By: Suzanne Kuhn, SuzyQ
Shop local? It’s a concept many of us embrace, especially surrounding the holidays. It should be a lifestyle choice for all authors, regardless of season.
For many authors it’s their dream to one day see their book on the shelves of bookstores far and wide. Although this is an understandable desire, it’s one that requires a strategy if it’s to be realized.
For all writers, regardless of where they might be on their writing journey it’s imperative to foster retailer relationships.
Authors often make the mistake of first contacting a bookstore or other retailer with the request “I’d like to have you carry my book. I’m a local author.”
Unfortunately this tactic can fall on deaf ears if that is the first memorable encounter with the retailer. Put yourself in his or her shoes, how do you feel if your first interaction with someone were to be for the sole purpose of their requesting a favor of you? This tactic can be off-putting, at best.
Authors will find a more receptive response if they have taken the time to foster a relationship with the retailer, its owner, the manager and/or the staff. It’s okay to let them know you are a local author, but support them by shopping their store. If you need supplies or gifts, research items that they carry or can special order. Buy these products from them. Yes, it may cost you a little more at the time of purchase, but just think of what you gain with establishing that relationship.
If you have the ability to somehow offer yourself as a resource, as a way to drive traffic, be an advocate, or add value to a retailer’s customer base, be sure to do just that. Develop, nurture, and cultivate local retailer relationships. An exchange of goodwill, encouragement, and appreciation should always be an author’s goal for their interaction with a retailer. A thank you does indeed go a long way. Be quick to let them know just how much you appreciate their presence in your community.
Kirk Blank, president of The Munce Group, (a marketing group for independent Christian bookstores) often tells retailers when speaking of vendors, “Nothing says thank you like a big fat purchase order.” The same principle applies for purchases made within the local brick and mortar store. Customers who choose to spend their dollars by shopping their local retailer are showing these retailers just how much they support and appreciation them.
Your face should be recognizable when you enter a local retailer to discuss your book. They should be able to identify you as their customer. When shopping, do you take the time to engage in social pleasantries? Are you known for your community involvement and support?
If an author will take these steps towards nurturing retailer relationships, I can not guarantee their book will found among these coveted shelves. However, I can say that the author who does take the time to foster a relationship with their local retailer stands a much better chance.
When you choose to shop local, not only do you support your local community and merchants, you also support your own writing dreams.
Suzanne Kuhn has more than 20 years of book retailing experience and event sales, including traveling as part of Karen Kingsbury’s team. In 2010 Suzanne launched SuzyQ, a full-service author promotion and retail development firm that works with authors, publishers and retailers, helping to coordinate events, train staff and authors in reader engagement, and develop promotions for increased sales and reader/customer loyalty. Suzanne’s experience and knowledge in the book retailing venue gives her an edge when consulting with retailers for niche and business plan development, facilitating book tours, and ensuring more successful and profitable events. Suzanne truly believes in the power of Christian literature to impact and change lives.