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Riding the B&N

January 13th, 2010 No comments

I’ve been MIA for about a year now from this blog, and for that I apologize! Time flies when you’ve got book deadlines … but everybody else here has those, so I guess I haven’t really got a compelling excuse! (I’ll cop to being a slacker and move on ….)

Last month, my first novel Spellbent was released by Del Rey. It sold relatively quickly after my agent started shopping it around, but it spent about 15 months in editorial. So I was pretty excited when it finally came out, and other people were enthused that a big publisher was releasing my novel.

“Are you going on a book tour?” they’d ask.

“Well, no, it doesn’t work that way,” I’d reply. “But I’m sure there will be a few book signings and such.”

“Ooh! Ooh!” said my friend Sara. “Why don’t you set up a book signing here in Indianapolis, right before Mo*Con? We have a really good Barnes & Noble here; it would be a great place for a signing!”

At that point I was buried in another deadline, so being the good friend she is, Sara called the B&N and talked to their events manager, who seemed enthusiastic about the book. He told her to have me email him with more information about my novel, and I did … and heard nothing.

Shortly thereafter, it occurred to me that, since Spellbent is set here in Columbus, a reading in a Columbus bookstore would make a whole lot of sense. Our go-to bookstore, a great indie shop called Liberty Books, sadly went bankrupt a couple of summers ago. So I contacted the events manager at a local B&N; I had met the woman a couple of times at the Ohioana Book Festival and she had been prompt in her responses to my queries, and had likewise seemed enthusiastic when I talked to her about my book at the fair.

And once again, I received no reply.

So I followed up with both stores a week later. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

So I thought to myself, “Self, you do realize you have a publicist at Random House, don’t you? Why not have her do the followups?”

And so I contacted my publicist. And she told me that the problem is that Barnes and Noble won’t schedule us mass-market paperback authors for book events. Not even if we’re local, not even if we have a book from a big house, not even if our books are selling well.

Apparently, your book has to be thiiis tall to ride the B&N.

I’m a writer. I’m used to being told “no”. What I don’t get is why the B&N reps couldn’t have just told me what their policy is, instead of making positive noises and then blowing me off? “No” doesn’t bother me, but wasted time sure does!

Once I knew what the deal was, I had my publicist call Borders, and they seemed happy enough to have me.

I guess the take-home message here is that Borders is the chain you should talk to about any book events if you don’t have an independent bookstore in your city. But always talk to your indie shop first. (Boy, do I miss Liberty Books ….)