Stuck: Is the DIY Scaring Them Off?

"So you are in Ingram’s?," they ask, as if it’s some kind of legitimizing checkpoint in order to go any further. Because if the book wasn’t listed, like there’s no possible way in a million years they would even take this conversation any further.

[Publetariat Editor’s note: strong language after the jump.]

There is no veritable "indie" brotherhood from which an author can establish a relationship with indie bookstores. I can’t breeze in and ask them to carry my book, just because they’re independent and I’m independent. Ok, good enough, they have to read it first. Fine. Makes enough sense. But how can I afford to send out potentially hundreds of promo copies? Why can’t my synopsis be good enough? Is it because I’m the author walking into the bookstore and that is too accessible?

Is the D.I.Y scaring them off?  All this time I’ve been poo-pooing those statements by certain twitter detractors that author accessibility is always a good thing, especially for no-names like me. Is it possible though, that bookstore owners are uncomfortable with the author walking in with a copy of the book and asking them to carry it?  So, is the D.I.Y. scaring them off? They want a little more professionalism, anonymity?

I had these beautiful, glossy 4×6 postcards with the cover on one side and the synopsis/backflap copy and ISBN info on the back. How much money am I going to piss away by doing a mass mailing to selected indie bookstores throughout the country?

But what is their risk in carrying something no one’s ever heard of? Is it shelf space? I can understand that. They have to make a buck, and the real estate in these small spaces carries a premium for titles that will sell with a profitable margin.

But 29 Jobs and a Million Lies is slim. It’s got a nice cover, really, it does. What’s the risk? Just take a chance on me. I’ll promote the book the best I can, and I’ll do a reading at one of your events, even on a regular basis.

I need to bring my following, you say? I have a following if I don’t have an opportunity to sell my book locally? Ahh, that independent Catch-22. The onus is on me to cultivate that following, even if it’s friends who I’ll have to drag to these readings and events. Friends do not always equal Fans, though they can overlap.

I’ve learned that the Twitter "following" numbers do not equate to sales, or even real "fans." So how do I cultivate a local following who will trail me to these events and boost up attendance at coffee-house readings? Really–how? Because I can’t get the Ocean County Library or the Middletown Library to return my calls inquiring about carrying the book and doing a reading.

I’m willing to do it all. I’m a little stuck now.

On the positive side, the local arts paper has agreed to do a profile (I’ll be whoring that right here soon) on me so I guess I can use that to get in the door at a few of these joints.

Right? That’ll un-stuck me?

(Oh my god, my first post without a "fuck".)

Thanks, as always, for reading.

This is a cross-posting from Jenn Topper‘s Don’t Publish Me! blog.

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