The very first thing The Guide tells me to do is research. Find out what books are being sold, how much they’re going for, who’s publishing and who’s buying. With this information you should be better suited to come up with an awesome, salable story idea. I already have an awesome, salable story idea that’s already been written from start to finish and revised once – so I guess I’m kind of back-pedaling here now, but that’s okay. I don’t think there is any possible way I could write a book, read The Guide, follow The Guide, make it through a full work day and manage my online social life all at the same time. In this case I don’t think it’s such a bad thing that I put the proverbial cart before the proverbial horse. I always did do things sorta backwards anyway. Proverbially.
So, I’ve spent this past week searching for other books about the same subject as mine and writing down how much amazon.com and B&N online are selling them for. Seems like the going rate for paperbacks is right around 7 – 8 bucks. I’ve also clicked on every single book that came up on the first 3 pages for amazon and eagerly scribbled down the names of the publishers. I have a list of 16 publishing companies so far, most of them I had never heard of. 2 of them have since been mentioned in The Guide, so that’s good.
I”m also supposed to go to the bookstore and the library to scope out how many books similar to mine are out there, and to talk to the people who work there about which books are being moved off the shelves (and back on the shelves, then off the shelves, then on the shelves in the case of the library) the most. I have two major issues with this task.
1) I find it hard to believe that the hippies at Barnes and Noble’s are going to be willing and able to just tell me what selling trends they’re seeing and which books they’re choosing to stock and why. Don’t get me wrong, those hippies are super nice and super helpful when I’m trying to find books like Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea, or if I linger near the Nook table too long. But can they divulge the tricks of their trade? I’m not so sure. (And I’m not saying that all people who work at Barnes & Noble’s are hippies, either. Just all the ones that work at the B&N in Denton.)
and B) I fear librarians. It’s true. I have since I was a child. Public Libraries in themselves are creepy. Huge, cavernous, blandly decorated…no public place should be that quiet. And librarians are the harbingers of Shhh! that lurk among the bookshelves. Whatever good was in them has been Dewey Decimalled out.
Maybe I’m being unfair to those of the librarian persuasion but let me just tell you, let me just tell you what happened the last time I visited the Midland County Public Library. I was 18 and it had been probably 10 year since I had been there last. After I found my book about Geoffrey Chaucer I went downstairs to check out. I went up to the only person behind the counter and set my book down. The woman just stood there and stared at me. I stared back. Seconds passed with the two of us in a staring contest and me thinking she would take the initiative to do her job and check the book out to me. But nay.
I finally broke the awkward silence and said, “I’d like to check this out.”
To which she replied with a nasty little smirk, “Good for you.”
I was shocked and offended. What kind of customer service was that?! Had this been a place of business I would have walked out right then, only to return later with an armful of books to have myself a Pretty Woman moment. But I was at the library and I was too frightened to move. Eventually this woman did check out the book with much indignation, but not before she charged me $15.00 for a new library card because I no longer had the one I had been issued when I was 6.
But I suppose it’s high time to put aside my preconceived notions of hippie booksellers and cold librarians, as I have sworn to follow The Guide as closely as possible. My mission is to muster up some courage and go and speak to someone who works in the book world and ask some business questions. But, in the meantime, if you know anyone who sells books or works in a library and you think they’d be willing to share some inside information, please let me know!
On another note, I’m trying to come up with a good posting schedule and I’m thinking one post a week (unless multiple posts are necessary) posted on Sundays. Maybe that will be enough to keep you coming back and even give you something to look forward to. Whatdya think?
Thanks for reading!