Bombarding Bookstores

Brooklyn was hot and sticky. After days of rain, the sun had returned with a vengeance, beating down on the young residents darting between cafes and boiling the trash-bags tucked in alleys. I’d been walking for miles. Sweat had ceased beading on my hairline and begun dampening the back of my neck. My shoulder sopped beneath the strap of the heavy bag that I carried, laden with books.

Brooklyn Bookstores: Books Are Magic, McNally Jackson, Quimbys, Spoonbill & Sugartown

Last week, I took a page out of Willy Loman’s book and visited shops with my wares. The shops were independent bookstores and my “wares” was my upcoming release: One Little Secret.

Independent bookstores are frequently visited by book distributors carting thick catalogues of new releases, so the owners are no stranger to a person showing up at their door ready to tell them about a sure-to-be bestseller. Unfortunately for me, I’ve learned that the book distributors often aren’t touting my particular book as the latest and greatest–no matter how good the reviews might be or how much positive press it has received. They have larger publisher clients demanding they push certain products, or more famous authors to tout.

Manhattan Bookstores: Three Lives and Housing Works

In order to stand out from the crowded book catalogues, I’ve found it helpful to meet local booksellers, tell them about my books, and leave them with either a copy or a press sheet–or both. That way, when they place orders for July new releases, they’ll remember me (or they’ll have a press release reminding them of the book’s advance praise.)

Just as importantly, the booksellers who order One Little Secret will (hopefully) recall my telling them a bit about my latest thriller and be able to recommend it to clients looking for a summer read.

This time around I’ve visited more than five bookstores in Brooklyn and several more in Manhattan. I’ve left my card and a copy in Portland, Maine. I’m also dropping some press sheets off in Connecticut en route to picking up my kids from camp.

I’m hoping the in-person touch makes a difference this time around, too. What do you think readers and writers? Do you rely on bookstore owners to make recommendations? How about bookstore owners? Do you appreciate when writers drop by?

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