By Lindsey P. Brackett
There’s nothing quite like a small southern bookseller.
Often these cozy shops are tucked away in unexpected places. Like any good bookstore, you’ll find teetering stacks of trade-in paperbacks and the bookstore cat lounging atop the most recent display of bestsellers.
I’m convinced these creatures are waiting for the crawdads to sing so they can pounce.
As an author with a small publisher, I’ve learned the best way to get my book onto a shelf in a real bookstore is to simply ask, in person if possible. Homemade treats make the request even sweeter. These owners usually aren’t in the business for the money (are any of us?) and when an author comes to visit, they’re happy to hear all about your story.
Less the one you’ve written and more the one you’re living I’ve also found.
The local shop owner at Edisto Beach wants to know why I write about this barrier island where there are no high-rise hotels or putt-putt courses. These reasons and my family history are precisely why I write about Edisto. She tells her regular customers, the ones she knows never miss a Sunday in their pew, they’ll probably like my books because I go to church, too.
She didn’t learn that from reading my books but from the conversation we had one late Friday afternoon as a book signing wound down and customers dwindled.
In my current hometown, our local bookstore is perfectly categorized by the sign out front. “Inside, books. Outside, bears (maybe). Why risk it?”
I’ve lived here for three years but haven’t yet made it over to this store. For some reason, I had more fear about walking into the Mt. Yonah Book Exchange then I did Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC. When I finally popped in the other week—after giving up that I would ever find the right time in which I would be dressed in something other than workout clothes—the owner laughed when I introduced myself. She knew how I was, told me people ask about my books all time. She’d have ordered them long ago if she knew where she could get them.
And I was left to wonder how many sales I’ve now lost because I didn’t place enough value on the might of this small bookseller.
My books are on her shelf now, and I’m inclined to believe they’ll be seen by more customers trickling through her bookstore than the ones clicking by on the Internet.
After all, in the bookstore, the only distraction is more books—and the cat who wants to know what you’ll be reading next.
Tips for working with booksellers:
· Bring swag: bookmarks, postcards, sell sheets with information on your book including ISBN and where to order.
· Make a purchase.
· Offer an ARC or influencer copy.
· Don’t forget the treats!
· Use your southern charm. We all know you sell more books with honey.
Find my newest novel on the shelf at these southern booksellers: Mt. Yonah Book Exchange (Cleveland, GA), Books with A’Peal (Cornelia, GA), Fiction Addiction (Greenville, SC), and the Edisto Island Bookstore (Edisto Island, SC).
I’m always up for a bookstore visit! Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lindsey P. Brackett writes southern fiction infused with her rural Georgia upbringing and Lowcountry roots. Her debut novel, Still Waters, inspired by family summers at Edisto Beach, released in 2017. Called “a brilliant debut” with “exquisite writing,” Still Waters was named an INSPY finalist and the 2018 Selah Book of the Year. Her second novel, The Bridge Between, released July 31, 2019. Download Magnolia Mistletoe with newsletter signup at lindseypbrackett.com or on Instagram and Facebook: @lindseypbrackett.