Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Author Tips for Selling to Gift Shops

Last week I received an email from Linda Carlson, who wanted some thoughts from PMA members to help her write an upcoming PMA Independent article. She is compiling information from publishers about distributing books to gift stores and other non-book retailers and wanted some real-life examples from publishing companies that work with these types of outlets.

It got me thinking about our history titles that are in museum gift shops throughout the country and how our authors help us get their titles into these outlets. Given that many of our titles are general and military history books, they fit well in national and state parks and museum gift shops. Here are some great ways authors can get their books into these outlets.

1. Check out gift shop book selections.

When visiting specialty bookstores and museum gift shops in your area and while traveling, comb through the store’s book selection. Do they have a particular focus in the type of book they carry? Do they just carry local interest titles? Will they be featuring an upcoming exhibit that ties in with your book? Will they carry books by local authors regardless of the subject matter? Find out.

2. Be available for speaking engagements.

Throughout the year, many parks and museums put on special weekend events and anniversary celebrations and hold conferences the public can attend. Many times authors speaking at these events can tack on a book signing. Our author Jerome Greene has a number of Western history books and is a frequent speaker at parks and museums throughout the West. This weekend he is speaking at a Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and will bring in copies of our book Indian War Veterans as well as some of his other titles for the museum to sell. Make yourself available for events, set up a book signing while you are there, and be sure to leave extra copies of your book autographed when you go so the store will continue to carry (and sell!) your book.

3. Think broader.

Last weekend, our author Gary Moore was a panelist at the National WWII Museum’s conference on baseball and WWII. While signing copies of his book Playing with the Enemy in the gift shop, he noticed that the museum had a wonderful, broad selection of WWII titles. Gary, being familiar with our books on the German WWII submarine U-505 (here and here), shot us a quick email and let us know they would also be a perfect fit for what the gift shop carried. Because his book ties in well with our U-505 titles, it’s a win-win-win for the author, publisher, and the buyer to have all three of these titles available at the same place. What titles would your book sell well with? Find out where these books are selling and get your book there too.

Be on the look out for ways to tap into the lucrative gift shop outlet. Museum and park visitors are always anxious to pick up a book about a place they just visited or learn more about a local interest topic.


Drew W. said...

Welcome to the blogging world, Sarah. It's an interesting subject, even for the non-authors.

Colt Foutz said...

Definitely, definitely! Sarah's going to give great insight into how the publishing world works; how the books we love and the books we have yet to discover get out from the publisher to us!

Looking forward to much more.

Colt Foutz, author
Don Warren and Sixty Years with the World Champion Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps
December 2007 from Savas Beatie