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JennaGlatzer

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Phooey!

Just heard back from the small press dept. at Barnes & Noble... a form letter rejection saying they won't stock the book because it's self-published POD. Boy, now I know that most self-pubbers really don't have a chance at national stocking-- if OSC and Wil Wheaton on the cover didn't do it, not to mention that it's a charity anthology and I did a bang-up job on the media kit...

Sigh. I was really proud of that media kit! I enclosed copies of every review and article I could find, plus... well, I'll show you. Pardon the formatting, which I'm sure will screw up:

Dear Ms. Smith:



I’m writing to request that you consider stocking the book Stories of Strength.



I am the author (and ghostwriter) of many books, most recently the authorized biography Celine Dion: For Keeps (just released by Andrews McMeel). I’m also the editor of the largest online magazine for writers: AbsoluteWrite.com (75,000 weekly subscribers).



This book is a charity project put together by more than 100 writers—some new, some “celebrity” authors such as bestselling science fiction author Orson Scott Card and actor/author Wil Wheaton (Stand By Me, Star Trek). All of the writers’ royalties and the printer’s profits are to be donated to disaster relief charities: the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Americares, and Operation USA.



It’s a compilation of essays, short fiction, and poetry about the various facets of strength.



Support for this book is outrageous. Before the book was even released, I began getting phone calls from reporters. Now it’s non-stop—from all over the US, Canada, and the UK so far.



I understand and recognize the reasons B&N typically does not stock print-on-demand titles, which this one is (it’s printed by Lulu). However, this isn’t your ordinary print-on-demand title. I chose to self-publish rather than go through my usual publishers (which include McGraw Hill, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Putnam, etc.) because of the timeliness of this project. This book is meant to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita; therefore, I chose not to wait a year or more to see it in print. As you can see, with the help of nine volunteer editors, we managed to produce this book two months after the first hurricane.



Our goal is to raise at least $100,000 for disaster relief charities. Until now, the book has been available only online (today, I heard from about ten bookstore managers who will be stocking the book—Ingram just listed it), and we’ve already raised more than $2200 and sold 500 books online in two weeks. We could make such a bigger difference if Barnes & Noble would choose to stock this book.



Along with a copy of the book, I’m enclosing a press release, publicity details, pertinent book specs, and a few of our recent reviews.



I know I’m asking to be an exception to the rule. But this title is worth it.



Please help us prove what a grassroots effort can do. We won’t let you down.





Regards,





Jenna Glatzer






Publicity Details



All the following either have already run or are guaranteed to run.



Television Segments About Stories of Strength




  • CFCN Television, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, "News At Noon." December 8
  • Rogers Daytime Television, Southwestern Ontario, December 2
  • NTV News, St. John’s, NL, Canada (date TBA)
  • WDBJ-7 in Roanoke, VA (date TBA)




Radio Shows



  • NPR affiliate KCLU 88.3 in Ventura County & 102.3 in Santa Barbara County, CA, Nov. 12 (Beyond Books)
  • 590 VOCM Radio in St. John’s, NL, Canada, November 10 (morning drive show)
  • WAMD in Aberdeen, MD, Nov. 15 (morning drive show)
  • WAIF-FM in Cincinnati, OH, November 18
  • WBAZ 102.5 in Long Island, NY, November 15 (morning drive show)
  • WOLT-FM 103.3 in Greenville, SC, November 9 and 10 ("Awake with Drake")
  • Soft Rock 98.9 in Fresno, CA, November 21 (morning drive show)
  • WBAL in Maryland is planning a segment on Stories of Strength




Magazine and Newspaper Articles and Reviews



  • Front-page article in Plano Star Courier
  • The Logan Banner, date TBA (front page article)
  • Fresno Bee, date TBA (article)
  • Porterville Recorder, November 16 (article)
  • Banff Crag & Canyon: article will be timed to coincide with SoS availability in local stores
  • Canmore Leader: article will be timed to coincide with SoS availability in local stores
  • The Southeast Missourian, November 14 (article)
  • The Guelph Mercury, November 12 (article)
  • The Marietta Times, November 7 (article)
  • The Carroll County Times, November 2 (article)
  • Toronto Sun (planning a review)
  • St. Louis Post Dispatch (planning an article)
  • Lancashire Evening Post, November 8 (article)
  • Coal Valley News (planning an article)
  • Birmingham Christian Family (planning a review)
  • Telegraph Forum, November 12 (article)
  • Journal Community Publications: One of our writers works for this company, which owns and publishes community newspapers all over the country. He has been allowed to circulate a memo to all member newspapers, and will be instrumental in gaining coverage in potentially dozens of newspapers.
  • The Kemptville Advance, November 23 (article)
  • Bookmarks Magazine will run a free 1/6th-page ad for Stories of Strength in their next issue.




