Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A tale of two bookstores

I didn't intend to go into a bookstore yesterday. It just sort of happened.

Actually, I think my car is possessed by a evil entity which insists that I periodically check out my local Barnes & Noble and Borders to see if they have my books in stock. I say evil because I never know how this will make me feel.

First off, my regular Tuesday morning riding lesson was canceled, so I had the time free to run a few errands. I needed new shoes--which is always a hassle--a few things that my DH asked me to get for a Boy Scout function on Thursday, a training collar for my new puppy, and some environmentally friendly dish soap, which is only available in two stores that I know of.

It was chilly and drizzling, which isn't great for anyone's mood, and though I had little hope for the shoes, I did manage to find a pair of Nikes that fit most of my criteria. Trust me, having a wide foot is worse than having a wide you-know-what when it comes to buying things that fit. Most of my shoes, this pair included, have come from the men's department, which is okay if you're buying sneakers, but not so good when you're looking for something a bit more dressy. There was a buy one get the second pair half price sale going on at Shoe Carnival, but I'll swear, I bought the ONLY pair of shoes in the entire store that were a men's size 7 4E--shoes that are even now making me painfully aware of my feet.

Then I bought a new hair dryer so that I'll have one to take with me when I go to the INRWA retreat next month and won't have to leave Budley hairdryerless.

My next stop was the import grocery, where I bought a variety of olives, the dish soap, and some Scottish ale, which was NOT for the Boy Scouts.

Exciting stuff, isn't it?

Then that evil force made me drive to B & N, where I found one copy of Slave on the shelf. It was face out, and wasn't signed. Not another book of mine in sight. So, I ask myself, What does this mean? Have they sold all of the others and are waiting for more, or did they return them? We never really know, do we? There was one bright spot: the copy wasn't signed, and the last time I was in there, I signed all the books they had. Hmmm.... So, does this mean they've reordered, or just taken the sticker off? Nope, it wasn't signed. So that means they sold them all, right? I hope so.

I asked once (a very long time ago when I was only self-published) if they ever did booksignings there, and the reply was that since local authors usually sell so poorly, they only have group signings once or twice a year. Can you tell that I've never asked them again? I didn't on this day, either.

Then my possessed Honda took me to Borders where I was greeted by a cute young chap who asked if he could help me find anything. It was on the tip of my tongue to say no, but that same evil force made me say: "Do you ever have booksignings here?" He told me that they did have them from time to time, and then asked the fatal question: "Are you an author?"

Following my reluctant, though affirmative reply, he told me that I needed to talk to Lance, the manager, who, of course, wasn't there at the moment. We went on to discuss my books; whether they had them in stock and that the next one would be out in January, etc--which he seemed to think was an excellent time to sell books. I told him I'd talk to Lance at some point, although I feel quite certain that Lance would not live up to my expectations for a man with a name like that, which makes me reluctant to explore that option.

After I began wandering about the store, it became clear to me why they had my young friend posted near the door. They had rearranged it completely since my last visit--which was probably when Rogue came out in March. I finally found the romance section all the way in the back, and being an author with a "B" name, I was practically on the back wall--but (we must look for bright spots when we find them!) at least not on the bottom shelf! They had three copies of Outcast and one of Rogue, which was already signed. Seeing as how there were four of them, that gave me just enough room to turn them face out.

But then, the evil force took me in its clutches once again and I snatched up all three copies of Outcast and took them to the front desk. The man I'd talked to was there with two female employees, who looked at me like I'd lost my mind when I said, "I'm the author. Is it okay if I sign my books?" In fact, I had to repeat myself before one of the girls said, "Well, I guess that's okay. . . " My boyfriend (I was starting to think of him that way by this time) came to my rescue with, "Oh, we did have your book!" After that, they found the stickers and were looking for a good pen when I pulled out one of my own, which was approved by my new boyfriend. After I signed each copy and put the stickers on (in just the right spot so as not to cover up any of Lynx's hotness), he volunteered to put them back on the shelf for me, but I declined, knowing that I intended to put them face out. However, (bless the boy!) he told me to see if I could find someplace where I could put them face out on the shelf. To which I replied, "I'll do that."

