Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Publicity Terrible Tale #14: A Fright at the Fest

From Sally Nemeth, Book Promotion 101 workshop alumnus & author of The Heights, the Depths, and Everything in Between:

All in all, my very first book festival went pretty well. I met many wonderful authors and illustrators, and that's always a blast. It was this state's very first book fest as well, and their Center for the Book did a lovely job, and things ran smoothly, except...

THEY DID NOT HAVE MY BOOKS. None. Nada. Zilch. Zip.

I'd come clear across the country for this book festival and there were NO BOOKS.

This was NOT the organizers' fault, but was the fault of the Big Bookseller, who had been contracted to do the onsite book sales. The manager of Big Bookseller told me some incomprehensible story about a mixup at the warehouse where my books, which he swears had been ordered, were shipped back to Random House by mistake. Big Bookseller discovered this mixup Thursday p.m., said they couldn't get the books drop-shipped to them on Friday, and somehow it didn't occur to them to have the books drop-shipped directly to the fest on Saturday a.m. Huh?

The terrific organizers of the fest, who by the way were NOT informed by Big Bookseller that they didn't have my books, went into action and immediately got on the phone, calling every bookstore in the state. They were going to gather stock and have it sent by courier to the fest, which might have been a good solution since we discovered the "no books dilemma" at 11 a.m. and my presentation was not until 2:15.

However--and this is somehow even MORE disturbing to me--there were no books to be had instate. None in stock. The fest had placed a nice, big, front-page Arts Section feature article on me in the Sunday paper, since my book is, in fact, set in that very state. So either the article caused a buying frenzy, and EVERY other bookseller instate had sold out of my book, OR the books were never instate to begin with.

Luckily, I did have a BIG stack of book cards, which I put in the book sale tent so people could at least have info on the book, and I always carry bookplates with me, so I signed bookplates for people after my presentation. But it was somehow like kissing your cousin. [Such a good girl! This is exactly what I say to do in my workshops--except for kissing your cousin.]

Anyway, I'm sure this isn't the first time this has happened to an author at a book festival [sure isn't!], and I'm sure it won't be the last, but it's the first and last time it's gonna happen to me. Because from here on in, I'm traveling with at least a case of books, no matter how far I've got to schlep 'em!

This definitely goes down on the "live & learn" list!


Anonymous said...

And this has to do with publicity how?????????? Sounds like you should start a SALES terrible tale section to me. It always amazes me at how many authors cannot distinguish between sales, marketing, promotions, and publicity - which are 4 very different and very seperate functions and even departments at publishing houses.

Sam said...

Oh dear.
It happened to me too.
Luckily I had two publishers at the convention, and one had brought the goods, so to speak, so I wasn't sitting in front of an empty table.
But my other publisher (who trucked their own books to the convention) Had left mine at the warehouse.
But to be fair to them, they were Very sorry, and gave me a free ad in a trade magazine to use with my next book.

Kerry Madden said...

Oh Sally, Sally, Sally. That sucks. It's a lesson for us all!!! Thank you for this wonderful post.