"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.
I just like that you said "Lemme tell ya."
These glimpses into the oh-so-human worlds of editors and agents and authors make me feel just a tiny bit closer to it all. And yes, the reader could have taken that step and thus ended his or her report with "...but I asked them to order it and they said they would."
It's the agent's job to torture us poor woodland author creatures? Noooooo.
Well, after I finished chuckling (and howling) while I read--what useful, commonsense information this is. Earmarking this for when (ever the optimist) my magnificent (yes, extreme optimist) tome is published.
And, Janet, 501C3 Zipcode? When ARE you going to write your zipzap chock-full-of-information book? Oh wait. I suppose it just got outdated in the time I wrote that sentence. Glacial publication of books, digital changes to publishing world.
I've run into nonexistent books in stores before, and never considered asking the author.
As someone who prefers to read Jack Reacher in English, I've talked to store employees more than once, and they were always willing to order the book. So even if untranslated Jack Reacher won't hit the shelves here any time soon, if enough people ask about a book/books from Author Amazeballs, maybe the stock managers take the (broad) hint and actually order more.
I actually went into a book store the other day to buy a book because I detest buying them online. I want more brick and mortar stores not less and do all I can to support them.
I might occasionally turn books face out of authors I know. Perhaps. Maybe. It's hard to do that with the big A.
The girl looked it up because I couldn't find it. "Oh we can order if for you."
"Do you have our membership?"
"Yes, I do."
"It will be cheaper if you order it yourself and the shipping is free."
"I guess I'll do that then."
I should have thought about the incentive to get it on the shelves. Bad author.
I'm fairly certainly me ordering The True Gen: An Intimate Portrait of Hemingway by Those Who Knew Him featuring a lovely cover of him naked on a bed reading a newspaper isn't going to increase sales if I ordered it through a bookstore, but who knows? Nor do I think anyone else would want The Spy of the Rebellion by Allan Pinkerton.
So, those authors may forgive me.
Another common sense nugget from the publishing industry--thanks Janet. This is one reason why it's interesting to browse the shelves of your local B&N or Waterstones. They tend to stock what they think will sell, so it gives you a good idea of the kinds of books that are selling, or that people are asking for. That shouldn't affect what novel you write (trends change faster than books get written and published), but it gives you an idea of what's hot at the moment, which is always good to know.
Julie: This is my struggle. I would like to buy books in-store, but the fact we only have one vehicle (at least almost--pooling resources to get a new engine at the moment), and have a budget to work with, makes ordering online too attractive to pass up. I wish stores could do more to compete with online sales, because if I knew I could get the same deal in the brick-and-mortar as I could from the cyber-store, I'd be in the b-and-m a lot more.
My experience in bookstores is, if they don't have the book I want they usually offer to order it before I even ask. I think the person who contacted the author thought perhaps they were doing him/her a favor.
Damn, that photo is scary!
All of this strikes me as strange. I think we've all had an occasion in which we can't find a book in a store. It has never occurred to me to inform the author. I also can't imagine what the author thought the editor could do about it.
Julie, I agree with you on the value of brick-and-mortar stores. I rarely order things online, and never books. There's a local bookstore down the street, and I would like to see them stick around for a while. If they don't have a particular book in stock, they will order it. I don't see any benefit in ordering from Amazon. "Look! I saved a dollar, and then I paid $99 for my Prime membership!" Good?
This reminds me of a dream I had. I was actually in my local B&N, putting my book on a table for sale. Then, I got a phone call from my agent saying she couldn't stock the shelves at another store, so I said I'd do it.
I woke up wondering why this wonderful (non-existent) agent and I were stocking shelves in bookstores, that's not our jobs.
Well, who can say why dreams happen.
But yes, the best thing a reader can do if they want a book in a local bookstore is to ask for it from the workers. When you go to check out and they say the oh so useless "Did you find everything you were looking for?" You say "No. I was looking for Buttonweazer's Carkoon Adventures and it seems you don't have it." Then they will ever say "Oh" and continue awkwardly bagging your stuff, or they say "Well, let me see what I can do for you." (My Mother loathes that question because most of the cashiers don't seemed trained to do anything about it).
