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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Stop Saying "I Can't Get into Bookstores"

WOW! I just realized that this is my 1000th post. I'd realized that milestone I would have done something special. I'll see what I can do next week. Meanwhile,on to my latest rant!

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A couple of issues have been going around the indie-verse along with some myths that are, well, frankly, pissing me off. I went on a rant about author negativity and this is a variation on the original, but over two specific items.

1) Indies Can't Get Bookstores to Carry Their Books

This one's partly true, partly false. It is very,very hard to get into a chain bookstores. A chain's corporate parents freak at the thought of any of their minions not marching in lockstep. I know because I had several lovely young employees pressure their manager into stocking my books as a local author. Unfortunately, this was Barnes & Noble, which meant management has a very bad case of ADS (that's "Amazon Derangement Syndrome" for those unfamiliar with the acronym).

Getting into an independent bookstore can be easier or harder depending on (a) the owner and staff, (b) the indie writer's behavior, and (c) the genre.

(a) Some owners and staff feel it's their duty to save Western civilization. Therefore, any writer not properly vetted by someone with an MFA, instead of the unwashed masses, cannot sully their store. Ignore these people. There's lots of owners and staff who will support any writer. Well, almost any writer.

(b) Do your homework. Find out what they carry. Which distributor they order from. This is much easier if you actually frequent their establishment. Build a rapport with the staff. Most of all, don't walk in with a giant chip on your shoulder, insisting that they bow before you. (And yes, I've seen this happen.) Go in with a plan BASED ON WHAT THEY DO. Not what you want them to do. Know whether your distributor accepts returns on your book. And if you have no idea of what I'm talking about, get thee to Kristine Katherine Rusch's blog pronto! And always, ALWAYS be polite and professional, even if the other person isn't.

(c) There are two independent bookstores in Houston I know of that are very willing to work with writers. Unfortunately, one focuses on romance. While I have romantic elements in most of my books, the ones that are true romance are erotic romance under Alter Ego's name. This, being a child friendly place, does not carry erotica. Which bring me back to the last sentence in (b)--do NOT criticize the owner's policies. He or she knows his/her customers better than you ever will.

On the other hand, there's a mystery/thriller specialty bookshop called Murder by the Book. None of my current series would fit with their stock, but a new series idea I'm doodling with (think a sword and sorcery version of CSI) would be accepted. (Before any readers start yelling at me, I will get Blood Sacrifice out before I start on this project!)

Friday, I'll talk about getting into libraries.

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