The Art of Connection
A previous post featured the Top Five Things an author needs to do to increase the likelihood of seeing your book featured in an honest to God bookstore.
Tina Ferguson, owner of a thriving indie bookstore, Face In A Book, in El Dorado Hills, California offered her valuable insight into what goes into the decision to select books for her store. She has more advice for us author-types:
It comes down to connection.
Connect with the bookstore. Every bookstore (real bookstores – not the chain stores, or markets where the books are stacked on aisle seven, next to the frozen pizza) has a specialty. They may not openly declare a fondness for a particular genre, but you can sort this out on your own. Wander around. If they don’t have a section with black candles, pentagrams and devil worship, you ought not to peddle your Satan’s Coven chapbook (with its genuine imitation human skin binding) in that particular store. There’s a place for that – but, it’s probably not in a store with a large collection of children’s literature, for example. Do your research.
Connect with the community of readers. There is a phrase out there that digs under my skin from its overuse and trite connotation. “Give back to the community.” Giving back to what, exactly? To whom? It implies that you only need to throw money in the wind and everything becomes magically delicious. And what in a red baboon’s butt does this have to do with your book? My humble suggestion is to specifically invest in the community of readers.
If your local bookstore is a gathering place for readers and book people, participate in what they have to offer. Buy a book, or two and learn what people like, what they don’t and why they choose one book over another. The cover, the genre, recommendation of a friend, or why soured them on a title. That’s valuable market research.
Connect with the big picture. Getting your book on a bookstore shelf, and keeping it there, demands attention. However, there is a responsibility to invest something more than yourself. I’m very fortunate to be able to do what I do. Many others are not so lucky. In Little River, I wrote about human trafficking in the Caribbean. Twenty-seven (27) million men, women and children are trapped in trafficking networks around the world. I donate a percentage of the profit of all the book’s earnings to the Not For Sale Campaign, a not-for-profit organization created to fight human trafficking in all its forms. I realize my small contribution isn’t changing the world, but it is a beginning. A marketing partner?
Locally, I’m investing in future readers. What? Yeah, I’m counting on future readers to view a bookstore as a place to have fun and enjoy all things books. We participate in several Reading to the Dogs programs, where our therapy trained Corgis listen to kids read them stories.
Think back to when you had to read aloud as a child. It was traumatic for some of us when we stumbled over words or mispronounced them altogether. The reading program allows a child to read to a non-judgmental dog in a fun, supportive environment. It is an amazing program to watch. We provide this therapy dog program at a few libraries in the area and at the Face In A Book bookstore.
I know many writers are introverts and connecting outside the writing cave will be difficult. Consider making these simple connections in your marketing strategy. According to Tina Ferguson, engaging and connecting do make a difference in deciding if a store takes on a book, and its author.
What have you done to connect? Share your ideas and strategies
Another great post full of helpful hints. Although I am still a little bit from having my book ready to go, I’ve been connecting at the local bookstore in town. LIke your store, the owner is very accessible, and they have great programs. I’ve attended some readings, participated in some workshops, and spoken with her about the possibility of having my book in the store. Fingers crossed that they’ll be interested. This series was very helpful so thanks for sharing the tips you were given. Love the picture of Emma and Tanner, too cute. 🙂