You've got to show the demand is there. Maybe they won't stock it, but it doesn't hurt to ask (the store workers/inventory/management).
Beth: As I mentioned above, this is the challenge. The fact that Amazon can usually save you a few dollars on the cost of a book adds up to a significant amount if you purchase enough books. Add to that the fact that you can normally get those titles even cheaper on Amazon Marketplace, AND the fact that your $99 Prime membership will save you shipping costs (even on some Marketplace items), it does make for a good deal. And that's what's sad. Ideally, brick-and-mortars could compete with this, but sadly they can't. The challenge they face is not trying to get people to buy books, but to offer products and services that online retailers can't offer as a way to get people inside and browsing shelves.
That's what happened there.
So I've actually had a relatable experience in music before. Only I had a different solution, but in terms of college radio.
A few weeks before we'd play a show in a city, we'd spend a few days listening to college radio. We always sent out our album to college stations months prior to arriving in the area, but low and behold the album often sat on the shelf still in shrinkwrap. So we had a clever way of fixing that.
Rather than call the DJ (not the person who chooses the music) or the postal service (hint: also doesn't choose the music) and I know what you're thinking -- but no -- we didn't even call the music director (and s/he's actually the person who picks the music).
Instead, we made a personal call to a fan in the area. We'd chat with them for a while, talk about life, and then politely ask that they get ten of their best friends, with whom they've shared our music(and if not they do this step now), and dial that college radio number 10 times a day requesting they play our songs because (and here's the kicker) we'll be playing at "Local College X" on "X date" and it'd be really cool if they did that.
Invariably, it worked every time. We'd get a few free plugs from the college station, and we'd get a bunch of spins on the radio station, and lo and behold, people would come to our shows.
Everybody wins. No mean muggin. No yelling at the people I needed to help make my show a success and improve my presence in a city. Just good old fashioned grass roots guilt-trips.
But it makes perfect sense. The radio station percieved the constant baggering as a large and excited fanbase for an indie band, which in turn caused radio plays that helped create a lare and excited fanbase for an indie band, and voila -- we have promotion.
But AuthorAsshat's first mistake? Thinking it was anyone elses job but his to get the Asshat train running. As artists, we often think it's our job to create art and everyone elses job to love it. And logically, how the heck are they supposed to START selling? If I remember anything from math class, zero doesn't make a good multiplying buddy when you're trying to hit the NYT lists. So perhaps we can all learn from our friend the misguided author, and remember that people buy books. So we should probably meet some people. And probably remember to occasionally sell some books. :)
Ah, bookstores. I miss those so much. I HATE ordering online, which is what I am mostly reduced to.
I live waaaay out in the sticks and while we have libraries, those are not really that up-to-date.
I really miss browsing. It was so much easier to stay current.
As for the clueless customer, oi vey.
I also spent the early part of this week looking for copies of books in local bookstores. I leave for vacation today, so off I went in search of books to take along.
(Despite the fact that I already own more books than I can read in my lifetime, and despite the fact that I also have many e-books I haven't read yet. Book-buying is a disease, but I don't really want a cure.)
I'm lucky enough to live in a town with several brick and mortar bookstores, so first I visited the two within walking distance. Neither of them had any of the books on my list.
These weren't by big-name authors, but weren't really obscure, so I was a little surprised that the small independents didn't have any of them.
As a former bookseller myself, I knew to go ask if they had the books and I just couldn't find them because sometimes that happens. They offered to order them, but I explained I was heading out of town and so needed the book right away.
The owner of one of the stores wrote down the titles and authors. A part-time bookseller at the other said she was sure they were getting at least one of the titles in since they did carry the first book by the author, which was on the shelf. She made a note to check. They weren't getting these books for me, but they knew at least one person would have bought the book so wanted to see what they might be missing.
I ended up finding two of the books at another independent, and ordering a third myself. Janet is absolutely right--bookstore owners want to shelve books that people will come and buy. The best way to get your books on the shelves is to convince them someone will buy it.
While there are lots of ways to convince them your book will sell (publisher marketing, free reader copies for them to read and love, great reviews), having people show up and ask for the book is one of the best.
One of the worst is for the author to show up, in person or via email, and demand that the store stock the book. This is especially ineffective if you insinuate the booksellers are stupid for not already having your book on the shelf.
