Well, I have proof this blog is actually read by somebody. I’ll get to that in a minute.
The Oklahoma Centennial Book Festival is finally over. So is the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. annual conference. Like I mentioned last time, I had to buy my own books for both events. But, I sold nearly everything I bought and actually turned a profit on the deal.
As is customary at the OWFI conference, the annual contest winners were announced. I won third place in Feature Article for a piece titled “Horror’s Hearth and Home: The Use of Setting in American Gothic Fiction.” I also got an honorable mention in the Sci-fi/Fantasy Horror Short Story category for “God of Discord.” Yeah, it gripes me science fiction, fantasy and horror are lumped together when there are two romance categories and four poetry categories. But, whatever.
Now, about this blog being read. The community relations manager of a local Barnes & Noble came across my blog last week when she was looking for coverage of the Oklahoma Centennial Book Festival. This is the manager who told me B&N couldn’t get my books. She sent me an e-mail to let me know that it wasn’t just B&N that wouldn’t order print-on-demand titles; Borders and Best of Books of Edmond also wouldn’t do it. Well, Best of Books just sucks. That’s simple enough. It’s a snobbish store in a snobbish suburb of OKC.
But Borders? I’ve done signings in Borders stores in Oklahoma City, Norman, Tulsa and Dallas. They’ve never complained about ordering print-on-demand books. Friends have recently bought copies of Shara off the shelf at the OKC Borders … and I haven’t even done a signing for that book in that store.
The only stores where I’ve done signings for Shara are the Borders in Dallas, where I only sold two copies of the large stack they had on hand, Full Circle Books in Oklahoma City and Waldenbooks in OKC. At Full Circle, I only sold one copy (the Friday night before the Oklahoma vs. Texas football game in Dallas, so most of the state was empty) and they returned most of the rest. Since then, all five copies they kept have sold. I sold all but one copy at the Waldenbooks event; I signed the lone unsold copy and they kept it on the shelf.
The B&N manager is deluded. She thinks print-on-demand and self-publishing are the same, evidenced by the fact she kept asking if my contract with the printer specified sellers could return books. This despite the fact I told her repeatedly that I am not the publisher, but that 3F Publications (based in Indiana) had set up its account with Ingram’s distribution to accept returns. But, she just keeps talking about how POD isn’t the revolution people thought it would be. Print on demand is a technology for printing books. Yes, it’s allowed a lot of bad books to be published, but not every book printed with that technology is self-published.
I pointed out to her that her store stocks self-published books by a trustee of the university where I work. Her response? “[The trustee’s] books aren’t self-published. Her husband’s publishing company published them.” Oh. So if my wife had “published” Shara at a local printing company and I had boxes of copies in my garage, B&N would stock the book. That makes all the sense in the world to me.
It’s very likely she’ll find this blog entry. Maybe she’ll even show it to the trustee, who’ll tell my bosses about it. But you know what? I’m at home, on my time, on my computer and frankly don’t give a damn. I have my own suspicions about why I had to provide my own copies at the book festival and they have more to do with the festival Web site than small press publishers.