When my second novel was published in 2007, I contacted a number of bookstores in my area to ask if they would be interested in having me do a book signing. One of those was an independent bookstore whose owner promoted herself as eager to support local authors.
But when I reached the owner on the phone, I got a different response. After hemming and hawing for a moment, she dropped the pretense.
“Look,” she said, “why would anyone want to buy your book? You’re nobody famous.”
I wrote down the words in something like shock. Of course, big names sell books. But independent bookstores usually portray themselves as being more involved in the community than the national chain stores, more knowledgeable, more interested in discovering unknown authors and the next great book.
So with The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare coming out in two weeks, I did an experiment. I emailed a total of 36 independent bookstores in four states where I have ties. I attached information about myself and the book and simply asked that they check it out and let their customers and book clubs know about it.
The three bookstores where I had done signings for my previous novel replied instantly and favorably. Three more wrote back with nice notes, and further correspondence with one of those has led to a signing. My thanks to all six.
The remaining 30 did not reply or acknowledge receipt of my message.
Obviously, I’m not (yet) famous enough.