Monthly Archives: August 2010

Guest Blogger Bookseller Cheryl Bago: How to get Your Book in Bookstores

Wondering if we can carry your book?  I decided to post the official Barnes & Noble criteria for getting your book in the stores.  So if you’re debating self-publishing, you might want to consider that a book MUST meet this criteria before we even consider putting it on the shelves.
Want to hear my side of an actual conversation I had this week?
“No, we can’t carry your book, even if it was professionally bound at the Cougar Copy center.  It has to be returnable.  No, we cannot buy it from you and return it to you.  It doesn’t matter if your entire family is planning to come in a purchase a copy.  No, we can’t have you come in to do a signing on a book we can’t carry.  No, you can’t sell the book on your own in our store.  No, you cannot stand outside our front doors and try to sell the book to our customers as they walk into the store.”
(as he starts cussing me out)  “All right, sir, if you really think it will become a bestseller on Amazon, then yes, I strongly recommend you try selling it there.”
And no, I don’t think we’ll be missing out on millions of dollars.

By the way, did everyone LOVE Mockingjay? Our Orem store sold more copies the first week than any other store in the district, and our district sold more copies than any other district in the company!!!  What does this mean?  It means that Utah loves YA.  But I guess we already knew that…

And on to business:

Does your book have an International Standard Book Number (ISBN)?

We use the ISBN to track inventory and sales information. An ISBN is a 13-digit number that specifically identifies your title. ISBNs are furnished by:

ISBN Agency
630 Central Avenue
New Providence, NJ 07974
(877)310-7333 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting                    end_of_the_skype_highlighting
(908)219-0188 (fax)

Processing takes 10 working days. An extra fee brings 72-hour priority handling. If your book has already been printed, you can sticker your book with the ISBN once it is assigned. The ISBN and price should appear on the back cover of the book.

Does your book have a bar code?

Bar codes help our stores handle books more efficiently. The bar code which incorporates your ISBN is scanned at the time of purchase, thus recording accurately the sale of your book. The book industry uses the Bookland EAN bar code, not the UPC.  If your book is already printed, you can have pressure sensitive labels produced for placement on the back cover. For a list of commercial Bar code suppliers, visit the BISG website:

What sort of binding (saddle stitch, staple, perfect, plastic comb, ring) does your book have?

Perfect binding is more expensive, but perfect-bound books have the potential for a longer shelf life and better sales because the name of the book can be printed on the spine. Since most of the titles in our stores are placed on the shelves spine out, stapled or saddle stitched books essentially disappear. If your book is plastic comb-bound or perfect-bound, the title and other pertinent information should be printed on the spine. Otabind is another type of perfect binding that allows a paperback to lie flat.

Is your book available through a wholesaler?

Your willingness to place your book with a book wholesaler may determine whether or not we carry it. Wholesalers normally expect a 50-55% discount, pay in 60-90 days, and expect books to be returnable. Some expect free freight. Placing your book with a wholesaler will simplify your billing (one invoice to one location). It also allows Barnes & Noble to place larger orders and put the book on automatic replenishment. Wholesalers are used by many segments of the book industry: publishers, libraries, and booksellers. Other bookstores order from the same wholesalers used by Barnes & Noble. We can help put you in touch with an appropriate wholesaler.

Is your book priced competitively with other titles of a similar topic and quality?

Price can be a determining factor for a customer when looking at books similar in content, presentation and format. Look at the pricing of other like books in the same category, and try to price yours competitively.

Has your book met compliance certification?

Barnes & Noble requires all vendors to certify that all products they supply meet all applicable compliance requirements, including but not limited to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA).  Vendors are expected to maintain knowledge of and comply with all safety standards for their products.  To that end, all Barnes & Noble’s suppliers and manufacturers must complete the new Barnes & Noble Vendor Certification Form.  In addition, view information on the Vendor and Product Compliance Requirements.

The new Vendor Compliance Certification program supersedes the previous compliance form and covers a broader range of product and compliance standards, in addition to children’s products and the CPSIA.

