Suggestions wanted

I have a FAQ to hand out to local authors, but I find that the format doesn’t work at all.  So I’m starting something new: a “do’s” list.  No don’ts.  Well, there are don’ts, but I’m structuring this to be as positive as possible.  I’m pasting my current list here, and would welcome any additions or comments.  And lest anybody think I’m over-the-top here, I have only included suggestions that would have helped at least 3 people.  In other words, at least three people had to make a mistake for me to include it here.  I think every event coordinator in America will back me up.  Et voila:

Derived from the many event requests we receive, here are some do’s about asking an independent bookstore for a signing (guaranteed to work for the Moravian Book Shop, almost guaranteed to work for any other indie bookstore), and making that signing as good as possible:

  • Do show us that you support independent bookstores—if you want us to support you, we want to know that you’re supporting us! Include a link on your website to www.indiebound.org, the website for locating your local independent bookstore, or link directly to your favorite indie store. (Not sure why we think indies are a better choices for communities and for authors? Check out this link [NB: I will be inserting a link here later].)  Do not advise us that your book can be purchased at Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble, or their websites. As a matter of company policy, we do not purchase from our direct competition, and we don’t like being told to do so.
  • Do spell everything correctly, including spelling the title of your book consistently. This also includes spelling my name correctly. It’s a very common name, spelled correctly everywhere on our website and on my business card. Keep in mind that this is the first contact I’ll have with you as an author, and if your email/letter has multiple mistakes, I’ll assume your book isn’t any better. One or two typos are human and won’t kill an application, but multiple mistakes will, every time.  I go out of my way to respond to every application, but I’ve had a few that are so bad that I wouldn’t even respond.
  • Do be aware that it’s even odds that a woman will be the one reading your letter or email. “Dear Sir” no longer cuts it here in the 21st century.
  • Do let us know about your great reviews and publicity! Don’t be afraid to talk yourself up; if you don’t do it, who will?
  • Do be ready to self-promote when you do the event, as well. Everybody from bestselling authors with publicists from major houses, to self-published authors with a debut book, have to do it. Sitting at the table and reading a book will not sell your book. Avoiding eye contact will not sell your book. Being friendly, talking to people as they walk by, and being ready to answer questions will sell your book. If you’re not comfortable with this, maybe an in-store event is not the best way for you to promote your book.
  • Do be ready to provide your book to the store if you are self-published or published by a print-on-demand company. We do not buy directly from xlibris, PublishAmerica, AuthorHouse, or other similar companies because of numerous problems we’ve had with them. We will offer to buy them from you at a 40% discount, on a returnable basis, which is standard for the book industry.

What do you think?  Booksellers, what would you add?  Authors, what else do you want to know?

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3 comments so far

  1. Ann on

    This is a very good idea.

    What about stressing the importance of the local author’s personal contacts and mailing list? The best local events I’ve seen have been those where the author mails out postcards and emails, and tells everyone he or she knows about the event.

  2. […] . . of good advice for writers: first, on the Zen-like aspects of writing; next, on things authors need to know when asking their local bookstore to carry their books, host their signi…. This was written by edsouthern. Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2008, at 8:13 am. Filed under […]

  3. alisonkn on

    love this list. i’d also include info like ann suggested (ie, postcards or evites to friends), as well as information on any social media they might use. at bookpeople, this is how we ask for information from our local authors.

    http://www.bookpeople.com/marketing/EventRequestMarketingPackage.pdf

    it has GREATLY improved our local author events, and i think helps local authors understand all the work we as a bookstore do to promote them, and that they should want to work hard for their own event as well.


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