Can I just say I love the term "Author Asshat?"
And, my neighbors have a boxer, who looks like a grumpy old man too.
I'd always *assumed* a reader would know to ask for a particular title if they didn't find it on bookshelves. To me, contacting the author is like me driving over to Farmer Bob's field and screaming about my local grocery store not carrying his organic tomatoes and what's going to be done about it?
Hey Brian I did that when I was younger and had time for fun. I'd call my local radio station and make song requests. Had a great time doing it too.
One of the authors in my local RWA group travels around with “signed by the author” stickers and signs her books in the bookstores. She does book-signings, but she also just shows up, signs the shelf copies, attaches a sticker, chats up the employees, etc. This author even started a Lady Jane's Salon at a local restaurant, and once per month local RWA and other authors read from their books.
The only thing I remember about local bookstores in my area is that two of them closed in the past few years. So I actually googled it just now, “bookstore mycity”. Three less than 10 miles away from me. One a used bookstore. Two Christian bookstores. The nearest all-purpose bookstore for new books is more than 10 miles away. And I live in a major suburb, one county over from Los Angeles.
One of the scourges of being a trial attorney is I can't appear on court-call. I have to GASP actually show up in court. Last year I put 34,000 miles on my car, a new Kia that I bought (1) for better gas mileage, (2) to fit in small parking spaces, and (3) because my previous car had over 200,000 miles on it, which I'd traded in because my longer-ago car had over 200,000 miles on it. After work during the week I shuffle kids from place to place. The LAST thing I want to do on the weekend is more driving. So I'm a library and Amazon person. Many times, I have requested my local library either order a book or do inter-library loan, and because of requests by me and I'm sure other readers, my local library recently expanded its e-book offerings. I order stuff on Amazon, sometimes e-books and sometimes physical books.
I guess I'm a heretic. I've been called worse.
Make that - My local library recently expanded it's AUDIO book offerings.
I guess I do need to start drinking coffee.
My local bookstore here in Kuala Lumpur has a dedicated desk just for ordering books. They’re really good at ordering anything, even works that are out of print (Owls in the Family anyone?) .
For all I know they’re just using Amazon, but I like that once you order a book, they tend to order more than one copy. It’s how I was able to recommend James S. A Corey to a few friends.
Bonus points - books purchased in Malaysia are tax deductible (25% of cover)
"To me, contacting the author is like me driving over to Farmer Bob's field and screaming about my local grocery store not carrying his organic tomatoes and what's going to be done about it?"
Totally off topic, but that is one thing I miss about Stillwater, OK. There was a farmer down there who raised wonderful produce. He'd pick it and put it in a shed. The various prices were on the vegetables. You'd get what you wanted and put the money in a lock box on the wall.
Best darned vegetables I have eaten in years. The joys of living in a smaller town.
I miss my Hastings and B&N. The BAM here isn't as good by a long shot, but it's a bookstore and I use it as an incentive for Logan the Wonder Kid. I want him to walk in to a bookstore with a sense of excitement. You can't do that online.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one.” George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
As the daughter of the owners of an independent bookstore (mystery specifically), I can firstly assure you that any indie worth their salt can order you almost any book that is commercially available. Even if they specialize in books about cupcakes, they can still order you a book about trains. They'd LOVE to order you a book about trains. All you have to do is ask.
Secondly, many of these bookstores are able to ship you a book. Just call or email. Some even have webstores.
But more importantly, I would really encourage aspiring authors to think about how you want your future bestseller to be sold. If you want it to be available on library shelves and independent bookstores, you'll have to support those channels. Even I, the daughter of bookstore owners who doesn't pay for her own books, gets books out of the library. I know what books I want to keep on my shelves and what books I want to read and return to the library. Buying from independent bookstores will often cost a little more because we don't have the buying power to get the same discounts from publishers, nor do we have the ability to force publishers to share markdowns with us. Many new books you see for 50% off at B&N or Indigo (in Canada) are so cheap because both the store and publisher are paying for that discount. So maybe your book budget only has so much space, but you could make some extra room by getting some books from the library and others from your local (or not so local) indie.
