If you value the booksellers and librarians in your community (and you should!) you’ve probably wondered how to earn their support.
A meet and greet is an opportunity for you to make a positive personal connection with booksellers and librarians who have the ability to promote your book to customers and patrons long after you meet them.
After connecting personally with these industry “tastemakers,” they will often consider your book for events, official staff recommendations, and special displays (like a local author’s table). They may even nominate your book for awards in the future!
The first step for connecting with a bookseller or librarian is to call ahead. Be respectful of their time, and ask to arrange a brief 10-15 minute meeting.
You should bring:
- a copy of your book
- a printed copy of your press kit or one sheet (your ISBN should be displayed here for quick reference)
- (optional) swag, bookmarks or treats to help you stand out
A meet and greet is all about creating a personal relationship with the bookseller or librarian. You can’t show up once and expect the world. As an author, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort, especially if you want their help in return!
A few tips for your meeting:
- Emphasize that you just want to introduce yourself and not take up a lot of their time.
- Thank the staff for all they do to support the literary community in your area.
- Give them a copy of your book and press kit.
- Share a quick summary of the book and explain why you wrote it (this is your elevator pitch!)
- Mention that you hope they’ll consider ordering a few copies, or ask about the possibility of scheduling an event/stock signing.
- If planning an event, be sure to mention what you expect to see in the way of attendance and/or book sales.
- Be considerate and flexible. If you’d be open to a dual-author or panel event, let them know! Mention that you’re open to their ideas, and you want to collaborate with them to make sure their financial needs are being met.
- Thank them for their time and for keeping your book in mind.
- Show support and make a purchase while you’re there.
- If they don’t decide to order copies on the spot, that’s okay. Continue supporting them by shopping locally and attending other author events. Show them you’re serious about mutual support in the industry.
If you want to reach booksellers and librarians outside of your local community, or if a meet and greet isn’t feasible, you can still make a good first impression. Here are a few strategies:
- Attend an event or take out an ad with your regional bookseller association. Not sure what that is? Check out my article here for more information!
- Take out an ad in an industry publication that reaches booksellers and librarians directly, such as Library Journal/School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Foreword.
- Create a postcard that highlights all of your essential book information and positive blurbs and mail it to the libraries you want to reach.
- Make phone calls asking if you can send a copy of your book to the store/library and set up mailings for those that are interested.
Reaching librarians and booksellers can be a lot of work, but once you’ve opened the door to a new relationship, they will be far more likely to support you in your next book release! Building these personal connections early on in your career is a powerful investment for any author.
Remember that relationships are always a two-way street, so try not to ask too much of your new contacts, and support them as much as possible to ensure a healthy, lasting partnership!
Jackie Karneth is a publicist with Books Forward is an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers.