Brand-new author with a book coming out? Turns out your literary star may burn brighter than you think! Publishing houses have long been known to pay bookstore giants for prime sales floor positions for the titles they're putting their weight behind-that's nothing new. But it turns out chains like Barnes and Noble also employ some sort of secret algorithm based on an author's previous B&N sales to determine where a book gets stashed in the store. First-time authors aren't penalized for their blank track records-good news for all you eager beaver up-and-comers! But if your last book blew (we're looking at you, James Lipton) or if it happened to catch Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani on one of her many many cranky days, head back to the Self-Help section where you might find your Great American Novel wedged spine-in under Astrology. If you have knowledge of the secret code, let us know.

UPDATE: A onetime B&N employee writes in to confirm: "If an author had a bad first book and doesn't sell well, the store usually doesn't have very many copies of that book and when they have a new one, unless it's got a huge push from a publisher, is going to get stuck far away from the best selling new releases."