Why should Barnes & Noble place your title on its shelves?

Tell us what makes your book unique or special. What is your marketing plan? Send us your publicity and promotional plans, along with any reviews or articles that may have been written about your book(s).

Where can you find more information on the topic of book writing, publishing, and marketing?

The reference shelf in your favorite bookstore or local library features a wide variety of titles about writing books and the business of publishing.


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What holds me back?

Errr, Carol? Why are you putting me in the same category as Dean Hughes and Stephen King? The reason I made the challenge last week is because I never write. Almost never. I want to write. I think about writing. I need to write. But lots of times I don’t.

Lots of times I do anything but write. Like eat. Like watch bad TV. Like talk about being a writer.

One time Chris Crowe told me the difference between real writers and wannabe writers is real writers don’t waste their time talking about it. They are too busy writing.

So then, what’s this blog?

But then, that’s another issue.

I think what holds me back from writing is fear. Fear? Fear I can’t do it. Fear that I did it once or twice but that doesn’t mean I can do it again. Fear that when people read it they are going to think I’m an idiot–I’ll be out there. Fear that it will never get done and how can it if I never write? But I can just say, oh well, it’s taking me forever. But really it’s taking me nothing. Because I’m not investing myself in it.

Writing is an investment. It’s a commitment. And you can’t go half way. A novel is no silly thing. It’s big and unruly and confusing and full of people. People. Hopefully real to you people. And people do not follow directions. They have their own ideas and dreams and quirks.  It’s not an easy thing to keep in order. It’s messy and scattered and what’s that over there and who are we talking about now and am I repeating myself? And wait, what did that character just say?

If you want to write, you have to go all in. Your heart. Your head. Your throat.

Sometimes I don’t have that. I have my heart. I maybe a head here or there. And a throat? Sometimes. But all three? Or maybe it’s sometimes I choose not to have all three. I keep a foot in there, because that’s who or what I’m supposed to be. But if I want to write, if I want to finish something and not just finish it but make it what it could be, I have to go all in.

That’s what holds me back.

It’s a lot to give.

The End.

P.S. I am trying trying to do the word count. Missed on Saturday. And I did eat some treats over the weekend due to a necessary breakdown. it’s called emotional eating and i”M working on it. But I’m back on track as of today.


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Can I Just Get the Writing Done?

So, if you could change one thing about your writing life, what would it be? I mean, if YOU could change it. That kind of knocks out the answer, “I’d sell my book to (insert publisher’s name here) for (insert a huge amount of money here).”

What I’m wondering is, what is it that’s holding you back, what is it that’s keeping you from being a success as a writer? Now, we all know there are different definitions of success. Today, I’m going to talk about a sliver of what I think is success. To answer this question, you’ll have to change up the definition to match you. Make sense?

Anyone who has read this blog knows that I am The Whiner between Ann Dee and me. (Tomorrow, Ann Dee can tell you what she is. And Kyra–she may be following in my shoes!) There are several things that I let get in the way of my writing and my business of being a writer.  A few months ago I got a strong feeling that I was going to have to figure out a way to support the girls and me. It was an uncomfortable feeling–a warning really. I had thought our finances might be a little different by this time in my career. But we cannot control other people–which is why I asked you what YOU could change about yourself as a writer.  The deal is, I’ve had this feeling more than once–that I am responsible. And that means I need to take action.

My profession? I’m a writer. It’s what I’ve always wanted to be. I’m proud of the work I do and I’m pleased that I have the opportunity to publish. There’s nothing like typing “THE END,” nothing like positive words from an editor who loves your books, nothing like holding that first hardcover copy in your hands. There are so many sighs of satisfaction related to writing.

But there are some drawbacks. We are our own boss–even when working under a deadline. We spend a lot of time alone. We can’t control the outcome even when we have a terrific product.

