« Music Selection 11/22/04 | Main | Musical Selection: Thanksgiving Edition »

November 22, 2004

I Heart Instapundit

I impressed upon the marketing people at Tor that they would want to get an advanced copy of Old Man's War over to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, and here's why: This morning, OMW's Amazon ranking was about 150,000. This afternoon, after Glenn mentioned he'd received the book and put in a link to Amazon, it was up at 903. And that's simply a mention that the book arrived on his desk. In all, an object lesson of the power of blogs (or at the very least, Instapundit) in late 2004.

Note to self: Send sparkly seasonal thank you card, and possibly a nice fruit basket, to Professor Reynolds.

Update: Pamie's plugged me too! It's good to have friends. I think I'll put her in the book acknowledgements.

Posted by john at November 22, 2004 05:32 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


JamesG | November 22, 2004 06:57 PM

Perhaps a singing seasonal card with a subliminal message embedded in it that urges him to tell the world that OMW is the greatest book ever written.

John Scalzi | November 22, 2004 07:39 PM

Well, hopefully the book itself will make the argument -- if not the greatest book ever written, at least a fairly decent read.

JamesG | November 22, 2004 08:05 PM

I am sure that it will. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. It was just my lame attempt at humor. Rest assured, I am seeking help for that condition even as we speak. My comedy therapist claims that, at my current rate of progress, I could even be midly entertaining by the end of next year.

Kate Nepveu | November 22, 2004 08:19 PM

Cool! It doesn't hurt that the nice people at Tor gave it a great book jacket description, too, which (with the cover and the blurbs) is about all the information that's out there.

I'd probably read it based on that, even if I wasn't already going to.

John Scalzi | November 22, 2004 08:30 PM

I agree that the jacket description is really good -- I wish I had written it. It made *me* want to read the book, so hopefully it will do the same for others.

Chris Lehmann | November 22, 2004 09:15 PM

Yeah... too bad Instapundit is a @#!$!@ @#!$ !@#%% @#!@$!@#$#!@# son of a !@#!@$!

John Scalzi | November 22, 2004 09:36 PM

Now, now, Chris. Speaking on a personal level, I've always found Glenn to be a good egg, and someone willing to boost other bloggers and online writers, regardless of politics, which is a trait worth emulating. Not all his politics are my politics, but then whose are. I consider him a friend, inasmuch as one can consider anyone who one's not met in person a friend.

It is true I had to stop reading him for a while leading up to the election, as we were on differing sides of the voting fence and some of the things he was focused on drove me a bit nuts, but on the other hand I stopped reading Kos and Atrios too, and they were standing next to me on my side of the fence. Election madness was all over the place, and it had a distinctly bipartisan tint (I also imagine quite a few people stopped reading me until after the election as well).

Post-election, I find Instapundit (and Kos and Atrios) readable again, which has as much if not more to do with me as it does with what these guys are writing.

Sue | November 23, 2004 10:19 AM

Not that I'm trying to imply anything here, but, as someone pondering the idea of writing a novel, do you ever wonder if you really have anything to contribute to literature that hasn't been done already? If so, how do you get past that?

John Scalzi | November 23, 2004 11:42 AM

Sue says:

"Not that I'm trying to imply anything here..."

Oh, sure you're not!

I can guarantee that in the case of Old Man's War, this particular sequence of 96,000 words has never been seen before by literature. But I'd guess that's not what you're asking.

The short answer: No, I don't worry about it too much. With OMW, this is just as well, since I patterned it specifically in the format of a Robert Heinlein juvenile, and even more specifically after Starship Troopers (nor am I cagey about this in the book, as I thank RAH in the acknowledgement). But more generally, I don't mind touching on some familiar themes or ideas if I think I can bring something new to the party, either in the details of the plot or in the style of presentation.

On a more practical level, another reason not to worry about it is that most readers -- no matter how well-read -- have sampled only a small slice of world literature; it's possible that what the writer will think of as a thematic borrow will be an entirely new experience for the reader. This isn't a license to blatantly recycle plots from earlier work, to be sure. But it does mean that one should not totally despair at walking down the some of the same paths as earlier books.

Jim Millen | November 23, 2004 05:03 PM

Will OMW get a UK release? Just asking because I prefer to buy UK editions where possible, and if it's going to be available from a UK publisher in the forseeable future, I'll wait.

If not, of course, then I'll grab it off amazon.com forthwith.

John Scalzi | November 23, 2004 05:06 PM

Jim, as far as I know it'll be available in UK simultaneously.

Jim Millen | November 23, 2004 05:34 PM

Cool. Thanks very much!

