I seem to be committed to about five short pieces now, several of them novellas or novelettes. Once I'm back from Japan I'm going to be jiggy on that for several weeks. I'll probably start Black Tulip after that.
People ask me about Mainspring [ Powell's | Amazon ] all the time — at the post office, at the coffee house, at work. "How's the book doing?"
One of the weird things about this business is that I have no real idea.
It's not Tor holding out on me. Some information is business confidential — print runs, shipping breakdowns, etc. — but even I know roughly what the book needs to do be at least minimally successful. Tor understands much better than I do what those numbers need to be. They just don't know the data yet either.
Here's one of those things pros and industry types worry about which doesn't make sense outside the people who work directly with this stuff. It doesn't matter how many books shipped, it matters how many books were returned. And because of the lead time on returns, it takes months to really understand how this works.
Others have certainly explained this much better than I can — I presume pnh or alg, for example. Suffice to say that the book retailing industry has accounting and inventory practices which would drive most bookkeepers bananas. So maybe I'll know in December how the book is doing, with two exceptions. If it got huge returns so fast it was tanking like Guy Ritchie's acting career, somebody might mention it to me sooner. If it went into multiple printings, somebody might mention that to me sooner. As it stands, I think it's doing okay, but I can't tell. And I won't know for months.
Remember me mentioning the concept of trading up to a better class of problems? This would be one of them.
Coming soon...my early-career followup to paul_m_jessup's post on being a newbie.