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View Full Version : "Yes, the life of a writer really is this perilous" -- help Elizabeth Bear's new book



Shweta
07-20-2008, 02:14 AM
From here: http://matociquala.livejournal.com/1410464.html


Various conversations around the con, with booksellers and others, and a little online detective work have led me to believe that the reason that Ink & Steel isn't (a) appearing on bookstore shelves and (b) selling in reasonable quantities, despite fabulous reviews, is that it's not in the order system at a certain major industry distributor under my name or the title, though it can be located by ISBN.

So, I guess Monday we get to see if this can be sorted out, or if we're going to lose the series over what amounts to a data entry error.

Yes, the life of a writer really is this perilous...

:eek:
I find this terrifying. It could happen to any of us, if we get to her point. As we all hope to, right? A wonderful writer should not get dumped over a database error, but it might happen.

Anyway. Anyone who wants this book (or believes me when I say Elizabeth Bear is an amazing writer) should do what she suggests:


In the mean time, what you can do--you know, if you are so moved--is if you want a copy of Ink & Steel, and you cannot find it at your local bookstore, write down the ISBN (978-0451462091), go in with it, and ask them to order that book. You might also point out that it's third in a series and there's a computer glitch at work, and thus the book is not being auto-ordered. If you felt like it, I mean.

Cranky
07-20-2008, 03:10 AM
I was just wondering what book to buy next. Thanks, Shweta, for the heads up. I know what I'm buying now. :)

Shweta
07-20-2008, 03:39 AM
It's book three, so we (me included, I've only read her short fiction so far) have three new yummy books to buy! :)

Pat~
07-20-2008, 04:00 AM
This seems like it'd be a nightmare. Poor author!

I'm not terribly techhy, so this may be a stupid question...but if it's a data entry error, why can't someone just re-enter the data?

Cranky
07-20-2008, 04:02 AM
Only room in my book budget for two, and I already had my greedy eyes on one of J.A. Konrath's books.

But I've been meaning to read one of her books, so even though this is in the midst of a trilogy (which I wouldn't normally do, buy and read one out of order on purpose), I'm gonna buy it anyway.

Shweta
07-20-2008, 04:20 AM
This seems like it'd be a nightmare. Poor author!
Yeah.
And she's one of the best new(ish) voices I've read in a long time.


I'm not terribly techhy, so this may be a stupid question...but if it's a data entry error, why can't someone just re-enter the data?

I think that's what she's going to try to have done on Monday.
But meanwhile, her book's been out for a bit and not been selling, which looks really bad for her, so it'd be good if people get bookstores to fix the error and show that there is demand.

She's only asking it of people who would be buying her book if it was on the shelf.

Danger Jane
07-20-2008, 04:27 AM
What a huge bummer. I might have to go demand that Borders give it to me...

rugcat
07-20-2008, 04:51 AM
Here's another bizarre thing. When I went to Amazon and typed in Ink and Steel, it didn't come up. When I typed in Ink and Steel Elizabeth Bear, still nothing. Only by putting quotes around the title could I find it.

WTF??

Shweta
07-20-2008, 04:58 AM
Can I quote you?

ETA: Actually, I get it just fine, by typing either Ink and Steel or Ink & Steel.
Are you amazon.com or amazon.co.uk?
Not that I know if it'll make a difference.

rugcat
07-20-2008, 05:29 AM
Amazon. Maybe it's my computer acting up.

Nakhlasmoke
07-20-2008, 09:48 AM
I need to put this series on my wishlist asap. I read her Worldwired trilogy and loved it. Even my dh, who isn't a fan of speculative fiction, enjoyed it.

Shweta
07-20-2008, 09:55 AM
I need to put this series on my wishlist asap. I read her Worldwired trilogy and loved it. Even my dh, who isn't a fan of speculative fiction, enjoyed it.

On the purely selfish note, we should get it while we can. Just in case.

Albedo
07-20-2008, 10:39 AM
Would the publisher have right of redress against the distributor if this impacted their sales? I'm assuming the author has no independent right.

Nakhlasmoke
07-20-2008, 04:01 PM
On the purely selfish note, we should get it while we can. Just in case.

I would, but I'm so broke it's not funny. I'll order it on payday. :D

L M Ashton
07-20-2008, 04:09 PM
This seems like it'd be a nightmare. Poor author!

I'm not terribly techhy, so this may be a stupid question...but if it's a data entry error, why can't someone just re-enter the data?

They can. But it first requires someone to notice there was a problem, which possibly didn't happen until now, and then it requires someone caring enough to actually do it. Initiative.

She has my sympathy, that's for sure. What a stupid reason for her book to not be selling.

vfury
07-20-2008, 06:36 PM
I already ordered it in for myself through work. :) But I did notice INK AND STEEL was difficult to find when I went into other bookstores that had her earlier books. I live in Ireland, admittedly, and I'd just assumed it would take them a while after the actual release date to get their import order in, but now it's a little worrying. What a wretched thing to impact sales!

Perks
07-20-2008, 06:57 PM
That is really terrible. You think you get all the way to that point in the game and the walls come tumbling down because of an un-dotted 'i'.

Saanen
07-20-2008, 07:01 PM
I just ordered Ink & Steel online (as well as the first in the series; if I like it I'll pick up the second book before reading Ink & Steel). I hope she can get this error cleared up soon! At least she found out about it, though, hopefully in time to not affect further sales too much.

waylander
07-20-2008, 09:43 PM
Finding it on Amazon.co.uk works just fine

Bartholomew
07-20-2008, 10:54 PM
Shweta, how did she find out this happened?

