Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Downton Abbey, Barnes & Noble, and Me

by Carola Dunn

A few weeks ago, my editor told me Barnes and Noble had picked my 19th Daisy Dalrymple mystery, Anthem for Doomed Youth, to be part of a nationwide promotion for Downton Abbey. Yes, I was excited!

The third season of the popular series is set in England between the wars--WWI and WWII, that is. Besides books about the period, B&N were looking for novels set at that time. They planned to have 5 or so copies of each chosen book on display near the checkout counter, in every store in the US. St. Martin's was to do a special reprint of the paperback edition for them.

My editor said the four-week promotion was to begin on January 8th. So on the day, I trotted along to the local store. I must have circled the store 3 times before I decided I just wasn't going to find the display. All the booksellers were busy, so I came home disappointed and tried to call them. Impossible to speak to a Real Person, or to leave a message, or even to stay on hold. At last, later that evening I got through.

The person I spoke to had never heard of a Downton Abbey promotion. He looked it up on his computer, and couldn't find anything that mentioned it. :-( 

I emailed my editor. I also asked my Facebook friends to pop into the nearest B&N if they happened to be passing and see what they could see. My editor contacted Macmillan's "B&N person," who promised to get onto it.

The responses I had from FB friends were not encouraging:

"There is a Downton Abbey display here in Naples, FL, but no Anthem for Doomed Youth."

"Checked the store in Fort Gratiot, MI. No Downton display but Anthem is on display in the new Mystery section."

"This was unfortunately the case last night at the W. 82nd location in Manhattan as well. I had called ahead and put Anthem on hold, but before I retrieved it, I sought out the Downton display to check out what else they had out. I found it on the endcap of the aisle that contained Mystery. So when I didn't see Anthem on display, I found it only a few feet away. I feigned ignorance tho just so I could ask an employee to find it for me and then mention I thought it was part of the Downton promo. I doubt it did any good, but I did want to mention it to them. Still glad to have a brand new copy of Anthem, which I hadn't read yet, but it was disappointing."

"I found the Downton Abbey display at the Ithaca Barnes & Noble - it was about 7 books on an endcap (no "Anthem"!). I caught a fellow and asked where the "Anthem" books were. He pulled out a paper with the particulars about the display, and it didn't include yours. He checked the computer and they had 5 new "Anthem"s, it said they were supposed to be in a "Cash Wrap" (?) "up front". We found them stacked on a desk; so I don't know where they are going to end up. But I did impress upon him that all your "Facebook friends" would be looking for the "Anthem"s." 

And have to laugh at this one, I guess: "Went to B&N in Woodland Hills yesterday and they were gone. Had been there just before Christmas. The sign said they closed 12/31/12."

I forwarded all these and more to my editor, at his request. Whether they helped or not I don't know, but I'm very grateful to all those who took the time to check. Three cheers for Facebook friends!

On Sunday, I returned to the local (Eugene) store. There was Anthem, right by the cash registers, with a selection of other books set in the time period! I asked if they'd like me to sign them, which they did, and even dug out some of my other titles for me to sign.

When I got home and turned on the computer, there was an email from my editor--he had found the same in his local B&N.

I'm not sure what the moral of this story is. Be patient and they'll get around to it? Or persistence pays--keep bugging till they act?

One way or another, I'm happy to announce that if you go into a Barnes and Noble store in the next few weeks, you may--or may not--find a Downton Abbey promotion that includes Anthem for Doomed Youth!

Read about the book here:
  (scroll down a bit)

Or read an excerpt here: 

It's also available as an ebook.

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