Borders Patrol: A Writer's Insanity

Those of you who've tracked my career from the beginning know that NOCTURNE is the first book to achieve national mainstream distribution. The ebooks were available worldwide, but outside of romance, ebooks have yet to really penetrate the mainstream. SETTING SUNS was a small-press release, and bookstores in large part declined to stock it. NOCTURNE is allegedly in every Borders and Waldenbooks in America. That's really amazing to think about, and very humbling.

That doesn't mean it's been EASY. Though with the assistance of the Denizens of the Literary Underworld, I have been able to track our progress.

Aug. 11:
• Preliminary Denizen reports that the book is available in Nashville, Tenn. stores. This is later proven to be a computer error.
• A Denizen reports the book's appearance (and purchase) in Seattle, Wash.
• Boise, Idaho reports the book as "not yet published."
• Borders computers nationwisde list the book at "Nocturne Urges." So does Amazon.com, which also has "no image available" instead of the cover.

Aug. 14:
• I personally confirm three copies on the shelf of the Fairview Heights, Ill. Borders. I squee all over the place.

Then comes the panic.

"Why do they still have three copies? The book's been out for a few days now! All those weekend shoppers! Why didn't anybody snap up those copies? This is my local Borders, everyone knows me here, those copies should be gone and more people asking for them so Borders has to reorder! If those copies stay there too long the store will return them and I'll be a FAILURE! Those copies need to get sold! Maybe I should buy them myself to keep them from being returned..."

Then I tell myself to shut up.

• Borders computers still list the book as "Nocturne Urges." So does Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.
• I lose my patience and upload the cover image to Amazon.com myself.
• Barnes and Noble insists to a Denizen that the book really isn't out yet, and its title really is "Nocturne Urges." She gives up and goes to another store.
• Atlanta does not yet have the book.

Aug. 16:

• The three books are STILL THERE in Fairview Heights.
• A Denizen reports two copies in Hyannis, Mass.

Aug. 21:
• Sightings in Tampa, Fl. and Creve Coeur, Mo.
• A Denizen reports the computer tells him of three copies in St. Louis South County, but upon arrival there was but one, which he bought.
• Borders computers still list the book as "Nocturne Urges." Amazon.com has fixed it. The book is hovering the 100,000 range for book sales on Amazon.
• Nashville stores continue to tell Denizens it's not published yet.
• The three books are STILL THERE in Fairview Heights. My obsession reaches new levels.
• A Memphis Borders lists the book as being in the store, but is not on the shelves. A bookseller tells the Denizen seeking it that it's probably in the back, but is not inclined to go find it. The bookseller also says someone else was in the store earlier looking for the book, but they were disinclined to help then, either. I grit my teeth and cry.
• A Denizen reports the Wolfchase Borders in Germantown, Tenn. had one copy before he bought it.
• Elk Grove, Calif. tells a Denizen the book is not yet published.

Aug. 22:
• A Vermont Denizen reports that her Borders does not have it in stock, so she ordered it. There were three available in the warehouse.
• A North Carolina Denizen reports one copy in her local Borders before she bought it.

Aug. 24:
• One of the three books is GONE from Fairview Heights!
• The Vermont Denizen's book arrives.

Aug. 25:
• Amazon.com suddenly reports the book is "not yet published" despite having sold and shipped multiple copies, and removes a Denizen's comment from the listing, for reasons known only to the orangutans working the Amazon web site. I whimper in pain.
• Visual confirmations of one copy each at the Brentwood, Mo. Borders and Waldenbooks in the St. Louis Galleria and West County Mall.
• Boise, Idaho is still telling a Denizen the book is not yet published. The Denizens reading their books at home laugh and laugh.
• The two books are STILL HTERE in Fairview Heights.

So you see, getting a book out in stores is only half the battle. Computers, certain booksellers, inconsistent distribution and most of all computers will get in the way of getting the books to the people who want to read them.

But it's the devoted Denizens who make the difference. The ones who take the time to talk to a human being and ask for the book, not just take the computer's word for it that they can't have it. The ones who go to the trouble of special-ordering it, because the store will likely pick up another copy or two while they're at it for the shelves. The ones who search diligently in multiple stores and complain to the computermasters when the title is wrong.

The Denizens make it happen. That's why I have a career. Thank you all, folks. There just aren't words for it. And isn't that funny for a writer?

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