Guest Blog by Trisha J. Wooldridge
It’s a busy day, the small staff is trying to help more customers and do more projects than is humanly possible, and New Author flags someone down.
“I just published my new book and I’d like a signing next Saturday. How many copies do you want to buy? I’ll give you ten per cent off the cover price.”
Insert screeching record-needle scrape.
Bookseller gingerly takes the book that’s been thrust in their face. The cover art is... “interesting”, the title font looks hand drawn, and at first glance the bookseller has already found three grammar errors on the jacket copy. There is no barcode nor a price, and the spine isn’t centered.
“So how many copies do you want to buy? I’m a local author!”
Some version of this happens frequently at the store where I work. We have a fairly large local author selection, because we try to support our community. A fair number of those books hurt the appearance of the section because of bad covers; many cause confusion with staff when hand-written price stickers fall off in humidity; and some customers walk away from the entire section when they find books riddled with errors.
This makes most bookstores wary about working with “local authors” or “indie authors.” Most traditional authors don’t contact us; we get their information from publishers. Some newer authors with traditional publishing houses do contact us—usually after first contacting us via email or on the phone, as our website suggests (ALWAYS check bookstore websites for preferred communication about selling books or doing events)—and that interaction is usually simple:
“Hi, I’m a New Author, and I’ve got a book coming out in a few months with Publisher, would you be interested in hosting an event? Here’s the information on the book.”
New Author hands Bookseller a bookmark, sell sheet, card, or Advanced Reader Copy. Bookseller can easily order books from a distributor or publisher at their usual discount of 45-55% off cover. There is plenty of time for the bookseller to promote the event.
You’ll notice I’ve tied my examples with events. An event sells books. While most people who go into bookselling love books, they can’t be a bookseller without making money. Bookstores have limited space. A book on a shelf needs a reason for people to get engaged. An event is meant to get readers engaged. So, if you want a bookstore to consider carrying your book, see if they’ll consider hosting an event for your book.
Here are the most basic things a book store needs to consider your book event:
Boiled down to a “simple” answer, if you want a bookstore to carry your book, be a professional the bookstore wants to work with. Success of your book and book event is a success for the bookstore. When thinking about approaching a book store, have in mind what will make this partnership fun and profitable for all parties involved.
Trisha J. Wooldridge is the events coordinator for Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester in Worcester, Massachusetts. When not wrangling authors, publicists, electronic media outlets, and newsletters, she also writes and freelance edits. She’s edited over fifty novels; written non-fiction articles, poetry, and short stories for a variety of publications; and under her child-friendly name of T.J. Wooldridge, published poetry and three middle-grade novels.
Find out more about Trisha at www.anovelfriend.com.
NOTE: Trisha is currently working on Annie's Book Stop's Annual Small Business Saturday event. They host a group of authors for a day of readings the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday is an event created by American Express where cardholders get extra bonuses for shopping local at participating stores. Annie's Book Stop shares that extra promotion by inviting local authors in to spotlight their work, and this year they are focusing on children's book authors.
Annie's Book Stop of Worcester is at 65 James Street, Worcester, MA, and will host authors from 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM with scheduled readings, Q&As, and snacks through the day.
If anyone is interested, shoot Trisha an email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (both come to the same place; one is easier to misspell than the other).
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