Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stocking Books

So it's been awhile, much longer than I would have liked, since I've made a post. Without going all livejournal-ly on you, my life has been crazy, between trying to find a new apartment, health, my two jobs, and my book coming out.

My book did come out (no, I won't tell you what it is). And it did well. Went to second printing in the first week of publication. It's not gonna be on a bestseller list, but nobody's really on a bestseller list. But, healthy sales, beyond expectations, and books 2 and 3 in the series are in contract negotiations.

One of the little-known facets of publishing houses is that nobody actually knows what they're doing. A lot of guesswork is involved in every stop in the process. In my case, the publishing house (no, I won't tell you which one) had a good idea that my book would do better than the others on its list in that genre coming out at the same time, but still underestimated the demand, as did the buyers at B&N and Borders and whatnot. Some of this is the company's fault, for not pushing the book enough at the buying meeting. Some of it is the buyer's fault, but buyers have a really hard job and I'm a first-time author, so I'm surprised they bought as many as they did.

Unlike magazine publishing, where they'll happily print 1000 extra copies than lose a single sale, bookstores don't really like to be overstocked. The books take up space and cost money to ship back to the publishing houses when they don't sell. So it's a guesstimate. The problem is, when the book sells out and they put in for reorder (or they get low and put in for reorder), the order takes a good week to fill at best. Books take awhile to be printed, so if the publisher is clean out, you know, whoops. Which means a lost sale, because people are less likely to buy if it has to be ordered for them, and of course casual browsers aren't going to see it if it's not on the shelf in the first place.

Technically there is a policy that bookstores aren't supposed to stock the book until the actual publication date, which was never a solid date but at some point was September 1st and at another point was September 8th. Only the local bookstore in my hometown, which ordered a whole ONE copy, had it in stock but was unwilling to admit it until my mom told them I was the author, and then they were unwilling to sell it to her because it was August 29th at the time. The reason she'd gone there, other than out of interest, was that it HAD been in the closest Barnes and Noble and all 8 copies sold within a few days, so she didn't have a copy of her daughter's book.

What actually happened was the publishing house shipped the books out in a "staggered" form mid-August, and B&N, Borders, and Amazon decided to just start sellin' and filling orders. No reason to waste space in the storage room. I actually found out my book was on-sale around August 20th because someone emailed me to say they had gotten an email that their Amazon pre-order had shipped early (mine hadn't). So I went to the local B&N and damn, there it was. I have to say, I was very composed. The shouting for joy was minimal. I blame my heavy medication. Stupid dampening of emotions to prevent severe depression.

An amusing thing happened, which was suddenly the publishing thought it might be a good idea to do some publicity for the book, seeing as how it was doing so well within its little niche genre, or at least better than the other books on their list. So they called me up and were like,"So do you want to do a book signing?"

"Have you ever tried to schedule a book signing in Manhattan?"

"No." (this particular publicist hadn't)

"Well, I'm not a former President or Richard Dawkins, so good luck."

The blog tour thing is going very well, though. Basically we sent review copies to a bunch of bloggers who review books, and some of them offered to interview me, and I wrote answers to their questions. It's a bit difficult after the 5th interview or so to keep the material fresh, because there's only so many ways to answer the question, "So why did you decide to write about ___?" But since it's the internet, I figure some people are going to be surfing around and reading multiple websites, so I ought to say something different if I can. I came THIS close to talking about my sword collection. THIS CLOSE. What stopped me is that it's not a very impressive collection. Only one is folded steel and it's only apprentice quality.

I will be back to answering questions soon, as this apartment search thing clears up for me. That or my head will explode from the state of the New York real estate market, and I won't be answering questions.

24 comments:

Susan said...

Good GOD...you didn't give your mother an ARC, or pre-order her a copy? She's roaming the streets looking for one?

*sigh* Kids these days.

(CONGRATULATIONS and good luck!!!)

The Rejecter said...

I didn't get any ARCs and my author copies didn't come until ... well, a few days ago. She actually had the book before I did.

inherwritemind1 said...

Wow! I'm so happy for you. Thanks for sharing your journey. Best of luck with everything.

Tena

Etiquette Bitch said...

rejecter: congrats, and great to have you back. inspiring to hear your story!

Kim Kasch said...

