Bookstore events are an exciting part of the book launch and ongoing sales process. Many authors look forward to readings, signings, and bookstore-hosted workshops and have visions of hundreds of people waiting in line to buy their book. Here’s how to approach planning a bookstore event and some of the related positives and negatives.
PLANNING AND PREPARING AHEAD OF TIME
Many bookstores plan their events months in advance. It’s likely you’ll need to start pitching them the idea three month in advance of your target date. When approaching a bookstore you should have an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) to show them and pique their initial interest in your book.
Speak to an event coordinator, the store manager, or the store owner. At Barnes & Noble, the customer relations manager (CRM) handles events. These points of contact will decide whether to host your event and will help you schedule a signing or reading. It’s important to work closely with your publisher on each event as they can help you make the public aware of your event. One of the benefits, for instance, in working with Isabella is that we make our books returnable by the bookstore. So, if they accidentally overorder books they can be easily returned to the distributor for credit. This is a big advantage that you’ll have over self-published authors since bookstores, especially now, are wary of buying a large inventory of books for a new author.
Be prepared for this discussion with the following information:
PUBLISHER AND DISTRIBUTION
Be ready to let the bookstore know how they can order your book, whether through a distributor like Ingram, Baker & Taylor, or the bookstore’s local wholesaler. Oftentimes, the book can also be purchased directly from the publisher. Isabella Media is also able to offer our titles directly to bookstores.
MARKETING AND PROMOTION PLAN
One thing you’ll need to consider is having a marketing plan to convince the store that it’s worth their time to host the event. How will you bring in customers? The store must order copies ahead of time, so you should also estimate how many people will show up. At a minimum, most stores are looking for at least 30 to 50 people to buy the book, but an accurate estimate will let them order just the right number — so you won’t have any returns or upset readers without a copy.
TIME COMMITMENT AND CREATIVITY
How long are you willing to sign or speak at the event? A reading with Q&A is typically an hour, but longer events are not out of the question especially when children’s stories are involved. Perhaps, a craft with children or some other activity. This info will help the store accurately plan and promote your event to the correct audience.
Bookstores tend to schedule events with local authors, so initially focus on your hometown or the nearest major metro area. This local connection is key to bringing in customers for the event. An audience is much more likely to show up for someone connected to their community than they are for someone out of town.
To reach a wider audience beyond the local market, your best focus is on wider publicity efforts and marketing. Still, a big event to launch your book can drum up local sales, potential media interest, and an enthusiastic turnout from friends and family who will attend to support you. Above all, an event is a chance for you to get to know your readers and to celebrate the huge milestone of publishing your book. Enjoy it!
About the Author
Steve Guidetti is President / CEO of Isabella Media Inc, a Rhode Island-based, family-owned, mainline publishing organization with a mission to discover unknown authors. We combine unknown authors’ undiscovered potential with Isabella Media Inc’s unique approach to publishing and provide them with the highest quality books and the most inclusive benefits package available. Isabella Media Inc was formed to serve you, the author, as a traditional, mainline royalty publishing company and provide a platform for unknown authors. We listen to your feedback and create a collaborative atmosphere with our authors in the belief that you’ll come back to us with your next book.