Thursday, November 05, 2009

Barbara Techel Poses Dilemma We All Wish We Had

In my Sharing with Writers newsletter I sometimes do a question and answer feature. You know, like Dear Abby and Ann Landers. But mine are about writing, of course! Here is a question from a regular reader of this blog, so I thought I'd run it here, too. And if anyone wants to receive my newsletter, just send an e-mail with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line to HoJoNews @ AOL. com. And thank you, Barbara!


Hi Carolyn. I loved your advice about bookstore signings and being prepared with your own set up items. Now I can't remember if I read that in your book or if I read it in your newsletter, but at any rate, it is great advice! I have three book stores in one city who have offered to do a book signing for me, which is perfect timing with my new book coming out soon!! They are all within 5 minutes of each other though. One is a pet store, one is a Christian book store and one is a regular book store (which I did at a signing at last year and did well). Do you have any suggestions of strategizing that ~Barbara Techel, author of the multi-award winning, Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog. (Frankie named Mascot of Disabled Pets Day!!; learn more about the book at


What a great problem to have, Barbara.

Of course, you will want to promote each of the events. That means each retailer will certainly know about the other. I would advise candor in any case. I'd go to your first choice store and ask. But I wouldn't leave my question open ended. Let's say you approach the bookstore first. Keep in mind the needs of each retailer as you frame your question. I'd say something like "I have some other offers for book signings. None of them are in direct competition to you for none are bookstores. You are my first choice and I'm wondering if you'd like me to space the signings by 30 days or so. Keep in mind that I plan to do lots of promotion for you."

Notice that I didn't ask if they wanted an exclusive. I would not give them that much power with my opening pitch. If they should bring up the subject of an exclusive, negotiate. "For how long?" is a fair question. It is patently unfair for them to want an exclusive for a year or forever. Thirty to 60 days should be enough. If they do, however, then you'll want to adjust your plans according to what you think is best for your book and your audience.

Then you repeat this process with your next retailer. You are in a unique position because you book has not yet been published. That gives you plenty of time to play with the dates and still have a signing at all three while your book is still a fresh release.

I'm glad that The Frugal Book Promoter and Sharing with Writers newsletter have been helpful to you. If you don't have The Frugal Editor, you might consider it. The chapters on writing query letters will be uniquely helpful to you as you begin to query for more and more feature stories, signings and radio gigs.

Best, CHJ

PS: Those authors focused on selling books in bookstores might want to read my A Retailer's Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions. It includes lots of author promotions for retailers to consider but more than that, it will give authors a handle on the needs of retailers like independent bookstore owners. In fact, if you read the reviews on Amazon, you'll see that many writers have found it useful. And the basic principles of marketing are pretty much the same for anyone who must sell a product.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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