Today, I made my first attempt to connect with a major bookstore to organize a launch event…and failed miserably.
I spoke with the events coordinator, who was extremely polite, at my local Barnes and Noble about what steps we would need to take to set up a book signing event/book launch party.
The coordinator cut me off almost as soon as I had begun and quickly asked for the publisher’s information. I supplied the necessary details and continued to explain that the book was available through the Barnes & Noble website. She typed the information into her database and responded with a polite smile. “I’m sorry, but it is against corporate policy to host an event when unsold stock cannot be returned to the publisher.”
Puzzled, I replied that we had participated in multiple events at other bookstores without hassle. I also told her that we would bring our own stock and take care of our own sales if necessary.
By this point, the battle had already been lost. “That’s also against corporate policy,” she said with the same smile. “But if you change publishers any time soon, please feel free to contact us again and see if we can set something up later. I hope you have a nice day.”
Clearly dismissed, I thanked her for taking the time to speak with me and left the store. On the drive back home, I turned the events over in my mind. Kate had warned me about the prejudices she had encountered in the past as an independent author but this was the first time that I had been shut down so completely.
Curious, I called some of the other major chain bookstores in the area and received the same information. If you’re not with a major publisher then they can’t host an event.
I’m now focusing on independent bookstores and book festivals/conventions for other stops on Kate’s 2015 book tour. I will add this experience to my professional life lessons and take it all in stride. Still, I can’t help but wonder if the presence of independently published novels on the shelves of major bookstores would make much of a difference to our reading culture.