Friday, July 15, 2011

Sounding Board or Punching Bag?

Well, the box of books has been here a while and I haven't done much with them. Since I have previously published a book, I know what I should be doing. Why does marketing always seem like a four letter word, when it so obviously isn't? I think for me it is because the whole process of getting the book into its final form, whether print or ebook, is such a long journey by the time you are finally done you don't want to look at or think about the book for awhile. And maybe I thought that since I printed the book through Lightning Source with their huge distribution system it would be easier this time.

I did put two copies of the book in the mail today, so that is something. The first copy was sent to one of the veterans who was kind enough to review the book, offer input, and provide a quote for the back cover. The second book went to the Library of Congress. If you request a catalogue number from them, which helps the libraries find your book, then you must send them a copy of the book when it is completed. I can now scratch those two things off my list of things to do.

On Wednesday I took a copy of the book with me to my local independent bookstore with the intention of asking her if she would like to carry the book in her store. She has been selling my other book, Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)? since 2009 and has in fact sold 19 copies of the book.  She is down to her last copy so I thought it would be a good time to introduce my new book when dropping off additional copies of the first. As it turns out, I left none of my books there and it is quite a story.

In an email to the store owner a week or so ago, I had asked her about three things. 1) I knew she only had one copy of my book left and did she need more? Hint, hint...I would like to be paid for the 9 that were sold. 2) The St. Louis Publishers Association (and I serve on the board) offers free talks about the publishing process and would she be interested in hosting one of our talks? (She fields a lot of questions from authors trying to get their books published, so it would be of benefit to her as well.) And 3) The September publishers meeting is about author events and would she or a member of her staff be interested in serving on a panel at the meeting? (Their bookstore hosts a LOT of author events so I thought her input would be invaluable.)

As soon as I walked in the door she acknowledged my email and the fact that she had yet to respond, but said she would love to be on the panel. Just as I was thinking "Great!" she went on to add that we wouldn't like what she has to say. She said that we all need to send our books to an agent, and that if it is a great book then an agent will pick it up. We should not be self publishing during a time when even well known authors are not able to sell their books. She does not want to deal with people who do not understand why she needs them to discount their books 40% so that she can keep her store in business.

Now remember that I am one of the "people" she is referring to! I told her that on behalf of myself and other members of our organization, I beg to differ with her. When you have a book that is only intended for a niche market, no traditional publishing company is going to pick you up, no matter how well done the book is. She agreed that there are exceptions, but that I should have approached one of the local publishing companies. I explained that there is only one, and he turned me down because he thought my audience was too narrow. Since I have sold over 100 books, I think he is wrong. She said I should go back to him now, and I asked why should I? I have done all the work, why should I turn anything over to him now? She then launched into a rant about all the authors approaching her with their memoirs, and how they shouldn't even be writing the book themselves but should hire a ghost writer instead. Bottom line - no one should self publish.

I explained to her that we really were not even asking her to discuss any of that, we simply were hoping that she could talk about author events such as book signings. That set her off on another rant about how you might as well have a party at your house and invite all your friends and relatives because they were the only ones who would come to a book signing and buy your book anyway. But if we wanted her to come and talk, she would LOVE to come and speak her mind. I said, "So if we want a Debbie Downer on the panel, you're our gal, huh?" and she said, "That's right!" She wrapped things up by adding that she would be happy to host a publishers meeting (no doubt so she could speak up from the back of the room and tell everyone how they must not be real authors if they have to do it themselves), and also, by the way, she would love to have more copies of my book to sell. Does anyone else see the irony of that?


Mrs. Wryly said...

Irony is my favorite twist but I'm not liking this story at all. It possible that her store is struggling and that's why she's so sour.

I think "No" for the panel..... Just a hunch.

Bobbi Linkemer said...

What I want to know is why haven't you showed your new book to one of your greatest fans? Despite my slightly bruised feelings, I was about to resolve to read your blog regularly from now on. To demonstrate my commitment, here I am, reading it at 10:00 pm. This is WAY past my coherent time. BTW, my box of books came today, so I have some for your class.