Online



  • Blogcritics.org will review the book
  • POD-dy Mouth (girlondemand.blogspot.com) has reviewed and endorsed the book
  • IVillage.com will review the book
  • Scalzi.com (immensely popular blog) will review the book
  • Alibris.com has promised to promote the book
  • CompulsiveReader.com has reviewed the book
  • Beyond Understanding (www.sustenancescout.blogspot.com) has endorsed the book
  • The Internet Writing Journal has endorsed the book
  • Ebook-Reviews.net will review the book
  • Rosannecatalano.net has run our press release
  • Huntress Reviews will review the book
  • SahmIAm.com will review the book
  • Apollos Lyre will review the book
  • CurledUp.com will review the book
  • MyShelf.com will review the book
  • TheWritersLife.net will review the book
  • Lulu.com will feature the book on their main page
  • Diaryofamother.blogs.com has run an announcement about the book
  • North Texas E-News has run an article about the book (November 5)
  • Eyesofasecret.com has run an announcement about the book
  • Writing Wide has run an announcement about the book
  • Along the River has run an announcement about the book
  • Planet SARK has run an announcement about the book
  • BradyMagazine.com has run an announcement about the book
  • Bethkujawski.blogspot.com has reviewed the book
  • Sandstormauthor.blogspot.com has run our press release
  • Dawnonowyouseeit.blogspot.com has run an announcement about the book
  • Blogher.com has run an announcement and plans to run a review of the book
  • DotComWomen has run an announcement about the book in their newsletter (4200 subscribers), November 14
  • The Society of Professional Journalists included an announcement about the book in their newsletter (10,000 subscribers), November 17
  • Canada Authors Association will feature an article about the book


In addition, we have our own website, www.storiesofstrength.com, where we keep tally of how much money has been raised and our progress on the book. We also have a forum on AbsoluteWrite.com.



The Absolute Write Newsletter reaches 75,000 writers and editors every week, and the book will be continually promoted there.

Planned Publicity



Unlike most other print-on-demand projects, we do have a budget for review copies and promotional material.



We’re currently sending copies to national newspapers and television shows.



Jenna has previously appeared on Lifetime Television, NBC, News Channel 12 on Long Island, and has been featured in Parade Magazine, Woman’s World, Writer’s Digest, and several other publications. Her books have been featured on Access Hollywood, The View, Billboard.com, and elsewhere. She has also written for more than 100 magazines (such as Women’s Health & Fitness, Woman’s Own, Physical, and Prevention). She will use these contacts to pitch Stories of Strength coverage.



The writers are each doing their parts to publicize the book in their local areas.



We’ve set up a promotional material page at

www.storiesofstrength.com/how-you-can-help where writers (and readers!) can download bookmarks, posters, fliers, and graphics for websites. Some local printing companies have donated printing services for these promotional materials, as well. Writers are visiting their local libraries, supermarkets, bookstores, hotels, etc. to drop off posters, fliers, and bookmarks.



Many of the writers have their own websites, newsletters, or blogs, and will feature the book and its progress.



Legendary musician Jose Feliciano, acclaimed by critics throughout the world as “the greatest living guitarist” (see www.josefeliciano.com) has just read the book and offered to endorse it and help us “in any way we can imagine.” We will ask him to write an endorsement, put the link on his website, and possibly co-promote it with his latest album.



Actor Wil Wheaton has also offered to participate in the marketing efforts.



We will hold a large book signing/party on Long Island for a number of the authors in the spring (date and location TBA, but we’re hoping to hold it at a local Barnes & Noble store).



The Red Cross plans to hold a press conference with three of the writers in the Ohio, and will feature the book on their website.



Jenna will pitch articles to several women’s and general interest magazines, as well as Costco Connection (several writers are Costco members) and alumni magazines.







Reasons to Stock Stories of Strength





  • It’s for an excellent cause.


  • It’s professionally edited.


  • Reviews are fantastic.


  • We’re already receiving coverage all over the US, Canada, and the UK, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of our marketing efforts.


  • It has the appeal of a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, but is “grittier” (not all simple, happy endings), and contains fiction and poetry as well as essays.


  • Many well-known authors contributed to the book.


  • At least one celebrity is endorsing the book.


  • We’ll praise Barnes & Noble to the sky and include you in our press releases.


  • Numerous authors are happy to do local signings and talks.


