JRW launched its 2013 season of the Writing Show by discussing ways writers can work with bookstores to better sell their work. “Bookstore Battle Plan” featured speakers Kat Spears from the Library of Virginia Bookshop, Elizabeth Gleichman, Assistant General Manager of Books-A-Million and JRW’s own Virginia “Ginny” Pye, whose debut novel comes out in May. JRW Chair Bill Blume moderated the discussion, which focused on what do to and not do when working with booksellers.
Kat and Elizabeth outlined their different approaches for scheduling events. Kat finds Virginia authors who interest her in catalogues sent by publishers and contacts them directly. Elizabeth works with publishers who approach her first to schedule events for their authors. Ginny echoed Elizabeth’s comments. Her publisher for her debut novel Rivers of Dust told her to let them approach bookstores on her behalf instead of contacting them herself.
All three panelists agreed that a book signing or event is a great time to make personal connections which will sell more books. Kat and Elizabeth said that while books might not always sell at the event itself, people will remember and might purchase that book at a later time. Ginny also highlighted the importance of authors like herself attending other authors’ events and supporting others in your community.
Kat and Elizabeth also discussed the importance of publicizing your own event through social media. Let people know you will be in the store. Answering a question from the audience, Kat also illustrated using traditional media, newspaper and radio to get the word out.
During the second half of the show, Bill read some of the promotion ideas submitted by attendees for the panelists to discuss. Ideas included playing your book trailer at your event to draw interest, include a “freebie” short story or essay with your book, and including the bookstore logo or link in your email signature.
One lucky person who took part in submitting a promotion idea won a gift card supplied by Kelly Justice of Fountain Bookstore. (Kelly also provided an extensive list of dos and don’ts which we posted on the JRW website earlier this month.)
— Sheri Blume