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September 25, 2004

A Bracing Moment of Market Reality: The Class of January 2005

For anyone out there who believes that once you've sold a book, you've got it made, may I present to you the following list of the science fiction and fantasy books that are being released in January 2005 (i.e., the same month as Old Man's War) in the US, UK and Canada. I get to compete with all of these for the science fiction reader's dollars and pounds. And of course, these are just the books in the genre. Also note that from what I'm told, January is traditionally one of the less-crowded months to sell a book.

Am I worried? Not really. But it's a reminder that selling a book to a publisher is just the beginning of the life of a book, and in many ways the easiest part of its life.

To all the authors on this list, of course, I wish tremendous success, equal to (or perhaps just one book less) than my own.

(List nicked from here -- a SF bookstore which is, alas, going out of business. It may or may not be entirely up-to-date or accurate.)

Anonymous (ed), Horrorscape, Book 1, paperback
Anonymous (ed), Star Trek: S.C.E.: Wildfire, paperback
Piers Anthony, Unicorn Point, paperback
Sarah Ash, Prisoner of Ironsea Tower, UK paperback
Robert Asprin & Eric Del Carlo, War Torn, paperback
Steve Aylett, Karloff's Circus, UK paperback
L.A. Banks, The Bitten, trade paperback
Elizabeth Bear, Hammered, paperback
Anne Bishop, Dreams Made Flesh, paperback
Ben Bova, Powersat, hardcover
Rachel Caine, Chill Factor, paperback
Adam-Troy Castro, Just a Couple of Idiots Reupholstering Space and Time, paperback
C.J. Cherryh, Mercedes Lackey, Nancy Asire & Leslie Fish, The Sword of Knowledge, omnibus hardcover
Greg Cox, Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume Three: To Reign in Hell, hardcover
Peter Crowther (ed), Constellations, paperback
John R. Dann, Song of the Earth, hardcover
Charles de Lint, Trader, trade paperback
Marianne de Pierres, Parrish Plessis #3, UK paperback
Sara Douglass, The Wounded Hawk, US hardcover
David Drake & Eric Flint (ed.s), The World Turned Upside Down, omnibus hardcover
S.L. Farrell, Mage of Clouds, paperback
S.L. Farrell, Stone's Heir, hardcover
Pauline Fisk, Sabrina Fludde, UK ya trade paperback
Alan Dean Foster, The Hour of the Gate, paperback
Leo Frankowski & Dave Grossman, The War with Earth, paperback
David Gerrold, Alternate Gerrolds, trade paperback
Terry Goodkind, Chainfire, hardcover
Mitchell Graham, The Ancient Legacy, paperback
Robert A. Heinlein, Rocket Ship Galileo, ya paperback
Barb & J.C. Hendee, Sister of the Dead, paperback
James P. Hogan, The Anguished Dawn, paperback
Graham Joyce, The Limits of Enchantment, UK hardcover
Michae P. Kube-McDowell, Alternities, trade paperback
Katherine Kurtz, In the King's Service, paperback
Mercedes Lackey, Burning Water, trade paperback
Robert Mayer, Superfolks, trade paperback
Todd McCaffrey, Dragonsblood, hardcover
Alex McDonough, Scorpio, paperback
Patricia A. McKillip, Something Rich and Strange, paperback
R. Meluch, The Myriad, paperback
Robert A. Metzger, Cusp, hardcover
L.E. Modesitt Jr., Ordermaster, hardcover
Stan Nicholls, The Covenenant Rising, US trade paperback
Michael Paine, Steel Ghosts, paperback
Paul Preuss, Arthur C. Clarke's Venus Prime 2, paperback
Alastair Reynolds, Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, US omnibus trade paperback
Justina Robson, Natural History, US paperback
Jeff Rovin, Dead Rising, paperback
Fred Saberhagen, Rogue Berserker, hardcover
E. Rose Sabin, When the Beast Ravens, hardcover
Al Sarrantonio, Hayden of Mars, paperback
Robert J. Sawyer, Action Potential, hardcover
John Scalzi, Old Man's War, hardcover
Robert Silverberg, The Man in the Maze, paperback
Bram Stoker & John Shirley, Constantine, paperback
Judith Tarr, Queen of the Amazons, trade paperback
Sheri S. Tepper, The True Game, omnibus trade paperback
Mark W. Tiedemann, Asimov's Chimera, paperback
Harry Turtledove, Homeward Bound, hardcover
Harry Turtledove & Martin H. Greenberg (ed.s), The Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th Century, trade paperback
Peter Watts, Behemoth, Book Two: Seppuku, hardcover
David Weber, Bolos!, hardcover
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Midnight Harvest, paperback
Timothy Zahn, Star Wars: Survivor's Quest, paperback

Posted by john at September 25, 2004 03:58 PM

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Elizabeth Bear | September 25, 2004 04:45 PM

John, thank you for bringing my own barely-buried paranoia roaring to the forefront. Here's to four-digit Amazon sales ranks all around, huh?

