Happy 2nd Anniversary Moonrat! — with a contest link

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of my favorite tell-it-like-it-is-from-behind-the-desk litblog, editorialass.blogspot.com, authored by an anonymous editor named Moonrat. I’m taking part in a special temporary surprise-party blog set up by a group of loyal blog-followers to celebrate that milestone, and you’re cordially invited to stop by and enter some contests. There’s haiku, there’s karaoke (don’t say I didn’t warn you), there’s book chat. Prizes include gourmet cheese, book certificates, personalized leopard-spot pencils (I donated those), and other good things.

Why did I start reading Moonrat’s posts? Because she talks about what it’s like dealing with authors, meeting deadlines, surviving the day-to-day. She snarls about difficult people, praises the books she loves, fundraises for good causes, works long and hard to make manuscripts better. She gently guides authors towards professionalism and pragmatic realism. For example:

Many people assume books sell in the hundreds of thousands. Or at least (please Lord) in the middle-to-high tens of thousands. Some literary novels, even debuts, do hit those sales levels, but not most of them.

In a recent post, here is what Moonrat had to say about what constitutes acceptable literary sales (note she is not referring to commercial bestselling fiction), in response to a question from an author:

Ah yes. I will give you a straight answer, because I’m a sucker, but I’m sure others will argue with me. The opening line to this discussion is probably (of course) “It depends,” but I won’t insult you with that. I’ll give you a number. 7,000. If you sold 7,000 or more copies, in hardcover, of your literary novel, you’re a star. (Some people sell much more, but 7,000 is a serious threshold. Who knows why.)If you’ve sold between 4,000 and 7,000 copies, in hardcover, of your literary novel, you did a damned good job. You’re what they call a “strong seller.” You’re also in a good position to place your second novel well, with your current publisher or elsewhere. If you sold between 2,000 and 4,000 copies of your literary novel, you sold pretty strongly. You’re still in a good position to have your publisher want to take on your second project, or to comfortably find a home elsewhere. If you sold below 1,500 copies, your publisher is probably disappointed, although they will never tell you that. Instead, they will tell you that debuts are hard, and literary fiction is nearly impossible. Both these things are true.”

Wow. The hard facts, served straight up, no chaser.

Thanks Moonrat, and happy second anniversary to the anonymous editor who tells it like it is!

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