So I’m asking this question of myself–the what-is-holding-you-(meaning-me)-back question. And I see some problems. Like, every time I sit down to write, I seem to freeze. Is it because in the olden days I could get away with writing a chapter a day? My book money helped support us, yes. But we never depended on it. Did I get used to writing an hour a day, and that’s it, and so now when I write about a thousand words, I have something in my brain that clicks and I just stop?

I think of Dean Hughes who wrote at least eight hours every day. Dean (who’s on an LDS mission with his wife right now) worked as a writer. He went into his office and wrote. He put down hours of notes. He connected the writing dots and he is a successful writer of all kinds of fiction and non-fiction, too. Like close to a hundred novels–some of them as thick as five of my own novels put together.

And what about Stephen King? King writes every day. He writes to a specific number of words and he sits at his desk till he’s done. At least, that’s what his excellent craft book ON WRITING says. King treats himself like a writer and expects himself to write.

I haven’t quite gotten there yet.

We can’t leave out Ann Dee Ellis (you all know her, right?). For three weeks straight she plans to write 2,000 words every day. I’m betting she has hit pretty close to her mark at the close of each evening. She’s a mother to two young boys, she teaches classes at the college level, she’s a wife, she helps care for her mom, she works with me on this blog, she’s a great friend–the list goes on and on.

What else might it be that stays my hand? Is it the fear of the blank page? The truth is, writers look at that blank page in different ways. Some see it as a challenge. Others see it as a threat. I LOVE a new book–a fresh start–a discovery of characters and where these characters might go. However, right now, the blank pages I have to fill feel more like an enemy. “Just get to 200,” I think. “You’re fifteen pages away.” Does this number scare me because I know I really have more than 200 pages to finish the book?

The truth is, I could go on and on why I’m not doing what I should do. The fact is, excuses or not, I’m NOT working like a real writer (who needs to support her family) would. I’m letting my emotions control me. And instead of pushing past those fears, well, I’m giving up.

Last week, Ann Dee issued a challenge to herself and encouraged anyone to join her. Today I am trying to figure out, a bit, where I am as a writer. I think I’m beginning to uncover, a little, what I am up against–the Me that is holding Me back. Today, I can’t tell you exactly what I will do to change these problems, but this exploration should, hopefully, leave me where I want to be–really writing as a full-time writer like Dean Hughes, Stephen King and Ann Dee Ellis.

So I ask again, what is it that’s holding you back from becoming the writer you want to be?


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Mary Kole, Amazing Agent and Badass

I met Mary Kole at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference this past June.Right when I met her I knew I was going to have a giant crush on her {not to be taken the wrong way, I just thought she was super badass}. Mary brought a lot of good things to the conference and was one of our favorite guests we’ve had in a long time. She gave wonderful advice, talked to everyone who wanted to talk to her, and showed everyone the dance moves to Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. I was lucky enough to interview her for all of your viewing pleasure!

How long have you been interested in working in the book world?

