Seeing myself on the shelf

by | Jan 14, 2007 | Book Marketing Basics

Reading Time: ( Word Count: )

Either I’m easily amused or the mere sight of my very own book on a bookstore shelf is enough to send me into a spiraling tizzy. I was in Barnes & Noble the other night when suddenly, there it was: From Book to Bestseller right there on the shelf. Well, it wasn’t “right there” it was in the back of the bookstore, in a dark corner where they put all their reference books (how’s that for irony?). I had to ask three store clerks where they kept reference books on writing but finally, I found it. Sadly it was misshelved, which was easily corrected. And oddly enough there was no fanfare, no light beaming from heaven spotlighting the spine. It was just stacked there, looking stunning (if I do say so myself) and ready to be plucked out by some eager writer looking for a little inspiration. While I stood there grinning from ear to ear, a store clerk came by and asked me if I needed help. I smiled at her and said “That’s my book.” She looked a little frightened but nodded politely and scurried away. What’s with people anyway? Doesn’t anyone get what a big deal it is to see your own book in a bookstore? Especially in the age of “I’m sorry, we only stock books that fly off the shelves” it’s a miracle anyone without a last name of: Brown, King, or Roberts even gets stocked. But I digress…

Seeing yourself on a shelf is pretty amazing, whether it’s the first or the hundredth time I hope I never get tired of it. Why? Because it’s what we all work for, it’s why we write. To share our work with the world, or at least with the few people who make it back to that dark corner of Barnes & Noble.


  1. Thomas Nixon

    I have this thing. No matter where the bookstore is, I always check for my books (published by Ten Speed Press). The publisher is big enough and the sales are reasonable enough that I often find it.

    I am more than a little curious how I will feel to discover a book published by my new company, Degree Press. I’m thinking it will be that much more exciting.

    Soon. Very soon.

    Tom Nixon

  2. Solveig McLaren

    Next time you find your book in a store, ask the clerk if you can autograph it for them. The stores normally carry ‘Autographed Copy’ stickers but if not, you should have your own supply. Often, having autographed the book, means they’ll move your books to the front of the store for they know customers tend to buy them more readily.

  3. gerb

    I know the book-on-the-shelf thrill. It still tickles me to see mine. Recently, while I was looking for another book at B&N, I saw my book, FACED OUT on the shelf! Yes! I scooped up all the copies and took them to the customer service desk to sign. They put the ‘signed by author’ stickers on, put half back on the shelf, and the other half on the desk as ‘staff recommended.’ Thrill squared. 🙂

  4. Penny

    Hey what great comments everyone – thanks! And great ideas too – keep sharin’! Penny

  5. Judy H. Wright, parent educator

    Hello from beautiful Montana: Another great thrill is to see an old book in the used book store or GoodWill. I shed a tear recently when one of my parenting books had been highlighted and dogeared. I mentioned to my husband, “I bet they raised a great bunch of kids!”

    Seeing your book on the shelf or in the library is like seeing your child at a dance recital. You may wish you would have done a little something different with the hair, but all in all, you are darn proud.

    Judy H. Wright, Parent Educator,

  6. Rowena Cherry

    I, too, am absolutely thrilled to see my latest, funny, sexy, alien romance Insufficient Mating Material in Barnes and Noble or Borders (and all the others).

    But, an experience I had yesterday in an Independent bookseller’s store made my week!

    My publisher’s warehouse sold out before my release date, so when I called to buy my author stash for future published contest entries (one needs 5 copies for every contest, it seems) and private requests, I discovered that I’d have to buy them from an Indie.

    One independent (Paperbacks ‘N Things) was able to help me, and asked if I’d go in and sign their stock. Yesterday I made the 90 minute round drive down to Westland MI to sign two copies.

    The thrill was to discover that one of the two was already sold, and waiting with a sticker so I’d know how to personalize my best wishes.

    Don’t forget the indies!

    Rowena Cherry

    author of speculative romance for broadminded adults

  7. Angie Pedersen

    I frequently get the same reaction you got – clerks scurrying away. I’ve also offered to sign books, and had clerks hesitate, like my signature was going to *deface* the book or something. It’s weird. I just assume most clerks aren’t expecting to meet the actual author, so they assume I’m just pranking them or something.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *