Jeanne: Selling Books the Old-Fashioned Way

Indy Bookstore Day 2019On Saturday I attended a book-signing at New and Olde Pages, a local bookstore, in honor of Independent Bookstore Day, where I sold seven books. That may not sound like much, but it’s twice what I’ve sold on Amazon in the past week, including my KU reads. (On Sunday I had to suspend my “trickle” ad when the trickle became a flood thanks to Christmas shoppers who apparently clicked on my ad only to remember that they weren’t shopping for themselves. Since the Zon charges per click, this is the worst possible outcome. Like many other authors at this time of year, I had to suspend my advertising.)

For an author with only two books on the market, selling seven books in an afternoon is a very nice result. It wasn’t especially profitable, because I bought books from two other authors there (of course), but it was an enjoyable afternoon of chatting with potential readers. It was also, for an introvert, insanely stressful. When I got home I walked in the door, ordered up a drink (it’s lovely when your husband is also your bartender) and proceeded to binge on Spider Solitaire while listening to the soundtrack from Hadestown for a couple of hours while I unwound.

(If you’ve never heard Why We Build the Wall, it’s absolutely haunting.)

As I write this post on Sunday morning, though, I’m largely recovered from the ordeal of talking to other human beings and I think hand-sales is something I need to pursue more aggressively in 2020. I believe in my books. I think they’re funny and thought-provoking, with unique and compelling characters. And when I talk to people face-to-face, this comes through persuasively.

So one of my goals for 2020 will be to approach independent bookstores and ask if they’ll take my books on consignment (or order through Lightning Spark). There are only a couple of Indies here in the Dayton area, but there are more in Cincinnati and Columbus. I also plan to approach the local library systems and see if they’d be willing to stock it.

Which means I’ll need to talk to people again.

Is 9 a.m. too early to start drinking?

 

Elizabeth: Bookstore Romance Day

This past Saturday, August 17, was Bookstore Romance Day.  I had no idea there was such a thing but, to be fair, this was its first occurrence.  Though I had no idea about the event, I had in fact signed up a few weeks ago to attend an event on Saturday at a local bookstore that featured a panel of romance writers.

It was purely coincidental.

Honesty compels me to admit that I did not, in fact, attend the event, blowing it off to go see Hamilton instead.  I have no regrets.

Anyway, back to Bookstore Romance Day.

According to creators of the event:

Bookstore Romance Day is a day designed to give independent bookstores an opportunity to celebrate Romance fiction—its books, readers, and writers—and to strengthen the relationships between bookstores and the Romance community.

Judging from my newsfeed on Monday, the day was a definite success.  Bookstores across the country hosted a variety of events including panel discussions, romance book clubs, and author-bookstore matchmaking.

Sponsors of the event included Romance Writers of America, Sourcbooks Casablanca, and Avon and a number of well-known authors participated, including Loretta Chase who was part of an evening romance writer panel at the Harvard Bookstore. Continue reading

Elizabeth: What’s Your Shelf?

Terry Pratchett’s shelf seems to be quite full.

Earlier this year I attended a business conference in a lovely resort hotel in sunny Phoenix.  The days were packed with workshops and networking sessions, which I was eager to escape from at the end of the day for a little down time.

While other attendees were engaging in even more networking over dinner or dancing the night away in the silent disco, I was lacing up my sneakers and setting off to explore the surrounding area.

There wasn’t much around the resort itself – rocks, cactus, golf course, cactus, parking lot, cactus, rocks and more rocks and cactus – but a little less than a mile away there was a sprawling shopping center with dozens of stores, restaurants, and random works of art. More importantly, there was both a Starbucks and a Barnes & Noble bookstore.

After caffeinating and enjoying the “12 WEEKS. 12 ARTISTS. 12 MURALS“ art installation, I made my way to the bookstore, lured by the promise of wonderful bargain books just waiting for me in the clearance section. Continue reading

Elizabeth: The Call of the Bookstore

In a quirk of fate, my first “real” job when I was a teenager was in the Books, Tapes, & Stationery department at a local department store.  It was long enough ago that “tapes” referred to cassette tapes, and “books” were those rectangular things formed out of dead trees.

Along with the job came a store credit card and, as you can probably imagine, most of the purchases on that card were books.  Then, as now, I loved the clearance book table.  There were books with beautiful pictures of London, Paris, and lots of other places I dreamed of visiting.  There were always books from National Geographic Press, and I still have many of the art books I purchased then, like the Treasures of Tutankhamen’s Tomb and the Art of Dresden.  When things were slow, my co-workers and I gravitated toward the Hidden Eye picture books – squinting and peering awkwardly, trying to see the images hidden on the pages.    For research purposes, of course!

I bought fiction books too, of course, but their pull wasn’t nearly as strong as those bargains from the clearance section.  That section is still what draws me to brick & mortar bookstores.  I can always find something I need if I browse there long enough.    The same books probably exist on Amazon, but browsing “electronic shelves” isn’t nearly as satisfying as meandering down rows of physical books.  I’ve tried to limit my meandering recently – an intention helped by the fact that physical bookstores nearby are few and far between.

When I’m looking for a fiction title by a specific author, however, browsing at my local bookstore rarely pays off as there seems to be a disconnect between what they stock and what I’m trying to find.  It’s a problem remedied easily enough by logging onto Amazon.com, doing a quick search, and clicking “buy”.    Productive and efficient, but I kind of miss the physical interaction with books that way.

Lucky for me, when I ventured out of the house a few weeks ago, I found that there is an actual brick & mortar Amazon store about 10 miles away.

Naturally I had to go in and check it out.  It was . . . well . . . different. Continue reading