January 28, 2015 at 11:04 pm #1545Earl’s previous regenerationSpectator
In 2012, when VWORP!1 first came out, I paid a visit to the two local places carrying Doctor Who merch – Hastings and Books-a-Million (a subsidiary/sibling of Barnes & Noble; there’s an actual B&N location in Fayetteville) – to see if I could drum up any interest in doing a signing…or an event…or something. In both cases, and pretty much for the same reason, I was told “no.”
The reason given was that it was a print-on-demand self-published title, and it’s made/distributed by Amazon, which is a major competitor for both brick & mortar businesses. It was against their policy to carry it. Why help the competition?
I was kinda bummed by that, but I had other plans. Conventions, resuming my presence on Twitter, and so on, all to drum up awareness and sales. I also had a kid to raise (now two!) and other stuff to worry about. I let it slide and mostly forgot about it, though it kinda stuck in my side that you have two places who sell Who merch, and here’s a local author who’s written a book about it (now two!). But in both cases, it was pointed out that this was corporate policy; the local managers could do nothing about it.
I still spend a lot of time at Books a Million; it’s pretty close to Little E’s school, where I drive into Fort Smth to drop him off in the morning and often stay into the afternoon until it’s time to pick him up. As long as you buy something from the coffee bar at the very least (in my case, usually a Sprite), they’ll let you camp out at an indoor (or, if it’s warm/dry enough, outdoor patio) table. I put on my headphones and write bits of the next book, the next ‘zine, what have you. Browse job listings. If/when I just flat run out of Sprite money, I camp out in the car in the adjacent Target parking lot, where I can still hit the BAM wi-fi. It’s a strange parasitic relationship. 😆
When you log into their wi-fi with the number from your discount card, BAM’s internet redirects you to the store’s website. Today, just for giggles, and I don’t really know why I’ve never done this before, I punched in “vworp” to see if anything popped up. And indeed something did: my own books, which I was always told BAM wouldn’t touch.
Um. Doctor Who has been huge the past two years. How much money, how much word-of-mouth, how many opportunities have been missed for me in those two years? Probably not enough to pay off the mortgage, to be sure, but the point is…an opportunity was missed. I’m in town at that store all the time anyway. I could do book signings most days of the week if they’d comp me the bottles of Sprite. 😛
This weekend I’m going to figure out some angle of attack to re-open the discussion; part of the ice breaker for this conversation will be carrying a tablet in there with my books listed on their own web site. In the next couple of months I’m going to be releasing a book about another TV show on the eve of its 50th anniversary: let’s get it right this time. I’d be more than happy to make a micro-book-tour out of the deal and do a thing at the Fayetteville Barnes & Noble too. I never assume that my convention vendor tables have exposed me to the entirety of the potential local audience for my work.
I try not to take this kinda thing personally, but this bugs me. Awareness is awareness, and it’s the currency in trade for an author just starting out. People talking about your book = gold. Just because it’s a measley local book signing isn’t relevant anymore; people talk about stuff on the interwebs. Under present circumstances, I find this revelation… very frustrating.March 3, 2016 at 1:34 am #7537ubikuberallesModerator
If you want to know more about the woes of self-publishing, check out Hugh Howey’s site: https://www.hughhowey.com/blog/ He scored big time with his self-published novels (Wool being the big hit) and his experiences show that the game is rigged against self-publishing despite the big inroads Amazon has made. He gets preachy but he has a lot of insight and ideas that might help you out.March 4, 2016 at 2:41 am #7538FlackParticipant
Hey Earl, you might try the public library — I have seen a lot of book signings, sellings, and readings at my local library. Local colleges might be another place to check out.
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