This is just too good to keep to myself.

An independent bookseller I know landed a major bestselling author for a rare in-store signing. He got the word out, took advance phone and internet orders for signed copies, and called his sales rep at the publisher to make sure the books would reach him in plenty of time.

“You’ve ordered 450 copies,” the rep told him. “I’m afraid we can only ship you 200.”

Why, for God’s sake? Hadn’t they printed enough?

“No, it’s policy,” he was told. “Two hundred books is our maximum order. We can’t take the chance of huge returns, or credit problems.”

“But the copies are sold,” the store owner said. “I’ve got prepaid orders for them, and I’ll pay in advance myself, and take them from you on a non-returnable basis. There’s no risk, and there won’t be any returns, and that’s 450 copies of a $30 book at the usual 40% off, which makes it an $8100 cash order. So what’s the problem?”

He got nowhere.

“But the author’s gonna go crazy when she hears this! You think you guys’ll ever get another book from her?”

Nowhere! Rules blah blah blah. Policy blah blah blah. “And be grateful we’re sending you the 200 books.”

Well, an independent bookseller had damn well better be resourceful, and this one certainly was. He got in his car and drove four blocks to Target, where the manager had no problem selling him 300 copies of the book, and gave them to him at a 45% discount, and still made a profit on the sale.

No, I won’t tell you the name of the store, or the author, and all I’ll say about the publisher is that they’re a major house, though one wonders how long they will so remain. I can assure you they’re not my publisher, and for that I give thanks.

Just a sweet little story on a charming aspect of contemporary publishing. Hard to imagine that some writers actually toy with the notion of doing it all themselves. How can they possibly make a go of it without the benefit of top professionals in their corner?


Right. I, OTOH, have some really bright and helpful folks at Mulholland Books, working on my behalf and on behalf of my just-published book, Hit Me. If you’re in the New York area, you can pick up a copy tonight at the Mysterious Bookshop. I’ll be happy to sign it for you, and you won’t have to go to Target for it…