My wonderful son bought me a Kindle for Mother's Day since I have one room filled with bookcases and I still don't have all my books unpacked. Unfortunately, many books I look for aren't available on Kindle.
I'm looking forward to using it, though. I can't keep hauling books in and hoarding them. Well, maybe I can.
Agreed. I used to have a lovely indie bookstore that would track down about anything I wanted. Plus they had an awesome historical section of used periodicals I couldn't find anywhere else. They knew what I was looking for and would set things aside for me when they came in.
Sometimes I could come in and say, "I'm just in the mood for a good romance. Something that reminds me of Mary Stewart." They'd know precisely who to recommend.
Not to mention Poirot the cat.
I just can't stop giggling at the dog's expression.
If complaints beget adorable grumpy boxers, I may start complaining more...
This is a subject I know something about because in my last bookselling job I handled 100+ special orders for the store every week. Bookstores really appreciate customers who order books from them rather than speak the most dreaded words in bookselling, "Oh, well, I'll just get it from Amazon". Since most stores (not all) ask ask customers to prepay for their special orders (which Amazon does too), its a guaranteed sale. YAY! Wholesalers Ingram and Baker & Taylor ship books the same day they receive orders so usually a store can have the book for a customer in 2-3 business days. If enough people order a book the store will usually start to carry it. But calling an editor or an agent? Probably won't do any good. Bookstores know their sales reps. Agent names are totally unfamiliar and so are most editors.
I totally agree with Janet! Don't see an author's book on the shelf? Order it! Get your friends to order it. Then you'll see it on the shelf.
Stephen- Owls in the Family - how I loved that book as a kid!
Dena - it's people like you who helped me do what I love for so long. You're amazing for doing that for someone/anyone. So let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for them.
As a side note -- the weather on Carkoon is particularly "spicy" today. While attempting to walk (ride) my pet (sand)worm, I happened across a recent shipment of Old Spice that one of Janet's interns must have sent to cut down on the smell issues. The note read "Brian, please put this on. I can smell you from earth."
Unfortunately, my (sand) worm was hungry and ate the enormous shipment of Old Spice, so you'll have to send another. Thank you Janet.
Julie, I absolutely agree about indie stores - they usually have experienced staff members who can actually recommend books based on your mood or other preferences, and not just on "what other people who bought this book also bought."
The big box stores generally fall down on this; the now-defunct one that used to be right down the street from me was terrible. They had one person in each department who actually knew the books, and everyone else was a part time college student who could not have cared less. Once, I saw a little girl ask the children's area staff person for something like The Little Princess and was told to read Harry Potter -- and when the girl told her, no, her daddy didn't hold with wizards, the woman SHRUGGED and walked away.
Since I'm a busybody, I started scouring the shelves. But that's one of the reasons I try to support my little indie store, because their guidance is priceless. So many books I would never have found without recommendations.
This must pertain to writers who are popular enough that emails from readers aren't in and of themselves thrilling.
brianrschwarz: Spice is life. Spice is necessary for space travel.
In my little town, we no longer have a chain bookstore, unless you count a Barnes & Noble on one of the college campuses (and I haven't set foot in that bookstore since I graduated. Though I could). We have a number of used bookstores, and a single indie bookstore on Main Street where (drumroll) you can order books if they don't have 'em.
I'm also the Interlibrary Loan clerk at my library (which is within blocks of the indie bookstore, one used bookstore, and one of the colleges). We're part of a 42 library, multi county system, though we're the largest library in our particular county. If we don't have the book on our shelf, it's frequently in the system. If it isn't in the system, we have a couple ways to go outside, including ordering directly from the New York State Library at Albany (which is discretely different from the New York Public Library, though I'm given to understand citizens of New York State may apply for both). If you need it Monday because of your finals/a project/a burning need, I can point you at one of the used locations and tell you to cross your crossables.
We also have two gaming stores in town (,....for now....) so if you need to get your D&D on, or fulfill some points for your Warhammer army, well you can do that too. And then avail yourself of sushi from no fewer than 4 (5?) locations and hit up a local brewery.
I think I got off course. But I love that boxer's face. Boxer is a breed we were considering as we narrowed the scope down to Doberman (I voted for sleekness and against jowls/drool. But they are adorable!)
