October 13, 2006

Odds and Ends

You must read Maureen Johnson's blog today. She's writing about Edit Head. It's something like Pregnancy Brain, something people don't like to admit exists, but...

I know everyone else has blogged on it, but today is, in fact, The End, and that adorably lugubrious Daniel Handler, Lemony Snicket's, er, friend, was quoted in the SF Chronicle today as saying that he's surprised to find himself with a completed series on his hands.

What actually caught my attention -- other than the fact that this is a strange and clever series with a huge vocabulary and amusing literary allusions in -- is the number of copies in this first print run. According to the Chron, "The initial print run for "The End" is 2.5 million copies, the largest ever for HarperCollins' Children's Books. "One million is considered really big," said Kyle Good, vice president of corporate communications for Scholastic Books, which released that many copies of the latest "Captain Underpants" book in August."

Two point five MILLION.

I've learned a bit about print runs this week, as I've read up on contracts. Most authors receive 10% royalties on the first twenty thousand copies of their novel, and then there is something called an 'escalator,' wherein the contract may state that the author then receives 12.5% royalties for any number thereafter. At least I'm told that this is industry standard for a first novel, and it is pretty much the same over the board. I imagine that Lemony... er, Handler, even got that amount on his first novel, as HarperCollins only bought the first one, despite knowing that Snicket intended to write thirteen. I guess they felt safer that way, not knowing how such decidedly savage books were going to do. Of course things are different now, to which I can only say, YAY! since it's someone other than JK Rowling making that kind of dough (no disrespect for her, but other people can write), and I am happy to note that Handler is still planning on writing more kid books. I look forward to seeing what other droll tales he can produce.

"The Quills, an initiative launched with the support of Reed Business Information, is designed to be an industry qualified "consumers choice" awards program for books, honoring the current titles readers deem most entertaining and enlightening."

Okay. Admittedly, there are always questions about awards. I don't get the 'why?' of the Newbery most years - I can't pick a winner to save my life, nor can most people, several of whom are still bewildered about last year's honoree. Today, most of us are still scratching our heads at the dubious Quills awarded (ELDEST!? Over The Book Thief?!!? Rachel RAY over Julia CHILD!?!?!? Gaaaah! Are they INSANE!?!?! Oh, wait. This is a POPULARITY contest. Not a literary one. And note that they produced no statistics for the number of people who voted? Did anyone who can READ vote?? Oh, never mind...) this past week. But my question is, aside from the statuette, what do they win? For all of the "populist sensibility with Hollywood-style glitz " of which we are meant to partake October 28th with the televised Quills presentation, who is profiting from this? Where's the moolah? That's the question...

It's been a crazy week... and I'm just as glad to see the backside of it. Enjoy your weekend!


David T. Macknet said...

"Follow the Rich, White Man."

tanita✿davis said...

And now the Cybils are the answer to this, which is such a great response! And we'll make the trophies out of bubble gum! But no one will care, because they'll at least be intelligent awards!