So, I often get the question “How’s the book going?” My brother who has purchased seven copies of Hijas especially likes to call me with this question. And I always answer with a “I don’t really know.” I mean, I know that my events are going between fine and great. I know that I’ve sold out of books completely at some of my signings, and I know that every now and again my Amazon.com rank number dips down to the lower side of four digits and that these are all good signs. But that is all I know. Because here is how the book business works (or, at least, here is how I THINK the book business works; I really know nothing): twice a year, a publishing company really totals the numbers of what has been sold. And sold means that you or your Great Aunt Maria or my brother Bert (who I call My Tito) marched that book up to the cash register, shelled out your hard-earned cash, and went home with a bright and shiny copy of Hijas (if you have done this, I thank you). So, twice a year a publishing company figures out what has sold, tallies how much that means you have earned, and then sends you a check (or doesn’t, if you haven’t earned out your advance). That means that 2x a year, a writer gets accurate feedback on how their baby (I mean book) is doing out there in the universe. So what’s a writer to do on the other 362 days of the year?
There is one little tracking method in the book world, and it is called Book Scan. Book Scan does track the weekly sales from some of the big retailers: Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Books-a-Million. But it doesn’t get numbers from retailers like Wal-Mart or any independent bookstores. So the industry guess is that maybe Book Scan is telling you 70% of what your actual sales have been at that point. But the average Joe doesn’t have access to Book Scan so it’s not like I can pull it up whenever Bert calls. Hence, all of this leaves me to give a very vague, “I think things are going well” answer when someone asks me about how the book is doing. But then, just the other day, I received some news that game me a real sense of how the book is doing. As it turns out, my publisher has put in for a reprint of Hijas, meaning that they don’t think the first batch of the books they printed (which wasn’t a large number at all) is enough to meet the demand (and they only make that call if the book is doing well). So, there will soon a second printing of Hijas which means that ever since last Thursday, I have been able to answer the “How’s the book doing?” with a little more confidence and clarity. Thanks to all of you have purchased Hijas and, if you haven’t yet, get over to your bookseller of choice soon!