Friday, July 01, 2016

Getting Your Book into Barnes & Noble

Authors with traditional publishers take for granted that we can find our books on shelves on release day. We go to our local Barnes & Noble and there it is, like magic.



It isn't so easy for independent authors. If you self-publish or choose a small press, you often must go to your local bookstores and ask that they carry it. You'll also need to promote it, which means one of these:



Most authors, no matter how we're published, must put these events together ourselves. And most of us have no clue how to go about it in the beginning. I walked into every bookstore in the area and introduced myself.



One bookstore has the best idea I've ever seen. Ever. Barnes & Noble in Chattanooga, Tennessee has a community relations manager who "gets" authors. Not only does he support us, he becomes a cheerleader for our careers. If every bookstore in the world took this approach, this is how readers would be:



He has put together an event to help authors who want to have a book signing in the store. The event not only tells you what you need to do to make your signing successful, but it provides information on how to get your books on the shelves of your local Barnes & Noble.



Plus (and this is the super-smart part), attending one of these seminars is a pre-requisite to having a signing this fall. Which makes life great for both B&N and authors because when the signing does happen, an author just might see a crowd like this:



(We can dream, right?)

Unfortunately, if you don't live near Chattanooga, this won't help you. However, the community relations manager has offered to share his notes with other Barnes & Noble locations. Visit your local B&N and tell them about this, then have them call Kelly at the Chattanooga, Tennessee store if they'd like his notes. Maybe this will eventually become a regular event at all their stores.

Also, Barnes & Noble has its own printing platform (eBook and print), in case you didn't know about it. More information here:



Do you have any tips for writers interested in getting their books on the shelves of bookstores? Or any tips on successful book signings? If so, leave them in the comments for others!

36 comments:

  1. That's really cool that he supports author appearances. And has a program in place to help them do well.
    Have a great Fourth of July, Stephanie!

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    1. I think all bookstores should do the same--it would make life so much easier for everyone!

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  2. That's smart. I wonder why all B&N don't do that? It'd help the store as well as the writer.

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    1. Hopefully authors will at least know they can take this to their B&N as an option.

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  3. That's amazing a book store is sort-of, kind-of reaching out to writers both old and new. I'm hoping if I ever get to that level I can find good information on how to get my book into the stores.

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    1. It varies from store to store. And it all depends whether your book is carried by the big distributors. If not, it gets a little more complicated...

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  4. Very complicated process isn't it. I just never thought about all the little pieces that make the whole.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ☺

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    1. Funny story: when I was a kid, I thought I could just write a book and put it on the shelves at Kroger and someone would pick it up and take it home.

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  5. That Chatanooga store manager sounds awesome!

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    1. He is! Really, I think all bookstores should be supportive like he is. It benefits everyone. I know they probably have indie authors approaching them all the time with sales pitches, so something like this could cut down on that, as well.

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  6. That sounds wonderful. We are lucky too that one of our Barnes and Nobles hosted an author fair. They even had something set up for customers to purchase their eBooks at the store. This was before I had anything out, but I should see if they are still holding it.

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    1. I love that idea!!! That's another thing that all bookstores should do. I always feel bad telling bookstores that I read ebooks. I've never been sure whether they frown on that or not.

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  7. If I ever get published, I'd love to do a signing at B&N. The nearest one to me is in Gilroy, California--only half an hour drive. I haven't been aware of any signings taking place at this location, though. The second-closest is store is in San Jose, about 50 miles up the road from Gilroy.

    The owner of a local bar published a memoir about three years ago and held a book signing at the bar itself. I'd also love to do it that way to get the book to my fellow bar patrons and to the workers. The coffee shop across from the bar also seems like an ideal place for a book signing, though I don't know if they allow such things. Many groups, including my book club have met at the coffee shop. BTW, the writing group I was supposed to meet the other day never showed up. Another girl was also waiting for them. I let her read my story, then emailed her the rest (I had to leave for a doctor's appointment).

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    1. I think bookstores are ideal for booksignings for one reason: they handle payment. I've done events where I had to sell my books myself. First I have to get them from the publisher, then I have to deal with accepting credit cards and have enough change for cash payers. Then transacting a sale while talking and signing is just tough. If you're self-published or with a small press, you can still set up an event with a bookstore. I think getting your books to them is the tough part.