It has been my (vast and clearly uniformly successful) experience that paths to contentment - if not outright happiness - in work come from understanding one basic tenet:
Every Job Is A Service Job.
Because we all want something from someone else. And in order to get it, we need to understand how best to serve either them or someone else entirely.
And in order to understand how to serve people, we need to understand how to communicate well, and with whom to communicate well, and when . Because no matter the intentions, blustering into your boss' office with terrible news that she really does have to hear just exactly at the time when she realizes that she mailed a pile of contracts to herself and has a horrible migraine - is probably not serving her well, serving you well, or serving whoever was on the other end of that terrible news well.
One has to know what the goal is and how to get it, and in my experience, service and communication are critical.
Fail on service, fail at goal.
Fail in communication, fail at goal.
It means reining in anger and urgency; it means recognizing complex social signs and situations; and it means putting yourself in the proper position. Not last - because denigrating yourself when that's inappropriate can be just as damaging as unfounded arrogance.
So as for Opie, as always, I agree with Janet.
Recognize the store owner's need.
Recognize the reader's need.
The agent's need.
The editor's need.
The publisher's need.
And what else is coming? Amazon's need. Whether you like it or not.
And then address them, one by one. Appropriately. In the right time, and in the right order, understanding that "Addressing a situation" may mean "Shut the heck up."
I must fess up. I don't spend a lot of time in brick and mortar bookstores. My small town doesn't have one (except an interesting used book store) and it is two hours drive to the nearest one.
However, I did venture out to Kansas City to meet the delightful Loretta Ross at the ultra-ultra Barnes & Noble in the foo-foo part of Kansas City. It was a 3-story immersive geek experience with pop culture toys, cafe, coffee bar, records (yes, hipster vinyl,) stationary, gifts, and, oh yeah, books. And the place was hopping.
After nabbing my signed copy of "Death & The Redheaded Woman," I wandered around with my camera, looking to photograph my author friends' books in the wild.
I found very few. It was blockbuster best-sellers and tons of discounted last year's blockbuster best-sellers. Tons of non-fic guide, humor, pop culture, and gift books. Maps and magazines. Very little straight up mid-list fiction. I think a lot of that very pricey real estate has been ceded to online sales and ebooks.
But still, the place was full and most of the people were carrying a book or book-like cultural object. They had one of those velvet rope mazes to get to the check out counter, so business must be good.
And no, I would never bitch to an author. I might bitch to a bookstore manager about their utter lack of taste in not having a section dedicated to "Books by Terri's Friends," with a subsection, "Books by Terri's Friends That are Represented by Janet Reid," but not the author. I tend to celebrate sightings in places from supermarkets to Walmart rather than bitch about where it's not.
But I also have a clue how this biz works. Not expertise, but a clue.
A 501C3 is an IRS form filled out by non profits. Yup, pretty much applies to most of us, sort-of.
Julie W, I do love that as well, and am fortunate to live in a small town where I'm likely to see a stand or a pick-up truck with vegetables or fruit along some road, somewhere. The folks could be sitting under an umbrella while holding a homemade cardboard sign that says, "MELONS, 'LOPES, $2 each"
I always stop. Because it's always the best watermelon or cantaloupe EVER. Unfortunately, even in our small town, we have a lot of crime - so highly unlikely anyone's leaving a box for money - but that sounds like a GREAT story premise - IMO - i.e. the old cliche, "honesty is the best policy."
Joining all the earmarkers here. Great advice.
Reminds me of when UNRAVELING by Elizabeth Norris was mis-shelved. To their credit, they had it corrected by the time I got there.
Though I think Julie's story takes the cake. And the shark cupcake too.
I wonder how the Big Chain Bookstores can stay in business with customers like me. I go to my local BCB, see a book I want, and go home and order it online from the same store for 15% - 30% off, with free shipping. So, the store functions as a display room where I can see books before I buy them online, and I rarely pay the full price.
In contrast, my local indie bookstore, once a treasured resource, has been bought by somebody who, when I asked if an eagerly-anticipated book was out yet, said "If it's been released you've been called. If you haven't been called, it hasn't been released." Which turned out not to be true. I rarely go there any more.
