Getting your book published is one thing. Getting it sold is another. And while Amazon and Chapters/Indigo can do that online, it still means people have to know about you. Word-of-mouth sells books; so do great reviews. But the folks who really sell your books — who engage with readers every day — engage in both.
I’ve learned in this journey that if the booksellers don’t like your jacket cover, they won’t order the books. A bit of red in the cover helps the book pop and enhances their chances of selling. So keep that in mind when you’re talking to your publisher about the cover and take a look at some of the great authors’ websites. I think you’ll see a lot of red on those covers.
A good bookseller who loves your book will promote it.
I learned that a friend of mine who owns a bookstore in a small town was talking up The Beggar’s Opera without having actually read it. I asked Penguin to send her a galley. This week she posted on Facebook that she had started reading it. She thought the book was absolutely brilliant, loved it, couldn’t wait to talk to me about it, and was planning a Cuba Night launch in the local pub to promote it. She even described it as the “possibly the best police procedural” she had ever read.
She’s going to special order copies for some of her clients. Imagine how many copies that one little bookstore will sell with that kind of buzz?
So be kind to your bookstore owners and their staff. Retail’s a drag; trust me, I’ve done it. On a slow day, it can feel like a slow year. The market is flat; sales are down.
Drop by and introduce yourself. If you can, drop off an advance copy of your book or get one out through your publisher. It’s the booksellers who know what readers like, who engage with them, who sell to them. Believe me, it’s as much about them as it is about your book.
Check out Penguin Canada’s book trailer for The Beggar’s Opera here! It’s pretty cool!