on May 18, 2006

Authors tend to be the last to know what’s going on with their books. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been kept in the loop regarding most aspects of my books journey from production to shelf, but there are a few things that came as a surprise.

Like, when I walked into Target and saw THE PREY sitting on an endcap with a BREAKOUT BOOK sticker.

It would not have been a surprise if I saw it a week or two after the release date. But this was two MONTHS after the release date. I thought Target just didn’t pick up the book. They tend to be picky with PBOs, so I was already thinking “next time.” Then it was just . . . there.

And in mid-April, THE HUNT landed on the Target endcap. THE PREY must have done well . . . the three Target stores I checked out each had 9 copies of THE PREY ordered. THE HUNT went up to 15.

[ASIDE: At Borders, Target and Walmart the store’s UPC label shows you how many books that individual store ordered and the date they were stocked. Yes, I know, I’m obsessed.]

Now, you’re probably thinking why do I care? This is totally out of my control. I had no say in the matter. It’s great that I’m in Target, so I should just be happy.

But someone had to have known, right? And what would have been the problem in just letting me know? It’s exciting! It was fun to be surprised, but I don’t want to be surprised. I want to know what’s happening when it’s happening.

For example, the Target distribution really helped my sales. THE HUNT had been off the Bookscan Top 100 Romance books for two weeks, then suddenly jumped up into the 60s. The only difference . . . that was the week it hit Target.

I’m not complaining; I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve been clued into a lot of what’s been going on with my books. And maybe the Target distribution is so commonplace that no one thought it was something to tell because it’s obvious. I don’t know. Maybe because I’m so new to the business that I was excited about something that is a yawner.

It just seems like everything I’ve learned about the business of publishing is what I’ve asked questions about–no one has volunteered information. I remember sending a long rambling email to my agent after I first sold asking really, really stupid questions. But she painstakingly answered them and I learned a lot about the process.

But obviously not enough!

I know some authors who haven’t been told squat, and some who seem to be much more in the loop than me. Maybe it comes with time and numbers–rack up the sales and you earn a little more trust. I don’t know.

I’m happy that my books have done so well out of the gate, but I’d have been a lot happier if I knew my books were in Target.

And, if I know my next book will be in Target the week it’s released, I’ll be a much happier camper because those sales will mean more. Why? Because they’ll help me move higher up the lists.

Yes, I’m obsessed. Or maybe just addicted to information.

P.S. I’m in Florida at the RT conference and I’m hoping to be on-line and participating in any comments . . . remember, we have this cool contest going for the rest of the month! Watch for my RT report this weekend . . .