Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Bookscan thinks I'm dead

I write under a pen name for the fiction imprint of an educational publishing company.  I write high interest, low reading level books for teenagers.  My first novel got a starred review from Kirkus, and is available to bookstores and Amazon.  My imprint, although they publish solely fiction, has the business model of their parent publisher.  What this means for sales, is that it's difficult to get into bookstores because it's got a net discount and is not returnable, much like most educational materials.  I understand that my book has sold well to schools and libraries, but unfortunately my Bookscan numbers are unimpressive.  On top of that, my local bookstore that sells my book does not report to Bookscan.

I'm now working on another project that is not hi-lo YA, and I'm starting to think about the query.  Should I mention that I've published this Kirkus starred book under a pen name, or should I leave it off?

It's a nice publishing credit, and the audience for your query understands about Bookscan not being accurate for educational books in particular, and books sold outside the regular sales points in general.

In the publishing credits paragraph of your query you can something like:

I have written novels under a pen name for (name the publisher). Kirkus gave one of them a starred review, but Bookscan of course doesn't even know I'm alive.

Any questions?



  1. Very best of luck, OP. Sounds rather exciting!

    Um, I Don even know what Books Bookscan is. I mean, from the context here, I can now guess, but I never knew this would exist.

    Does it also count/see/spy on self-published books?
    And is it accessible for everyone or just literary agents and publishers etc.?

  2. Ooh, this is an excellent question. I know there's a reason that Bookscan doesn't include stats for schools and libraries, but I'm forgetting why.


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