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Marketing Tactics > Barnes & Noble Author Events -- any experiences?

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason Kane | 9 comments Hi there, just wondering if anyone's had any experience with a Barnes & Noble author event? I emailed them to see about promotional opportunities, and a local B&N contacted me to invite me to a 10-person author panel. I have no idea what to expect from this, and was just wondering if anyone's had any similar experiences--worth it? Fun? Lame? I realize it would be highly subjective to the area and the people involved, just putting out some feelers.

:)


message 2: by Charles (new)

Charles | 148 comments I'd say, you are very fortunate. Books published by Createspace are not going to appear on B & N bookshelves, so you are in a unique minority. Enjoy the occasion. And if you haven't already done so, make sure your book is listed on B & N web sales.


message 3: by Jason (last edited Mar 20, 2018 11:53AM) (new)

Jason Kane | 9 comments Charles wrote: "I'd say, you are very fortunate. Books published by Createspace are not going to appear on B & N bookshelves, so you are in a unique minority. Enjoy the occasion. And if you haven't already done so..."

Thanks Charles. It seems like a cool opportunity, I'll follow up with details afterward (the event will be at the end of April).

EDIT: My book does already appear on B&N web via Createspace sales channels. Thanks for the tip.


message 4: by J.S. (new)

J.S. Jaeger (jsjaeger) | 73 comments I've done multi-author events at B&N a couple of times. They're a lot of fun. I'd suggest having something at your table that sets you apart and draws the attendees to you. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the experience!


message 5: by Jason (new)

Jason Kane | 9 comments J.S. wrote: "I've done multi-author events at B&N a couple of times. They're a lot of fun. I'd suggest having something at your table that sets you apart and draws the attendees to you. Most importantly, have f..."

Cool! Good to hear. Maybe I'll dress like Darth Vader and bring cupcakes. Boom. Instant crowd.

Would you mind sharing where you participated regionally? Just curious.


message 6: by J.S. (new)

J.S. Jaeger (jsjaeger) | 73 comments Jason, Vader would be awesome! Just make sure you can easily talk to those you pull in. :) I’ve done signings at the St. George, Utah (Southwest Utah) B&N.


message 7: by Peter (new)

Peter W Blaisdell | 30 comments Did a B&N signing in Jan and was asked to come back for a second visit this June. The Jan signing worked well - sold about 30 books in an afternoon and it was great to meet potential readers face-to-face. A couple of thoughts based on my limited experience...

Per notes above, though I'm self-published, my book is distributed by Ingram, so it was already in the local B&N (and others). Also, I follow standard book return policies (or I wouldn't have gotten into any brick and mortar bookstores). Other overarching factors influencing the success of these promotional tactics include whether your event is a signing or a reading?; are you a relatively unknown writer or a bestseller?; and how to leverage advertising in support of your event. For me, the local B&N was kind enough to create a poster for me and my book.

At your signing, assume that customers are keen on going about their business and aren’t necessarily eager to spend time learning about anything that’s not a bestseller. Therefore, be approachable and ready to engage with potential readers. In a busy bookstore, if possible, don’t just sit behind the table and wait for the world to approach you. Instead stand in front of the table (thereby removing a physical and psychological barrier) and invite folks to give you a few seconds of their time to introduce your work to them. However, do it gently; no one likes a pest. If someone expresses little interest in you or your book, back off. Try to strike the right balance between overbearing salesmanship and passivity and also accept the inherent awkwardness of trying to interest total strangers in your work. After all, why the hell should anyone buy it? You’ll need to articulate a cogent reason at the signing.

In addition – really important – don’t invite family and friends along for moral support. They already know about the book and seeing you surrounded by a phalanx of family well-wishers will inhibit communication with your real audience: potential readers who don’t know you or your work from a hole in the ground.

An example makes this point. At the signing for my fantasy novel, I shared space near the front entrance with another author. Our tables were only 10 feet apart, so we had equal access to the steady stream of customers walking into the store, but there were significant differences in how we conducted our signings. While I was conversing with individual store visitors to interest them in my novel, the other author had a cameraman tape an interview with her as she expounded on the virtues of her latest book. During the 30 minutes it took to set up camera angles, optimize sound levels, and rehearse and conduct the interview, customers went out of their way to avoid the commotion. Upon wrapping the interview, she was joined by family and friends animatedly chatting with her for the rest of her stay at the store. Who would interrupt this happy and insular gathering? Certainly not the typical shopper. As a result, this author didn’t engage with many potential readers nor did she sell books during her signing; being a little humble and paying attention to potential new readers could have made this a more productive event for her work.


message 8: by Jason (new)

Jason Kane | 9 comments Peter wrote: "Did a B&N signing in Jan and was asked to come back for a second visit this June. The Jan signing worked well - sold about 30 books in an afternoon and it was great to meet potential readers face-t..."

Peter, thanks for the great thoughts! Great info, and things to keep in mind. Much appreciated.


message 9: by Tricia (new)

Tricia Van | 2 comments Wow that is awesome. I would love the opportunity at anything associated with B&N. I know Jason emailed B&N. Do you recommend a face to face interaction or do you think they appreciate an email more. Thanks for the encouragement.


message 10: by Jason (last edited Apr 09, 2018 10:09AM) (new)

Jason Kane | 9 comments Tricia wrote: "Wow that is awesome. I would love the opportunity at anything associated with B&N. I know Jason emailed B&N. Do you recommend a face to face interaction or do you think they appreciate an email mor..."

