No one gives a damn about local authors. That’s the take-away from Boys Don’t Read’s latest effort to support area book stores.
Our goal: To bolster the sagging profits of brick-and-mortar booksellers by offering them a first shot at selling a Boys Don’t Read exclusive:
DRAGONOCALYPSE: A HERO’S TALE
A modern epistolary novel for our time
by Uther Blackstone (BDR pen name)
Log Line: In a world still recovering from the zombie, then vampire, then sun/moon-related apocalypses, a sixteen-year-old suburban girl is coming into her own through a series of thoughtful journal entries. Then, the dragons descend.
With a YA market ripe for Armageddon, and the word “Dragonocalypse” still relatively free of copyright issues, this was going to be a win-win for local markets and the currently non-existent profit margin for the Boys Don’t Read blog.
We decided to first offer this juicy opportunity to Powell’s City of Books. We figured they were big, but also doing more good for local authors than most of the other brick-and-mortar bookstores we’ve stopped going to.
Call with Powell’s City of Books:
Store Operator: Hello, Powell’s City of Books.
BDR: Hello. I’m a local author interested in selling my book at your store. Can you tell me which steps I need to take to be on your shelves?
Store Operator: We actually have a phone recording you can listen to. It’s extension #5600. There’s a lot of information.
BDR: Right, right. But what’s the real extension?
Store Operator: For what?
BDR: The real authors. The big ones.
Store Operator: That’s our only extension for local authors.
BDR: I see. Does the name “Uther Blackstone” mean anything to you?
Store Operator: I’m sorry, it doesn’t.
BDR: Then maybe you’re not really interested in carrying DRAGONOCALYPSE: A HERO’S TALE. A book that will literally sell millions of copies.
Store Operator: I can’t say if we’d be interested or not. But the extension will have all the information you need. Can I transfer you now?
BDR: If you must.
Store Operator: Okay. Thank you!
Naturally, we hung up. We don’t have time for recordings when we’re in possession of a book that is already setting market trends from where it sits, unread, on a desk in Eugene, Oregon. So screw it. The independents don’t want to play ball? Let them cry into their Stumptown lattes while the national chains laugh all the way to the bank.
Call with Barnes & Noble:
The first two Barnes & Noble stores were (predictably) filled with human cogs and widgets incapable of making decisions. At the third store, it was clear I was working with a Dealmaker.
B&N Dealmaker: Hello, Barnes and Noble.
BDR: Hello. I’m a local author wondering about your policy for carrying my book.
B&N Dealmaker: Well. We use the same system for carrying all of our books no matter where the author is from. So I can go ahead and see if you’re in our distribution system.
B&N Dealmaker: Do you have the ISBN number?
B&N Dealmaker: The title should do. Or your name.
BDR: Certainly. My name is Uther Blackstone.
B&N Dealmaker: Luther?
BDR: Uther. It’s medieval.
B&N Dealmaker: Okay. And the title?
B&N Dealmaker: Can you spell that?
BDR: D-R-A-G-O-N, and then an O. That’s what trips people up. Then C-A-L-Y-P-S-E.
B&N Dealmaker: Okay. Well I don’t see you in our system.
BDR: Oh. You probably need the full title, which is: DRAGONOCALYPSE: A HERO’S TALE. A modern epistolary novel for our time.
B&N Dealmaker (pause, clacking keys): Mmm. Still not seeing it.
BDR: Really. That’s so strange.
B&N Dealmaker: Is there a house you’re with? Or a distributor?
BDR: Yes, a house. I’m at a house right now.
B&N Dealmaker: A publishing house?
BDR: No. Kind of. I did publish this book at my house.
B&N Dealmaker: So it’s a self-published book.
BDR: Self-printed, actually.
B&N Dealmaker: So you aren’t working with a distributor.
BDR: What do you think I’m doing right now? Distributing.
B&N Dealmaker: (silence)
BDR: Look. This hits all the trends. Girls. Journals. Dragons. The apocalypse. Do you have any idea how hot this stuff is right now?
B&N Dealmaker: It sounds very interesting, but we really need to have you work with a distributor. Have you tried Ingram or Small Press Distribution?
BDR: There is nothing small about this book. It’s 200,000 words. It’s actually bigger than my head. I’m holding it right now. It’s really heavy.
B&N Dealmaker: That’s very impressive. It sounds wonderful, but we have our company policy and there’s really nothing we can do. I can look up the phone numbers of a few distributors if you like.
BDR: Fine. You seem nice. We’ll knock the price down. How much will you pay?
B&N Dealmaker: We have no way to pay you without a distributor.
BDR: I am the distributor!
B&N Dealmaker: Right. But we don’t currently work with you.
BDR: That’s the problem. This book is called DRAGONOCALYPSE. Do you want to hear the log line?
B&N Dealmaker: I’d be happy to hear it, but it won’t change what we’re able to do.
BDR: We’ll see. (Reads log line.)
B&N Dealmaker: That’s funny, actually. Is it a comedy?
BDR: No. It’s a modern epistolary novel for our time.
B&N Dealmaker: I do wish you the best. I hope you’re able to make it into the system.
BDR: So this is over? This is it?
B&N Dealmaker: I think so. I’m sorry.
And it was very nearly over. DRAGONOCALYPSE, a literary time bomb wired to explode money into the faces of everyone around it, was in the process of being diffused by small-minded corporate shills and hipster elitists.
But we couldn’t let that happen. So we did what any self-respecting artist would do. We rubber-banded the only copy of our manuscript, doused it in glitter, and left it on the shelves of the Barnes & Noble YA section.
I know what you’re thinking. We’re just giving it away???! Look – Amazon didn’t turn a profit for five years, and now they’re gobbling up independent booksellers faster than dragons can swallow thoughtful teenagers and their journals.
So our lesson to you, local authors: If you know what’s good for you, follow Boys Don’t Read’s Two Steps to Success.
1) Print out your unpublished manuscript on 8 ½ x 11 paper.
2) Shove it in the YA section of your nearest bookstore.
You’ll eliminate the need for agents, publishers, marketing executives, booksellers, reviewers, and the people in New York who might’ve otherwise written you checks – and route your story directly from your genius head and into the hands of your reader(s).
As Ursula K. Le Guin once said: “Trying to get rich writing is a damn-fool idea.” So do it for the love. Do it for the art. Do it – for the Dragonocalypse.