Colm Mac | November 24, 2004 08:17 AM

Who's your UK publisher John? Or have Tor gone worldwide *crosses fingers,toes and assorted tentacles*?

John Scalzi | November 24, 2004 12:21 PM

Amazon UK has it listed as St. Martin's Press, which is part of the same corporate entity as Tor.

John Edwards | November 24, 2004 01:33 PM

John, I just submitted what looks like it'll be the first reader review of your book on Amazon. Gave it a brief rave based on having read the version you made available online. Best of luck with it; I really enjoyed it.

John Scalzi | November 24, 2004 02:37 PM

I just saw it -- thanks! I didn't know it had the reader review option open already.

Ulrika O'Brien | November 27, 2004 08:36 PM

Glad Instahack helped out your hit rate. I find his intellectual dishonesty a turnoff, however.

Bill Peschel | November 30, 2004 03:53 PM

Let it lay, Ulrika, or at least don't do it here. That sword cuts both ways. Get a blog of your own to argue about it.

Anyway, Sue, try to look at it this way. If you're trying to write profound literature that will last the ages, there's always room for more, because it's very tough to accomplish.

If you're looking to create entertainment that lasts as long as you're reading the book and a little beyond that, well, there's room for that as well. Each era creates its own entertainment. Look at what sold like hotcakes ten years ago and see if any of them are in print. Then try twenty or thirty. Nobody reads those writers for entertainment. We still need new books, new ideas, new views. They're still out there.

Look at Terry Pratchett, who started with the type of fantasy that was all too common in the '70s, and look where he grew. The point, though, is that you'll never know where you'll go until you get moving. You simply can't tell.

Ulrika | December 6, 2004 04:04 PM


Funny, you don't look like John Scalzi. Opining != Arguing, for that matter. HTH.

Ulrika O'Brien | December 6, 2004 04:44 PM

Look at what sold like hotcakes ten years ago and see if any of them are in print. Then try twenty or thirty. Nobody reads those writers for entertainment.

You have the times cale pretty wrong. On an informal survey, it looks like you have to go back between thirty and forty years before the best sellers go out of print.

And several of the out of print novels were ones I am certain still circulate hot and heavy on the used circuit, being read for entertainment. Consider:

Best Sellers – Fiction 1980
1. The Covenant, James A. Michener - in print
2. The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum - in print
3. Rage of Angels, Sidney Sheldon - in print
4. Princess Daisy, Judith Krantz - in print
5. Firestarter, Stephen King - in print
6. The Key to Rebecca, Ken Follett - in print
7. Random Winds, Belva Plain – in print
8. The Devil's Alternative, Frederick Forsyth – in print
9. The Fifth Horseman, Larry Collins and
Dominique Lapierre – in print (large type
10. The Spike, Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert
Moss – out of print

Best Sellers – Fiction 1970

1. Love Story, Erich Segal - in print
2. The French Lieutenant's Woman, John Fowles –
in print
3. Islands in the Stream, Ernest Hemingway –
in print
4. The Crystal Cave, Mary Stewart – in print
5. Great Lion of God, Taylor Caldwell – out of
6. QB VII, Leon Uris – in print
7. The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, Jimmy
Breslin – in print
8. The Secret Woman, Victoria Holt – in print
(audio book only)
9. Travels with My Aunt, Graham Greene – in print
10. Rich Man, Poor Man, Irwin Shaw -
out of print (though Beggar Man, Thief is in
print, leading me to suspect that this is
hiatus rather than permanent.

Best Sellers – Fiction 1960
1. Advise and Consent, Allen Drury – out of print
2. Hawaii, James A. Michener – in print
3. The Leopard, Giuseppe di Lampedusa – in print
4. The Chapman Report, Irving Wallace –
out of print
5. Ourselves To Know, John O'Hara – out of print
6. The Constant Image, Marcia Davenport –
out of print
7. The Lovely Ambition, Mary Ellen Chase –
out of print
8. The Listener, Taylor Caldwell –
currently out - last re-issue 1996
9. Trustee from the Toolroom, Nevil Shute – in
10. Sermons and Soda-Water, John O'Hara –out of

Post a comment.

Comments are moderated to stop spam; if your comment goes into moderation, it may take a couple of hours to be released. Please read this for my comment moderation policies.
Preview will not show paragraph breaks. Trust me, they're there.
The proprietor generally responds to commenters in kind. If you're polite, he'll be polite. If you're a jackass, he'll be a jackass. If you are ignorant, he may correct you.
When in doubt, read the comment thread rules.

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)