Friday, January 28, 2011

Yard Sale Anyone?

I'm getting ready in a few hours to go "prepare" for a ten family yard sale tomorrow. We're going to sort and price all the items that we're happy to have eliminated from our house and garages. There will be pizza and beer and it will be a blast. Since I hate yard sales, this is what I keep telling myself.

I remember saying last year that I would not anymore yard sales, but I caved on this one. The goal is to do a funraiser for our girl scout troop, but as of today, I haven't gotten approval to raise money for my scout troop. So, it has now become simply a yard sale.

Why I'm I not a huge fan of yard sales? People sell the weirdest things, don't they? I always think, if I don't want this, why would anyone else want it? I found this on the internet. Someone selling a casket. Hey, why not? Of course, I'd put one of my relatives in a casket I bought at a yard sale! Especially if I didn't like them very much.

Plus you have to get up super early to put all the junk out in your driveway, and a few hours later put most it back in. Waste of time.

Then there are those signs you have to make and hang. Ugh. I love to write, but making yard sale signs have to be the most boring, uninspiring chore every. I've tried to get my kids to get creative with them, and even they can't do it. But I did find a couple of funny examples on the internet.

Maybe I'll try these.
Well, I'll post some of my own pictures tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Intellectual Property

This morning I woke up thinking of intellectual property. For a couple of reasons, but probably the most likely is that I finally got a chance to watch The Social Network last night and was intrigued about the question of who really "owned" the idea for Facebook. The whole idea of creating something and owning it is a tricky one, I think.

Ideas are everywhere, literally. For writers in particular you're bombarded with ideas if you're alive. Everywhere you go there are stories, settings, conflicts that you read about, hear about, see first hand, and it all gets filtered into an author's head. Everything in a book came from somewhere and even if an author says he made it all up, we know that isn't entirely true. The fictional world an author "made-up" is extapulated from influences that the author has had. Even a different world from Avatar has touches of Native American culture and nature. It wasn't really invented by the writers.

Still, most writers that I know, myself included, try extremely hard NOT to write anything that has been written before. Impossible, really. How many ways are there to describe a kiss, for example. There are lines in romance books that make me scream every time I read them. Some version of, "the smile didn't reach his eyes." Ugh!!!!! Everytime I read this, I think "can't this author come up with something more original than that?" It's been used in millions of romance books and if the first person that wrote it could have gotten royalties on just that line, she'd be a rich woman.

But I'm digressing, the point, I think is that when writing about something like a kiss, writers are going to find it difficult to be completely original. How it happens, when it happens, etc. will be different, but a kiss is a kiss (and hasn't that been said before). And even plots won't be completely original. One romance, thiller, horror novel can sound very much like another, because the stories about falling in love or behing chased by a monster (can be one and the same) has been told a million times. What an author CAN be original about is how the story is delivered. All the experiences the author has in this world are filtered through that person's perspective and then they produce the book you love to read or a movie like Avatar.

As far as Zuckerberg and the other Facebook creators, The Social Network does a good job of showing how each of them had a part in developing the site, a how touchy this thing called intellectual property can be.

Now, off to Facebook to post this blog!

Have a wonderful weekend!


Friday, January 14, 2011

Writing a Best Selling Novel

Have you ever wondered what makes a best selling novel? It's usually preceeded with New York Times, or Los Angeles Times, or USA Today Best Selling book/author. That's because along with Publisher's Weekly, Book Sense, and to some degree they are the ones compiling the list of books that "make it" to the best seller lists.

Most people assume that best selling books are actually best selling books, meaning that book stores have sold more copies of this book than any other or that they passed a magical number that puts them into a best selling category. To a certain extent that's true. But it's actually more complicated than that.

According to John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, the New York Times sends a list of book titles to select bookseller around the country and asks them to state how many copies of those books were sold for the week. The pre-selected list is determined by the books publishers are supporting with heavy publicity and heavy print runs; or by something like celebrity status or sales history of the author which the NYT knows will draw customers to purchase that book.

The other lists work pretty much the same way.

This means that an author's book that might have sold more than one of those on the list for a certain week might not be counted in the bookstores being polled. If the book is sold through independent bookstores, it would not be counted for NYT and company. If the book sold at Walmart or Costco (though if it's at Costco, it's probably already a bestseller) it would not be counted.

The actual number of books that have to be sold differs per book, so not every book that passes a certain number becomes a best seller. One book might have to sell 15,000 books in a week to be considered a #1 best seller, another might only have to sell 5000, depending on the category it's listed under and what other books are competing for the spot that same week.

Of course, I like to think that great writing also plays a role. At least in fiction. Awesome, unforgetable characters, great plots, entertaining for the genre - so exciting for an adventure book, emotionally rich for women's fiction, and so on.

So, does my fall release of SAY YOU'LL BE MINE have a chance of hitting NYT bestseller status? Knowing what I do about how books get there, I'd have to say I don't have a chance in hell. My print run itself would probably take me out of the running. Still, it's my top goal for the year. Not because I'm stupid or naive, but because I'll have a book out this year and why not shoot for the top. I will not be disappointed if I only sell out my print run : )