"What gives?" I asked, knowing some delicious info about the publishing world would follow. (Getting editors to vent is an excellent tutorial lemme tell ya.)
"Well," he said, settling in for a good rant "I just got a call from one of my authors. A reader had informed him that New Title was NOT in Store X."
Author was all atwitter and affronted and ranting about lack of store presence.
Editor Excellence let the author run off at the mouth for a while then gave him a quick lesson in Publishing 101:
Not every store orders every book.
This is not news to anyone who thinks about how retail sales work for longer than
Store X had in fact ordered copies of AuthorAsshat's first book. 20 in fact. Sold 5.
And ordered 10 copies of second book. Sold 2.
And ordered 5 copies of third book. Sold none.
O copies orderd of books four and five.
This makes TOTAL SENSE if you are the inventory manager of that bookstore. You stock what sells. Anyone who wants to argue with that premise should move to the 501C3 Zipcode and take up non-profit retailing.
Now, what does this mean for you, author who finds that your amazing tome is not in a particular store?
First, you do NOT call your editor.
Second, you do NOT call your agent.
What you do is say to the reader who so carefully passed on this bad news as if there was something you could do personally to stock the store: "DID YOU SPEAK TO THE MANAGER? DID YOU ORDER THE BOOK?"
In other words, if the book isn't on the shelf, did you give the inventory manager at the store some clue that perhaps you would buy it if it was?
No? You just emailed (or worse FACEBOOKED) the author who can literally do NOTHING to get a book in your hands.
Readers do this all the time. They think they are being helpful. All they're doing is tormenting writers, and frankly I want them to stop, cause that's MY job.
So, if you've got a book for sale, make sure you tell people to ask for it at their local store if it's not there, and ORDER it at the store.
Sales beget orders.
Complaints beget something else.