This first full week of October has been about as eventful as a rolling a natural one when trying to convince the authorities that that you’re is not the responsible for assassinating a secretly evil King. Monday marked the first part of How to Sell to a Bookstore. If you haven’t read it yet, then it might be a good idea to check it out since this week’s Bit of Business is a continuation of that post. As well as having a Writing Wednesday post, we had our first guest post from J.E. Feldman titled How to Make and Create an Online Writing Community. There is some awesome information, so please check it out and give J.E. Feldman some support by following her on her blog, Into the Mind of a Writer. Now, back to why you’re here,
How to Sell to a Bookstore 2/3
It is important to remember that the second phase is about providing information. By this point, they are prepared for you to try to sell them something, so give them a break and don’t. If your primary goal is providing information then you won’t be unintentionally giving them pressure that can raise their guards.
Regardless which method you used to earn the meeting, the result is the same. Arrive at the specified meeting location dressed in professional attire roughly 5-10 minutes early. You don’t have to wear a suit, but a shirt and tie is a safe option (or the female equivalent). The goal is to appear professional. You want the store to take you with as much weight as if you were coming from a traditional publisher.
Have a business plan, an expense sheet, and a synopsis of your novel. You should also bring two copies of the actual book. Begin the meeting with brief small talk. If you made the cold call in person, talk about the book you purchased. If you talked over the phone, mention something nonthreatening like the weather. This should only be a minute or two, and should take place while you are setting up.
Make sure that they have copies of all of the information that you brought and once you are ready to talk, wait. Don’t sit in silence, ask about them and their business. Say something like, “Before we get started, I just wanted to get to know a little bit about you.” Follow that up with, “Why did you choose to open a bookstore?” or, “What kind of customers do you want to draw?” Have a conversation about them. Let this play out as long as you need it. You are listening, only talking to probe for further information.
At some point, they will ask about you or you will be given an opportunity to talk. Introduce yourself but leave items that deal with writing for the end of your introduction. Once you give a few basic details, transition into writing related topics about yourself. List any writing credits that you have, degrees, or anything else of note. Finally, transition into talking about the book.
This portion is geared at telling the vendor about the piece itself. Start with a prepared pitch. Then go through the synopsis. This should give a full account of major plotlines, characters, relationships, and other crucial information. There should be no cliffhangers or something like “To find out what happens read the book.” The synopsis is intended to give the store a basic idea of the story. You still are not trying to sell. You are only giving information.
Once the store has finished hearing the information about the book, you need to touch on the sale, but I wouldn’t advise trying to close right away. Say something like, “I understand that there is a stigma to self-published authors. If it is not too much trouble, I would like you to take a copy of my book and read the first 30 or so pages. It will give you a feel for my writing style, we can meet sometime next week to discuss if this is something you would be interested in carrying at your store.” If they agree, thank them for their time; leave them one of the two copies as well as other material, and head home knowing that you accomplished the goal of setting up the sale.