05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Indie Bookstores: Your Book Store By Paty Jager

I was asked to write a post on local booksellers and the Indie author. As an Indie author I like being able to walk into a book store and speak with the owner. If they like my books they add them to their shelves, if my books don’t feel like a good fit for the store, and the owner of the store knows what their customers like, then I thank them and move on.

Having a good rapport with the independent bookstores is the best way for an Indie author to get their books out to the readers. If the store owner and their staff like you and your books they will hand sell them. You don’t get that as much in the larger chain bookstores. Also in the smaller bookstores your book is one in thousands for the customer to see rather than one in millions on a larger venue.

I asked two of my favorite Independent bookstore owners two questions. Here are their answers:

1) How do you see the changing relationship between authors and booksellers?

Mary Swanson, owner of The Bookloft, Enterprise, OR

There are so many more authors who self-publish and so I am approached a LOT more about carrying authors’ own books. Self-published books vary greatly in the quality of writing, editing and production. So I have to be a bit wary until I can see the actual book. A lot of these authors do not understand that they must do the bulk of their promotion. I am asked to host book signings frequently. Authors like you are really good at promoting the event and coming to the event prepared to display their books well and engage with people, but others do not realize the importance of this. And of course, some authors prefer to eliminate the bookseller and do direct sales only or send people to Amazon instead of to their local indie.

Judi Wutzke, owner ….and Books, too!, Clarkston, WA

I have a stronger relationship with local authors and authors who write local history or use the local area as settings in their books. I have never been able to develop a good relationship with authors who do not write about or live in the area. We just don’t draw a good enough crowd nor sell enough of their books.

2) Why are independent booksellers still vital/important in their community?


As to your second question, we are still the professionals at getting the right books into the hands of our customers. Stores spend years developing good relationships with their communities and customers. We earn the reputation for carrying and recommending good books. In addition, we provide a lot of support back to the community, supporting community events, and providing merchandise or money for fund-raisers. We also provide a physical space for meeting other booklovers, hanging out with friends or just relaxing in a pleasant book-filled environment.


People want the print copy of books and they want help locating rare and collectible books. We do extensive book searches for our customers and do special orders daily. I have the largest inventory in the region of local author and local subject matter books. I also am the go-to business for help with questions about the local area. Daily I hear the comment, “We are so glad we have a local bookstore.” I have many customers who call my store “their bookstore.” I love that.

As you can see, a local, Indie bookstore is vital not only to the community as a whole but to Indie authors who have books relevant to the areas and that the owners know their customers are interested in reading.

Just as a writer must pick the right publishing house or agent for their work, they also need to do their

homework and select the bookstores that will most benefit the sales of their books. Authors also need to help promote their signings at bookstores. I send the stores flyers and promotional post cards several weeks in advance of my signing date. If they request a press release I send that or contact the local newspapers and news outlets. Sometimes the local news factions will put a story in if it is sent in by the book store and sometimes they prefer the information straight from the author or the author’s press agent.

Both the above mentioned book stores are inviting and cozy. I can see why the communities they serve love them.

Writinginto the Sunset


Judith Ashley said...

It really is a partnership between the indie author and the indie book store as well as building that sense of community that makes the interaction win-win for both the author and book store owner which is a double win for the customer/reader.

Maggie Lynch said...

Great post, Paty. I'm also really glad you featured two small town bookstores. I've found bookstores to be amazingly supportive of local authors IF those authors also support the bookstore. But you are right that each store is different and their clientele is different. It is important to trust the bookseller to know if a book is going to be viable in their market.

Paty Jager said...

Judith, I agree. The partnership between Indie author and indie bookstore is different than an author with a big publisher and the big book stores.

Hi Maggie, I agree. It has to be a two way street, not just dropping books off and waiting for the book store to sell. You have to send people to the stores.

Diana McCollum said...

Great blog on the Indie relationship between authors and book stores. I always find your blog posts interesting, Paty.

Sarah Raplee said...

Thank you for the helpful information on indie bookstores, especially about doing your research and figuring out which bookstores might be a good fit.

Paty Jager said...

Thanks, Diana. Glad I can inform.

Hi Sarah. There are some stores that aren't interested in certain books.