Monday, September 27, 2010

Why Aren't They In The Stores? she screamed.

Writers face a lot of challenges. One is getting their books in bookstores. That hit home with me these past few weeks when I searched for two authors I want to read. I’ve searched three stores in downtown Houston, and five bookstores in Lake Charles and Lafayette. It’s downright hair-pulling for me when I want a book immediately and can’t find it, so I know it has to be frustrating for all you authors who are trying to gain name recognition. I recently read a quote by a very wise person called Anonymous: Beauty is in the eye of the sales rep. Keep up the hard promo work, gang. A lot isn't nearly enough.

And I guess that's what bothers me about small publishing houses. Yet, today, this day and time, it's not only the authors from small publishing houses that struggle to get their books in stores. What's the answer? How do we let readers know we're alive and well and living/writing/selling our books in Louisiana ... or Alabama ... or Mississippi ... or any other state? How do we get our books in stores? I know bookstores don't want to order anything they can't return. I don't even have a book to promote so I'm taking it on myself to worry for the rest of you. :) Actually, I got quite discouraged on your behalf searching for the four books I want to read. I wanted to tear my hair and scream:


I know I can order from Amazon or from the publisher, but I like walking into bookstores and finding what I want. I used to love sales racks but now they look threatening. I look at the huge bins of half-price books and feel scared about the future of publishing as well as the future of our bookstores. I went to our local library today and saw books less than three years old being purged from the shelves to make room for new purchases. Something about that seems ridiculous to me. It's like we're on speed dial. We may run out of shelf space but what happens when we run out of trees. These purged hardbacks are being sold for fifty cents or three for a buck. What's happening? And when's it going to end?

I don't like it. It doesn't make me want to sit down to write a 75,000 word book. It brought back memories of how my little category romance hit the shelves and within a blink of an eye disappeared, never to be mentioned again.

So, what's your answer. Beef up promotion? How? Take publishing into your own hands? And then what? Is there any money to be made in writing any more? How? Should we even worry about getting our books in bookstores?

As you can see, I have a lot of questions but no answers. And it's possible I know just enough to be dangerous. :) I do know that for the past two weeks, I've searched for a couple of award winning books by a small press and couldn't find them anywhere. I also searched for a couple of mysteries by a traditional publisher and they weren't in bookstores either.

I guess the big lesson here is that a writer really has to have a love for writing to keep at it, huh?
And I don't like speed dial.


KarenG said...

Well, I could say that the bookstores are dying but somehow I don't think that will make you feel any better either.

Charles Gramlich said...

You've put a lot of my own fears into words. For those of us who are unknowns, ceasless promoting is a necessity, but even that doesn't seem to help much. It is really not an easy job to be an artist of any kind, certainly not in today's economy. I only hope to hang on until things improve.

Angie Kay Dilmore said...

There are five bookstores in Lake Charles?

Jess said...

Karen, you're right. Don't tell me. :)

Charles, things are gonna improve?

Angie, I believe I said 5 bookstores in LC AND Lafayette. Hoping anyone who read would understand. Actually there are 4 in LC if you don't count those in MB or Sulphur. And then we could get really specific and count Target, the two WalMarts and KMart--they all have pretty good book sections. :)

Carole said...

And I think, do I really care. I like writing but I do not like self promotion. I love reading good books but I walking in the park with my grandchildren. I don't need any more gray hairs trying to fight against a system that is designed to make a person feel like a bullet to the brain would feel warm and fuzzy. So who knows? Maybe for me letting go is the answer.