Friday, April 25, 2008

Adventures in Book Signing

Update: right now, the odds of winning a $25 gift certificate on Amazon are pretty good - I think they're running at about 75%!! Doesn't anyone else out there wanna win? (I do realize that most people do their book shopping over the weekend...) Remember, just enter a comment below at any point before Monday as to where you spied The Department on sale, and voila, you're entered!

Anyway, so I spent the week canvassing NYC and signing stock in just about every bookstore in the city. (I think I missed two of them - apologies to folks who live in Tribeca and/or near the Borders on 32nd and 2nd. Both stores are in way too random places for me to get there.) And for the most part, it was a lovely experience. Booksellers are nearly always happy to have an author pop in, though I suspect in NYC, they're fairly used to it. They're gracious and warm and excited for your book, and try to thoughtfully place the sticker where it won't obscure the title and all of that.

But at one particular store, I had a less than wonderful experience, at least initially. I looked and looked for the book on the front shelves - called co-op space - for which my publisher, Avon, has paid handsomely and for which I am greatly appreciative. But it wasn't there. I approached a bookseller who already seemed annoyed that I asked her for information, despite the fact that she was at the "information" desk. She looked on the computer and told me that yes, they had a lot in stock, but after vaguely looking around for them in the same place that I had, she sort of shrugged her shoulders and was like, "I don't know what to tell you." When I very, very nicely suggested that I *thought* they were supposed to be displayed on the front tables, per my publisher paying for it, she sneered at me (seriously) and said, "That doesn't necessarily happen at our store."


I started to very graciously protest (and was turning beet red in the process), but fortunately, a manager came over and asked if he could help. When aforementioned bookseller explained the situation, the manager directed her to "Cindy."* Aforementioned bookseller then walked up to a woman and asked her who "Cindy" was, and it turned out that this very woman - the one aforementioned bookseller approached - was "Cindy."

*Names changed to protect the innocent.

I sort-of did an internal chuckle and figured this bookseller was new and just trying to disguise her inexperience by being a know-it-all, though, it turns out, she knew, in fact, very little.

Anyway, I proceeded to the top floor, where I found 15 copies, and where another lovely, lovely bookseller rushed over to me, just as I was grabbing them to sign, to tell me that he had been directed to move them downstairs to the front table as soon as I signed them.

So - moral of the story? Speak up! Ask! Even if it's embarrassing, and you wonder if you're in the wrong! I'm sure that this isn't the only store which had inadvertently tucked the book away in the back, but I'm glad that at the very least, I remedied this one situation.

And, I should say, these lessons are certainly not just limited to my book signing experiences! You all know that here at Ask Allison, I encourage asking questions - even if you think they're silly - so if you have one about the way things work in our crazy industry, don't be shy! Post them in the comments section or email me directly. I'm always happy to try my best to help.

And in the meantime - enter into my contest!! Don't forget to spy the book this weekend at your local bookstore - or request it from your seller if they don't have it - and then come back here and post about it! (Or even better, send me a pic, and I'll post it on the blog!)

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Spy!

So I ran around the city yesterday signing stock and am headed out to sign more today. I figure that this is one easy, if tiring way, to try to make a little dent in the competitive book market...maybe if someone sees the "autographed copy," she'll be more likely to pick up the book to read the back, and from there, buy it. And, as we all know, stats show that autographed copies do sell well.

Another thing I've noticed, just from email feedback, is that people are DEFINITELY more inclined to buy a paperback vs. hardcover. Before I got serious about supporting author friends, I remember feeling this way too, but I'd sort of forgotten about it, to be honest. But yeah, it's a much easier sell this time around. TIME OF MY LIFE is coming out in hardcover, but my publisher is doing a super-big push with it, and I feel confident that with their backing, I won't have to plead with my personal email address book to ensure sales! LOL! A lot of authors like the prestige of being published in hardcover but in terms of pure sales, there is zero doubt in my mind that paperback is an easier route, at least for the unproven writer.

So we're still keeping this contest going all week - don't forget! To recap: post where you spotted the book - I saw it on the front shelves at two Barnes and Nobles and one Borders, all on the Upper West Side of NYC - and you'll be entered for the chance to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate! So come on and post!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Where's Waldo? And I'm Giving Away Stuff!

Or, in this case, where's The Department?

So, in case you're just tuning in, today marks the release of the paperback of The Department of Lost and Found! The always awesome Trish Ryan, whose own book is out NEXT WEEK (more on that next week!), was cool enough to email me yesterday to say that not only did she spot the book in the Borders at the Detroit airport (which is so awesome because those stores take a limited selection, and to be honest, I never thought mine would be among them!), but she proceeded to snap a picture of it, and in doing so, nabbed the interest of two shoppers and convinced them to BUY IT!! Yes, Trish is a rock star.

Which got me to thinking...

Because I live in NYC and am not capable of teleporting, I obviously can't spy the book out and about the country. So...let's play a little game here at Ask Allison. Let's all rush out to the bookstores (yes, right now!), and come back here and post where you saw the book. If you can snap a picture and send it to me, even better! In return, I'll randomly choose four people who post their results and reward them with $25 gift certificates to Amazon...which, if you're doing the math, means essentially, that you'll make a profit on purchasing the book! (Should you choose to purchase it, that is.)

So, to recap: spot the book at your local store, snap a pic (if possible), post about where you saw it/the experience, and enter to win a gift certificate! I'll put all the names in a hat and draw from there, and I'll let this run through the end of the week.

Who's in? This should be fun!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pre-Game Day

So tomorrow, I'm hoping that you'll all bum rush your local bookstore and pick up a copy of the paperback edition of The Department of Lost and Found. I know that a lot of people don't like to buy hardcover books, especially from unknown writers, but most folks are willing to splurge on the $14 paperback ($11 on Amazon!!), so I hope that you will too! (And please spread the word far and wide, via blog, email or just plain old word of mouth.)

Publishing is an interesting business, which I've surely noted before. And what many non-authors don't realize is that the first two weeks (or so) of your book's release can make or break its success. So when the hardcover came out, I implored all of my friends to plunk down their credit cards asap, but a lot of them looked at me blankly and didn't really get the urgency. Here's the thing though: your publisher places all of its cards (and co-op money) into those first few weeks. If the book sells well, they'll continue to support it, and if it does so-so, then that support goes out the window and moves on to some other author who will pin all of his or her hopes on those first critical two weeks all over again.

I recently emailed with best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson, who has written, among other things, the fabulous The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, to let her know that I'd be picking up a copy of her book, and she emailed me back right away, thanking me for purchasing it "the first week," because, to paraphrase her, "we all know how much that first week matters." This is coming from a huge best-selling author, so it seems that no one is immune from these concerns.

Interesting stuff, right?

All of this is a very long-winded way of me imploring you to head out tomorrow or stop by Amazon and pick up a copy!