Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I got an email this morning from a friend that got me to thinking. Apparently, as the email goes, a new author dropped by her local book retailer and asked if she could set up a book signing. Since she was local, the clerk at the store was pretty excited and told her that she would take the matter up with the store's manager and see when they could set up the singing.
A couple of days later the writer called and asked about the date and was told that there would be no signing. Apparently,the store manger decided that since the author was an unknown it would be pointless to set up a signing because no one would buy the book.
I find that to be not only extremely discouraging to new authors, but completely out of line by the book retail industry.
Now, I know as well as anybody that like every other industry in this country, book retailers are driven by the bottom line, but when does one draw a line under that bottom line?
How does a writer become 'known' if no one knows they exist? If the author is willing to supply the books for the signing and offer a percentage of the sales to the store for hosting the singing, how does the book store lose? They don't. They can't. They're not out any money, and no one is going to blame them if the signing doesn't go well, so why not give that local author a boost?
Any one who has ever written a book knows full well that word of mouth is the single best way to get their names out there. If no one knows you, how can they buy your book? And how can you gain recognition unless you put your name and your book in the public?
I was very upset when I read that email this morning. Not everyone who writes is well known. A great many writers might never become household names, but they'll never know if they don't get their name out there.
Most writers have by necessity grown that much needed thick skin, so being told "no" is nothing new to them. But, not even given the opportunity to try should not be allowed.
Okay, so Joe Blow owns Joe's Books, so what? Is letting that local author try to sell a few copies of his/her book going to cost Joe anything? Nope, not a red cent.
All we, as writers are asking for is a little cooperation. We don't want you to sell the book for us, we can pretty much handle that on our own, but at least have the decency to give us a couple of hours to try.
And you never know, you just might be the catalyst that launches a new star in the publishing industry.
And that is well worth that couple of hours exposure, right?

Tags: , , , , , ,

1 comment:

Jeni said...

You know, I'm thinking that book store manager doesn't have a good grip on the logistics here. Sure, the objective is to drive up sales but to do that, sometimes you have to also stir up a few new "browsers" to begin that route. Having a book signing at one's establishment isn't going to cost them anything is it? But even if the turnout isn't that high, there is the possibility that some of those in attendance may be book lovers who like to look around, possibly make a purchase of other books that day and if not, at least get a little familiarity of the establishment and make a return trip - or even several, if the atmosphere is encouraging. And what could be MORE encouraging than to host a local writer? One hand washes the other and one reader who hasn't been there before - well, it is totally a reciprocal process isn't it?