Run a bookstore? Don’t be afraid of me.

DSC_0288If you run a bookstore, please don’t be put off by my “Don’t Buy My Book” campaign. It may be tempting to answer “OK, I won’t. Thanks for the tip, weirdo,” and walk the other direction. But I invite you to take a closer look. I can host murderously fun mystery parties in bookstores. Purely aside from the fact that at least some people who come to an author event will buy that author’s book, if I can shift the focus away from myself, I can create an opportunity for bookstore owners to highlight their mystery collections. Those who don’t buy my book then may very well come back and buy it later, and they are liable to buy something on the spot. Plus, we’ll be having tons of fun.

Can I be honest? Aside from my friends and a few professional contacts, nobody has heard of me. When I say “don’t buy my book”, all I’m doing is taking out a guilt trip. This is not the “don’t buy books” tour. It’s the “don’t buy my book” tour.

I don’t suffer from the illusion that I’ll be rich and famous overnight with one e-book and one physical book on the market. I need to prove myself to readers before they are going to want to pay more than a couple of dollars for my stuff. Suggesting that they request it in libraries is a practical matter. I’m asking people to give me a test drive.

Bookstores don’t exist in competition with libraries. (I heard the line about how libraries have to compete with booksellers throughout library school, and it’s absurd.) The two entities share a symbiotic relationship. Libraries grow readers. Readers buy books. No book buyer can afford to purchase and house every beloved tome. Yet public libraries aren’t archives, and they rarely have more than a few copies of any one title. Readers need libraries to meet the new authors, and they need bookstores to buy the books they know they’ll want to read over and over.

Mine is a good book. People will want to read it more than once.

But they can’t know that right away. So I want them to ask their librarians to add it to the collection. I do not want them to race out and buy a book when they aren’t sure if they’ll feel gypped or not. I want them to buy my books when they know my writing and trust me.

You can find in-depth details over on the Mystery Parties section under the Appearances tab of my Rue Morgue site, but in general, here’s how it works. I schedule a two-hour long mystery party at the bookstore. The plot moves along every fifteen minutes or so, and clues are hidden throughout the store. Who knows what browsers will find when they are freed from the static model of an author signing! My publisher offers deep discounts to groups hosting author events, so the risk for the store is minimal. Store owners choose portions of their collections to highlight. They have a chance to network with new customers. And readers have a fun time building friendships.

The “don’t buy my book” tour isn’t intended to scare people away from stores, and it shouldn’t scare stores away from me. It’s a unique marketing technique based in honesty. Please, take a look over at the Rue Morgue page and see what I’m talking about and why it would be a lot of fun to tell people, “Whatever you do, don’t buy that deadly book.”

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.

Comments

Run a bookstore? Don’t be afraid of me. — 4 Comments

  1. This is a very creative, awesome response to stale bookstore appearances. As a writer, I struggle with them myself. I’d love to know how this works for you.
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