Monday, April 21, 2008

good to know

So, I may have spoke to soon when I announced my decision to self-publish. I received a very important piece of information from my twin brother: major booksellers don't like featuring self-published authors and they especially don't like print-on-demand companies. I had thought that because of my "inside connections" (i.e., him), I could get a couple of reading gigs at my hometown (NY) bookstore (I'll not reveal which one or where). And the reason has nothing to do w/personal feelings against self-published writers or reputation or anything like that: it's business. A store can't make money off a self-published author.

In other words, if I go to my local B&N and say, "Hey, I'm a self-published author and I'd like to schedule a reading at your store," then they would have to pre-order a number of books from the print-on-demand company. So let's say they order fifty copies. And let's say that I get a turnout of about twenty people, and of those, ten buy a copy. That's forty copies B&N is stuck with, and they can't send those books back because print-on-demand companies don't accept returns of orders. What's more, if I offer to liquidate the stock, then I'm stuck footing the bill. Further still, if I say, "No problem! I'll bring my own stock!" then they're still not making money because then I'm selling them out of the trunk of my car, so to speak.

Basically, wombmate said that I'd have to promise B&N a smashing turnout and sales, and then deliver on that promise. A really tough sell, especially if the book has just come out and I'm, like, nobody to them.

And great news -- I was able to reserve a seat in published author Zelda Lockhart's publishing "intensive" for this Saturday. So far, I've picked up really good vibes from Zelda, and Jesse said he's heard good things about her workshop, so I'm really excited. And I can bring my self-publishing considerations to her and ask for her feedback and guidance. So I'll keep you posted (literally) on my self-publishing venture.


Stacey Cochran said...

While generally I'd agree with your brother's opinion, I've not had a lot of trouble booking events in North Carolina. But, Elisa, you've seen the events... we usually draw a large crowd.

Most of the time, though, unless you can guarantee a crowd (or can offer some other collateral like filming the event to air on television), few bookstores are going to schedule a solo book event for a self-published author.


P.S. Feel free to just call me Stacey btw. I need all the publicity I can get! lol

The Purple Panda said...

Point well taken, Stacey (now thatwe've been outed!). Obviously, I've seen the turnout at your bookstore events, in both indy and corporately owned bookstores. He's talking about a single author booking an event, like a signing, that promotes one author and one book (such as John Kessel's reading/signing at QRB last week), just as you mentioned.