FACT: Barnes & Noble is the largest chain of bookstores in the United States. (705 bookstores; 636 college bookstores.)
FACT: Our books will be in very few Barnes & Noble stores on release day, due to unresolved negotiations between Simon & Schuster and B&N.
FACT: This made us shudder, shake, swear, and take an Ativan (Randy) and Rescue Remedy (M.J.).
FACT: According to the ABA, there are about 2500 independent bookstores in the US.
What could two miserable authors do? How could we even begin to make up those sales? Just as important, how could we make up the loss of visibility in 705 bookstores? What would happen when readers browsed and found . . . nothing of ours?
After our version of veni, vidi, vici, we cried (copiously), we drank (somewhat), we ate (prodigiously), we took advantage of our combined puritan work ethics and anxiety-driven personalities and did the following:
1) SHOWING INDIE LOVE
The idea for Indie Love came from a click moment, as we discussed the problem and both said, thank God for the Indies. It struck us how much we can count on them. Thus was born the idea to offer, along with 5 other authors, a Valentine’s Day reward, as thanks for always being there (with a very special shout out to Mark Nichols of the ABA who helped us get the message to the booksellers via the February Red Box.)
2) Counting on friends: 20 BOOKS FROM 20 AUTHORS
In a battle of the titans, nothing–absolutely nothing–beats being in a solid group of writer-friends, especially when that group is the Fiction Writer’s Co-op, a group of 50 authors who support each other., and member, Meg Waite Clayton led the Co-op into a 60-Book Valentine’s Day Giveaway, where readers have an opportunity to win a collection of books we jumped on it.
3) GIVING UP: SUNSHINE, SLEEP, SEX, FUN, (COOKED) FOOD–BASICALLY EVERYTHING EXCEPT AN HOUR OF TELEVISION A DAY
Both of us have spent hours upon hours each day writing essays, contacting independent bookstores, begging friends to spread the word, bombarding social media–all while trying to remain likable. Not sure if we succeeded in that last one.
4) PUTTING OUR TRUST IN OUR AGENTS
In every stage of a writer’s career, we must rely on our agents—in times of crisis, we pray they’re in the bunker with us. In this case, we had Stéphanie Abou and Dan Conaway not just with us, but teaming up together to keep us calm, informed, and from spinning into outer space with ideas such as how about if we use, um, a sandwich board on the subway?
5) PUTTING OUR TRUST IN OUR PUBLISHER
At times like this (our books won’t be in the largest bookstores in the country? ? ?) lashing out would be easy, especially at the bearers of the bad news (our editors Sarah Durand and Greer Hendricks.) It would be even easier to throw up our hands and curse our way into the darkness. Luckily, we do happen to work with (honestly) some of the nicest people in the industry (without exception, the Atria staff, led by publisher Judith Curr, is incredible). So, using lots of deep breaths, lots of mashing down of our natural tendencies towards needing instant solutions, we believed them when they said they were brainstorming, working, finding ideas, examining the ones we sent, and making the problem high priority.
And without taking you behind the door, we can say they are weaving magic as fast as possible.
Which brings us to the final ways we coped:
6) BEING NICE
Along with our novels, we’ve co-authored a guidebook, What To Do Before Your Book Launch where we highlighted advice from Randy’s grandmother, advice that will never steer you wrong:
“Grandma,” I asked on her 97th birthday, “what’s your best advice for life?”
She looked at me, this warm woman who’d never complained about a person in her life (I am not actually certain that she’s my biological grandmother, whereas there is no doubt that I received genetic material from my card-sharking kleptomaniac Grandma) and she said, “Be nice to people.”
If there is better advice for ways to comport yourself while making lemonade, we haven’t yet found it—except this:
7) DRIVING THE MESSAGE HOME
Fact: February 12, The Comfort of Lies & The Book of Lost Fragrances will launch from Atria Books.
Fact: They will be available at all online venues and all independent bookstores.
Fact: Until further notice, due to ongoing negotiations beyond our control, the books will not be available in most Barnes & Noble stores.
Fact: Below are our covers and the links.