Over the next couple of months here on the ALLi Author Advice Centre blog, we'll be writing extensively about the role of brick-and-mortar bookstores and bookshops in the indie author's career, but today we're bringing you a guest post by ALLi author member Jude Lennon about other routes she's used to put her children's picture books before her young audience and those who buy books for them.
Like most authors, I’m passionate about bookshops and libraries. When you first think about publishing your own book you automatically think about stocking it in a bookshop. After all, it’s a book, where else are you going to stock it? Well, you’d be surprised…
1 A Bookshop Run by an Indie Author
I made friends with a fabulous independent bookshop called Write Blend. The owner is Bob Stone, and he is hugely supportive of indie authors because he is one. We ‘met’ through a local Twitter hour and chatted. He suggested I pop in with my book, and it went from there. Bob has hosted most of my book launches and I attend other events he has at the shop when I can.
This is key: it’s a two way thing. I support him and he supports me.
2 A Pet Shop
I live above The Pet Shop, a local business which has been there for years. The owners are kindly folk who take in our post, so when my first box of books arrived, I dashed down the stairs to collect them. I excitedly dug one out to show them, and they said I must stock it in their shop. That particular book The Dragon of Allerton Oak features a local and well-known tree. Lots of locals have since popped in to pick up their copy, and occasionally I get a phone call to ask if I’m available to sign the books too.
They’ve since gone on to stock three more of my books.
3 Other Local Stores
At the other end of the block is Lifestyle Collective, a beautician, cafe and lifestyle hub. Owner Rachel is hugely supportive of local businesses and stocks all kinds of crafts and gifts including, you’ve guessed it, my books. We also jointly run a Book Club there, and I host my Creative Writing Courses there too.
Again, partnership and supporting each other is key.
4 School Holiday Programme
I’m a professional storyteller as well as an author, and I do regular school holiday slots at a local community church. I’m not a church-goer – they got in touch with me and asked if I’d like the job. I said yes, and they asked if I’d like to stock some of my books in their gift shop. Yes please!
5 Local Development Trust
With a name like Jude Lennon, there is always going to be interest when you live in the Beatles Capital of the World: Liverpool.So I approached the Penny Lane Development Trust. This building is devoted to all things Beatles and as Calderstones Park (where The Dragon of Allerton Oak is set) is the park where most of the Beatles played as children, they were keen to stock the book.
Yes, I am related, before you all ask!
6 Local Charitable Campaign
I wrote for local cause Slow Down for Bobby. The campaign was started by the family of Bobby Colleran following his death. The family commissioned me to write two stories featuring Super Bob.
Although I don’t collect royalties, they do pay me to visit schools two days a week to talk about the book and road safety.
Visits to Primary Schools
This isn’t for everyone, but I taught young children for eighteen years, so I love it, and it's a great way to boost book sales.
I average two to three school visits per month and sell a minimum of 25 books per school.
So there you have it – these have worked for me. Obviously, it depends on the type of books you are selling and where will be appropriate.
My one piece of advice would be: ask. It’s always going to be a no if you don’t!
OVER TO YOU Have you, like Jude, found creative ways other than bookstores to reach your readers? Feel free to share examples of your own successes and brainwaves via the comments box – and if you'd like to write a guest post about your success story, read our Submission Guidelines. (NB We run posts only by paid members of ALLi – is that the excuse you need to join us?)Creative ways to reach more readers with your #selfpub books - case study with @JudeLennonBooks Click To Tweet
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Fed up reading on Joanna Penn. Bored!
Sounds like an excellent way to get the word out while connecting with your local community! Thanks for advice!
Really interesting advice and unusual ideas, thanks Jude!