Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Writing & Publishing / Advice / Messing With The Bookstores
Messing With The Bookstores
Please, please, please refrain from rearranging books, creating faceouts, create unauthorized
displays, "reverse theft" (!?!), pamphleteering, "misplacing" competive books, etc. in other
people's bookstores. If you own a bookstore, great, do what you like. But someone else's
bookstore is *not your store.* The fastest way to create ill will among booksellers -- those people
in the best position to sell your book -- is to undermine their work. (Anyone who wants a detailed
treatise on *why* you shouldn't do these things, let me know and I'll provide one.)
In my experience, the authors who use these tactics are trying to push a book that is less than
If you as an author or publisher want to create goodwill with a bookstore, here are some postive,
out-in-the-open things you can do.
1. Shop there. Get to know the staff. Find out who shelves/maintains the section into which your
book fits, and introduce yourself. Be friendly, be patient, and don't be surprised if they don't have
a lot of time to spend with you, especially on a Saturday afternoon. (I have yet to see a bookstore
that is overstaffed.) If you're a customer I recognize and you tell me you have a book coming out,
I'm going to be more receptive to your message than one from a stranger.
2. Understand that (usually) the manager is not the special orders person is not the inventory
person is not the special events person. Ask for the right person to speak with for what you want
to accomplish. It's usually *not* the manager.
3. Follow the channels. Many chain bookstores don't do their own ordering anymore, even for
local-interest titles. If you ask and someone tells you to talk to someone at headquarters, follow
their advice. If your book is carried but you think it is miscategorized, ask what you need to do to
have it recategorized rather than just reshelving it yourself.
4. Be easy to work with.
5. Talk to the special events person about setting up a signing or a reading or another event. Use
your own connections to help publicize the event. Show up on time and be prepared.
6. Understand that bookstores, like libraries, have limited shelf space and just can't carry
everything. Do your part to reduce the possibility of your book being rejected. Make sure that
your book is professionally produced and presented. Do your homework so you can explain why
your "finding yourself" book is different/better/more exciting than the 200 other ones out there.
But in the end, recognize that your particular book just might not be what the store is looking
Someone else mentioned having your family/friends/colleagues special order your book at the
store. This is good advice. Repeated special orders will draw attention.
Lori A. Kozey -- (with two years as a full-time bookseller, and several as a part-timer)
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
Site design by Williams Writing, Editing &