Hey there! I hope you caught Part 1 of this blog series last week. If not, scroll back. You’ll find my first three Publishing Expectations vs Reality thoughts there with an explanation of how this blog topic came to be.
Expectation 4: My book will be stocked in every bookstore and library everywhere.
Maybe your book will be stocked in bookstores & libraries. Maybe it won’t. It depends on each bookseller/ library’s buyer, and the efforts of your publisher’s sales team. It also depends on the word-of-mouth and social media buzz surrounding your book. If you sign with a small publisher, shelf placement may happen for your book but possibly not. And even if you sign with a Big Five publishing house, their efforts on your book’s behalf may not be what you hope they will be and not enough to get your book every place you imagine.
I was thrilled to see that Spin the Golden Light Bulb and Flip the Silver Switch were stocked locally in my city when they first released. I was also shocked and so excited to see that it was placed in various bookstores and libraries across the country. But the reality was that it was sporadic. For example, they seemed to be stocked all over Chicago, Colorado, Florida, and Idaho, but not NYC. I live in Upstate, NY so that was a surprise to me. I learned pretty fast to be grateful to any bookseller or library that stocked it!
The pandemic has affected bookstores in a big way. Many are focusing on big name titles and not stocking books from small and mid-size publishers. I can attest to this. I’ve noticed a big difference in the number of places that put Pop the Bronze Balloon on their shelves when it released in November of 2020. Since then, it seems that booksellers are willing to purchase the books for their warehouses, but not necessarily place them on their shelves. I hope this changes in the future but the reality is, not every book will get a spot on the shelf.
Expectation 5: My book signings and launch parties will be packed with a throng of fans!
Well, it depends. I had close to a hundred people at my first book launch party and a whopping twelve people at my second. The third happened during the pandemic so I celebrated its launch at home signing books for my family! Many of my writing friends have had similar experiences.
Regular book signings for me have been all over the place in terms of numbers. So, yours could be packed. Or you could be sitting at your table by yourself the whole time. I’ve experienced both! But more likely you will have some signings where you meet 30-40 people, some with 10-15 people, or some events where you chat with other authors and the bookseller for two hours straight because no one stops by your table. But don’t despair! If you approach book signings as a way to meet even one person who loves books like you do, you won’t be disappointed. Besides, the pictures you take of your signing table, your book, and the bookstore will give you content to share on social media! And that’s something, right?
Expectation 6: Schools will be begging me to do author visits!
I was under the assumption that somehow, schools would all magically know that a new published author had been born! I truly thought I would be contacted by schools all over to present in my debut year. In reality, I was contacted by a few schools to do free author visits or to do bookstore signings in conjunction with their school’s fundraiser. I was grateful for all of those events because they gave me experience and connected me with readers. However, I wish I had known earlier the importance of reaching out and making connections with local schools. It takes time to build a network and to create a worthwhile school visit presentation so don’t expect that it will happen the second your book releases. It’s like any other business in that regard. But, if school visits are your priority and you have a message that schools are interested in, they can happen eventually. Just don’t expect that you will be in high demand as an author overnight!
And… that’s it for today. I hope I haven’t discouraged you yet! I’ll have more publishing expectations vs reality topics to share next week. I hope you’ll stop back. Just remember, publishing a book IS a big deal and a magical, worthwhile experience. But knowledge is power and I think it helps to know what to expect so that the experience is positive.
Until next time, I hope you have a fantastic week and that it includes all the chase-your-dreams steps you can handle! Because what is life if you’re not dreaming big, right?!
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