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  8. The seminar sounds like a good idea. I've done a number of B&N signings and they should come with a disclaimer: Results May Vary!

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    1. OMG yes! My favorite story about this is the one Harlan Coben wrote for the NY Times a few years ago. It was about his experience at a Waldenbooks when he first started--a signing on Thanksgiving Day. Nobody showed up. But an old man walked up at the end and told him he was a lucky man for having a book on shelves and that put it all in perspective. I just loved hearing that a best-selling phenomenal author once had a booksigning where nobody showed up!

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  9. All I can say is that's awesome! Thank you for sharing. And may more bookstores follow this wonderful example.

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  10. This is wonderful news for you and other published authors, Stephanie. Thank you so much for sharing this with your followers. May you always have numerous fans show up to your book signings. I dream about completing a book to be able to do this. All the best, my dear!

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  11. That's great. I can only hope the two Barnes & Nobles in my city get on the bandwagon.

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  12. I tried to get into Barnes and Noble but they said letters written to the late JRR Tolkien about Star Trek wrapped in a paper clip did not count as literature.

    Everyone is a critic

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  13. Such a positive post, Stephanie! So pleased you stumbled across this path and wishing you every success with the book signings. Look forward to hearing more about your experiences. Have a fabulous 4th July.

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  14. I went to a conference and two of the instructors were just brilliant writers. What hit me the hardest was you could tell they had to hussle to make a living. Makes you just want to hollar.

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  15. Still waiting on a successful book-signing (and what is considered successful?). Right now I'm going to a lot of local-ish reader conventions and hoping for the best. One of these days I'll find my readers and they'll spread the word! :)

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  16. What a fantastic story! The Chattanooga manager should get a medal of honor for his efforts. I wish all booksellers took more interest in the writers of the books they sell. I've been encouraged more than once by smaller bookstores; one owner once did a reading for me when my voice gave out! Though you really can't chum the masses (locally), you can still have some heartening sessions that send you home wanting to write!

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  17. The nearest B&N is an hour's drive, and I've never tried to set up a signing there. Locally, Hastings has been very good to authors. They don't publicize the signings; the authors have to do that. But now, they're not keeping our books on the shelves, and the other book store, which shall remain nameless, is cool toward authors. It's nice to hear what this manager is doing. Good for him.

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  18. Ah, many years ago when I was just finishing college, I worked at the B&N in Brookfield WI. We had a CRM that was outstanding with author outreach, but the position was cut back somewhat just before I left. I'm so glad to hear that stores are still doing this!

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  19. I know I need to promote more in bookstores. It's not easy when I'm published by small presses, but I know I can work harder to get in.

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  20. Great post with useful information Stephanie. I will forward this info post to all the authors I know who struggle with it.

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  21. I like the idea of the book signing seminar. Tips and tricks would be great to know ahead of time. It's hard when you have to figure everything out for yourself. The CRM at my local B&N has been helpful with setting up signings. I have to do most of my own advertising. No matter how much you put the word out, though, you never know what kind of turnout you'll get. Going to the store and meeting the CRM face to face and being professional are the best tips I can think of.

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  22. I would certainly be curious about such a seminar! I'll ask the local B&N about this for sure. Thanks!

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  23. This is excellent and I had no idea it existed. I'll have to look this up again if I ever get to that point. Thanks!

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  24. We has a bookstore here in Gloucester that did that for awhile but then quit because they were too overwhelmed. It's too bad.

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  25. This is so cool. I never really knew this about book signings. Where I am from, there is a famous children's author/illustrator. He's done several book signings here which were packed and he also illustrated a movie which won an Oscar!

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  26. So awesome. This angel for writers deserves a cake!

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  27. I've been to plenty of book signings and promotions outside of book stores. Restaurants are especially fun where you can eat, drink, and be merry with all the other book lovers. And there's always those folks who walk by and go, "You're an author of a book? Oh, is this your book? If I buy one, you will sign it for me?!" LOL

    People truly do not realize how many writers are among us...

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  28. You're right, I think people just assume some of our favorite authors will show up at a bookstore, but I had no idea there was so much work involved in it. Reminds me of getting a new song on the radio to be played by the Program Director, which takes some marketing too. Great post! Hugs...

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