Saturday, April 23, 2016

~~A VERY Important Open Letter to Barnes & Noble from Cambria Hebert~~

To See the Letter On Cambria's Site:

Coppied and Pasted From Her Site:

An open letter to Barnes & Noble and the CEO Mr. Ronald Boire:
Four years ago when I first started in the publishing industry I sent a submission to the small press department for my first novel. With it I sent reviews, newspaper articles, marketing, book specs and a beautiful hardback edition of the book.
I was with a small publisher, met all the requirements and I was hoping to be considered for shelf placement.
I was turned down with a form response that basically came down to “we don’t do self-pub”. While I was disappointed that it was clear no one really took the time to read the submission because it stated clearly my book was not self-published, I took it in stride.
I knew I had to earn my “stripes” in the industry. I had to work my way up and expecting anything such as shelf placement in BN stores for a first novel was basically just a hope.
Five years later, with nearly thirty novels under my belt, I sent another submission.
This submission was for #Nerd, the first book in my popular contemporary romance Hashtag Series. I’ll be frank, my ultimate dream when I first started in this business was to see my books on your shelves. I still remember the feeling of walking through your aisles, gazing at all the beautiful books with a coffee in my hand and being awed at all the possibilities.
Having worked in this business for about five years now I admit, this dream became chipped away at. I’ve seen, quite frankly, the snobbery that comes from your large corporate world. I told myself it was fine if I never made it to your shelves because my books were popular and doing very well.
Then something happened. I was tagged in a picture on social media. #Nerd was sitting on the shelves at a BN on an end cap along with several other popular Independently published books. This came courtesy of some really awesome managers at one of your stores. It was awesome. The original dream of seeing something like that came back to me, and in some regard I remembered why I started in this business to begin with.
I took a chance, a long shot and put together another package. Inside I slipped detailed information of my book including the type of binding, shelf life, wholesaler discount and distributor.
I’d like to note that when I began publishing on my own many years (after leaving the small press) ago I went to the extra hassle and expense of getting an account approved via Ingram (Lightning Source) so that my books were in your catalogues and viable for ordering on the chance someone might want them for your stores.
Also, in that packet I included reviews, average rating, marketing details, and every single format my book was available in. My book is professionally edited, award winning and has a standout cover designed by a designer who already has covers sitting on your shelves. I also included the information that #Nerd has a professionally produced live action book trailer with over fifteen thousand views and a lot of buzz.
I outlined the many signings I attend to promote myself and noted my social media accounts including my sizable Facebook page with almost seventy thousand likes.
With that I included a paperback of my novel and a print out of the photo of it sitting on one of your end caps.
Honestly, I never expected to be accepted. I never thought I would be considered but I hoped. I saw that image of my book on the end cap of a large BN and it felt good.
I got a form letter in the mail today. A rejection. I will say, it was a much friendlier rejection than the one I received four years ago.
But it was no less condescending.
Thank you for letting me know my book was available online for readers to purchase via your website (I surely wasn’t aware of that link). Also, thank you for pointing out that you have a relationship with Lightning Source so my title will be stocked in your distribution network. I’m well aware that my books are available for distribution and I’m also well aware you are able to order via Lightning Source.
The last line of your form refusal was letting me know if my title was available in eBook to visit for instructions on uploading content.
While I am WELL aware the small press department must be bombarded on a daily basis with hopeful submissions and your staff does not have the time nor man-power to reply personally to every submission, I find this letter insulting.
I outlined my EBook was available on your website. I obviously did my homework before submitting a proposal to the company. I knew you had a relationship with LSI.
The only actual response to my submission was one line. One. It read “The buyer responsible for romance has decided not to stock #Nerd on the shelves of our retail stores at this time.”
Okay, I can handle that.
But I want to know why. Even just one sentence more with a reason would have been succinct.
I got nothing but a bunch of helpful info presented to me like I was getting a great thing you were making my book available for special order in stores. Um, it is available to order. It always has been.
Do you think because I am an independently published author I have no knowledge of the business? Does your corporation assume that since I don’t have an agent approaching you on my behalf I couldn’t possibly understand any of the requirements needed for store placement?
