I’ve always disliked labels. I’m not talking about the ones inside your shirts–even though those are equally annoying and unnecessary. School labels, gender labels, book labels–the way we, as a society seem to feel the need to categorize everything.
I’m all behind being organized, but labels are often confining and isolating. I won’t go into certain labels that seem to be back in force after decades of fighting against them. I’m an author so I will focus on book categories, one subject that’s been a thorn on my side for a while.
Don’t get me wrong. I worked in libraries long enough to understand the need for them. However some books seem to cross different categories and I don’t always agree with where they end up in terms of shelves at the local book store or even the digital shelves of the Zon.
I had a signing at a local Barnes & Noble recently. I was so excited that they bought something like 60 copies of four of my books and I was going to finally have my books on the physical shelf of a bookstore–a dream I had since I was little when I spent a lot of time roaming the aisles of said stores.
On the day of the signing, all the copies were basically stacked on the tables before us–and the store managers gave us front row for anyone walking in the store. I went back a week or so later because I wanted to see my books somewhere in the store and take the obligatory picture (yes, yes, I know it’s vain but let me have my little moment).
I couldn’t find them anywhere.
After a few rounds, I decided to ask an employee. Turns out my books (every single one of them) were in the storage room. Not a premium spot to sell books but I get it, I will be in the store next month for another signing so I’m guessing they are reserving the books for that occasion (at least I hope that’s why).
The employee was very nice and grabbed three of my four books and put them on the shelf so I could take a picture. That’s when it hit me: no one would ever buy my books once they were on the shelves.
One reason is pretty obvious: no one really knows me so why would they go look for my books? But the most relevant–maybe not so obvious–one is this (look carefully at the photo): two of these just don’t belong.
As soon as I saw my books up there I knew I was set up for failure in terms of sales. Dating the Intern is in the right place, surrounded by other rom coms and contemporary romances. But Dark Feathers, and especially Kiss of the Swan, are in the wrong place. So very wrong.
Kiss of the Swan should be in the same shelf as the adult Sarah J. Maas’s books (I’m not comparing myself to her, just the genres) or Raven Kennedy’s because those are the readers who would possibly be interested in a darkish fairytale reinventing. Yes, it is romance just like Maas’s Crescent City series or Kennedy’s Plated Prisoner books (with a lot less sex, lol) but you won’t find these series shelved with the romance books. The same goes to my novella Queen of Hearts. This one is even worse because it has a blank spine (due to the book size). If they don’t place it on a table, people will never find it.
So I go back to my dislike of labels. I know they are a necessary evil but that doesn’t mean I cannot gripe about it, right? And yes, my books might not sell because people are just not interested in them, but let me have the illusion they would actually buy them if they were shelved in the right place–or even better, on a table somewhere in the store where people could see my pretty covers.
Let me dream…