Retailers are an author’s friends
I know. I was AWOL last week. Sorry.
Actually, I was in Oahu promoting the Sir Newton Color Me Hawaii book. It was an impromtu trip, so I didn’t have time to set up too many events and get good marketing around them. But I did do two retailer events and spent the rest of the time visiting other retailers, both who carried the book and didn’t.
I did signings for the launch of the Sir Newton Color Me Cayman book, the first in the line, and they were successful. But this time, I wanted to do something that I thought would show off the nature of the book more — coloring activities. I made up two sheets featuring coloring pictures from the book then presented them to the kids and their (paying) parents, showing them that there’s more fun, activities and information in the book. The kids got to choose which sheet they would like to color, then when they were done, I gave them the other sheet to do at home plus a sticker of the book’s host, Sir Newton. All of the kids at both sessions seemed as though they had a great time, although I have to admit, I think they liked the sticker best of all. Go figure. The main thing is that the book got some exposure — and some extra sales — and the kids and my husband and I had fun doing the sessions.
The rest of our time in Oahu, my husband and I visited retailers who are already carrying the book, telling them thanks for the support, giving them my business card and letting them know we’re available to help them in any way they might need. One store manager seemed a little resistent when we first went in, as though he was bracing himself for expected complaints. I can’t be sure if this was really case, but when I said we just wanted to come in and say hi and thank the store for its support, he seemed genuinely surprised. And by the end of the conversation, he actually looked happy I had come in, which was a contrast to his first expression. I had asked if he gets a lot of authors coming in the store and he said, “Yeah, every day,” and the way he said it, he didn’t make it sound very pleasant. So my immediate thought was that he had had complaints from authors in the past. Again, I can’t be sure, but if that’s the case, it’s a shame.
The truth is that authors like us need retailers. We need them to stock our books, display them on shelves and recommend them to customers. Because without readers, we’re not authors. Sure we can be writers, but an author is someone who publishes books, and to publish books is to sell them, to have an audience that reads them. And to sell them, we need to promote them, but we also need the help of retailers.
As authors, retailers are our friends, and expressing your appreciation for their support and making yourself available to help them sell your books is good. Retailers will thank you for it. The ones I met did — every single one of them. It was worth it.
The other thing we did in Oahu (we didn’t have time to visit the other Hawaiian islands) was scout out stores that weren’t carrying our book that we thought should be. Although local residents can be entertained by our book, it’s geared toward tourists. And my husband and I found a number of tourist-styled stores that were not carrying our book. We took the book around with us, showed it, explained its benefits for their customers, and we got names that we can pass on to our distributor to close the sales.
So, get out and visit the retailers in your area. If they carry your book, tell them thanks. If they don’t, show them your book and explain why they should. Make friends with them. Retailers and authors need each other.