Adele: I wonder too at BCBs that don't price-match their online offerings. It's as if they're driving people away from their B&M (Brick & Mortar) outlets. Why do that? I understand there are greater overheads with the B&M location, but surely those can be offset by non-book purchases only available in-store (e.g., coffee and snacks)?
No, coffee and snack purchases don't offset their overhead in a brick and mortar location. I had my real estate office in a strip shopping center and even with paying agents strictly commission, it's expensive to stay in business.
Have you ever seen any coffee shops in these book stores doing a booming business?
On my last trip in there were two old couples who had borrowed some newspapers from the news rack and and were reading them. One couple each had a small coffee. One couple had a soft drink and two straws. There was one young person on a lap top with his coffee he'd been nursing forever. I got a large coffee and some soup. I was there for about an hour since I was waiting on my son to get out of an appointment and we were the only customers.
Those customers were there when I arrived and there when I left. We didn't buy enough to pay the clerk's wages I don't imagine.
Maybe they should follow the business plan of this charming couple who had it all figured out.
Gads, I am not laughing at these people. I've been the dewy eyed youngling with a dream. It just takes so much more.
Julie: The coffee and snacks was just an e.g. These places have other non-book merchandise for sale, and since they seem to want to compete with themselves online, I can only imagine those items are what offset the cost of running the B&M store. How else can they survive if they refuse to price-match and offer incentives to go to the B&M location, and not just shop at home?
I'm with Lizzie-- if a reader contacted me to say they wanted to read my book but couldn't find it, I'd be so thrilled it'd never occur to me to complain about distribution. I'd be asking what format they wanted and finding a way to send it to them ASAP. For free.
Off topic: Just wanted to let you all know I survived the knee replacement surgery on Tuesday. They granted me an early release, on Wednesday, for good behaviour. Or so they claimed. The pain has been . . . substantial. But that was expected. The narcotic pain meds aren't making me woozy as I'd feared they might, so I'm not likely to say anything TOO outrageous (sorry about that), but my fingers are sort of lagging behind the thoughts in my brain and I'm mis-spelling almost every other word. It's taking forever to write this, since I'm compelled to fix ALL THE MISTAKES. Well, the ones I see. So I'll be following along, maybe just quiet for a while longer.
Now I'm imagining being a fly on the wall (or whatever is on the wall in NYC) and listening to an Editor Excellence ranting to an Awesome Agent about publishing. What a blast that would be. Far more entertaining than my week, so far.
Congratulations on the knee replacement. I had my left one done last November. The first six weeks is the toughest. I need to get my right one done, but I'm putting it off for a bit.
If I'd known I was going to live this long I might have taken better care of myself, but dang what a ride it's been.
I've been thinking about this all day and trying to think of a delicate way to say this, but there just isn't. You'd have to pour ten gallons of stupid into a five gallon bucket to call an editor and rant like that.
And now for a special, commercial free edition of THE BLAME GAME
"Hey, Gary, glad you called we are having a hard time unloading, I mean selling, your..."
"That is why I called. One of my readers called. She said that X Store isn't carrying my book."
"That's because it isn't selling."
"It isn't selling because it isn't getting into stores."
"Why don't you come down from that Ivory Tower and do a book signing or something. Get on a talk show or something."
"If I wanted to promote my books I would have self published."
"That might be a good idea. X Store used to carry your books. Book one sold 5 copies. Book two sold three, three sold two and four sold none. Do you see a pattern here?"
"But Mom said she bought ten of my books."
"Maybe she did. Ten is how many they sold there. Maybe you should self publish. I'll make you a deal."
Oh dear.42 comments, I'm skipping them all, sorry, I've been out partying like a maniac because canuk came to visit. Just want to say I love how Janet feeds us this story. Love the punctuation. How it it makes me hesitate then bleed.
Yes, tell the manager to order that book, tell them you need three. Buy one and rave about it, tell your friends where you bought it.
Gee, Angie, I wish I could be out partying like a maniac. Is "canuk" another term for Canadian? If not, pls, Canadian friends, don't hate me.
kd - yay on the new knee! Hope your pain subsides soon. And I didn't see any TYPOS, so you did good.
