Remember That Time I Went Hand Selling To Book Stores And Met A Crime Fiction Legend And Two Of The Most Influential Book Sellers In The Midwest?

I talked about this on Facebook but not here. That’s something I need to rectify because I need to get back in the habit of doing regular posting here. One, because it’s a muscle that needs to be kept fresh and active like any other muscle and I will be doing A LOT of blogging over the next month or two as the release of Murder Boy is upon us. Also, I need to do this more because I like it and I always enjoy it when I get back into it.

So anyway, while Jason and his PGW reps have been pitching the book to stores across the country, I’ve been making my own small effort to get out to the book stores in my local area and convince them to order copies of Murder Boy. I started with my local mystery store Aunt Agatha’s where I’ll be having my launch party on April 14. I then went across the street, to the new kid in town Literati Bookstore where I’d seen Kelly Link read the week before. Both stores were very encouraging and congratulated me on the publication. AA’s had already ordered a big chunk of books for the event but I found out later that Literati ordered some too.

My next stop was Nicola’s Books out on the suburban edge of Ann Arbor. I’ve seen tons of crime fiction authors read there and frequented the store when I lived on that side of Ann Arbor. After I gave the manager my pitch, I was tapped on the shoulder by a guy who congratulated me on the book and said he had been his own best sales rep as well. When I turned around I saw it was National Book Award and Edgar Award-nominated  and multiple Shamus Award-winning author Loren Estleman. Holy crap. That was cool. We chatted for a bit and then I went on my way. Then I remembered I had an extra copy of Murder Boy in my car so I ran out to get it and sprinted back into the store to give it to him. And he asked me to sign it. The very first signed copy of Murder Boy I gave out was to a living legend and one of my literary heroes. That was pretty cool. And lucky.

And speaking of lucky, while I was chatting away with Mr. Estleman, the manager of the store had been looking over the copy I’d left her and was impressed with the blurbs from Laura Lippman and Michael Koryta. She grabbed my hand and said “You have to meet Bill and Cecile.” Bill and Cecile being the new owners of Nicola’s as well as the owners of Schuler Books, one of the best indie chains ever. So I got to talk to them for a while about the book and my family and the book went from being considered for consignment at the store to being in the hands of the owners and the buyer for their entire chain. So don’t ever listen to anyone who says blurbs don’t matter.

I did have one failure with the staff of the big chain book store in Ann Arbor. I asked if they would be interested in ordering some copies and they rolled their eyes and made some excuses and then just walked away. I had better luck when I called the same chain’s store down the road from me. The person I talked to was very excited and ordered five copies for the store. She also said she’d tell the Mystery Reader’s Group about the book as well. So even in this hyper-digital crazy technical world, there are still massive rewards to be gained from good-old fashioned in-person footwork.