Today was an intense day in the self-publishing business. I was awakened by the auto fax at 4:30 am. This told me that a book order was coming in from national wholesaler, Baker & Taylor Books. That seemed like a good start. I opened my email at 7 am to find an order from the other national wholesaler, Ingram Book Group. “Wow”, I thought. “Our efforts to get our second book of the Quincy the Horse series, Quincy Moves to the Desert, out there are beginning to take hold!”
I was so empowered that I decided to take on the task of following up with the buyer at a large bookstore chain to check on the status of our request that the Quincy the Horse Books be carried in retail locations in the Mid Atlantic region, where I now live and where equestrian activities are extremely popular. In addition to pursuing the question of retail placement, I needed to find out why their website was showing our first book, Quincy Finds A New Home, which was released in 2009, with a 5 star rating and ready to ship and a “0 Results” for the new release, Quincy Moves to the Desert.
The buyer’s reply was very confusing. It did not seem to answer my question about the decision on retail placement, and it explained that they wanted to see what the sales were on Book 1 before they decided to make Book 2 available to their customers. I respectfully replied that this seemed self-defeating as all of our current publicity was focused on Book 2; and that it made no sense to have sales of Book 1 be the test of whether to carry Book 2. I even took the risk of pointing out that they really needed to commit to the series or not carry it at all, but that this approach was a set up for failure, theirs’ and ours’. I got a one liner back stating that she would arrange to have a small order placed for Book 2 and that I would be “getting a letter regarding the retail placement decision…”
On the one hand I felt good that I had stood up for the Quincy Books and pointed out the nonsense in their approach to bookselling; but on the other hand, the soon to be received letter she referenced sounded a bit ominous. Maybe things did not sound good for retail placement. This would be a big blow. I tried not to let myself get too down about this but did not really succeed. The chain bookstores are a huge presence., especially in the Mid Atlantic region. I had an upsurge of self-doubt and a rather helpless feeling.
Luckily I was due to do a reading at St. Thomas Church Preschool near my home after lunch. I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to sit in the circle with twelve 4 and 5 year olds as they recited the days of the week, the colors of the spectrum and the alphabet. The school was peaceful and cheerful and the children seemed to reflect the caring and stimulating environment. They welcomed me and sat entranced as I read Quincy Finds A New Home and then joined right in to a discussion on the theme of friendship.
When I got home I decided to mow instead of doing the work on book promotion that was on my afternoon schedule. I turned the horses out in one pasture and mowed away on the other trying to get it done before rain showers arrived. I did not quite make it and before I could get back in the barn I was pretty well soaked. I could feel the pull toward feeling sorry for myself. I went down and called the horses but they were enjoying the refreshing rain after such a humid week and had no desire to come in. There was no thunder or lightening so I went back and cleaned the barn.
As I scooped away at the poop, I started to feel angry instead of down in the dumps. I had a fantasy about running a Facebook ad for readers to buy Quincy Moves to the Desert and having the chain bookstores inundated with orders. It reminded me that anger can be a great motivator. I felt a renewed energy for outreach to independent booksellers who had recently seen Quincy Moves to the Desert displayed at the fall trade shows. I felt determined to sell the books to one bookstore at a time, if necessary, because I believe in them totally.
The whole day reminded me about some things that are really important. For me they are: having a passion and following it with all my heart , doing something the right way; persistence in the face of disappointment and trying new ideas. These are helpful in life but they are absolutely necessary in the self-publishing business.