Tricia, originally I emailed them a few times with no response--it wasn't until I actually went to the store that I got any traction. The store manager was busy but I got a card, and dropped her a line. The event invitation came a few weeks later.

If I were you, I'd definitely stop in to talk to someone in person. Can never hurt!


message 11: by Peter (new)

Peter W Blaisdell | 30 comments Agree that in-person is best if you're asking to do a signing. The default response to e-mails from busy store staff is to ignore them. On a related note, try to figure out who at the store can actually 'green light' a signing. Regular store staff usually don't have this authority.

A low-key approach is best and it's usually helpful to clarify upfront that you're not selling on a consignment basis (some independent brick and mortar stores do allow this, but you'll likely have to pay the store; my local B&Ns don't allow this. They want a book that they can order and return through channels that are familiar to them i.e. Ingram or a similar 'established' wholesaler). Anyway, here's a bit more of my own (admittedly limited) experience:

Perhaps the biggest challenge for signings or readings is a venue’s reluctance to host you. Bookstores are often disinclined to support unknown authors with unproven ability to draw customers since such events can be a distracting nuisance to staff and customers. You’ll need to convince bookstore managers that you’ll sell enough books to make it worth their while without disrupting the store’s normal business activities. Some stores will never agree to host you, so focus on more friendly venues. Conversely, conventions or book fairs may be quite welcoming to host neophyte authors, but costs for tables and booths can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. You’ll need to consider whether the exposure is worth it.

Good luck!


message 12: by Jason (new)

Jason Kane | 9 comments So, following up from the event on Saturday--thoughts and impressions:

It was fun, and I'm glad I did it--nine authors at the table (it was a panel), nice people, and I sold more books than I would've guessed. Some downsides:

1) We were seated at a long table. Fine, but that's kind of an intimidating setup for customers. I personally hate approaching tables, so I can't blame a customer for hating it too. It's just not inviting and feels like running a gauntlet.

2) It was weird how a customer had to check out at the register before getting their book signed. So we had to send them away to the register to buy, then they came back. Maybe not the best system, but I get why they do that (to make sure the book's paid for before writing in it).

3) No time with the book! The type of work I write does not thrive in an environment where I can't talk about it, or don't have a forum. We were told we'd have 5 minutes to discuss our work, but they abruptly changed the format. Space considerations, perhaps...who knows.

4) I had no display! When I sat down and saw that some of the other folks had signs made up and methods of display, I realized I could've done something more. Then again, I also counted on being able to talk, and that didn't pan out. Live and learn.

Thanks all, hope this is useful to someone down the line. I'd do it again, but I'd prepared for a surprise.


message 13: by Peter (new)

Peter W Blaisdell | 30 comments This was a challenging situation. At my B&N signing, it was just me and one other author and I was free to talk to whomever passed my table. I was also able to stand in front of the table - as you note, having a table interposed between you and customers acts as both a physical and psychological barrier to potential readers.

The bit about getting customers to buy before you sign is typical of my own experience at B&Ns. I sort of made it a joke with folks who wanted to buy the book (and have it signed) so wasn't too big a deal.

Unfortunately, I'm doing one of these panel signings at an independent bookseller in a couple of months and I'm expecting exactly the issues that you mention - though I'll take any excuse to be in front of potential readers. Good luck at future signings - regardless of circumstances, it's great fun to actually meet potential readers.


message 14: by Dennis (new)

Dennis Fried | 32 comments I don't know if things have changed, but up until a few years ago in order to do a signing at a B&N you had to have your book approved by their corporate in NYC. I had to send a few copies of my book up there and have them approve it. This in itself did not mean that they would put them in the stores. This only meant that if a CRM (Community Relations Manager) wanted you to do a signing in their store, it was okay for them to do so. Unless you're already a celebrity, you will sell very few books, if any, at a B&N signing unless you have some gimmick that attracts attention from browsers, or are very personable and energetic in pulling in passers-by. If you do a signing and sell a fair number of books (maybe ten or more) then you can call another B&N in your area and parlay that first success into another invitation, etc. If you sell enough books in enough stores in your area of the country, then maybe you can convince the Small Press Department of B&N to actually put some of your books in the stores in that region. It's a long hard process. And contrary to popular belief, having your book put on the shelves of B&N stores means very little in terms of sales, unless people are actually coming into the store to look for that book. The odds of a person who is just browsing actually noticing the spine of your book, pulling it out, perusing it for a few seconds, and then buying it are very slim. The naive belief that if only you can get your book on the shelves of bookstores, then sales would then take care of themselves is a myth.


message 15: by Peter (new)

Peter W Blaisdell | 30 comments Peter wrote: "This was a challenging situation. At my B&N signing, it was just me and one other author and I was free to talk to whomever passed my table. I was also able to stand in front of the table - as you ..."

Couple of follow-up thoughts to my posts above based on a B&N signing a few weeks back:

- While swag may work sometimes, I didn't use any, just me at a signing table with a case of books that the store ordered ahead of the event. Customers either bought the book or they didn't (I managed to sell out the store's supply of 25 books @ $14.95 per trade paper). Instead of swag, I focused on a super-brief, 20 second verbal description of my book to folks who passed my table.

- Besides walk-in customers, I also tried to spend time with store staff so they were at least vaguely familiar with my book. Hopefully, they'll recommend it.

- Despite the fact that I'd done a signing at this store in January, I didn't run into anyone who'd seen me before, so repeating a visit (assuming store staff is cool with it) can work.

Best luck everyone!


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