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Named to "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites," this #SharingwithWriters blog is a way to connect with my readers and fellow writers, a way to give the teaching genes that populate my DNA free rein. Please feel free to add to the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

How to Help Bookstores You Can't Visit for a Signing

This Q&A from a coaching client of mine is a reprint from my SharingwithWriters newsletter. I often recycle articles I write and other work I do. If you are like me and don't have an assistant, it's may be  time to break Google's rules or preferences or whatever they call them. It seems to me the world wide web is big enough to accommodate a whole lot of valuable information twice.  And I figure my newsletters are long enough that there is still plenty of new material in it if I occasionally borrow from it for this blog. Ahem!   


My friend Tracy, a writer on the West Coast, offered to drop off my media kit at bookstores in the Berkeley area this month. This is too far away for me to travel for readings; not a cost-effective way to sell books, unless they pay my expenses (dream on!). What should I ask for in my cover letter? For the store to order the book for their shelves? Anything else?

Jendi Reiter
Author of Bullies in Love (Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize) and a new LGBT novel released this month, Two Natures.
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Oh, I agree! Even in San Francisco where your book is sure to have a loyal following, you would not make up for your expenses with book sales, even  very good book sales. Yes, ask them to carry your book. But also suggest they feature your book in their newsletter and be sure to offer as much help as they can possibly use. 

Example: an article or an excerpt? You might also tell them that you have small 12 x 14 posters for them to post in their windows or on their doors, which you would be happy to send them at no charge.

Even better, why not print up your posters and have your friend just deliver one along with your kit. And a reminder: does your kit include high res digital images of you and your book cover? Is there a chance that we missed that detail when we were talking about kits before? And do you have a glossy headshot as described in the Frugal Book promoter in your kit?  After all, these will not be delivered digitally!

And for this kind of long-distance promotion, maybe you should think about providing some of the things that you would provide if you were in attendance. Like fliers.

If you got an offer you couldn't refuse, would your friend be willing to host you so you wouldn't have to cover hotel bills?  

Speaking of fliers. No need to make them expensive. Light weight is good if you'll be mailing them, right?  I wish I had a copy of the big (expensive plastic coated poster) I made for my first novel, This Is the Place, back in 2000. Use your book cover on both your fliers and your posters. Use the greatest and very brief excerpt/endorsement/blurb you have. Include your Website address. And your name—BIG. Especially since your name is recognizable by a huge audience.  Think Danielle Steele's book covers. 

When you choose quantities, also think businesses you might approach, particularly in LGBT communities.  Yep, walk in. And ask.  I have one little Armenian grocery store that posts my local readings and also a beauty shop—every time I ask. I just ask when I happen to be in the neighborhood.  Oh, and the local carwash can use the same fliers on the bulletin boards most of them have. Maybe your friend will ask businesses she frequents as long as she is there anyway.

You might also contact local radio stations (there are probably many LGBT targeted stations in San Francisco). Pitch an interview and mention the bookstores that stock your book.

Great question! I encourage people to use the frugal way when they can make it work as well—or almost as well—as being there in person.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including 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. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, 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 .

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