Bookstore Signing

After two months of polite refusals, I recently accepted an invitation to appear and sign books at a local Borders. Don’t misunderstand. I’m very flattered, but I’m also scared to death. For me, book signings were never part of my author’s
rock-and-roll dream. That fantasy always ends with me walking into a major bookstore and seeing my novel shelved across the store. As I approach the display, a beautiful woman (Say Christie Brinkley – Give me a break; I’ve had
this fantasy a long time.) removes my novel from the shelf, gently slides her finger down the spine and over my name, wets a finger with her tongue, and lays the pages bare when I, as if magically summoned, appear before her. She, recognizing me from my photo on the jacket, is instantly smitten. There’s more, but unlike my novels, I try to keep my blog rated PG-13-ish. (For a similar version of the fantasy, see David Duchovny as author, Hank Moody, in season 1 of the Showtime series: Californication. Oh, to be Hank Moody just for one day.)

Anyway, back to reality. I think the notion of ever doing an in-store appearance and signing seemed so outlandish and the probability of it happening was so low that I never allowed myself even to imagine it. Nearly three months after publication of So Shelly, I still find signing copies of her really weird. I just can’t wrap my brain around the fact that anyone other than a loan agent, car dealer, or a student needing a pass to the library wants my signature on anything. I’m more-than-happy to do it, and I really enjoy visiting, but I feel so darn pretentious and unworthy. I feel like I should personalize each copy that I sign, but time and space is usually limited. As a result, the appreciation I feel is inadequately expressed in a simple salutation and signature, and I feel as if this wonderful person who bought my book will be disappointed.

My real terror, however, is derived from imagining myself sitting at a table behind a stack of my books as one customer after another passes me by on their way to picking up the latest work of literary genius from one of the Jersey Shore kids as they wonder who the loser is sitting all by himself at a table in the middle of bookstore. God knows that I never wanted to be that guy. Now, I just may be that guy. Unless – you save me by coming out to Borders in the Sandusky Mall, this Saturday, April 30, from 1 – 3.

Interview with Black Fingernailed Reviews

I recently was interviewed by Khadija from Black Fingernailed Reviews. She asked some very intelligent questions that elicited some responses that even surprised me. You can read the interview here: http://blackfingernailedreviews.blogspot.com/2011/04/debut-author-incites-10-ty-roth.html

“How’s it Selling?”

Before So Shelly was published, the most common question I received was “What’s it about?” Now, after two months on the shelves, the most common question is “How’s it selling?” A good question but a difficult one to answer for two reasons: one, for whatever reason (probably due to the number of bookselling outlets) the book publishing industry is notorious for the difficulty in accessing accurate sales numbers, and two, ever when publishers possess the data, they tend to be less than enthusiastic about sharing those numbers, believe it or not, especially with their authors. I think this secretiveness is due to the generally neurotic nature of authors. The last thing the publisher wants or the author needs is to obsess over sales.

Until recently, when the information began to be made available to authors through their personal Amazon page, any knowledge of sales was only available through a fairly expensive subscription to a service called Bookscan, which is described on Amazon’s web page as “a Nielsen company that collects point of sale data each week from over 10,000 retailers, both online and off.” The numbers Bookscan provides do not represent one hundred percent of sales and
do not include any E-book sales, wholesale purchases, sales to Wal-Mart of Sam’s Club, or sales to institutions such as libraries and schools.

Now to answer the question, “How are sales of So Shelly going?” As best as I can cull the information from Bookscan and my publisher, over seven hundred hardback copies of the novel have been purchased in brick-and-mortar bookstores and through online booksellers nationwide, but remember these numbers do not include Kindle and NookBook sales. I also know that the number of sales to institutions number in the thousands. The top ten cities for sales of So Shelly, listed in a descending order, are Cleveland, Toledo, (no surprise with the top two), New York, Columbus, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Houston, and Cincinnati.

Occasionally, I search the catalogs of libraries from around the country in order to see if, one, they have So Shelly in their inventory, and two, to see if it has been checked out. I’ve been pleased to find her in libraries all over the nation and
in Canada. Often, multiple copies have been purchased and shelved and it is frequently a waiting list for her. As I’ve reported elsewhere, thus far, the rights to So Shelly have been sold to publishers in both Brazil and Mexico, and I still have strong hopes for future sales of translation rights, especially in Europe.