Jackfishwoman
07-20-2008, 11:09 PM
That sounds scary.... though I don't quite understand how she figured that out. (COULD that happen to any of us?? and how would we know if it did????)

Ardellis
07-21-2008, 12:30 AM
That's a very scary scenario. May all the various gods and angels defend any of us from a similar fate.

That said. E.Bear is brilliant. I'm about a hundred pages into this book. And book 4 comes out August 1! Preorder that one, too, while you're getting this one!

CheshireCat
07-21-2008, 12:52 AM
Once a manuscript leaves your hands, virtually everything in publishing is beyond your control.

There will be screw-ups, some of them utterly stupid and a few of monumental proportions.

Get used to it.

If you're lucky, you'll find out about the screw-ups, if not in time to salvage sales, then at least in time to salvage your reputation (something to point out when the publisher has the nerve to comment that the book's sales "weren't what we hoped for") when negotiating the next contract.

If you aren't lucky, you'll never know why a book didn't sell well, even if the problem was a purely technical one on the publisher's end.

Write the best book you can, get cover input if you can and if you're good at it, be as informed as you can be, make it clear you expect your agent to be as informed as he/she can be, and then cross your fingers.

Chumplet
07-21-2008, 01:57 AM
According to my publisher, my ISBN was listed incorrectly at the source and therefore wasn't listed properly with Bowker. She said it would take up to a year for it to show up on the database. I'm afraid to walk into a bookstore and find out the ISBN doesn't exist. It's still on Amazon, B&N, etc. but it's infuriating that a person can't walk into a Canadian bookstore and order the damn thing.

Shweta
07-21-2008, 02:01 AM
Shweta, how did she find out this happened?

She talked to people at Readercon and figured it out, I guess. I only know what's in the link in post 1.

It's not like I know her, right, I'm just a fangirl.


That said. E.Bear is brilliant. I'm about a hundred pages into this book. And book 4 comes out August 1! Preorder that one, too, while you're getting this one!

E. Bear makes my jaw drop. Sheer wonderful brilliance.

Actually guys? I feel silly.

You don't have to take my word for it. You can read her Orm the Beautiful (http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/bear_01_07/) online for free.


CCat -- the point is that right now, for this author, we can do something. She got lucky enough for that.

CheshireCat
07-21-2008, 04:42 AM
CCat -- the point is that right now, for this author, we can do something. She got lucky enough for that.

The people she reaches might be able to help, if they ask for or order the book. But chances are she won't reach enough readers to make that much of a difference.

I hope she does. Realistically, though, it isn't likely.

Shweta
07-21-2008, 05:01 AM
We'll see.

E. Bear is good enough and popular enough that she might.

IceCreamEmpress
07-21-2008, 08:04 PM
The publisher needs to take care of this, actually. Stuff like this happens surprisingly often, and the best person to straighten it out is the publisher.

That said, I was meaning to buy the book anyway, so will do so to support the sales bump.

Shweta
07-22-2008, 12:35 AM
Yeah, and she's going to be dealing with that end of things today.

IceCreamEmpress
07-22-2008, 12:48 AM
Yeah, and she's going to be dealing with that end of things today.

Oh, I have every confidence she will (love the Elizabeth Bear) but I just wanted to point that out for the benefit of others reading this thread who might encounter a similar issue themselves (Ceiling Cat forbid!)

ATP
07-23-2008, 07:08 AM
I haven't read Elizabeth Bear's blog, and so am relying on Shweta's OP.

The question comes about - if the author has identified what appears to be a technical problem, and perhaps due to simple clerical error, then why doesn't the author chase up the relevant clerk in the relevant publisher department? What is to stop her doing additional detective work and pick up the phone and start ringing around? It is not illegal.

Not being a published author, nonfiction or fiction, I guess that overall it is like Cheshire Cat says. However, as I see it, there's no harm in trying to actively rectify this situation. What I've suggested might seem unorthodox perhaps, and certainly a pain in the arse, but when your livelihood is at stake, there's no better advocate...

IceCreamEmpress
07-23-2008, 08:08 AM
The question comes about - if the author has identified what appears to be a technical problem, and perhaps due to simple clerical error, then why doesn't the author chase up the relevant clerk in the relevant publisher department?

I believe she did, but she had to wait until Monday when her publishers' offices were open for business. The information came to her over the weekend at the Readercon convention.

willfulone
07-23-2008, 08:26 AM
Okay, this is what I did. Not sure it will help, but maybe...

I went to the online directory for book stores in my city (chain and local smaller ones). I found any that had a website and viewed. After searching to see if they carried the book (nope) I used the contact button and sent a short note that said:

Hello there!

I am in search of a book called Ink & Steel by Elizabeth Bear. I have heard great things about this book and am very interested in obtaining a copy. I notice you have other titles by this author, but do not seem to have this one in stock (If they did not carry any of her books, I left that sentence out). I was lucky enough to come across the ISBN (978-0451462091). Can you advise via return e-mail/phone message if you are going to carry Ink & Steel? If not, could you send me an e-mail/phone message advising whether you are willing to special order this book for me? I really do prefer to purchase this book locally, rather than on-line.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Christine blah blah blah
email addy and phone number included

If anyone else does this, it may help the ordering as the stores may get multiple requests and look into a larger stock of this title? Cannot hurt for B&N or such to get multiple requests for the same title. Someone may be spurred into researching and obtaining the title?

Hope this helps.

PS: I will add, I did not do this to just drum up interest and leave a store hanging with a special order. I intend to give one store my business. Just emailed all I could to get the responses so I could pick one.