Motivation. Tenacity. Professionalism.
These are areas in which I take much pride when they are associated with my name. These words are also keys to unlocking opportunities. As I round up my first year as a published author and buckle down for the release of my second novel, Shifting Power, I look back and remember how hard I worked to get here. I also know it does not have to be as hard for others.
If you simply do not wish to outsource something you are capable of doing yourself, I am here to teach you how.
You got this!
Many people dream of signings in Barnes & Noble. Fifteen years ago I bought Sarah McLachlan CDs at Barnes & Noble in Wilkes-Barre, PA. As a college student, if you told me one day I would have a table in a Denver BN store and sell out of my book in two hours flat, I would have asked you how so it did not take me 15 years to figure out. I am just paying my knowledge forward.
Here are the steps to take to set up a signing at your local Barnes & Noble store:
Step 1: Write and publish a book. Then be sure BN will sell your book on their website. How do you get them to carry your book? Follow this link for guidelines. Once your book is for sale through BN, you’re ready for Step 2.
Step 2: Reach out to the desired location. This is where you will need to wear your tenacious pants. Pick up the phone and say, “Hello, I was wondering if you could tell me your four-digit store number.” When you get the store number, you can hang up and breathe again. Wipe the sweat off your brow, and cry tears of joy that it is over…for now.
Step 3: The email. All BN event coordinators have a similar email address: CRM[store number]@bn.com (Boulder’s looks like this: CRM2333@bn.com). You’ll need the title you wish to promote, the coordinating ISBN, and the time frame for your signings. Send this two to three months before your proposed event. Here is the exact email I sent to about eight BN locations. I asked three months in advance, and of the eight, I booked four signings within the time frame I requested.
Dear BN Staff,
I am excited to have my debut novel, Apparent Power, published and available through Barnes & Noble!
I am writing today to propose a signing event at your location. The book is released on December 11th and I am interested in dates between December 16th through December 23rd.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
Dacia M Arnold
Author and Blogger
Click SEND! Do it, Tenacious Pants.
Step 4: Wait one week and call! If you cannot manage talking on the phone for five minutes, how are you going to get strangers to buy your book in person for two to five hours? Call and say, “Hi. I’m author [your name]. I sent an email recently about an event proposal. I’m just reaching out to check the status on that.” This phone call will be routed to a manager who will check the email, look up your book to ensure they carry it, and tell you if your dates are open. If they say anything other than no, you’ll need to repeat this step until you receive a solid date or they tell you “No. Stop calling here.”
Step 5: You have a date! OMG It’s happening! You need to send another email. This follow-up email will include a high-resolution author photo, image of your book cover, short author bio, and book blurb. It would also be prudent to remind them, “I have September 4th on my calendar 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.” Or if you have not hammered out a time, request a time. You should know what time you’re signing at least one week in advance.
Things to consider once you nail the gig:
Tip 1: Barnes & Noble will order 20 to 50 copies of the book you are promoting. Only under rare circumstances will they allow you to furnish your own books. If you do not sell all the books, there is a strong chance they will be sent back to the publisher after a certain length of time. Those are royalties on the line! Move those books.
Tip 2: Have free things to give away to anyone who walks by. One non-book-related and one or two book-related. I gave out candy near the end of the long checkout line. This got people to the table because candy in a dish is understood as free. They will not assume everything else on the table is free. I also had free bookmarks and Christmas ornaments.
Tip 3: Most people will not assume you wrote the book. They will assume you know where the calendars and bathroom are. So when you hand them a bookmark tell them, “Did you get a free bookmark of my book?” Then they’ll say “No”, “No, thank you,” or “Oh, you wrote this? Tell me about your book!” For the Christmas ornaments I would explain, “Here! Have a Christmas ornament! It’s a little book. I made them this morning and they look a little rough, so if you say ‘no’ I understand.” “Oh this is your book? Care if I read the back cover?” Hint: Never care.
Tip 4: Practice your log line (a line that sums up your book in five words or fewer), and prepare a tailored explanation of the book based on what plot points have gotten you the *raised eyebrow*. For example:
“My book is set in Denver during an apocalypse.” Customer raises eyebrow and nods.
“Apocalypse happens and Mom saves the world.” Customer replies, “Don’t they always?”
Read people’s responses, and by the tenth explanation you’ll know who might appreciate which aspect of your book.
I hope you found this helpful. Selling a single book in person in Barnes & Noble, or any bookstore, might seem like a pipe dream, but it’s easier than you think and not nearly as intimidating as you might imagine. You can do this!