So, I then read a few pages from a book called "I hope they serve beer in Hell," which was a riot, but I decided that it would adversely affect my writing style if I were to read it in its entirety, and our editor has to censor me enough as it is. In the end, I left without making a purchase and I splashed through the puddles on the way to my car with a much lighter step--a car that seemed to be saying, "See? I told you this was a good idea."

On the way home, I pondered the meaning of it all. Having three copies of Outcast on the shelf--does that mean they haven't sold any? Or that they've sold them all and reordered? There was the one signed copy of Rogue left, but as I recall, there were originally three and one of Warrior, which was missing. Good sign--at least, I thought it might be. . . Then there was that one copy of Slave at B & N. I really should have pretended to be a reader looking for the rest of the series and raised hell with them. Too bad my friend Suzie wasn't with me. She'd have done it.

Regardless of the meaning, I drove out of town feeling much better than I did when I drove in, so perhaps that evil force wasn't so evil after all. . . .

This blog is too damn long. I should edit it.

Nope, not going to. You're just going to have to experience my insecurity as it is. ;-)

20 comments:

  1. I'm so proud of you! Remember when you couldn't bring yourself to even talk to them? Look how far you've come! YAY!

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  2. Oh I ask if I can sign them every time I go into a store. Around here I have 6 B&N and Borders, a mix of mall stores and box stores. So far I've got 3 confirmed for signings on Thanksgiving wkend and 2 more checking. The one that's in the country's 2nd largest mall isn't doing signings that wkend b/c it's just too much hassle... Hmmm... wonder how many more they'd sell if an author was sitting out front at a table signing? But we're looking at another date in December, and one of the other box stores has me booked for that Friday, then a week later on Saturday AND she wants me to come in closer to Christmas. She's having their marketing dept make up banners to hang from the ceiling with my book cover and signing times on it. (Yes, I will ask if I can have it when the signings are done.)

    My motto, Cheryl: You can always ask b/c the worst they can do is say No. My local stores LOVE to have authors in. :)

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  3. This, and Judi's comment, are great examples of just how excited book stores can getabout local authors. Not all have signings, but these are all booksellers (no matter the level of employee) and they know that an author is a great tool to market and sell books!

    Glad to hear you made sure the sticker didn't cover up any of the hotness ;)

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  4. Yes, I have come a long way, Marie, but I have many more miles to travel before I'm what you'd call confident. I'm trying!

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  5. I don't have anywhere near that many stores around here, Judi! I have to to about 30 miles to get to the ones I've got, but you're right: all they can do is say no, but they can sure make you feel like a complete idiot when they do it.

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  6. I've experienced a decided lack of enthusiasm with the stores I've visited, Danielle. Even in Nashville nobody got excited when I signed copies at the Opry Mills Mall. My first experience when Slave came out was probably the best, but nobody was talking about scheduling an "event" even then. Guess I need to take Suzie and the gang with me wherever I go.....

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  7. That was a wonderful blog Cheryl! Thank you for sharing something personal. A friend of mine has been telling me for years that I need to find a way to "sell" my scrapbooking and jewelry craft items. I wanna do it, but just can't put myself out there. It's tough-I can so relate to your feelings!

    Good for you for taking the step. I bet the "boyfriend" was kinda cute, huh?

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  8. Hello Cheryl, I love reading whatever you write. Book or Blog you do know your stuff. Keep up the good work, and try not to let the insecurities get you down. The reason the book stores had so few of your books, is that they sold all the others. Signing them is a great way to say thanks to those who buy. I'll go for the signed books over those not signed when I can. Hope your husband is doing better. Don't worry about length of blogs, sometimes you just have to say what you have to say and let length be dipped. Stand strong and keep on writing. Love your stuff.

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  9. It is VERY hard for some of us to put ourselves out there, Lisa, and I'm one of them! I might have been published long ago if I was more of a self-promoter, but that's water under the bridge now.
    And, yes, he WAS cute in a tall, dark, nerdy sort of way.