I’ve always loved books. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment or the exact book that made this a lifetime calling, unfortunately, but I’ve just loved books in a crazy way ever since I was a kid. I was always reading and writing. Now that I’m older, nothing has changed. I’m afraid that my inability to put down a book makes me completely useless in most other fields (especially organized sports).
What made you decide you wanted to be a part of it?
When I first learned that publishing is an actual business and books aren’t just magical things that fall from the sky, fully formed, I wanted to learn all I could about it. Sure, the business has its issues, as every industry does, and the economy is always a factor, and there are all sorts of practical concerns, but I think what really fired me up was learning about the writing craft and then learning about the process a manuscript takes as it becomes a book. It’s the idea that thoughts and images and smells and sounds can come out of the ether, onto the page or screen, get edited and polished, and then become an actual physical object in a kid’s hands. It’s all that in-between — the taking of ideas and words and turning them into reality — that’s really exciting to me. Plus, I know for a fact that kid’s books change lives. Kids who read find friends, courage, laughter, hope, creativity, and strength on the page. (Especially if they’re reading books by Carol Lynch Williams.) There’s nothing more awesome than that.
You’re probably the youngest, cutest agent in the business. What’s that like?
Very difficult. I’ve had a floor-to-ceiling mirror installed in my office and now I just spend whole days dancing to Lady Gaga, looking at myself, and blowing my own mind with my hotness. It’s truly an issue, and I get hardly any work done.
What are your 3 biggest dislikes in writing?
I hate flat writing and voice that lack imagination and passion. If you’re just writing to get something published because you hear that’s what you have to do, I’m usually not impressed. I dislike dialogue, characters, and story that only work on one level. Everything in life is complex, and all the moving parts of your novel have to match that reality. Finally, if you don’t give me a strong main character that makes me think about life or about myself as a person, I have to ask, why? Why put this on shelves? Why give this to a teen? What is the reason for this book to exist? If I can’t answer that question, I’m probably not going to do well in trying to sell it to publishers.
What’s the best part about being an agent? What’s the worst?
There are two best parts. First, calling a creator and telling them that their project, their dream, is going to be a real book. Especially if it’s the first time they’re going to be published. I also love working with that creative, wonderful client to polish that project so that it’s submission ready. The worst part, by far, is being disappointed by losing out on a project I really wanted to another agent, by a book that you have high hopes for coming out and not doing as well as you wanted, or having to disappoint an editor who offered on a project and tell them that we’ve gone with another offer. When you don’t get to work on the thing you love or when the thing you love doesn’t work as you wish it would…that’s the worst.
Word on the street is you’re a writer as well as an agent. What do YOU like to write?
I like darker YA. I haven’t sold a book as a writer yet, so there’s not much to talk about, but I love YA. My inner age is about sixteen. I write manuscripts that my sixteen year-old self would’ve loved to read. One of these days, maybe y’all will be able to read a story of mine as well!
What are your 3 favorite YA books you’ve read this year?
GLIMPSE by Carol Lynch Williams (I’m serious). BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver. I also really loved GIRL, STOLEN by April Henry, out in September.
What’s the best advice you could give someone looking to get an agent AND published?
Work on the writing first, then chase publication. It’s a really long journey and I can always tell the people who spend more time focusing on the craft and the passion of the writing from the people focusing on the book contract at the end of the tunnel. The goal isn’t just to get whatever published just so you can be published. The goal is to have a really long, fruitful, and exciting career where you write every day and love it. At least that’s the goal I want my clients to have.
You’ve just moved to New York to open the new  Andrea Brown Literary Agency branch. What’s that like? Busy? Scary? Fun?
I have been loving every minute. Every since the move, I’ve hit the ground running. I’ve been meeting with editors, working on client projects, selling books, and, poor thing, going to parties and socializing. That’s the great thing about being in New York…now I can really circulate and get to know my editor contacts at various publishing houses, and my agent colleagues at other agencies. It’s like diving into the world of publishing, and I’m so glad to finally immerse myself. (And, of course, the food and shopping are fantastic.)
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Shortly after college, I spent about six months working as a prep cook at a restaurant with two Michelin stars. It was the best job, besides this one, that I’ve ever hard. I love food. I love cooking. I’m probably happiest at a really gourmet, organic, food-driven restaurant or a farmer’s market. I love trying new things or perfecting old favorite recipes. But when I’m not cooking or agenting, I’m definitely reading. Reading takes up all of my free time and it’s so much fun, I don’t call it work.
Tell us about your blog 🙂
My blog,, came from my passion for talking about writing and for working with other writers — two things I get to do a lot as an agent. I also wanted to get my name out there, as a newer agent, and attract submissions. The blog has gotten me a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had, and a lot of great friends and readers. It’s tedious, sometimes, to keep up with a rigorous blogging schedule, but it’s one of my favorite little things to do.

This is Carol speaking now–I think we are going to watch Mary Kole do amazing things in the literary world. I’m glad I have a view of the stage. Kyra and I really do love her. Not only is she beautiful, but she’s hilarious, too. Meeting Mary was like meeting someone I hadn’t realized I knew and loved.


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