Question of the Week August 25

What do you think is the best way to approach out of area bookstores about signings? For example, if an author will be traveling somewhere and would like to look into a book signing, is the best way via a phone call, email, letter?

Well, according to my experts, there is no good way. Bookstores are reluctant these days to book any children's booksignings whether they are in or out of area. It seems they don't think anyone comes to them. The bookstores then feel embarrassed and they are left with extra stock on hand that they can't return for 90-180 days. If you want to do something at a bookstore, you'll have to sell it to them as an event. For younger readers you can do a story/activity time. For older readers, you can do a reading or a writing workshop. If possible, try to have the local SCBWI sponsor you in some way. This will at least get your visit publicized to its membership.

Once you've decided they program you would like to pitch to the store, call and ask for the manager for small stores or the Community Relations Manager/Specialist for large independents and chains. They may not be able to speak with you right then, but you can schedule a time to talk. Then pitch them the idea. The worst they can do is say no. Also, be sure to try and schedule at least 3 months in advance. This will guanrantee that you will make any promotional or advertising material the bookstore produces.

School visits, which isn't specifically quoted in the question, but the person also asked about those, work in a similiar manner. After you have researched the districts and private schools in the area you will be visiting, you just need to start cold-calling librarians. Have a prepared script, but don't be afraid to deviate from it. Also, follow up any somewhat positive leads with a mailing of either a brochure or letter with brochure.


Anonymous said...

What are the best ways for authors to promote then, if visits are so hard to get. Or are bookstore signings and school visits not the best thing for promotion?

Lynn said...

Don't forget your local public and academic library for publicity as well.

During the summer months, public libraries are deep into summer reading programs. An author, especially a YA and/or children's author, participating in a planned program would be a coup for the library and author alike. With that said, keep in mind the opportunity to sell and sign books would differ from library to library and would need to be discussed prior to the event. And naturally, a couple of your titles donated to the library (as long as they worked with the collection policy in existance) would go a long way. As a former children's librarian in a public library, I would have loved a local author visit for summer reading ... or even storytime throughout the year.

With academic libraries, any institution with a large children's collection is probably supporting their college of education children's literature classes. Though the library itself may not be able to set up a visit, the education liasion librarian (like me right now!) may be able to get in touch with the kiddie lit profs and help arrange a visit. As with the public library, selling your book on site would vary from institution to institution, but again the library would probably appreciate a donation of your title.

The Buried Editor said...

Excellent point. Librarians are the best cheerleader a book could ever hope for.