Given that publishers tend to focus their tours for bigger, more well known authors in big cities and on the coasts, ignoring much of the flyover country where there’s a greater need for illumination and a wider point of view, how might they re-think their advertising and book launch campaigns to give smaller bookstores a “slice of the pie” and, thus, a real shot at impacting their communities?

Host: Tanya Mills, Book Bungalow

Participants:

Angie Grau, Bookseller

Steph Opitz, Zibby Books

Katrina Kruse, sales rep

Missy, Katy Budget Books

Lauren Gallagher, bookseller

Jim Bean, Anthology

John Leary, Hachette

BrocheAroe Fabian, Sourcebooks/River Dog Book Co.

Notes

Q (Tanya): Would publishers be interested in splitting up visits regionally for increased access to authors in rural areas?

Comments: Assumption that author tours won’t go back to how they were programmed pre-COVID. Assumption that future tours will likely be a hybrid of virtual and in-person. 

Q (Angie): How to work with/partner with low income schools that can’t afford to bring authors in? If we can get an author in, how can we hit more small towns? Small towns = less than 1000 but could bring the author to multiple schools in multiple districts by going to several different schools in the area.

Local authors don’t always have the same appeal

Suggestion: teaming up with libraries, perhaps for budget to pay authors to bring someone into the community, but the library doesn’t want to do book sales

Event grids suggestion: If there’s an author you really want, come up with a cool creative idea, and pitch it even if it says the author is going only to one location; you may succeed anyway

Event grids can be intimidating. Can they be done in smaller time increments?

Q: Could the regional associations help put tours together for a specific region?

Suggestion: If you see an author attending a trade show in your area, reach out to the publisher to see if the author can do an event at your store in the area.

Publishers offering the events that any bookstores can participate in can work with enough forewarning – virtual event first, book club event next; when the publishers can do these event for us and we tag along and sell the books in our area, that can be very beneficial

Look for big festivals within your region and see if you can reach out to the festival organizations and see if there’s an opportunity to host the authors attending before or after the festival 

Desire to have publishers touring authors around the fly-over states, rural areas, etc.

Q: have you asked booksellers how you’ve been able to get those authors to have an event at your store

Brene Brown example – any bookstores who want to be in on that can sell it to their customer base, but publisher is hosting it – that’s a very helpful thing

If we’re reimagining bookstores, how can we reimagine getting books and authors to states that are divided, that don’t have the same access, the same readership, so that they can learn things they need to?

Suggestion: Always ask, continue to ask. Don’t be afraid to ask for someone who doesn’t appear that they’re touring to your city. There’s a chance that authors want to go to new stores, not repeat stores. They know how important stores are to their community. An indie bookstore in a small town is often a bigger influencer in their small town as opposed to a NYC-based store. It will yield results.

Success begets success, so definitely put in your successes in your pitches for why you should get other authors.

Can authors who are on tour for one store, can they go sign stock at other regional stores?

Signed copies and book plates are still big draws to some customers.

Hachette does have 5-10 authors per season where they sell signed cases, though that can be hard for small stores.

Is there a way to work with regionals to say, “Signed copies available here,” and link to the stores, and have authors put that out there, too, “My signed copies are available at these stores,” makes a big difference

Hold more virtual roundtables, more virtual rep nights so that booksellers know what’s coming out

If you know authors in your regions, partner with them! The authors should put it on their website that your store has signed copies. You could get a lot of orders for signed stock/a lot of visitors. Midlist authors are good at self-promoting because they want to be A-list authors!

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