The messages began even before Making Waves was officially released. They arrived at odd hours, and they confused me at first:
I'm at WalMart in Booneville, Arkansas and it's not on the shelves. Freaking out!
The time difference meant it was 3:30 a.m. where I live, and I spent a few minutes trying to figure out what someone might desperately wish to purchase at WalMart at that hour and why they thought I needed to know about it.
Once I stopped mulling personal hygiene products, I realized the person was talking about my book.
The messages kept coming via Twitter and Facebook and email and sometimes even text message. Often, people were letting me know the book was at their local WalMart or Barnes & Noble or Powell's, which delighted me to no end. The pictures made me swoon every time I saw Making Waves sitting there looking perky on the shelves of a bookstore in New Jersey or Montana or Ohio.
But the "it's not here!" messages made me nervous. As an author, I have almost no involvement in the process of getting my book from the publisher to the bookstores. I know, more or less, where it's supposed to be, but I have no idea how or when it's getting there. I like to imagine a giant pterodactyl swooping around dropping books haphazardly on bookstores around the country. The fact that pterodactyls have notoriously bad aim explains why the books haven't reached some locations yet.
My parents recently decided to take matters into their own hands. They hopped in the car on Friday afternoon and proceeded to drive around Salem, Oregon hitting every bookstore and WalMart in their area. If the book wasn't on the shelves – either because it was sold out, or because it hadn't been stocked yet – they asked to speak with someone in charge so they could request it.
The process led to a number of interesting conversations, including one where the clerk insisted a family member of the author came in and bought all their copies, and my mom tried to get the clerk to describe the person so she could figure out who it was (we still have no idea).
Obviously, my parents' approach is a bit intense. I certainly don't expect blog readers to strap on their SWAT gear and embark on a vigilante mission to ensure Making Waves is properly stocked in all stores within a 100 mile radius.
Still, I do want to ask that if you happen to be in a bookstore or a WalMart and you notice my book isn't there – ask for it.
Er, don't ask me. Ask the store manager. Ask the person in charge of stocking books. You don't have to fling yourself to the ground and beat your fists on the floor while wailing, "why? WHY?!" though if the urge strikes you, I won't discourage it.
But do let it be known that you're aware the book exists and that you'd kinda like to see it at your local store. It would mean a lot to me.
And to the pterodactyl. His aim improves when he has something to shoot for.