Your Books in Independent Bookstores

When 2018 started, I told myself that I would step outside of my comfort zone by trying to get my books accepted into bookstores, a challenge for an Indie Author with no large following and no large publisher backing her. But I did it and now I am making it a goal to get my books into libraries and in schools. And if it’s Yah’s will, I hope to do some public speaking. Before this year ends, I’ll be sending my email list my personal goal-setting chart and they will get to see exactly how I set my goals and the action steps I implement to achieve them. Today, I am taking the time to reveal some basic things you can do to prepare your books to be accepted at bookstores and how to go about the process and it’s yours free. All you have to do is subscribe to my email list HERE to access the PDF. You will get a welcome email and the document will be in that email. Please be sure to check your spam / junk folders if you do not see the welcome email in your inbox.

Some of the things covered in the document.

  • Know Your Why

Unless you are already famous, people aren’t gonna be checking for your books at bookstores in the same way they do online. In order for people to walk in and not look over your book, they must have some prior knowledge about who you are (more on this below). Be sure you know why you are doing this. Getting in bookstores and libraries is not some fast track to fame or money maker. That’s not what it’s about. Getting into bookstores is only a big deal to Indie writers because many of us aren’t backed by a big publisher so getting onto the shelves of brick and mortar stores gives us a greater opportunity for the possibility of hosting book signings at those stores, meet new people (who we probably would not have met online), and expanding our brand far and wide.

  • Get Your Name Out There

As you’ll see in the document, it’s not very difficult to get into small, local, Independent bookstores on consignment which means that’s not really the challenge. The challenge is selling those books which is difficult to do if people don’t know who you are. I am still trying to get my name out there and I have identified some areas where I could do better. However, you don’t have to be a celebrity or famous to start. You can start with social media and drive traffic through your blog and social media accounts. The most effective thing, though, is to get out and attend local events. Is there a book festival in your hometown? Go. Is there any event that matches what your books are about? Go to those events. Here, you’ll meet people who may be able to help you, work with you, recommend you, and help you to get your message out.

  • Target Stores that Match Your Audience

I approach black-owned bookstores because my books are about black history. There are exceptions where I’ll take a chance on a non-black-owned store (such as Tall Tales Book Shop…I love their store set-up), but for the most part my target is populations where the majority of the readers are Israelites (Blacks) and women. Why? Because my books are about the lives of Blacks in America and the lives of women. It has nothing to do with “race” and everything to do with positioning myself to be at the places where my ideal reader is.

  • Technology is Still King

Don’t overthink it with the bookstores though and forget why the Indie Revolution started in the first place. It’s good to attend events and get out and network with people face to face but don’t forget technology is still king. You don’t want to create a situation where your presence is needed to make you money as perfectly put by Cici aka “The 6 Figure Chick” on IG. That is, you don’t want to only bring in income when you do an event. Keep that online presence going. I am of the opinion that Indies with books in the store should do so as a supplement to the online business, not as the business itself.

A website, email list, social media, and a payment method are among the foundational basis of an online business (and if you’re an author with books on amazon be sure to have an Amazon Author Central Page set-up. You can learn how to do that here). Your website is your home, your email list is your connection, your social media pages (includes blog) is your traffic and interaction, and your payment method/shopping cart (including amazon) is how you get paid. If you meet people in person, it won’t mean anything without a way for them to keep in contact with you. Update your blog and social media pages regularly and continue to be consistent. Remember that your success is not the same as everyone else’s and being authentic doesn’t have to mean doing what everyone else is doing. Be you. Be disciplined. Be consistent.

Read more by downloading the entire PDF Document when you subscribe to my email list HERE.


Pictures from Friday’s signing at Tall Tales Book Shop are now available on my website HERE. Thank you to everyone who came out. If you’re in the ATL area, my next signing is December 22nd from 2-5p EST at the Medubookstore at the Greenbriar Mall.

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You’re Invited!

I am celebrating another mini milestone. On Sunday, October 7th, I got two of my books approved to be carried at another bookstore, making the 3rd Bookstore in Atlanta carrying at least one of my books (Nubian Books and the Medubookstore are the other two.)

The Road to Freedom – Joseph’s Story* is on shelves now and my newest release Even Salt Looks Like Sugar will be available at Tall Tales Book Shop within a week or so.

For those of you who do not have the new book, I am offering you an opportunity to come out to this event and celebrate with me. I will have signed paperback copies of Even Salt Looks Like Sugar and I’ll also be reading from the book. This is also a great time for a Q&A session. Is there something you would have liked to see happen in the story? Do you have a favorite part? Least favorite part? Ask me all the questions you want!