I'm just hoping to sell through. That seems like a modest and reasonable goal. Anything above that will be a big, fat, squeaky bonus.

John Scalzi | September 25, 2004 05:04 PM

Heh. Yes, I saw you in there. I'm sure you will do fabulously. Heck, your Amazon Sales Rank is 800,000 above mine at the moment.

Elizabeth Bear | September 25, 2004 06:48 PM

*g* I think the Sales Rank is a tool invented to keep writers from accomplishing anything. Instead, we can just sit there and hit the refresh button. *click* *click* *click*

Stephen Granade | September 25, 2004 10:35 PM

If only that damn Robert Heinlein would stop writing new books! He's barely beaten out by that L. Ron Hubbard guy in terms of new books.

Kafkaesquí | September 26, 2004 01:05 AM

Holy crap, a new Berserker book!

Scott | September 26, 2004 01:33 AM

I think Piers Anthony has a new one EVERY month, doesn't he? :-)

Jim Winter | September 26, 2004 09:58 AM

Personally, I wouldn't worry. I mean, who read that Bova guy anyway? :-)

Mike Kozlowski | September 26, 2004 01:59 PM

The existence of a list like that undoubtedly makes nervous authors cry. That I look at that list and go, "Huh, nothing interesting coming out that month" might make a faint-hearted publisher tear up.

Unrelatedly: "Todd McCaffrey"? What, the franchise passes down to Anne's heirs? Yeesh.

Karen Funk Blocher | September 26, 2004 04:01 PM

What's really interesting about that list is all the names of authors, attached to these books in one way or another, who are

1. dead
2. relatively inactive at this late date, or
3. you're kidding! He's/she's still writing?

Maybe you can get Old Man's War retitled The Ghosts of Isaac Asimov and Robert A Heinlein Present John M Scalzi's Old Man's War. Foreword by Robert Silverberg.

paul comeau | September 26, 2004 10:49 PM

joking comment from my wife (who used to work at Dream Haven, sf bookstore in Minneapolis...)

So I'd like to get a a copy, let me know when it gets remaindered...

(Just kidding!)


PeterP | September 27, 2004 03:01 AM

Any idea when its coming out in paperback? I dont buy hardcover as a rule (shelf space being the primary issue...)

John Scalzi | September 27, 2004 07:21 AM

PeterP asks:

"Any idea when its coming out in paperback?"

Probably about a year after its release in hardback, more or less.

Andrea | September 27, 2004 01:30 PM

Good GOD! You should see the look of dumb horror on my face.

Christopher Davis | September 27, 2004 01:42 PM

Hey, on that list it looks like there are two I'm likely to request from the library (the hc budget isn't what it used to be, but the library's good about buying them for me, heh) and a couple mmpb/tpb likely buys. And, yes, yours is one of the hc requests, and Hammered will get a look and a random-page test at the minimum.

The catalog system doesn't have Old Man's War in the database yet, so I can't request it. (In the past, Cambridge has bought SF books several times when I've requested them even though other libraries had them on order; the SF collection is quite solid for a public library. My tax dollars at work, yay!)

Tracina | September 27, 2004 02:50 PM

John, if it helps, note that your list of titles includes reprints.

Joe Rybicki | September 27, 2004 02:53 PM

Maybe I'm displaying my publishing ignorance here, but it seems to me that paperback and hardcover could practically be considered two different genres. I mean, most bookstores I've been to don't mix the two...so in actuality OMW will be competing for shelf space with only the hardcovers (and, in some cases, trade paperbacks, depending on the store). So maybe it's not QUITE as daunting as it looks.


Wil Mosher | September 29, 2004 06:55 AM

Not having a dog in this hunt you appear to be in good company on that list. (What, you maybe wanted to go up against Fatty Arbuckle's "50 Years of Vaudeville"?) But I do second the motion for you to write ATTS as a screenplay - when you get a bit of slack time. Give it to a trusted agent (is that an oxymoron?)to peddle and let them have at it.

John Scalzi | September 29, 2004 08:23 AM

Wil Mosher writes:

"But I do second the motion for you to write ATTS as a screenplay - when you get a bit of slack time."

It's not a bad idea, except for the fact that I really have so little desire to write a screenplay it's not even funny. The format doesn't really call to me. The money's nice (if you sell a screenplay, that is), but, eh.

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