Congrats on the book doing so well. It all sounds so exciting.

cindy said...

congratulations on your debut! can you expand a bit on numbers? is the publisher telling you how well it's doing and the reordering? i didn't think they kept a novelist so abreast on these things?

also, it's so heartening to hear you are selling beyond expectations. congrats!

The Rejecter said...

I asked the editor and she told me - 8000 for the first edition and 3000 for the second. We're probably on third or fourth now, as it's still sold out in a bunch of places (like Amazon.uk), but she's not going to tell me THAT right now, while we're in contract negotiations for books 2 and 3. Because then I might do something crazy like ask for more money.

sylvia-rachel said...

Yay for your book! Mazal tov! :D

Marsupialus said...

What a curious position for you to be in. Here you have a blog with a good deal of traffic but because of your vow of anonymity, you can't promote your book. So you lose all the PR potential. Unlike a Mark Sarvas who is right there in front of all of us, using his Elegant Variations blog as an integral part of the PR effort on behalf of "Harry. . ."

Anonymous Gimp said...

Congratulations on the book! I'm sad you won't fill us in on which one it is, but I hope I stumble across it in my own search for the perfect novel to read this year.

-Josh

Melanie Avila said...

Congratulations! How exciting for you!

LindaBudz said...

Congratulations! And, definitely go for more money!

Mommy C said...

I'd tell you it's time for your daily affirmation, but hell, I don't go in for that crap myself. Congratulations! You've come out of the gates strong and many books don't hit a best seller list (however they determine them) for a few years. " A Time to Kill" had to wait for one or two more books. And sounds like you've got the deals wrapped up.

I am actually relieved to hear why you haven't been blogging ( not for the reasons you mentioned- I hope all goes well). I have a very negelected book review blog, calling my name right now, but after having a major health scare and a life changing surgery (but not the kind they make movies about), not to mention revision after revision for my dream publisher (in the middle of the entire drama), I am so spent.

I'm glad you're back. Enjoy your achievements! Get well! And kiss your mom for being such a fan! Now, I've got some books to read. If you're back in the game, I guess I'd better get off my butt.

Anonymous said...

One of the little-known facets of publishing houses is that nobody actually knows what they're doing. A lot of guesswork is involved in every stop in the process.

It's not "little-known" at all. Every one of us is all too well aware of it.

Doreen Orion said...

Big fat congrats to you! I especially had to laugh as I also didn't give my mother an ARC. And, because I got such a paltry number of author copies, I didn't give her one of those, either. So, she had to order hers on Amazon. Since they didn't ship until the pub date, she went to Borders and bought a copy (after, of course, letting everyone know she was the mother of the author).

I kinda wish I'd given her an ARC.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Kudos on the release and success. Hope for same with your apt. hunting.

Bernie said...

Congratulations.

cindy said...

rejecter, that is SO AWESOME! congrats! and you have an agent right? cause s/he can ask for more money?? GOOD LUCK!!!

writtenwyrdd said...

Congrats to you on the sales and the 2nd and 3rd books in negotiation! That's awesome.

I gather you write genre. I hope it's sf or fantasy because then I'll probably get to read you, especially if it's got vampires (and I know you love FK so the odds seem pretty good). Even if I don't get to read you, it's nice thinking I might.

Jill Corcoran said...

CONGRATS!!!
It is always great to beat expectations. Now they'll never underestimate you again, right?
Here's to a 10th printing and more!

BTW, thanks for sharing your journey with us.

Londoner said...

Congratulations! Oh, I wish I knew which book it was so I could buy it!

You have a sword collection? Kewl. I only have a wooden practice sword and a shinai. (Oh and LARP weapons, which probably don't really count). Does this mean you write fantasy? Hmmm...a clue....

AJ said...

How about book signings in the boroughs? I went to a lovely little one in Park Slope for a first-time author and a book I hadn't read, and I actually bought the book because of it (as a haunter of libraries and friend to publishing folk, I generally avoid handing over any cash for my story gorging). Couldn't hurt at least. ^_^

But congrats and good to see you again!

Maria said...

Big Congrats!!!!

Niteowl said...

Wow, as a lurker I have to say it's incredibly frustrating to not know the name of your novel so I can pick it up right quick.

But, hey, congrats! Sounds like it's selling like gang-busters.