By Callie Oettinger | Published: February 25, 2011
When I want a surprise read, I hold my three-year old daughter over the Costco book table and let her pick out a few books. (recent picks: Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Marilynne Robinson’s Home, and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge.) Or—I do a reverse pin-the-tail on the donkey in airport and train station book sections. I close my eyes, spin around, and then buy whatever book I grab. (recent pick: Wm. Paul Young’s The Shack). Some rock, others stink—all are a surprise.
When I buy my niece the Barnes & Noble gift cards she loves, I grab them off the gift card stand in the grocery store.
And when I’m looking for a specific book for myself or my kids, I log into Amazon.com.
The only time I go into a bookstore is when I’m attending an author signing—or killing time waiting for someone.
So when the events coordinator at an indy bookstore, in a market in which Steve has a large number of readers, told me he’s not interested in doing a signing with Steve, because the store doesn’t sell many of his books, I wondered how Steve’s readers buy books.
Do they exist in certain markets the way I think they do? Do they avoid the brick-and-mortar stores and buy via specialty stores and/or online?
Or am I wrong and the bookstore events coordinator I spoke with is right?
Because that bookstore hasn’t sold many of Steve’s books, maybe readers in that area aren’t interested in reading them?
Through all this online connecting, we’ve learned that it is better to go to your audience than hang in a place your audience might not visit—and wait for your audience to show up.
So by asking this one events coordinator a few different ways to reconsider, was I asking for an event at a place that wasn’t of interest to Steve’s readers?
Or was it a store readers didn’t go to because they buy books other ways? But maybe, like me, they’d show up for—and buy books at—a signing?
I don’t know.
In the past, Steve’s always visited the military academies and installations. When I attended his signing at the United States Naval Academy a few years ago, his books were sold out before he arrived. I had to grab a few boxes from the back of my car, and even those weren’t enough.
And when he’s done signings, he’s always tried to connect them with talks and one-on-one meetings with those attending, staying a day or two sometimes, to answer questions, say hello, and thank everyone. They’re kind enough to support his work. It’s important to him to give back—to do more than show up to make a sale and then take off.
So why start approaching the traditional bookstores?
Steve’s received a great deal of support from military readers in the past, which is why he always visits with them.
In these past almost-two years of blogging, he’s been introduced to readers from so many other communities, and he’s interested in meeting with them, too. But, will traditional stores support his events? And, are bookstore events the best way to connect with readers?
Steve’s publisher has received interest from a few, so we’ll explore them and let you know.
Right now, Steve has events scheduled at these locations:
June 13 or 15: 29 Palms (still working on this one)
June 17: Camp Pendleton
June 27: Camp LeJeune
June 30: Quantico
(We’ll provide updates moving forward.)
For now, as we look into Steve traveling to thank readers for supporting his work, as he releases his new novel, The Profession, will you let us know how you buy books and, if given an opportunity to meet with an author you support, how you’d like to meet him or her? In a store? At a convention? At a luncheon? At a sporting event?
Knowing that it’s hard for authors to meet one-on-one with each of their readers, what would be your choice to connect? What would work for you?
Thanks for your help!