Playing Hard to Get
Torch has been out almost two weeks, but I’m hearing from people who’ve pre-ordered from their local independent bookstores that their books still haven’t come in yet. If you’re one of these people, I want to express my gratitude for your support and patience. I don’t know why this book is so hard to get. I also understand and support your desire to buy my novel from your local indie bookstore. These stores are so important to the communities they serve. Through the activities they host and the schools and organizations with which they collaborate, they contribute to a culture of literacy in their communities. The money you spend at these stores stays in the community rather than enriching a distant owner not known for fair treatment of his employees.
To be honest, I’m of two minds when it comes to this distant owner. (I think by now you can guess who he is and the giant company he founded.) When my Moonwalking co-author, Zetta Elliott, could not find a traditional publisher for the joyful contemporary and historical fantasy novels featuring Black protagonists that she wrote for young readers, this was the only way she could get those stories out in the world. Many of her acclaimed books, from the YA time travel A Wish After Midnight to the contemporary chapter-book favorite Milo’s Museum, appeared this way, available only through the one online retailer, which also has an easy-to-use self-publishing platform. Even her traditionally published picture books from smaller presses, such as Bird and Malena’s Jubilee, were sold in few independent bookstores and had to be special-ordered or purchased online. For her, the online retailer leveled the playing field somewhat — or at least made the books available for those who already knew about them.
The same thing happened with me in the case of Gringolandia, Rogue, and Surviving Santiago, which were sold in few to no independent bookstores and weren’t carried by Barnes & Noble either. When I lived in Albany and had a car, I sold hundreds of copies of Gringolandia out of the trunk of my car at local book festivals, peace festivals, and other community events in the region. Once it was in the hands of a university press, Gringolandia went to retailers on a short discount like many university press books, which meant that even when festivals and conferences arranged with local booksellers to sell presenters’ books, the booksellers could not sell Gringolandia. I had to bring my own copies and sell them “under the table.” Nonetheless, that novel has continued to sell via that large online retailer that sells everything, as well as via campus bookstores where it’s required reading for courses.
I’m happy to say that Torch is not nearly as hard to get as Gringolandia has been for the past 12 years. It took eight years for the earlier novel to have an ebook edition. Torch‘s ebook is available now — no waiting required. In addition, there’s a spiffy new audiobook edition with a different cover, but the reading itself is unabridged. Like the ebook, it’s available immediately and as a digital file can never sell out.
Besides the quick, easy ways of obtaining Torch, there’s one more way that will, in fact, save you money. You can order the book directly from Lerner’s website! Although the website appears to be geared to institutional buyers — schools and libraries — anyone can order, and the discount is available to all. Right now, you can buy Torch directly from Lerner for $14.99, a $5 discount off the cover price. I’ve bought multiple Lerner books from that website, and the books arrive promptly and in excellent condition.
In January 2023, Junior Library Guild will release Torch to its subscribers and customers. At that point, expect the book in a lot of libraries. If your library doesn’t have it, it should be an easy request for their collections. Generally libraries require two positive reviews to justify adding a book to the collection. Torch not only has those two positive reviews, but they are also starred reviews. And it received a coveted Editor’s Choice designation from the Historical Novel Review.
In any case, my novel may be playing hard to get, but it’s not going away. And being a world music fan, I know that chasing down that hard-to-find but brilliant album is half the fun.