For those of you who will be visiting your local bookstore for an In Store event here are three pieces of advice for you to consider. For those of you who manage or work for a bookstore here are three pieces of advice for you to consider as well.
1. Bring your own books.
It's customary for bookstores to stock a small supply of books for instore events. Unless you are a NYT bestseller with the full weight and pocketbook of your publishing house behind you, prepare yourself now that the store may have for purchase anywhere from 15 to one case of books(about 25-30) to sell.
Don't exhale, because you think that's a small amount of books to sale and that it should be a piece of cake. Bookstores bring in that amount of books for a reason:
- You haven't proven to them you can sell books yet. Don't take it personal. It's just business.
- They don't know you well enough to know if you're worth the investment to order more books. Look these stores make money selling books not storing them.
- Your pre-order sales for your book in that store is low, which could be an indicator that those fifteen books maybe harder to sell than you realize.
- There may be a more popular book in the store releasing that week or pushing far more books than expected and they fear most of their patrons will be coming for that book. (i.e. Steve Harvey's Act like a Lady Think Like a Man.)
2. Arrive early.
I'm not talking a few minutes before. I'm talking a few days before, particularly when the store manager or community events manager is present. Have a face to face conversation with the person hosting your instore event. You need to learn two things from this person before your short meeting is over:
- Where will your author's table be located in the store?
- Who that is present on staff in the store while you're there will be present on the day and during your instore event?
- Can the store provide an extra register at the author's table or an open register at the cashier's station just for the event? I've witnessed patrons leave the store after they expressed they wanted to buy the book, because they didn't have time to wait in the long line.
- Can you leave bookmarks for the cashier's station to include in every patron's bag the day of the event?
- Does your staff know that I'm coming? Is your staff prepared to deal with phone queries regarding my coming? Will there be a staff member there who can assist me?
I've lost count of the amount of times I've called a bookstore the day before or the morning of and have been told from a customer service person that my client didn't have an instore scheduled. I don't know why there is such miscommunication between the events person and the store staff, but there is. No need to argue about it, let's just work our way around it. The best technique that has worked for me is to simply arrive early locate the sales manager and introduce yourself to the staff. Sure they may look at you like you're crazy, but we know you're not. You just need to make sure that when one of your bookclub fans call to the store to ask whether you will be there at noon or two pm, they want respond with a "Who? We don't have her scheduled to be here. Meanwhile you're over in a corner behind the Twilight rack wondering where your book fans are. Let them know you're here and get at least one staff member's name, so that you can call on when you need help.
Hope this helps. If you have more questions about book marketing, there are many ways to contact me. The best way is to drop a question in my Facebook help desk. Or you can register for any of my upcoming teleseminars and workshops. This month I will be sharing more book events series at the Virtual Writers' Workshop. Learn more here.