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  10. Hi Jessica and welcome to the blog!
    Your comments mean a lot to me. I'm pleased to know that some readers actually do choose the signed copies over those that are not.
    Thank you very much for your support!

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  11. Ah Cheryl,
    My Honda is also possessed by an evil demon! It goes out of its way to get me to bookstores also. :-P

    I'm afraid the bookstores in my area aren't terribly receptive to local authors either. There are a couple of exceptions (one Borders and one B&N) and I've participated in group signings at both recently.

    I'm just like you, always wondering if a lack of books on the shelf means they sold the ones they previous had? Or (oh HORRORS!) sent them back??? ARGH! Not knowing is a killer!

    AC

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  12. My understanding, talking to Barnes and Noble, is the actual booksignings are in the domaine of each store. So, it was good you did check, Cheryl.

    May I say I absolutely LOVED Fugitive. My sister grabbed it up from the reading room and said, I have to read this, niece then said, let me see! Grabbed it out of mom's hands, read the back and a few other places then told her mom, you have 3 other books you need to read and I'm out of reading materia. Next thing I know, my lovely ARC of your books is walking out to the car being fought over by two determined readers. "Hey guys! I need to write a review...oh well. I already read it.

    I can't wait to put up the review. :-)

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  13. Cheryl, MEOW!!!
    You're The Cat Master!!! We need to hear you ROAR!!! I'm so glad you had your good wide support Shoes on and your big girl panties.
    And I'm proud of you for overcoming that shyness and insecurities and signing those GREAT books and putting them front and Center. And make sure you go Back and speak to Lance about setting up a book signing when Fugitive comes out. I take liberties in my B&N.
    I move your books to the front of the shelves always. I tell the clerks. She's my friend and nobody puts the Cat Master in the back.
    I tell the lady customers. You want to read about extra sexy guys, Read this.
    One day. I was so bold. You want to read about a Alien Man Whore. I handed them Outcast. They don't normally dare put them back while Im looking.
    I even handed a guy who was reading through romance books. A copy of Rogue. You want to learn some techniques. These guys know all the tricks. I need to come and go with you and promote those good books. Be Brave, Stand Tall.
    You're the Cat Master, not just a pussy cat.
    Sorry, today I was in Bird stores. LOL!!!

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  14. It's good to know that I'm not the only one whose bookstores aren't real gung ho, Cindy! Maybe we should get together sometime. The question is: where?

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  15. Fought over? That warms the cockles of my heart Sia! Can't wait to see your review!

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  16. Donna,
    As usual, I'm laughing too hard to type after reading your comment. I promise to do my best to make you proud. Thanks for being so dedicated and bold!

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  17. Cheryl~

    I always have a hard time trying to figure out where to put the darn stickers. I only have two book stores in my area and little time to get to them, but whenever I do, they're happy to have me sign and always invite me to their book signings.

    Congratulations on getting up the guts to approach. That's always the hardest part.

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  18. Cheryl, you absolutely crack me up! I could hear you speaking every word of your fabulously fun blog - and I loved it! Cracked me up several times, especially your comments about Lance! LOL! You must let us know if you ever meet him and what the face is to go with that name. Parents can be so cruel!

    I always wonder the same thing when I see lots vs. few books on the shelf. Probably a good thing I have no bookstores in close proximity or I am sure my possessed car would be taking me there too often! Of course, some of that it to replenish my reading supply as well. But not mostly. :)

    Cindy and I had a great book signing this past weekend, but I am still not brave enough to do one by myself. I know I would be sitting there like a smiling lump. *sigh* I DO sign my books when I am in a store, however. Getting really brave about that! I carry my stickers with me now. And I have no shame in turning my novels, and all of my Sourcebooks pals, cover out!

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  19. Maybe that's what I'm waiting for, Robin--an invitation. Don't think I'm gonna get it though. Guess I'll have to get gutsier.

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  20. It's that smiling lump thing that has me bugged too, Sharon. I have this feeling that I'll sit there smiling... and smiling... and smiling....
    You get the idea.

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