An open letter to Barnes & Noble and the CEO Mr. Ronald Boire:
Four years ago when I first started in the publishing industry I sent a submission to the small press department for my first novel. With it I sent reviews, newspaper articles, marketing, book specs and a beautiful hardback edition of the book.
I was with a small publisher, met all the requirements and I was hoping to be considered for shelf placement.
I was turned down with a form response that basically came down to “we don’t do self-pub”. While I was disappointed that it was clear no one really took the time to read the submission because it stated clearly my book was not self-published, I took it in stride.
I knew I had to earn my “stripes” in the industry. I had to work my way up and expecting anything such as shelf placement in BN stores for a first novel was basically just a hope.
Five years later, with nearly thirty novels under my belt, I sent another submission.
This submission was for #Nerd, the first book in my popular contemporary romance Hashtag Series. I’ll be frank, my ultimate dream when I first started in this business was to see my books on your shelves. I still remember the feeling of walking through your aisles, gazing at all the beautiful books with a coffee in my hand and being awed at all the possibilities.
Having worked in this business for about five years now I admit, this dream became chipped away at. I’ve seen, quite frankly, the snobbery that comes from your large corporate world. I told myself it was fine if I never made it to your shelves because my books were popular and doing very well.
Then something happened. I was tagged in a picture on social media. #Nerd was sitting on the shelves at a BN on an end cap along with several other popular Independently published books. This came courtesy of some really awesome managers at one of your stores. It was awesome. The original dream of seeing something like that came back to me, and in some regard I remembered why I started in this business to begin with.
I took a chance, a long shot and put together another package. Inside I slipped detailed information of my book including the type of binding, shelf life, wholesaler discount and distributor.
I’d like to note that when I began publishing on my own many years (after leaving the small press) ago I went to the extra hassle and expense of getting an account approved via Ingram (Lightning Source) so that my books were in your catalogues and viable for ordering on the chance someone might want them for your stores.
Also, in that packet I included reviews, average rating, marketing details, and every single format my book was available in. My book is professionally edited, award winning and has a standout cover designed by a designer who already has covers sitting on your shelves. I also included the information that #Nerd has a professionally produced live action book trailer with over fifteen thousand views and a lot of buzz.
I outlined the many signings I attend to promote myself and noted my social media accounts including my sizable Facebook page with almost seventy thousand likes.
With that I included a paperback of my novel and a print out of the photo of it sitting on one of your end caps.
Honestly, I never expected to be accepted. I never thought I would be considered but I hoped. I saw that image of my book on the end cap of a large BN and it felt good.
I got a form letter in the mail today. A rejection. I will say, it was a much friendlier rejection than the one I received four years ago.
But it was no less condescending.
. . . .
When will the stigma of independent books ever fade with your company? When will it stop becoming an exclusive club and allow for good books to be recognized?
Frankly, I’m offended and angry on behalf of not only myself but all independent authors.
Yes, there are millions of books published every year. Not all of them are good. The easy use and accessibility of publishing online today makes lots of people think they can write a book.
However. There are a lot of independent authors out there who are damn good at what they do. There are professionals. There are people that work and work hard for their name and career.
What is it about us that makes you look away?
Are you afraid you’ll make the big six with all their money angry if you clear off even one shelf for some independent books?Are you certain that your exclusive choice of titles in your stores are the absolute cream of the crop?
. . . .
I would wager some of my books probably outsell some of the ones you stock on your shelves. That doesn’t mean by any means those books don’t deserve to be where they are, they do.
But mine do too.
. . . .
No, my books aren’t screened through agents and publishers.
You know who screens my books? You know who deems them worthy? YOUR customers, the readers. I have average ratings, sales and demand to back it up.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a reader ask me why they can’t get my book on your shelves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard readers say they wished they could pick up their favorite indie authors book off your shelves.