Monday, October 02, 2006

Likes Books

So obviously I like to read. Kinda a given if I'm willing to put myself through the ringer trying to write, eh? And I figure my blog readers like to read or they wouldn't give a hoot what I have to say. And my friends like to read, a lot of my family and miscellaneous people I see in the airport (most of whom now have my bookmark).

So this is something I don't understand.

I've been visiting bookstores as I travel around the country and I get a completely mixed response from some of them. Before release, I introduced myself, explained about my book and asked if they would like promo material - booklets, bookmarks, etc and how many if they were interested. Then I either provided them right there or mailed if it was early on and I didn't have my stock yet.

Now that the book is on the shelves some places, I've been visiting bookstores and asking to sign in-store stock. My understanding from industry people is that this is the preferred method of gaining autographed copies rather than wasting everyone's time and money on a booksigning for an unknown author when, like two copies of the book might sell and you just sat there for half an afternoon.

But my experience with booksellers has been remarkably different. Some have been polite and businesslike - retrieved stock, I signed, they stickered, we shook hands and I was off. Some were excited and happy to have an author in the store and get autographed copies (I have to say, these are my favorites since face-to-face sales is the hardest thing for me). Then there are the ones I don't understand. The other day I introduced myself to a clerk at an information desk, asked to sign there stock (if they had it) and she actually looked at me like I had just told her I had the flu and took a step back from the counter. Finally, she went off to ask the manager something, then came back with a card for someone I needed to contact M-F between the hours of 8:00 and 5:00 in order to sign my books. Yea, because all writers are independently wealthy and we're available during normal work hours. BTW - the manager didn't bother to make an appearance at all.

The worst part was - this is the bookstore in my hometown and I usually shop there. And everywhere else in town and around the country, the same chain has let me sign in-store stock without a qualm.

So their reaction begs the questions - do they even like books? I can understand an hourly wage clerk taking the job for a bit of money and not caring either way about the books, but the manager? Am I being a purist in believing the manager of a bookstore should like to read? Isn't that kind of like thinking a preacher should believe in God?

I believe some things are sacred, like any art form, and should be loved by the people responsible for distributing it. Am I out of my mind? I'm not asking for people to strike up the band, but please don't act like I just asked to distribute the plague either. At RWA, highly respected booksellers have instructed authors to do drive-by signings and said that autographed copies sell better. I didn't make this up - I'm getting my information from leading industry professionals. I'm trying to follow the "rules," I swear!

BTW - I'm in sunny Irvine, CA today and tomorrow and signed SEVEN copies of Rumble last night at the B&N at 13712 Jamboree Rd. Huge store and very nice people!!!!!! So if you're in CA and want a signed copy, head to Irvine.


Jaye Wells said...

I've heard about this on other author blogs. You're not doing anything wrong, they just have an attitude problem.

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi Jaye - I'm sorry to hear other authors experienced this also, but glad to know it's not just me. I still don't get it though. (sigh)

lainey bancroft said...

In your own hometown! This sucks beyond sucky! They should be honored to have a local celebrity willing to donate time to promote sales to grow their business.
I'd say this is beyond attitude problem. It's downright personality disorder. Obviously these people don'
t have a creative bone in their bodies. If they had ever stretched beyond their limited little clerk existence and put themselves out there, in word or song or any form of self expression, they would know how difficult it is.

Kudos, Jana, for getting out there. I'm nowhere near CA, but if I was, you can bet I'd take a signed copy for every reader on my Christmas list! (I've never been able to turn down an author in a bookstore, even if the jacket blurb doesn't appeal and its a genre I wouldn't ordinarily touch. IMO anyone who believes in their work and pursues that dream has earned the acknowledgment of a sale!

Jana DeLeon said...

Thanks so much, lainey, for your words of encouragement. Can I send you out into bookstores ahead of me to clear the way???? :)

BTW - If you'd really like autographed copies for Christmas gifts, you can order them on Amazon and have them sent directly to me. I'll be happy to autograph (personal if you want) and mail them to you. Email me at jana (at) if you're interested.

I'll try to keep updating on where I've signed. You never know, I may hit your city too!

Thanks again for your post!

Tori Lennox said...

Your local store's attitude is tres bizarre! And you're a local author, for cryin' out loud! I can't imagine working at a bookstore (in any capacity) and not loving books. Loved your preacher/belief in God analogy. :)

I ordered my copy of RUMBLE yesterday! Now if they'd just ship it fast.... Oh well. I need to learn patience. Of course, I've been working on that for YEARS without much progress. *g*

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL Tori - if you figure out that patience thing, I'll pay you to teach me. I'm glad you ordered Rumble and hope you enjoy reading it!

Kelly Parra said...

Jana, I don't know what to say. But some of my author friends have gone through the same. Even when I mentioned my selling to a local bookseller she immediately changed her friendly attitude like I was going to ask something of her. My husband says its jealousy but I don't know what it is. The only thing is that some booksellers may have had bad experiences in the past with authors and I'm afraid I can believe it.

Times are changing, and new authors are learning to be more gracious and understanding, but it may take time to set the bar, so to speak. Good luck!

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi Kelly - I'm afraid both you and your husband could be right. I suppose it depends on the situation. I think sometimes I get the snob factor too. There are still those out there that think romance is fluff and easy to write. Go for it and prove it, I always say.

All I can do is be polite and keep trying. :) Maybe it will get better over time.

Diana Peterfreund said...

Yeah, but if they HAVE IT STOCKED, they should let you SIGN.

Especially since your book is a paperback and the signing would not affect the strippability.

What a PAIN. I have never experienced that.

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