I've been debating all weekend whether to talk about this online or not. There's sometimes a feeling in publishing that it's better to keep quiet about the big, bad news. But this is bigger than me, and other people are talking about it publicly...
...and honestly, it's affecting me so much, it's just too hard to stay quiet right now.
This Saturday I saw the New York Times article Barnes and Noble/Simon & Schuster Dispute Said to Hurt Sales. Later in the day, a high-up Simon & Schuster executive also linked to that post from his Facebook account, saying that yes, this is what's going on.
Another article about it was published in the Wall Street Journal: Barnes & Noble Cuts Back Simon & Schuster Titles.
Both articles are worth reading in full, but in brief: due to the dispute between Simon & Schuster and Barnes & Noble, B&N has cut their orders of S&S books drastically. According to the New York Times, "Industry executives, as well as authors of recently published Simon & Schuster books and their agents, say that Barnes & Noble has reduced book orders greatly, to almost nothing in the case of some lesser-known writers." This policy began in January, apparently.
Needless to say, the people getting hurt most badly by this policy are the S&S writers, especially the lesser-known S&S writers, whose new books...just aren't getting ordered.
Well, I'm an S&S writer (and not a big name or a bestseller)...so I looked last night (it took me a day to work up my courage) at B&N online, to see how many B&Ns were stocking the paperback of Renegade Magic (which came out this month). For context, about half the B&Ns in the country, from what I could tell last year, stocked the paperback of Kat, Incorrigible and the hardcover of Renegade Magic. I think it might be normal to expect those numbers to go down a bit this time round, but I was hoping that at least 1/4 of the B&Ns I looked at would stock Renegade Magic.
Instead, I found...zero. Absolutely zero B&Ns, in any of the zipcode areas I looked up (and I looked up a LOT) were carrying the paperback of Renegade Magic - even stores that had always carried high stocks of the Kat, Incorrigible paperback and the Renegade Magic hardcover.
Stolen Magic comes out in hardcover one week from tomorrow. Normally, I'd be expecting it to start hitting B&N shelves sometime around the end of this week. Now...?
I hope - I hope so badly - that I'm wrong. (Please, let me be wrong!) But I'm guessing that "zero" might be the number of B&Ns that carry Stolen Magic, too. The last book of this trilogy just might not get carried at all, at least in hardcover. And even when this dispute gets resolved...there will be new S&S books by then for B&N to order. I can't imagine them, in a few months time, bothering to order in books considered "old" by publishing standards.
Honestly, I spent a lot of last night crying. Horrible, ugly crying, while Patrick tried to comfort me.
I worked so hard on this trilogy, and on this book in particular. I really think that Stolen Magic is the best book in the trilogy.
It really hurts that this has happened, through the sheer bad luck of being an author caught in the middle of a larger power struggle. My publisher will move on from this. So will B&N. But my book may have slipped through the cracks by then.
And the reason I am talking about this in public...
...is that when I walk into a bookstore, as a reader, I rarely notice the books that aren't stocked there. Maybe, if I'm looking for one book in particular, I'll be disappointed if I don't see it, but I won't really think anything of that. I'll just think, oh, well, this particular store didn't stock it.
So I have to ask, because really, there's nothing else I can do right now...
If you liked my first two books, if you'd thought about buying the third - please don't forget it even if you don't happen across it on the shelves.
And if you prefer not to do your shopping online, I would be so, so grateful to anyone who ordered a copy through their local independent bookstore or their local B&N. The more orders that bookstores get for a particular book, the more of a possibility (faint or strong, I don't know) there is of them choosing to get more copies in. And getting that shelf-space - that opportunity for casual readers to be struck by the cover, to stop and pick it up - that's just crucial for any book.
I'm guessing that this is going to be true for an awful lot of books from S&S coming out this month and next month, especially from authors like me who aren't big bestsellers or Known Names.
But if you want to read those books...please don't forget them.