There will be light refreshments available so you can get your snack on too while I tell you a story (and then we can go out to dinner afterwards for some real food…. tee hee). Get a picture with me, or bring another book of mine you have to be signed. Either way, come on out and show some love! If you have not been to one of my signings yet, this is your chance! You know they be lit! It doesn’t matter which of my books you have, bring them to be signed!

Not Subscribed to my email list? You may want to go ahead and do that before December. In our December issue, I am revealing my strategy for getting my books into stores as an Indie Author. We’ll discuss consignment, distribution through Ingram Spark or other platforms, and the review process if the store requires one. CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP. You will get an automatic welcome email. Please check your Spam and Junk folder for it.


ATL, don’t forget to stop through next week for Tinzley Bradford’s 4th Quarterly Settle-free Mixer! The time has come and I am honored to be among such talented professionals. Self-care and self-love is soo important and we are talking about that and so much more. 

If you have read Even Salt Looks Like Sugar, please remember to leave a review if you’re feeling so obliged! Thanks so much!! As usual, your time and attention is most appreciated.

3 Lessons from a Book Festival

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Book Fest, 2018. Georgia State University

Saturday, I attended another live book signing event, the inaugural Atlanta African American Book Festival. It was not my first signing but it was my first festival. Here are some things I learned.

Spend Modestly on Your Decor

I saw many beautiful, grand banners and signs at the festival. The authors did not come to play ya’ll. They DID that. I couldn’t stop smiling. Of course, my main focus was on my table but I wouldn’t be EC if I didn’t observe the environment around me, if I didn’t seek out a learning opportunity.

I noticed that the tables that were neat but modest sold at the same rate as the tables that were elaborate and fascinating. While captivating, without the personal appeal of the author talking and engaging with the people, the large banners and signs didn’t add anything extra far as I could tell. Not to mention that many of these banners are very costly. I took this lesson from it:

Spend modestly on decor. It’s nice to go big (go big or go home right? Lol) BUT, if you can’t afford it, don’t overthink it.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to attend a live event. I got lots of comments on this poster:

Most loved table art goes to: The I am Soul poster!

I got it made at Walmart for less than $20. You don’t have to have a boring table but you don’t have to spend a fortune. Between Walmart, Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby and, surprisingly, Ross Dress for Less (go in the area with all the household stuff, usually in the back…you’re welcome) you can find some expensive-looking stuff that’s actually pretty cheap. Also, don’t forget that you are a big part of the experience. You are the star. Without you, it’s just expensive plastic. I didn’t even get to use my card-reader and no one paid much attention to the bookmarks. I am not saying to have these things is wrong. There are some very basics (like a card-reader and apparently that cash app is hot) you must have at a live event. I am saying not to stress out if your table isn’t grand.

Don’t Overcharge Your Readers

 

Book Fest 2018, Georgia State University

I was surprised to discover many books in the $20 range. For non-celebrity Indie Authors people never heard of, I thought this was a bit much. Personally, I wouldn’t charge over $10 for a copy of my book at an event. I say this not to indicate you should just give your work away, but I think it’s a good idea to give your readers the exclusive by offering them books at a price lower than if they had to pay for shipping. By showing up readers can purchase a discounted copy of some of their favorite books of yours in paperback. They have probably traveled to see you and you probably bought your books in bulk at a discount anyway and you don’t have to ship the book to them. I think that’s deserving of the people who choose to support you. People may pay $20 for a book at a celebrity signing or for a book direct from Amazon or your author website, possibly, but I think it’s a good idea to give readers something special at signings.

Live in the Moment

 

 

I did something different this time around. I didn’t post images of the event until I got back to the house. I didn’t live stream or rush to upload anything. I enjoyed the moment laughing with my husband and friend, talking to the authors and guests and taking pictures. We are so caught up in “Live Streaming” our lives these days so that other people can “see us” “in” the moment that we forget to enjoy the moment for ourselves. I had a much more enjoyable time selling books, practicing my pitch, mingling with guests and passing out my business cards than I would have trying to add hashtags to an Instagram post as someone walks past my table, buying nothing because my head is down. Personally, I attend live events because I enjoy networking with the people and creating memories I can look back on in pictures, not because I think I must. We only have one life to live and I want my children and grandchildren to look back on these pictures as proof that they can do anything they want to do if they only believe they can.

 

View all the festival pics plus more on my author website here.

Special Announcement

Good day loves,

I’d just like a few minutes of your time. I am hosting two live events for those of you in or around GA:

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I am hosting a Double Book Signing and Community Meet and Greet Event on Friday, March 30, 2018 and I would love your support, those of you who can make it. Featured books will be Renaissance, I am Soul and The Stella Trilogy. If you don’t have these in paperback now is a good time to get them! (There will be limited copies of each so being on time is important.)

First Signing:
Nubian Bookstore
1540 Southlake Pkwy, Suite 7A
Morrow, GA 30062
12:00 – 2:00p EST

Second Signing:
The I-Lounge
2000 E Lake Pkwy
Marietta, GA 30062
3:00 – 6:00p EST

(includes light refreshments)

PLEASE NOTE: If you plan on coming to town anytime before Friday, 3/30, please let me know ASAP so that we can accommodate you. Also if you’re in ATL and you would like physical copies of the flyer I’ll be at the bookstore this weekend to drop some off.

Let’s take a tour!

Updates on The Tampa Indie Author Book Convention.

Tampa Indie Author Book Convention

It’s almost time for the convention, and we are super excited to have all of you with us. We have updated the attendee list, and expect many more to sign up. Today, we started advertising to local book clubs, event forums, and even local new and radio stations. Soon, everyone in Tampa will have heard of this event.

If you want a tour of the venue, check out this video. It’s going to be amazing!

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10 Winning Strategies For Your Author Event

I love it. Very inspiring. Live events are definitely winners. Post Quote: “Selling lots of books is awesome, but so is meeting people who know what you’re going through and who can help you get to the next step.”

Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

indie-book-fest-2016-5 your humble host

A few pics from the Indie Book Fest book signing I did in Orlando yesterday, plus a few priceless tips on working an event.

HOW do you make your author event a WINNER?

Easy.

I’ll tell you.

As an indie author OR a trad author, you’ll hear about events where you can sell books. Readings at book stores. Writer conferences. Craft shows. Book fairs.

Whether you have done them before or never done one ever, here are a few tips – in no particular order – to make your experience successful.

  1. Signing autographs is fun! And awkward. After a while it’s like signing your credit card receipt for dinner at Golden Corral – you just do it and don’t think much about it. But the first few times, yeah, it’s weird.

Have a Sharpie and a regular pen and ACT LIKE YOU SIGN AUTOGRAPHS ALL THE TIME. Try to…

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Coffee Date: Travels

I am still traveling but I wanted to give you an update while I have some down time. Would anyone like some coffee? Tea? Hot Chocolate? I’ll have a coffee with French Vanilla Cream, no sugar (the cream is sweet enough). And lets make that steaming hot. It’s cold out there!

Since we are having coffee right now, you should know that I am still waiting for more pictures to come back from the Book Signing but that it was a beautiful event.

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My Team

First, I had a team of eight sisters who helped me to put it together and I am forever grateful for their generosity. Because of them I didn’t have to keep watch over the kitchen or escort people to their seats or take my attention away from the presentation. (*Team work always makes the dream work!*) My editor was also in attendance and we were both surprised with gifts from our supporters. Mine was a glass plaque with my company logo on it and some really encouraging words. I’ll upload a picture of it when I get home. It is absolutely stunning!

Order of Events

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The library itself was excellent. Very spacious with a beautiful kitchen to store the food (the pic shown is before we covered it with all kinds of goodies. Still waiting on those pictures to come back). I began with a video of the Book Trailer and a PowerPoint presentation. I decided to do it this way to keep it fresh. The images and moving pictures helped capture and keep the audience attention as I rambled on about the details of the book. There was also a Q&A session.

Me and Harry
Me and Harry

Since we are having coffee right now, you should know that I had the privilege of meeting a man named Harry. Harry is an older man whose family were sharecroppers and he expressed exciting interest in The Stella Trilogy. For those who don’t already know, I am really passionate about having these kinds of conversations with the elderly or older men and women who have lived during these times. It is a wisdom I think that we should all cherish. My dad in law has given my husband and I very exciting stories of his boyhood and their experiences picking cotton and sharecropping as well. It is most exciting. I believe oral storytelling is a major stepping stone to the writing of books today. Before anything was written down, it was passed along orally.

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Next, we offered food and snacks to the guest as I prepared for the signing and allowed everyone to mingle. This gave me the opportunity to go around and speak to some of the guest. I think this is very important for Book Signings. You want to try to avoid sitting at a table all day. Instead, I wanted to make it as engaging and family oriented as possible. I think its important that everyone feels special and part of the process. After all, these are people who invested in me. It’s only right that I invest my time and attention to them too.

Since we are having coffee right now, you should also know that I was in a Black History Stage Play the day after the event (Sat.) at The Riverside EpiCenter (Blakk Amerika: From Prophets to Pimps) and it was absolutely powerful. I was casted in 3 roles: Besty Mae, a plantation slave whose son was sold away from her. Sheila Jones, Besty’s great great granddaughter some years later, and I also had the privilege of closing the play with a poem.

I’ll have more updates soon. Before we get out of here, I do want to thank everyone for their support of this work so far both offline and across social media.

Until next time, peace and love

– EC