(This just in from a YA author who, for obvious reasons, wishes to remain anonymous.)
Prior to my publication date, I wisely took Book Promotion 101 and got Bella's handy dandy packet o' info. In that packet was the hilarious poem "The Book of My Enemy has Been Remaindered," which made me laugh aloud because I was sure that such a thing would NEVER happen to me.
Oh, how wrong I was.
But first, let me recap what the publicity department at my publisher did for me. They sent my book to reviewers. As far as I can tell, that's about it.
The book was universally well reviewed, and was placed on an important annual reading list for teachers and librarians nationwide. Not bad for a first-timer.
Beyond sending the book out to reviewers, I'm not sure what my publicity person did because I couldn't get anything else out of her. I tried to be helpful, I asked if there was anything I could do--if they wanted a bio or photo or anything, but they didn't seem open or receptive to that.
So I took the hint, and did else myself, including booking appearances at numerous book festivals, setting up signings and school visits, getting newspaper articles, teen targeted web reviews and NPR interviews and, of course, doing the things I knew I'd be doing myself anyway, like printing up book cards, and getting my website up and running.
My first book fest was an inhouse publicity eye opener. I booked myself into this fest which was in the state where the book I wrote is set. A no-brainer, if you ask me. Because my book was set instate, there was a feature article on me in the Sunday arts section of the newspaper.
I contacted my inhouse publicity person well in advance of the fest and made sure she knew it was happening so she could alert the regional sales rep to see that all went well. She congratulated me and assured me that everything would be fine. Weeks later, I contacted her again to give her the newspaper article and to remind her of the festival dates. Once again, congratulations and assurances. I figured all was right with the world.
Then I arrived at the fest. No books. None. Nada. Zip.
Luckily, having taken Book Promotion 101, I was prepared with book cards and book plates to sign for the many people who would have bought my book if they could have. When I returned from the fest, I contacted my publicity person and told her that the fest was wonderful, except...well, that pesky little detail: no books.
Her reply? I should have told her I was doing the fest so she could have been sure that books would be there for me.
Like a far too polite trouper, I refrained from forwarding her the entire chain of emails between us about the fest, and assured her that next time, by golly, I'd absolutely tell her where I'd be appearing and when.
Without going into any more gory detail, this is the rest of what happened between me and my inhouse publicity department. I set up more appearances. I contacted my publicist. My calls didn't go through and my emails started bouncing back. She'd left the house, I hadn't been informed and had, in fact, been without a publicity person for weeks.
I was assigned her former assistant. Another book fest came and went with NO BOOKS. Emails began to bounce back from the former assistant. She too had left the house.
I was assigned another assistant. She cheerfully returned emails, and made sure my books were at the next fest, though by that time there was little else she could do for me, although I asked. My title was now over a year old and the house had written me off.
A couple months later, the house remaindered my book, and offered me copies at deep, deep discount: $1.49 a copy. I promptly ordered 300 copies, since I figured I'd been handselling the book anyway and might as well continue to do so.
Then, mere DAYS after my book was remaindered, it was nominated for a state book award. With this award, the state puts forth a master list of titles, students throughout the state have a full year to read books from the list and then vote on their favorite. Of course, students have to be able to GET the book to READ IT. A conundrum, no?
Also, I've been told by an author I know who won this state award last year, that being on the master list generates lots of school visits and book sales, and that most books on state awards lists are at least two years old; it takes that long for books to filter through librarians and teachers. My book was a full quarter shy of two years old. Prematurely remaindered, methinks.
My agent asked my editor if the house was keeping books in stock through their own website so students from this state could at least order it from the house. Three weeks have passed. As yet, we've had no reply.
To add insult to injury, the day the 300 copies of my book arrived at my house, the FedEx guy knocked at my door and told me to sign for delivery of a pallet loaded with 25 boxes of books that was dropped at the end of my driveway because, and I quote, "It's a curbside delivery. You want me to break up the pallet? It's another $75 bucks."
Luckily I have a hand truck, a healthy back, and an attic that's high & dry.
So, the book is for sale on my website, I've donated copies to a teen readers website for a monthly contest, I'm doing a summer event at a local bookstore as part of a teen readers series and I'll handsell the book and, generally, I'm pretty sanguine about the whole thing now.
And I'm sure that, in time, I'll laugh at "The Book of my Enemy has been Remaindered," again. But not just yet.