  • It has a reasonable price point and well-designed cover.


  • It has the marketing power of 100+ writers behind it.


  • Have we mentioned it’s for an excellent cause?
 

Rose colored glasses

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That really sucks! What is the matter with people? It boggles my mind. I know we all envisioned far greater support for this book.


What ever happened with the folks who had connections to Dr. Phil? I feel pretty sure that Oprah would endorse the book if there is a way to get a copy to her.
 

ChunkyC

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Now that is a nicely put together package, Jenna. I truly don't understand why B&N won't stock the book. All I can think of is that it's company policy, and the person who has the power to authorize exemptions to that policy either doesn't want to take a chance on helping people, or hasn't seen the package you sent.

Either way, your efforts weren't wasted. We can all glean tips to use as we move forward. And if the powers-that-be at B&N start hearing about SoS from other sources, they may yet get on board or be disappointed that they didn't when they had the chance.
 

Ken Schneider

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Excellent effort,Jenna. No one could asked for more. Alas, it comes down to money. Can B&N make a good profit from selling the book?

I'm sure that they researched into the possibilty, and then found out about the short discount offered by Ingram.

A thought, though. Take B&N's name out and add the name of another national bookchain. Say, Borders,Walden, well, you know.

Someone is bound to have a heart.

Ken
 

Vanessa

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Maybe if we continue to contact the stores locally. My store in Baton Rouge did order it and has it in stock. But of course she mentioned going through the Small Press Department to get the book in all the stores. Maybe we can still hit B&N on a local level and see if they bite. I'm not sure if the Small Press Dept will make any of the B&N's remove the copies if they did order them, but hey you never know. But at least the book is in Ingram's database, and therefore B&N can pull it up if someone comes in to order it.

A friend of mine in St. Louis called today and said that Walden Books couldn't order it, and didn't see it even by putting in the ISBN number. I thought that was bizarre. But she did head over to Barnes and Noble in St. Louis and they ordered it for her.
 

Unique

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JMO - let's just make them sorry they said, 'No'.
 

Dawno

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I'm amazed that the inclusion of "dawnonowyouseeit.blogspot.com" 's endorsement didn't make all the difference. With my average of 18 unique viewers a day (including Unique on many of those days), well, what more can I say? ;)

All kidding aside, this is a real shame. First thing I thought, however, was "Can you go over that person's head to the next level of management?"

In a big corporation you often have to start with people who's job description doesn't give them the authority to say 'yes' and you need to get beyond them...

Who's "Ms Smith's" boss? Ms Smith is just a functionary who only has the ability to send a form letter - for some reason she won't think her way outside of a paper bag, to say nothing about outside the box for the good of the company...
 

AdamH

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Ken Schneider said:
A thought, though. Take B&N's name out and add the name of another national bookchain. Say, Borders,Walden, well, you know.

Someone is bound to have a heart.

I was going to suggest this to. Just because the big guy on the block didn't want to carry it doesn't mean another wouldn't.

It's a great well thought out letter, Jenna.

Also, if we keep this going word-of-mouth at the very least, if the demand goes up, if people start calling their local B&N wondering if they can get it, they'll have to carry it someday. Isn't that how Celestine Prophecy got into national chains?
 

September skies

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Bummer. And such an awesome letter. Thanks Jenna.
smile.gif
You work so hard all the time.
 

Cabria

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My God Jenna, your letter couldn't be more precise, convincing and sincere! I don't know what to say. In my opinion, a large book chain supporting a hugely charitable project as this, could only make them look quite good in the public eye. Certainly their loss in that respect. You have worked so hard at this Jenna, as well as others. And we're all on your side to continue with this mission.

Deb
smile.gif
 

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Hehe, since my cousin couldn't get it via B&N, she ordered via Amazon. For the first time, and she was amazed at the amount of books you can get there. I think B&N just has lost a customer to Amazon. :D
 

OneTeam OneDream

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Vanessa said:
Maybe if we continue to contact the stores locally. My store in Baton Rouge did order it and has it in stock. But of course she mentioned going through the Small Press Department to get the book in all the stores. Maybe we can still hit B&N on a local level and see if they bite. I'm not sure if the Small Press Dept will make any of the B&N's remove the copies if they did order them, but hey you never know. But at least the book is in Ingram's database, and therefore B&N can pull it up if someone comes in to order it.

A friend of mine in St. Louis called today and said that Walden Books couldn't order it, and didn't see it even by putting in the ISBN number. I thought that was bizarre. But she did head over to Barnes and Noble in St. Louis and they ordered it for her.


