rush out to buy. Study after study shows that in the end, word of mouth is the most important thing.

I've put up the first excerpt from A MOST UNSUITABLE MAN here.

My excerpts are designed so that the text size should adjust via your browser's view function. Do let me know if this doesn't work and the text is hard to read.

I love the front cover of this book. True, he's wearing an undershirt instead of a gentleman's shirt, and his hair is clearly not long and tied back as it should be, but still, he's gorgeous and pretty well as I imagine Fitzroger. However, the step back gave us a little trouble. When I was sent the first version for approval, this is what I saw.

I'm sure you can see the problem. This book follows on from Winter Fire, so it starts in late December. Icy ground, shawls inside, furs out. Silly me, I'd taken it for granted that someone would tell the art department that. I'd been obsessed by getting the right man on the cover, as we'd decided to go with a cover dominated by the hero's face. Showing that they do sometimes listen to us in New York, they instantly changed it -- to the Russian Steppes!

LOL! Also, now they'd shifted around the elements, it was clear that the carriage had stopped because it had lost a wheel, not because Fitzroger stopped it. But I decided to quit while I was ahead. It is interesting, however, to see how they moved around elements to create the new step back. That's the way most covers are produced these days -- on a computer.

Other publications. As a reminder to people new to the list, DANGEROUS JOY, the fifth Rogues book, about Miles Cavanagh and Felicity Monahan and the magical Irish cats was reissued in December. SOMETHING WICKED is out again now. Looking ahead, in August, FORBIDDEN MAGIC, will be reissued.

Last thing. I'm thinking of making signed bookplates available from my web site. These would be jpg images that you could print out and put in the books. I'm simply not sure if these would be of interest to anyone. Another way would be for me to e-mail personalized ones. Again, I'm not sure if there would be interest or how much work this would be for me, but I'd be most interested in any feedback.

All best wishes


If you want to receive my newsletter, sign up below.

Back to the site menu