Children of the Sun > Reading & Writing

Repairman Jack

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So Bloodline is waiting for me...

And FPW redid his webpage:

Now with 22% less suck.

And he has something to say on how to be a bestseller.  Duh...

--- Quote ---BESTSELLERS 101

It’s no revelation that making the bestseller lists is important for a book and its author. Bestsellerdom influences where the book is placed in stores. More prominent placement means higher visibility, increasing the likelihood of readers picking it up and checking the flap copy and the blurbs, and perhaps reading the first page or two. If they like what they see—another sale. Which increases the book’s chances of staying on the bestseller list.

A bestselling hardcover can look forward to higher advance orders on its paperback edition (with "Bestseller!" emblazoned across its cover), and the author can anticipate higher advance orders on his next hardcover.

All because his book made the bestseller lists.

(This is not the place to delve into the controversy over how bestseller lists are compiled - a long, complicated story - so let’s just assume that the lists are a true reflection of sales during the week in question and proceed from there.)

But bestsellerdom isn’t determined by total sales. It’s determined by velocity of sales during a given week.

For example: Author X and Author Y each have books released on the same day.

Author X sells 25,000 copies that week and Author Y sells 2,000.

Author X makes the bestseller lists; Author Y does not.

Author X sells 15,000 and 10,000 copies respectively over the next two weeks and remains on the bestseller lists. Author Y sells 2,000 copies in each of those weeks and is nowhere near the lists.

Over the next fifty or so weeks, sales of Author X’s book tail off so that by the end of a year he’s sold a total of 100,000 copies. Author Y’s book has gained a certain amount of word of mouth and sells 2,000 a week for the entire year for a similar total of 100,000 copies.

Both have sold the same number of copies, yet X is now a "Bestselling Author!" and Y is not.



Author X’s book sold a ton of copies during the first weeks after release. That’s known in the publishing world as velocity. It put Author X on the lists, thereby increasing his paperback orders and future hardcover orders.

So when you buy matters, folks.

What’s the take-away here? Simple: If you plan to buy the new Repairman Jack novel, BLOODLINE, buy it during the first week of release (the official publication date is September 18). Better yet, pre-order it from your favorite bookseller.
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Well, this is interesting... I've sort of given up on this series, and, about four books too late, Wilson has wised up himself. He's ending the series (sort of) with the next book.

The idea that he's choosing this despite common sense (from the twisted publishing point of view) is a fascinating stand for an author to take. Authors of series like this are often trapped by money and the indystry's Powers That Be. James Lee Burke being the most famous example -- his Dave Robicheaux series was meant to be just a trilogy...that was 20 years ago. A successful series can be a thorn in the side.

Today, of course, the industry is collapsing and evolving. Authors have the choice to get out of the rut and do something different. More so now than every before...

Now, yes, Wilson's going to continue to write in his Repairman Jack universe with some prequels. So it's not a clean break. But, still... It's different from the norm.

--- Quote ---Yeah, I know.  Crazy, huh?  With Jack’s audience still growing as more and more readers stumble onto his backlist, and each new title selling more than the last, why end the series?

Because it’s time.

I warned from the start that this would be a closed-end series.  I didn’t have a specific number of installments in mind, but I knew where it would end: The series would arc out from The Tomb and terminate at Nightworld.  The problem was, I’d already written and published Nightworld.  Really, how many writers start a series with the last book already in print?

No problem.  I assumed that the warring cosmic forces in the multiverse I’d created in the Adversary Cycle—the faceless, formless, nameless entities known only as the Otherness and the Ally—would not stand idle during the span between The Tomb and Nightworld, and neither would Jack.  So why not pit Jack against the Otherness and let them butt heads for a couple of years?  It took about a decade and a half of real time to chronicle those few years of fiction time.  During that period, Jack co-opted my writing career.  Which is okay, because I’ve been having a ball.

Along the way, the arc of that cosmic conflict accrued mass and began to dominate the storylines.  Jack changed, mellowing in certain aspects of his character due to the love of a good woman and her daughter, becoming downright flinty in others due to the horrors he’d seen and the tragic losses he’d endured.

A slew of arcs rose and resolved, but the big arc, the cosmic Conflict, persisted and evolved to the point where it has now reached critical mass.  The story demands resolution.

Sure, I could continue writing novel after novel about Repairman Jack, and lots of readers would be delighted go on reading them.  But I wouldn’t be delighted writing them.  I’ve seen a favorite series or two go on too long, pushed way past its expiration date by an author deluded into thinking he wasn’t repeating himself, or simply cranking by the numbers to collect a paycheck.  Those series suffered as a result, with the later, lesser entries tainting all the great work that came before.

I like Jack too much to do that to him.  And to tell the truth, I like myself too much as well.  I’ve got some 45 books behind me and more to come, but if any of them are destined to be remembered, the Jack series will be at or near the top of the list (along with The Keep).  Right now Jack’s saga is pretty tight and focused.  Why ruin that?  Extra books will do little more than pad the storyline.  Why not go out on a high note?

I’ve labeled The Dark at the End the last Repairman Jack novel.  Well, it is, and it isn’t.  Along the course of writing the Adversary Cycle and Jack’s saga, something called The Secret History of the World took shape.  The Dark at the End is the last official Repairman Jack novel in the Secret History, followed by Nightworld which ends the Secret History (and just about everything else).  Yes, Jack participates in Nightworld, but he’s just part of a large cast drawn from across the Secret History.  A revised Nightworld is due in May.  I will write no fiction set after Nightworld.

But… I’ve agreed to write three novels about Jack’s first years in NYC.  The working title is Repairman Jack: The Early Years Trilogy.  I’m well into the first and enjoying the hell out of it.  This callow Jack is a totally different being from the one we’re all used to.  He’s connecting with Abe, meeting Julio and lots of other familiar names.  But after those three books, I’m done.  You’ll then know all I know about Jack, and we’ll both be moving on.

But for now, be warned.  I did not name the new novel The Dark at the End for the mere hell of it.  It’s Jack’s darkest hour.  The last time you saw him like this was in Harbingers, but this time he’s got an even bigger grudge.
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