CONduit is a conference for speculative fiction writers. This year’s conference was great. I was able to see and talk to a bunch of writer friends (Dave Wolverton, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, Howard & Sandra Tayler, Eric James Stone, Ami Chopine, Darren Egget, Skipper Ritchotte, Mette Harrison), make some new ones (Lee Modesitt, James Dashner, Julie Wright, Aprilynne Pike, Larry Correia), plus chat with a multitude of others who are trying to break in. I also got to record with the Dragon Crawlers Radio guys. Nothing better than spending a weekend with a swarm of friendly and talented folks.
I’m amazed at the success some of these people are having:
- Aprilynne Pike had an initial print run of 200,000 hardback copies and was #1 on the NY Times Best Seller list.
- James Dashner is going to be one of the main events from Random House this fall. I’m expecting an equally large print of his Maze Runner.
- Brandon Sanderson just signed a contract that was announced on Publisher’s Lunch for somewhere around 2.5 million for four books. Folks, this is amazingly large for our genre.
Of course, we already know Dave Wolverton and Lee Modesitt are some of the biggest sellers for Tor. Dan Wells is going to be big as well. And the Taylers have already got tens of thousands who read them regularly. They threw a great release party at this con.
Larry Correia has had some interesting success as well and came at it from a side alley. He self-published Monster Hunters International. He sold a few thousand copies (no mean feat, especially for a self-published book), with many of the readers coming from the armed forces in Afganistan and Iraq. The book was so good the owner of a large independent store in Minnesota, Uncle Hugo’s, called the editor of Baen Books up and told her that she was an idiot if she didn’t buy Larry’s book because he could sell the heck out of it. So she took a look, agreed, and Larry’s now under contract with a real publisher. It’s coming out in July.
In one conversation I learned the following about the Science Fiction & Fantasy genre.
- 4,000 hardback copies for a title in a year is the rough break even point for Tor. You sell more than that, you’re okay. You sell less and Tor might have to drop you.
- 10,000 hardback copies would be considered a very good seller.
- 15,000 – 30,000 hardback copies and you are hitting the top of the midlist
- Robert Jordan sold around 600,000 of each of his titles in hardback.
- Depending on the time of year, 4,000 – 5,000 hardbacks sold in a week will put you in the top ten, even the top three, on the NY Times bestseller list.
As for me, I printed up some posters and book marks using Swanland’s art. The cover got a great reaction there. And that’s huge for me because, looking at that Gallup Poll blog I wrote, the cover is going to drive a lot of sales for a new author. I had a wonderful time giving my workshop. And I think I finally figured out which part of my novel I can use for readers. Oh, and if you get a chance to hear Eric James Stone read any of his short stories, take it. I’ve listened to him twice now and both have been well worth the 20 minutes.