So. PSA time.
Every single day I get messages–tweets, fbs, emails, etc–from people letting me know their store doesn’t have my books. Or at least, not all of them.
Sometimes it’s because my book isn’t being published in their country, and then I can apologize (not in my control) and direct them to an awesome site like Book Depository (which ships to dozens of countries for free).
But often it’s that their US store–be it their chain store or their indie–doesn’t carry my books. Or doesn’t carry whichever one of my books they were looking for. Chain stores especially have a time frame during which they carry a new title. It depends on a variety of factors, but one of the biggest is shelf space. YA has a huge turnover, a vast number of new books coming out, and that means they have to make room. Sometimes a new hardcover gets a year on the shelf, sometimes 6 months, sometimes 2-3.
I feel like I’ve been lucky. Each of my books has gotten better bookstore placement. When THE NEAR WITCH first came out, Barnes and Noble only took an average of 2 copies. When THE ARCHIVED came out, it averaged 5-6. When VICIOUS hit shelves a week and a half ago, it had absolutely awesome placement.
But store size is also a huge factor. Even VICIOUS, which has New Arrival placement in big Barnes and Nobles, and New Science Fiction and Fantasy placement in medium stores, is not being shelved in EVERY Barnes and Noble. THE ARCHIVED has lasted 9 months, but is fading from shelves at a rapid rate as the stores make sure to clear their stock before the paperback hits shelves in January.
And indie bookstores are a whole different beast. Since indies place their orders independently–where chain store stock decisions are made in blankets–there’s just no way to guarantee that an author of book gets onto the radar of every indie bookstore. Trust me, if there were a way, I would have found it (so would everyone else in the industry).
Every time I get one of these notes, telling me a store didn’t stock my book(s), it’s like a little punch in the chest. Not just because I WISH that every store had all my books, but because many times people say they bought something else instead, or simply left, instead of requesting it.
Here’s the PSA part:
Authors have NO control over which stores do–or don’t–carry their books.
But YOU, as a reader and a book-buyer, DO have control.
You can ask the store to order it.
If enough people do, a store will often start carrying a couple in stock.
Same goes for libraries. If enough requests and holds get put on a book, they will usually order more copies.
YOU are the way to ensure that the books you want by the authors you want get shelved in stores.
So please, when you want a book from a store, ask the store to order it. They will be happy to. And you’ll put a few years back on my life because every time I get that note, it strips a few days off.