She must have went to the same Walden I did. I tried to tell everyone they couldn't order it.
 

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Real shame, Jenna. Wonderful press kit--great effort. I was going to suggest something along the lines of what Dawno said.

And it is true, that authors seem to do better by personal contact with local store managers. There are self-pubs in my area who got into the local B&N by going to the store. I didn't try, because of PA's rep. I was too embarrassed.
 

ChunkyC

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Indeed, plant the seed, one bookstore at a time. Hopefully at some point a 'critical mass' will be reached when the higher-ups see the sales figures from these stores and decide that maybe they should put SoS in all their stores.
 

Alphabet

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You guys are way too nice.

My suggestion would be to announce it on the stories of strength homepage.

***Barnes and Noble refuse to stock Charitable Anthology***

Summarise the benefits of the book and the supposed reasons that B&N might not be stocking it (because they can't make enough money on it?) but that it is supposition since the blanket reason supplied was that it was a POD book.
Suggest that outraged visitors can write to to express their dismay to [email protected]; if enough do it might be treated as news.

End with something like ...well, we know who the biggest are, now all we need to know is who are the best.. it certainly isn't Barnes and Noble - and maybe Noble ought to be dropped from their name!
 

Richard

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Don't be silly. It's their choice to make, and they could easily fire back with a long list of charity books that they do stock. Besides, trying to make an example of them just because you don't like the answer would just be spiteful - it's meant to be a positive, uplifting book.
 

Alphabet

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Yes it is their choice. I don't think I'm being silly or spiteful though. Just practical. Don't get me too wrong, if I approach anyone outside the booktrade for support and they say no then I'm not thinking they should be named and shamed, but in the booktrade itself? Fair target - and if they didn't take consideration that we might announce their decision then they are the silly ones.

Edit - and, it was only a suggestion - I only replied because I wasn't too keen on the silly and spiteful - thought it deserved a tad more explanation - I'm not really expecting it to be done but can voice what I would do about it.. oh look, I think that's what I did

Alphabet said:
My suggestion would be to
 
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Vanessa

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I think we should focus on hitting B&N on a local level, respectively. I went in and talked with my Community Relations person, and the only thing that deterred her at first was the fact that the book was not in Ingram's database. Well now it is, and several copies were ordered.

My aunt called my mom on yesterday and asked where she could pick up the book. She lives in the bay area in California. She didn't want to order online, so my mom told her about B&N. She went in - asked for it and of course they didn't have it in stock, but were able to order it for her to pick up in a couple days. She was happy with that.

B&N is a big company, and I think with the effort we've put into this project, we definitely don't want to burn any bridges while we're basically at the mercy of help from anyone who's willing to help us. I'm a patient and humble type person who believes that time will reveal our goal as long as we maintain focus.

Jenna it was great letter, and I know the press kit was the bomb. We'll just come up with plan b, c or d to keep this baby going. I'm gamed!
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Ken Schneider

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My brain is on strike!



Ha Ha Van, you slay me. I'm with ya'


Anyway, yes, Alpha, I feel the same, but agree with Richard. Let us have hope that we can garner some media support from a big name talk show host. Or, keep working and sell our behinds off so that we could total sales of 550 books a month for a year. thats over 6,00 sales a year, and would gather some attention.
 

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Alphabet said:
My suggestion would be to announce it on the stories of strength homepage.

***Barnes and Noble refuse to stock Charitable Anthology***

Excuse me, but doesn't this kind of action sound a lot like what is often suggested in the PAMB? This is not a good way to go as it would create a precedent that scams like PA would then attempt to manipulate to their later advantage with stupid claims like we donate a portion (probably a single dollar) to the charity this book helps support just to get it onto the bookstore shelves despite its excessive price.
 

ChunkyC

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What we must remember is that B&N has made a business decision that they feel is in the best interest of their company. That decision was to not make it a chain-wide policy to stock Stories of Strength in all of their stores.

That does not mean that they refuse to stock the book, it just means that they won't require all their stores to stock the book. Big difference. They are leaving it up to the individual store managers to choose to do so if they believe they can sell it.
 

mkcbunny

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Great job, Jenna. I'm just amazed when corporate policy beats out common sense. I have to wonder whether the person who received your press release even made an effort to read it. It would not surprise me if they saw POD, gave it the "form letter rejection" stamp, and moved on without really absorbing the information. Sadly, when blanket policy is the rule, no room is left for making adjustments or exceptions based on thinking.

I wondered about Oprah, as well. Is there a chance some of the higher-profile names could help?
 
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