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!