Pose for the paparazzi. Autograph your books.
Write like a dream, promote like a rock star.
Fame and fortune are yours!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Marketing beyond brick & mortar bookstores (R.I.P.)

I've always said that if a guy can hang with me at a bookstore, how bad could he be?

Over the years I've seen bookstores come and go, but a couple of years ago, I mourned the loss of a great friend: Transitions Bookplace in Chicago. Whenever I wanted to surround myself with the unusual and the provocative, I'd go there. Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Caroline Myss, and other spiritual-type celebs signed and did readings there.

Another great bookstore, African American Images, has relocated exclusively to the Internet, but I'll miss the store's physical presence on 95th off Longwood. Nikki Giovanni, Tavis Smiley, Terry McMillan, and other notables signed there.

Even the big chains are not immune. Borders stores are falling away. What's next? Barnes and Noble? OMG!

I did the signing for my first book, Sister Feelgood: A Year of Health and Fitness for Our Bodies and Our Souls, at the Barnes and Noble on Diversey. It was a thrill to see my name on the cover of my book, but you know you're a real author when you do a signing at a bookstore (better yet, when you get your advance and royalty checks). 

Marketing beyond brick & mortar bookstores
Whenever my writers embark on a new book project I always ask them, "How are you going to sell your book? Do you have a marketing, sales, and distribution plan? How are you going to get paid?" There was a time when you would include your friendly neighborhood bookstore in your promotion plan, but today, that venue seems to be a dying breed. 

I have to admit to the lure of online book selling, and so, like the senators who each gave old Julius Caesar a stab, et tu Donna Marie?

The Internet is a fantastic place for authors. From publishing to sales, you can do everything online. You can even do author tours of blogs and sites, and I'll write articles on how the superstars are laughing all the way to the bank in future posts. If you're willing to take the time to investigate your online market, you'll find that for very little money, you can sell books.

However... book lovers and authors will always want to meet and mingle in the 3D world, whether or not bookstores survive. So don't market yourself exclusively on the net. Be creative and seek out nontraditional venues for doing book readings and signings. Here are a few off the top of my head:

  • Book clubs
  • Churches
  • Schools (PTA meetings, teacher in-service meetings, parent workshops, special events)
  • Association meetings
  • Fraternity/sorority meetings
  • Friends' homes
  • Flea markets
  • Yard sales
  • Conferences
  • Grocery stores (for cookbook writers) 
Donna Marie


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