Earlier this month I wrote a post titled “What Publishers and Authors can do for Book Sellers, a Publisher’s Viewpoint.”
I also wanted to get a book seller’s two cents on the subject. I can describe how I think a publisher and author can help a book seller sell books, but what really helps them? I ran this question by Bjorn Skaptason with Abraham Lincoln Book Shop. He provided a thoughtful answer which I am including below as a guest post on the subject. I hope other publishers and authors find it as useful as I did.
Thanks for asking for our comments on what authors can do to help booksellers sell books. At Abraham Lincoln Book Shop and Virtual Book Signing we view publishers and authors as partners with the mutual goal of selling books. Sometimes, simply keeping that in mind while pondering publicity strategies will help.
The three points you raised in your December 7 post are very important. The willingness of authors to provide signed copies of books will help the book sell. This can be accomplished in person or with a book plate, but the willingness to personalize the customer’s book in some way is the important part. Also, when authors and publicists provide downloadable publicity materials, such as press releases and author bios, it makes it much easier for the book seller to advertise an event. Try to make the book seller’s life a little easier, because we all hope that they will be plenty busy filling orders. Finally, the value of media exposure, compared to paid advertising, is immeasurable. Work hard to get media exposure, and when you get it use it to tell customers how and where to buy your book.
Here are a few more suggestions that can make a book event successful:
We want authors to know that shameless self-promotion is a good thing. You wrote a book! That is a big deal. Don’t be shy about sharing your enthusiasm for your topic with others.
Before traveling to an event authors and their publicists should research the local market and find opportunities to give media interviews. The book seller might be able to provide leads, but the author and publisher need to do the leg work to book the events.
Let the book seller know your publicity plans. They might wish to cooperate. We will sometimes buy ad time for an author’s event on the radio program that does the interview.
Plug your events during your interviews. Don’t count on the interviewer asking “So, how does someone buy this book?”
Technology is changing the book world from beginning to end. The notion that an author writes a book, then hands it off to a publisher, who then hands it off to a book seller, with each party doing their “job” is no longer true. There are too many books coming out, from too many authors, and too many publishers, via too many resellers for the old model to work. The parties must work in partnership right up to the point of sale to create excitement about a book, reach the right audience, and deliver the book to the customer. The author must be involved throughout. The author was there to write the book, and the author will be there to sign it after the sale. After all, it is the author’s book.