Is that why I got no reason as to why you said no? Because the only thing my book doesn’t have in the positive column is that it’s not represented by an agent or large publishing house with lots of money?
I respectfully object. When will the stigma of independent books ever fade with your company? When will it stop becoming an exclusive club and allow for good books to be recognized?
Frankly, I’m offended and angry on behalf of not only myself but all independent authors.
Yes, there are millions of books published every year. Not all of them are good. The easy use and accessibility of publishing online today makes lots of people think they can write a book.
However. There are a lot of independent authors out there who are damn good at what they do. There are professionals. There are people that work and work hard for their name and career. What is it about us that makes you look away?
Are you afraid you’ll make the big six with all their money angry if you clear off even one shelf for some independent books?Are you certain that your exclusive choice of titles in your stores are the absolute cream of the crop?
The publishing industry is changing. It changes so fast and so much it’s nearly impossible to keep up. But it is beyond confusing to me as to why a company who is almost wholly focused on books and the publishing industry why you don’t acknowledge this. It’s like baking a really great pie and then only eating a quarter of it.
As I pointed out in my submission letter, adding just a few select independently published novels widens your potential. It not only introduces new and exciting content to readers who love to browse your shelves, but it also is a huge step in showing that you as a company are willing to be at the helm of this changing industry. It shows support in the written word and authors with talent.
Why are you suppressing indies?
At your company you have the resources and the capability to pick and choose those quality independent novels. You can screen and make sure the books only add to your environment. What will you lose?
From where I’m standing, there are a lot of gains. For your company and for the entire publishing community.
Even if it’s not one of my novels (though I think they deserve honest consideration) I implore you, give independent authors a chance to shine on shelves. Give them a voice, an equal chance to sell a book beside their peers, because that’s exactly what the books on your shelves are. They are written by my peers.
In fact, I would wager some of my books probably outsell some of the ones you stock on your shelves. That doesn’t mean by any means those books don’t deserve to be where they are, they do.
But mine do too.
I’m tired of the indie stigma. I’m tired of being looked at as “not good enough” because I don’t have a NYT, USA Today or Wall Street Journal bestseller tag before my name.
No, my books aren’t screened through agents and publishers.
You know who screens my books? You know who deems them worthy? YOUR customers, the readers. I have average ratings, sales and demand to back it up.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a reader ask me why they can’t get my book on your shelves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard readers say they wished they could pick up their favorite indie authors book off your shelves.
You limit yourself. You limit us. You, a corporation who is dedicated to books are being outdone by other businesses who are not wholly about literature.
No, you as a corporation don’t need to risk anything on indie authors. And yes, maybe it would take a little work to choose a few titles for an “independently published” shelf. Good things are rarely easy, something I have well learned in this business.
Some might even be reading this and asking why do I even care so much if my book is on your shelves? Does it really matter?
Yes. It does.
I recognize you, Barnes and Noble.
I recognize you as a book store in a market of fading book stores. I recognize you as an established business where book lovers go and look to you to point them in the direction of good reads.
Why won’t you recognize me? Why won’t you recognize the indie authors who all recognize you?
This isn’t just an angry letter because I got another form rejection. I’ve had many. I’ve also had many successes and my career doesn’t hinge on store placement. This is about change, and about asking for a chance to be equal.
I’ve been in this business a while now, I don’t know everything, but I do know some things. I know you have the capability of helping to lift up the talented writers who do ALL their own marketing, publishing and branding.
It’s time, Barnes and Noble. It’s time you step into the new era of publishing. It’s time you acknowledge there are good books out there that don’t just come out of big six publishers.
It’s time you recognize us.

Cambria Hebert
A Successful Independent Author

More About Cambria Hebert:
Links on her blog to follow her everywhere (and you should!):
Cambria Hebert is the author of the young adult paranormal Heven and Hell series, the new adult Death Escorts series, and the new adult Take it Off series. She loves a caramel latte, hates math and is afraid of chickens (yes, chickens). She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and children (both human and furry) where she is plotting her next book.


  1. Replies
    1. Absolutely!! You're Heven and Hell series was one of my first paranormal loves several years ago, and this particular message speaks for all the authors I've fallen in love with since, and why this blog exists. I hope there are many, many more shares! <3