I think just about every indie author out there dreams of the day they’ll see their book in a brick and mortar store. With the decline of bookstores in general and the heavy hitting franchises disappearing faster than fresh shrimp at a Las Vegas buffet, that dream diminishes a little with each passing day.
The fact of the matter is, the stores welcoming local indie authors are out there and it’s a matter of getting out from behind your computer and making those connections face to face.
One such connection happened to me a week ago. It started when the wife of one of my writers in our weekly Las Vegas Paranormal Writers’ Group posted some information about a little bookstore they found in Henderson.
Every time I see a local business posted, or local author, or anyone, the first thing I do is follow that link to check out the site. The link took me to Books Or Books, owned by Kim. What first caught my attention was a little snippet on her about page: “marketing for local authors”.
Oooh, joy! A local author friendly store!
Not only was I interested in getting The Saga into an actual store, but I was looking for a new home for the Paranormal Writers’ meetings. I got on the phone and gave Kim a call. We set up a meeting for that Sunday afternoon.
Books Or Books was tucked away in a strip of stores I must have passed a dozen or more times in the past year, practically right around the corner from my house. Stepping inside was like taking a step back in time to my childhood, where the book stores had a cozy, warm and friendly atmosphere. Kim Henry sat behind the register, and when I peeked over the counter, she had her dog there keeping her company too.
We started talking and Kim was totally fascinated with the whole Paranormal genre. We quickly moved to a more comfortable spot to chat, in a pair of arm chairs at the front of the store, a sweet little reading nook surrounded by shelves and shelves of classic children’s books. We talked about werewolves and vampires, Edgar Cayce, our love of books and reading and about how The Saga was created.
She took me on a tour of her store and proudly introduced me to her collection of all kinds of books. Here was a woman who loved the written word and had a passion for books. I saw old favorites among her stock, and a few new ones I wouldn’t mind reading. Before we knew it, two hours had gone by. We would still be talking had a couple of customers not wandered in when they did.
Not only did I find a new home for the Paranormal Writers, but Kim was very excited about ordering The Saga for her shop. She took a handful of our postcards and made room for them in a spiffy clear acrylic holder next to the register. In return, I left her with a signed paperback copy of Loyalties.
So You Say You’re an Introvert?
I can’t tell you how important it is as an indie author to go out and meet people. No one is going to do your marketing for you. I was reminded of this at today’s Romance Writer’s meeting this morning. The topic was how to create a successful event. We all agreed that when we’re at signings or fairs, there’s always those writers who are too timid to look up and be approachable. They’ll hide behind their computers, they’ll mournfully watch traffic go by, afraid to strike up a conversation, or afraid they’ll come off as being too pushy.
I used to think I was one of these quiet types, but as time goes on, I’m finding that I like striking up conversations with total strangers. The introvert excuse is crap. And even worse, that kind of thinking won’t get you any sales. Really, it’s not about the sale at at all, it’s about connecting with your audience. Talk to them, engage them, find out who they are, what they like, what they’re interested in. The more you talk about them, the more they’ll linger. They may walk away without buying anything (at first) but they’ll remember you, and they’ll come back.
The same goes for bookstores. Go ahead, find out who the indie stores are in your area. Take a weekend afternoon and go visit them. Talk to the owner, find out about them. Bring your books and your promotional items, leave them in the car at first if that makes you feel more comfortable. Then when you discover there’s an interest, that’s when you say, “Hey, I’ve got my book with me, would you like to see it?”
What’s the worst that can happen? They say no? That’s cool. Thank them and move on, or keep visiting and work on that relationship more. Minds can change. The more you show an interest in others, the more they’ll remember you and show an interest in you.
Kim ordered her books on Friday and told me after my visit she followed through on her plans for a special Local Authors section at the front of the store. Everyone wins!
Thank you, Kim, for taking the time to talk, I enjoyed it immensely. I’ll be back with more authors in tow. Keep up the good work and here’s to creating long-lasting local relationships!
If you live in Las Vegas or are just visiting, check out our store and library locator map. As I mentioned to Kim, one day I’d like to see pins on it from coast to coast, blanketing the map. No matter where you are in the US or Canada, go to your favorite bookstore or library and ask them to carry Loyalties. All you need to know is we’re listed in the Ingram Catalog and yes, our books are returnable (which is key for bookstores). Check out our Packmates’ Challenge for more details.
We’re live and on the shelf! Read about it and see the pictures here.