Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How to Talk to a Bookseller

I just found this article on the ABA site and I had to cover my mouth because I was laughing so loud. It is gospel what this woman is writing here. So all you aspiring writers pay attention.

From "Bookselling this Week" on the ABA site By Melissa Lion:
"How to Talk to a Bookseller: A 10-Step Guide for Authors" —

1. Don't treat the bookseller like the help.
2. Take advantage of booksellers' big mouths...We will gossip about good things ... and bad things
3. Ask for the appropriate person. Do not walk up to the counter and ask to speak with the manager or the owner.
4. Use the correct person's name. If you don't know the name of the events coordinator, ask the person behind the counter.
5. Do not leave a book in the bookstore that you wish to have back. Bookstores' back rooms are filled with towers of books and dust bunnies the size of alpacas.
6. Be a customer at the store.
7. If you are doing an event at the store, ask the audience to purchase your book.
8. Thank the booksellers.
9. Never start a sentence with "You should." As in "you should carry my book," or "you should put my book on the front table ...
10. Don't treat the booksellers like the help.

I can't tell you how many times writers had appeared in my store treating me like an idiot then expecting me to do an elaborate event for them. I can't tell you how many times writers had come into my store trying to trick me into getting their book by pretending they were a customer desperately in search of this "very important book." Or here's the other tactic, treat my staff person so badly that she gets on the phone upset and pulls me out of my home office (where I was doing some important overdue work, of course) to go all the way to the story to cater to the special needs of a customer only to find that he wants me to carry his book and do a reading for him. Or here is another idea, how about interrupting a reading and demanding that I drop everything and look at your book "right now" because you are so important. Or here's another one, leave your book with me, come back in a week and find that I have't read it yet, demand your book back angrily, and leave in a mad huff.

There are so many other stories but I will just make my blood boil. So I won't tell them here ... maybe later.

What I want to say is, don't treat bookseller's like they are stupid. And for God's sake don't be rude. We see you coming a mile away because anything you try has been done before. And ask yourself, how would you feel if you were that person behind the counter and you were treated like that? There were many books that I would have considered carrying and doing events for that I totally scratched because the author was not just rude, but extremely rude, and thoughtless. So what if the book is good? There are a lot of good books. If the author is going to contribute to an ulser, lost or grey hair, and high blood pressure, forget it. I'll deal with the author who is pleasant and also has a good book.

For example, I will never forget how extremely polite Kenji Jasper was when he presented Dark, his first book, to me. It was a complete pleasure to deal with him. I wanted to, and did, help push his book.

This is a tough business. Booksellers have a lot on their plate. There are a lot of things pulling at the few 24 hours in a bookseller's day. DO NOT TREAT THE BOOKSELLER LIKE A FOOL AND/OR SERVANT. They WILL remember you. They WILL resent you. (Trust me, I remember ALL the rude and horrible authors).

Be polite. Treat booksellers with respect. Let them WANT to help you. It's so simple.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jenn -
Hope you're well, I happen to be reading an old NRG magazine tonight and ran across an article mentioning your Cafe'. I'm Ron the guy that use to come to you Cafe' with my son Le'Ron from Philly. We were getting our locks done in Brooklyn. I still go, but my son cut his when he turned 11 yrs old. Look me up on facebook. Ron Dudley. I thank you for all of the wonderful books for my son when he was little. He's 15 now and has been through much. But with God's help I'll make it through all of the muck.

Love Yah!

jenn said...

OMG!! It so good, good, good, to hear from you! Of course, I remember both of you so well. You know you're even in the video capsule for the store. Take a look -- http://www.jennbrissett.com/oldstore.php

I tried to look you up on Facebook. Send me an email through my website: http://www.jennbrissett.com/
There are a lot of Rob Dudley's. I will try the one that looks like you. Give a hug and a kiss to your son for me.

Much Luv,

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