I have had the most interesting opportunity to see the other side of bookselling these past few weeks. As I previously told you, we recently started our own publishing company, Feliciana Publishing Partners, and published our first book. Suddenly, I found myself calling and visiting other bookstores to ask them to carry the book and to host book signing events with our author, Ronnie Virgets.
This has been so eye opening. In my previous experience when authors and publishers reps have approached me I thought about it from the bookseller prospective. Did I think I could draw a sizeable crowd? How would we build interest in the book and the author with our patrons? Quite frankly, what was in it for me? And then I would spend time advertising the event through our newsletter, facebook page, the newspaper , our website and anywhere else we can think of to spread the word. Then when the author arrived, I was a nervous wreck thinking I might embarrass myself by not getting a respectable crowd.
Now flip the script and I am on the other side of the glass arriving with the author after having spread the word via our newsletter, website, facebook page, etc and I still find myself getting terribly nervous worrying about drawing a respectable crowd so as not to embarrass myself and my author in front of the bookseller.
All of which begs the question: whose responsibility is the success of a good book event anyway? And I submit to you I believe the answer is BOTH. The bookstore knows the local area and has local contact lists who will want to know about upcoming events. The writer may have a national following and there may be people on his ( her ) friends lists who live in the area but until now (and particularly with a newer bookstore) do not even know your bookstore is there! When bookstores, authors and publishers partner together everyone benefits.
Its fabulous that I have had this opportunity to see both sides of this equation so early in my bookselling career. …. Or maybe all of this can be boiled down to the simple fact that I am going to feel guilty and responsible regardless of what I do in life or what side of the fence I am standing on. Call it catholic guilt, call it a stress disorder, call it just being a worrywart, call it whatever you like. I choose to see this as an opportunity to learn and assume that all booksellers and publishers feel the same way. I have just been lucky enough to , in the words of Joni Mitchell get the chance to look at clouds from both sides now!