So, is she a bestseller? Definitely not, at least not yet. For most debut authors, the release of their novel is more like a slow soak than a deluge. Outside of a few family members and friends, they have no ready audience waiting for their book’s release. I firmly believe, however, that a book will find the type and number of readers it deserves. Although, I hope to
see the sales of So Shelly rise steadily, when and if positive word-of-mouth dictates it, I don’t obsess over it. Heck, two years ago I’d have been thrilled just to see it in a bookstore and in the hands of a hundred readers. To think that thousands of people, eventually from all over the world, have read or will read words that I wrote is for me a reward beyond what sales numbers could possibly reflect. Uponreconsideration, So Shelly is a bestseller, at least the best seller I ever wrote. All Love, Ty.

So Shelly’s Translation Rights Sold to Mexico!/A New Review

My editor informed me yesterday that the Mexican rights to So Shelly have been sold. Previously, Portuguese rights were sold for Brazilian publication. I’m thrilled to expand Shelly’s presence in Latin America, a trend that I hope continues. I’d also love to see her take root in Europe, where a major chapter of the novel takes place and where I feel the story has a natural appeal, considering the European natures of the three main characters.

Also, Mechele R. Dillard of Atlanta’s Examiner.com has posted a favorable review of So Shelly. Check it out here: http://www.examiner.com/young-adult-literature-in-atlanta/so-shelly-by-ty-roth-ya-book-review-review

A Review by Graffiti Magazine

Amy Phelps of Graffiti Magazine has added to the list of very positive reviews of So Shelly. I’ve included a long description of Graffiti Magazine lifted directly from their web page. I went to their site to check out the review, then spent nearly an hour surfing around and checking out some very cool content. Here’s the link: http://graffitiwv.com/page/content.detail/id/501211/-So-Shelly–brings-classic-lit-characters-to-21st-Century.html?nav=5023

January Magazine Review of So Shelly (the best one yet!)

Last week, Monica Starks review of So Shelly ( linked below) appeared in the online, literary magazine: January Magazine. It’s a very flattering review from a highly-respected publication. I’d recommend that you take a look around at the entire magazine; it offers valuable insight into the worlds of books and authors from across the entire spectrum of literary genres: http://januarymagazine.blogspot.com/

Lesson Learned

Last week, I shared that my editor at Random House and I had some creative differences regarding my second novel. In the end, although she complimented the quality of the writing, she determined it wasn’t the novel we both needed to take my career to the next level. A writer’s second book is critical to expanding the audience gained after the first and to establish himself as a bankable artist.

 As I said then, once I picked my spirits up off the floor, I realized that I was in familiar territory. After all, three novels had been summarily rejected by a host of agents before I was able to gain representation with So Shelly; rejection has been the norm throughout my entire writing experience. I soon found myself in a familiar and positive mindset: I became stubbornly determined to prove myself again as a writer. I realized that, perhaps, I had already grown complacent in the writing of the second novel. I think that my editor recognized my complacency and, like any good coach or teacher, refused to accept anything but my very best. Also, like any good coach or teacher, she raised the bar and made it clear that what was good enough last time will never be good enough again if I am to improve as a writer and carve out a career in a publishing field overcrowded with talented writers.

 As I reflected further, I realized that in the writing of my failed second novel, I’d made the mistake that I constantly warn myself against, both as a writer and a person: I had reached back into my past efforts and tried to resurrect an old writing project rather than forging ahead with an original piece. It was the easiest and shortest route, and as usual, the shortcut cost me more time and energy wasted than if I would have simply started from scratch with something fresh right from the start. In life, I try very hard to live without looking back. I always say that the car that I’m driving through life has no rear or side view mirrors. I only look ahead. The past is littered with too many regrets and too many irretrievable moments (good and bad) that plead with me to shift into reverse or neutral, and life’s too short for either. I have things to do. In my writer’s soul, I know my editor was right, and I think I expected it to be rejected all along. As she said and I knew, the story was good, but it wasn’t great. Random House doesn’t settle for good. They shouldn’t, and neither should I.

 This past week I’ve been researching, note-taking, outlining, and beginning to write another novel. It’s another one, like Shelly did, that has been brewing in my mind for a long time, and I’m enjoying the process more than I ever have. The good news is that my editor has made it very clear that Random House wants me in their stable of writers, and they are willing to wait for another great novel. I just need to deliver it.