Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thinking Outside the Bookstore

Writers are looking at venues other than big-box stores for signings. Small, independent bookstores are increasingly attractive, with their (sometimes) lower commission, and their strong connection to an active reading community.

Conventions and writing workshops have long been valuable ways to meet the public, meet and make fans, and promote and sell your work.

But, more and more, writers are looking beyond these obvious spots.

The "occupation cozies" probably led the way. A woman who decorates cakes for a living stumbles into a mystery and ends up solving it. So the author sells books at small bakeries and pastry shops. A zookeeper solves mysteries and the author does signings at zoos. I recently heard of a group of writers who feature horses in their books who banded together to sell at tack shops and other places horses and their owners are known to gather.

I have an out-of-the-bookstore experience coming up today: The Southern Indiana Writers Group, of which I am a member, have been accepted into an art exhibit. The exhibit is Arts Council of Southern Indiana's "The Animals In Us", and our entry is our anthology about animals, BEASTLY TALES. Our anthology will be for sale, along with prints, sculptures, and other pieces of original and reproduced art.

It pleases me more than I can say to see literature going out and finding readers, and it pleases me even more to see people responding to that availability.

We did a reading in an art gallery/restaurant once, and one of the patrons (who didn't buy a book, alas) came up and thanked us, saying that she never liked to read, but she had discovered from us that she loved being read to. If we had had our books on tape or disc, she would have bought one. The fact that we had opened somebody up to reading in any media was very, very satisfying.

How have you seen writers promoting or selling books outside of big-box bookstores? How could you do it?

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes


Carole Anne Carr said...

I do this sort of thing myself, but you have prompted me to think of other venues apart from schools or bookshops.

Cheryl Tardif said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl Tardif said...

I've held many events outside of bookstores.I launched one of my titles THE RIVER in a coffee shop (non-Starbucks) and it went over very well and I sold a lot of copies. Even customers who hadn't been personally invited stayed for the festivities and bought books.

I held a book sale with 3 of my titles at a local Starbucks. They knew me because I was their resident author. I wrote there about 5 days a week for about 6 hours a day.

For a few years in a row I gathered a small group of local authors for The Edmonton Woman's Show and I organized what I called "Author's Row" and we sold LOTS of books. Over 10,000 people went through the doors and most saw our signs, books etc.

I've also sold books at libraries, schools and a drug store. Opportunities are out there for those who actively look for them. :-)

anthony stemke said...

Some nice innovation here. My spouse, the Education Tipster, sells at libraries and sold a couple at garage sales (where she is the customer).

Charmaine Clancy said...

I have a kids mystery set in the dog showing world and could see how doing a signing at larger dog shows could gain interest. Thanks for a great post.
Wagging Tales

Debra Purdy Kong said...

I sold far more books at Christmas high school craft fairs than I ever did at conferences. I've discovered that people really do like supporting local authors. It's also inspired me to create stationary products to sell with the books. I envision a whole new business developing to complement book sales.

Marian Allen said...

Thanks for some great comments! I'm excited about all the opportunities out there, and how open non-bookish venues are to authors and book selling. Somehow, what had been coming to be perceived as elitist is populist again. Do you think graphic novels have helped move things, or the popularity of Harry Potter raising a generation of eager readers?


Gina Gort said...

In today's market you have to be prepared to pitch your book anywhere. A friend of mine always carries a copy of her book in her purse so no matter where she is she can sell it.

Marian Allen said...

Gina, since my books are electronic, and carrying discs of them in my purse cracked the jewel cases, I had postcards printed out with cover, blurb, web site URL and QR codes to web site and buy pages. I carry those and hand them out. :)

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes