I did get to see my new book in stores yesterday. My book-visiting outfit involved a sweater I bought while in New York researching book 3, a scarf I bought for the Serenity premiere, my "tall" jeans and the Infamous Red Stilettos. I wavered on the stilettos because they sort of seemed like overkill for going to a bookstore, but I figured if I didn't wear them on release day for this book, when would I wear them?
My neighborhood B&N did have eight copies, most of them on one of the front table and three shelved in fiction. They've had a single copy of the first book for ages, up to last Thursday, but it was gone. I wonder if someone finally bought it, or if it got pulled when the new books went up. If it's the latter, that seems like a fairly silly move. You'd think that when the next book in a series comes out, you'd want to get additional copies of the last one, not get rid of the one you have. I know people who won't start reading a series until at least the second book is out, and then there are people who might not have heard of the first book, but see the second book, think it looks interesting, but then realize it's the second book in a series and want to read the first one first. The store loses two potential sales if there are no copies of the first book. If you finally get someone to give this series a try after they hear you talk about this book, make sure they know they'll probably have to ask for it because a lot of stores may not be stocking the first book.
I then went to the Books-a-Million in the nearby mall, and they had one copy, shelved spine-out. There was blank space around it, so I'm hoping that meant other copies had already sold. It wasn't worth scaring up an employee to sign one book that would remain on the shelf like that, and all their front-table space was devoted to The DaVinci Code cottage industry, which meant signing it wouldn't get it any better placement, so I just left. Some days it doesn't pay to gnaw through the restraints, or in my case, put on the stilettos.
I consoled myself by dropping in on the Nieman Marcus outlet to try on designer shoes. The fun thing about going shoe shopping while wearing the Infamous Red Stilettos is that it's hard to find any other shoes more fabulous than the ones you're already wearing -- and I was trying on Prada, Bruno Magli and Kate Spade. I was sort of tempted by a reasonably non-frivolous pair of kitten-heeled, natural-colored leather (or as I sometimes say, "leather-colored leather") Anne Klein Mary Janes with asymmetrical straps, but even at the outlet price they were more than I could justify spending, especially if a lot of stores like Books-a-Million were only going to be selling one copy each of my book.
And then I had a minor epiphany. I'd heard authors saying that the best use of your time was working on the next book instead of doing all the time-consuming self-promotion, but I hadn't run into it being an either/or dilemma before. Now, though, I have a book due, an essay due, and other work that needs to be done, and I'm not sure that me signing the books that are sitting in stores in this one part of town is going to result in a significant uptick in sales. I'd seen my book in the store in release day, and that was enough, so I went home.
Of course, once I got home I ended up obsessively checking e-mail and my Amazon and B&N rankings instead of working. On B&N for a while it was in the top 400. Now it's depressingly much, much lower than that. At Amazon for a while yesterday it was in the top 20 paranormal romances (how they have it categorized). And the electronic edition of the first book was once again the number one bestselling mainstream fiction at Fictionwise, so yay!
Now, though, I have a set of radio scripts to finish, some Battlestar Galactica to watch, a book to continue revising and an essay to write. I may also need some sleep because I ended up staying up way too late reading. I've kind of got that day-after-Christmas blah feeling, where there's a big letdown after all the building excitement. Being busy and eating chocolate may help cure that.