My dilemma is that I love and want to support independent bookstores - and even chain ones that are locally owned - but I mostly these days prefer to read ebooks. Even though I thought I'd never get there, I actually do prefer to read on my kindle these days. It's light, I can hold it in one hand without risking losing my place when a kid knocks my arm (not to mention never having to sift through to FIND my place because for some reason I never ever remember to use a bookmark and always - despite years of evidence to the contrary - think that I'll remember my page number) and I can carry it in my bag everywhere I go so I never get stuck in a line without it.
What I would like to see is a model where the physical space exists and you can go in and browse, then go up to the counter with the book you want and purchase the ebook then and there, from that store (or the physical book if you want, or if you buy the physical one, get a heavy discount on the e-version).
No idea whether that is a viable model but it would combine the things I love!
I echo Sisi: Book-buying is a disease, but I don't really want a cure
Sam Hawke: Have you checked out the newest bookstore in town? Harry Hartog's at Woden are brilliant, order anything and regularly have guest author events in store.
I go to my local bookstores (there are 2 in the one centre) and then compare prices between them and online. Sometimes the bookstores are cheaper, sometimes online is cheaper. I prefer a physical book but space is becoming an issue. Although we've been renovating and I have sneakily moved things around so when Ikea opens here later this year I might just happen to find a bookshelf to fill my new space =)
I would never think of contacting an author to tell them their book is absent. Rather I tell my author friends when I do find their book on a shelf!
AJ - yeah, I really like Harry Hartog's! It's a beautiful store and the staff are really nice. Already seen Robin Hobb and Joe Abercrombie there.
Brian - while I appreciate the thanks, they're not that deserved. I remember being completely flabbergasted when my father told me that radio stations played RECORDS and it wasn't the band actually playing in the studio. Yes I was clueless as a youngster. And calling to request songs was just a fun thing to do. I really had no concept that it was anything more than that. I'm glad it would have been helpful tho.
In my 20s I had a little more of a clue. I went to a concert one night and I LOVED the opening band so a friend and I called the radio station several times per day over the next few weeks to request songs by that band (which we never heard on the radio prior to the concert, but several times afterward). Once I started law school, all my free time evaporated (I worked full time and went to law school 3-4 nights per week). Then the kids came and free time was only a distant memory. I miss those days tho. I haven't been to a concert in a very long time.
My last memory of shopping in a physical bookstore includes not finding the book I wanted, so I asked about it and the employee said she could order it but didn't know how long it would take for it to come in. This was MANY years ago tho, before all the big changes in the industry.
The only constant is change. I feel old now =)
I'm still looking for my first agent, but from what I've information I've gleaned, there's several key people that are important to an author. I would imagine that it looks something like this:
2. Publisher (abridged)
If I wasn't going to call the store, I would've taken the following steps. Please tell me if I'm incorrect in any way here:
1. Call the Sales and Marketing team at X publisher
2. Called my literary agent (the first and second is a close one)
I really don't understand how the editor, in any way shape or form, could've helped this author or understood why the author thinks the editor puts books in stores. Can someone help me out here? Something isn't right.
When we had an indie bookstore in town, I gave it as much business as I could. Even when we got a huge chain store in town, I'd still get whatever I could at the indie. (Prices were always the same, no matter where you got it.)
When the big chain book store moved in - in the same part of town that the indie was - and when people started going online to get their books, yes, the indie lost some customers, but they could have kept going. All they would have had to do was move the store to the other side of the city, where there is no bookstore, and they'd have been doing bigger business than before. But the owners were older and decided to retire instead.
So then my choice became: big chain store or online. Even the big chain store has books online - but they're always more expensive than the Canadian version of the A-place. Shipping cost more, too. The store itself is on the other end of the city - a 45-minute one-way trip by bus - so it's very inconvenient. And I never really liked the big chain store anyway. So I do most of my shopping at the A-store. Just because it's easier and cheaper.
If another indie opened up in town, and it was easy to get to by bus, I'd be there once a week, I'm sure.
Lovely to see you, Julie H! And I'm glad your surgery went well, kdjames!
Sam: There are some publishers that are considering 'bundling' books - basically, if you buy the print one, you get the e-version with it. Which I think is a great idea.
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