As you know if you've been following along here at PMN, publishers pay retailers top dollar for co-op advertising/placement: all those big "New Release" tables, aisle endcaps, cardboard displays, &c are all part of the co-op system. As publishers prepare for the ramp-up into the holiday season, the complicated co-op dance of death becomes even more serious. That memoir everybody's gotta have for Christmas? As the publisher, you'll cripple sales if you don't pay retailers for front-of-store (or front-of-...website?) placement, prominent biography section positioning, &c &c. In short, it's going to be a madhouse out there. What does this mean for you?
Well, if your book is coming out this holiday season and you're a solidly mid-list author, it may be difficult to secure any kind of substantial promotional placement before the end of the year. Co-op is generally figured out several months ahead of time, so it might be a little late in the game to try to hammer something out now. If you're in this situation, however, consider asking your agent if there's any way to determine what co-op (if any) you've got scheduled this fall/winter, and if there's anything that can be done to improve it. (Note: please do not drive your agent insane with hourly requests for co-op updates.) Even if there's nothing you can do on a national/chain level, there's usually some co-op that's left to the individual stores' discretion, so think about popping on down to your local book store (you do already know everyone there, don't you?) and ask if there's any possibility of additional placement, events, signings, you name it.
It's a book-eat-book world out there, but that doesn't mean there's no room for you to step up and help yourself out. In fact, sometimes that's the main factor that separates the up-and-coming author from the one-hit—or, worse yet, no-hit—wonder.