A Real Book on a Real Shelf in a Real Store to be Seen by Real Book People

The (pipe) dream from the very beginning of my writer’s journey was to see my novels in a special display right up there in the front of a bookstore and push James Patterson off to the side, or better yet, spine out in the shelves with the rest of the crowd.

But that was not to be, and along with a horde of other writers I’ve embraced the world of indie publishing, which to hear the legacy authors tell it, is tantamount to a plague like unto the Black Death for all that is holy about the craft of putting words to paper, or horrors, to an eReader screen. Never mind that legacy authors are publishing eBooks by the thousands, theirs are good ones and all that other stuff is trash.

My decision to publish in both electronic and print format derived in part from the original pipe dream (the thrill of holding my novel in my hands), and in part from a marketing decision: if anyone showed even the slightest interest in Pilot Error, I wanted it available in multiple sales outlets, formatted for any eReader and in paperback.

While struggling with all the practical tasks required to prepare the book for sale, I knew that the paperback would never make it into a Barnes & Noble  past those free-standing sensors at the front entrance. They aren’t there to deter shoplifting, you know. They detect indie books. If you don’t believe me, try carrying one in there and see how fast the alarm bells sound. =;-)

Smiley faces aside, I had to accept the reality that buyers could only find the print version on Amazon as a print-on-demand choice, or order a signed copy directly from me as an Amazon-approved seller. So focused was I on these preconceived limitations that I failed to consider something intuitively obvious to even the most casual observer: 4 miles distant from my writing desk, 8 minutes drive time on an average day, sits one of the few remaining independent bookstores in the world. Well, duh, Tosh.

Book People are nice people. Even knowing that I’ve offered my book for sale in a store that seeks to steamroll all competition into the pavement, they greeted my inquiries with courtesy and offered me the opportunity to participate in their consignment program.

I elected to purchase their additional promotional package, and two weeks later, my novel will be: placed on the shelves in the local author and mystery sections; featured on the “Whale” table at the front of the store for a minimum of two weeks; listed on their website; one-time featured on their newsletter, and; included in a Local Author’s Night book signing event scheduled for May 25, 2012.

From a promotional perspective, I have no way of predicting whether the cost will be recouped in sales. It’s the classic “catch-22” of discoverability driving sales driving discoverablity. But I’ll never know unless I try, and like I said, Book People are nice people.

For what it’s worth, I’m proud that Pilot Error made it through the front entrance.

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