Both Sides of the Street
I’m delighted when I’m asked into a bookstore. I try to appear professional, arrive when I’m expected, and stay the entire advertised hours whether there are customers are not. I have pens, and everything I might need for the day. I have Indie bookstore buttons on my website, and affiliate Buy Now buttons on my books’ web pages for stores that sell on-line and have been hospitable to me and my books. The bookstore owner and I are on the same team; we both want to sell books. We promote each other. We need each other.
I’m really puzzled when authors show up to invited signings wearing what they’d wear to clean the gutters. When the time of the event (yes, the bookstore owner paid for promotion), is advertised as starting at 10 am, why would an author come at one o’clock? If the event is to last until four or five, why would invited authors leave at two o’clock because they have something else to do? Shouldn’t an author who is going to sign books have a pen with them? And why would an author get into a discussion with a customer about how good Amazon is for authors? Come ON! Would you go to Starbucks and tell their customers to go down the street to Dunkin Doughnuts for coffee? The number one competitor of your bookstore owner is Amazon. This is business, yours and the bookstore’s. Or are you only thinking of your business?
These behaviors that are apparently common, since I’ve seen them many times in many cities and states, are not only unprofessional, but rude; just plain bad manners. And you wonder why we don’t get more invitations or that bookstores view us with suspicion? There are two sides of Marketing Street. Learn to walk down the center using good manners and genuine concern for the other side. Put yourself on that side, understand that business. Once you do, you might find less to complain about. You might also discover you have some friends who happen to own bookstores.