Author Chuck Wendig has this advice for indie bookstores:
Help authors be awesome, and authors will help bookstores be the same.
In his post, Wendig brings up some very good points.
I’ve spoken with a few indie bookstores that treated me like I was, I dunno, bugging them. Like, “Oh, you’re… an author? Ew.” As if authors were not the people who helped fill that bookstore with crazy wonder. I assume it was because I wasn’t a bestselling author?
Cover charges for bookstore events. I was thinking about this recently– specifically I was thinking about how the book industry could learn from the music industry. The music industry has already had to deal with price drops and piracy, and the music industry handled these a whole lot quicker and better than the book industry. I got to thinking about how the music industry probably makes a bulk of their money on ticket prices for concert tours, and how authors (and bookstores) need to be doing the same. But mentioning cover charges for bookstore events brings up a hoopla of backlash. Some don’t think they should be charged anything to have an author sign their pile of books. But they’re forgetting the costs involved to the bookstore and author just to make that signing happen.
Wendig’s advice totally makes sense:
One book minimum.
Like, if I go to a comedy club, there’s a drink minimum.
Wendig also suggests authors partner with bookstores for more than just books.
No reason that an author/publisher and a bookstore cannot partner together to offer unique swag: this could be anything, really. Bookmarks. Postcards.
Also, a point Wendig didn’t cover but is totally worth mentioning, is having indie bookstores fill world-wide orders for signed books by local authors. I realize some booksellers may not want the hassle of shipping books around the world, but think about it: a signed book is a unique product. You get to be the only distributor. Exclusive content. Especially when the author adds a little value like a personal message or a doodle.