Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
I’ve been putting together a list of indie bookstores I’d like to approach as purveyors of Town Father, with the idea that I’d send them a copy along with my pitch and hope that they’d agree to stock a few copies.
But here’s what I’ve learned after a little research. If you’ve heard of the bookstore (say The Tattered Cover, Powell’s, or Books Inc.), odds are they are biased against you out of the gate if you’re a self-publisher. Or, more precisely, if you publish via Amazon (and its subsidiary CreateSpace). One store’s honcho has this to say:
Does it matter to you if a book is done through CreateSpace?
It does. We don’t provide shelf space or events for books published under any Amazon imprint—including CreateSpace. We don’t appreciate their business model because we don’t think their model ultimately benefits us and the community.
In other words, They’re mad at Amazon and they’re going to take it out on the indie author. This same rep advises authors to use Ingram Spark (another print-on-demand outfit, run by one of the largest book distributors in the world), which eliminates all the nasty. For the bookseller, that is.
Never mind that just about every indie author I know uses CreateSpace. Never mind that — for the writer — Amazon’s system is the most convenient and the most effective. And never mind that it isn’t the indie author causing trouble for the bookstores; it’s the book-delivery system itself. Yes, Amazon, but also ebooks, have changed the game, and booksellers have had a hell of a time keeping up. Publishers too. They’re stuck in the 1950s.
Another bookstore I love has a consignment program for local authors only, but the program has a caveat that’s almost impossible to avoid. “Don’t mention competing book sellers — brick and mortar or online — inside the covers of the book.” Meaning, if you have an “other books by” section at the back, you can’t cite the Amazon links for them. Too late for me. Both my paperbacks tell readers where they can buy the books.
Duh. Everybody does it, so almost nobody qualifies for consignment there. It almost feels like the store wants to find ways to exclude writers, not embrace them.
I’m pretty peeved at indie bookstores right about now, and I’m not sure it will pay off to waste copies of Town Father on hopeless reach-outs. I get the feeling, too, that if I contact them in advance, the consignment buyers will reject me instantly on hearing “CreateSpace.”
Just another element to all this that makes it seem ridiculously futile.
That said, if you’re in good with your local bookstore, ask ‘em if they’d consider selling a very nice man’s very nice book.