Bookstore Pics = Great Engagement

Dear indie bookshop owner,

Many thanks for ordering copies of my book. In the spirit of “little guys should stick together,” I’ll note I’m published by a small press that can’t offer big player discounts of 45–55%. My publisher can only risk half that amount and has a no-return policy. So I’m grateful you devoted your limited shelf space to a few copies by yours truly. I promise to return the favor by posting on social media that my #vampire #novel is #availablenow in your shop (tagged, of course).

Whitby, England.

Now, chances are pretty high that you’re an introvert and may not feel comfortable with my next request, but it’s one I must make: Would you please take a selfie with my book? Or snap a pic with a staffer holding a copy? Nothing gets engagement on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter like a smiling bookseller holding new books. I have the likes and shares to prove it — and they’ll show we both win.

Carolyn, Books on First in Dixon, IL

If you’re uncomfortable appearing on camera, a display pic is another option. These get fewer shares and retweets, though, which means you are less likely to make a sale and I’m less likely to welcome new readers. Boo hoo for both of us. But let’s not lose sight of who we’re really working for. Readers are always looking for a new book in their favorite genre. And believe me: I want them to buy my novel from you. I believe in the value of independent businesses — especially bookstores — and want you to succeed. Why not co-brand?

So about that picture. It doesn’t take much time or effort. And if you just can’t abide the notion of your charming visage going viral — with my book in your hands — then please consider one more option: Make your cat the star.

Huck & Finn, From My Shelf Books in Wellsboro, PA

We all know bookstore cats rule but the above photo flat-out proves it. Of course, if you have a better photo please share it in the comments. Dogs and iguanas are also welcome but paper-eating worms are not (for obvious reasons).

If you’re an author with a book in an indie bookstore, congratulations. Now get a photo and start sharing. And here’s wishing you boffo engagement!

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Dan Klefstad

Dan Klefstad

Dan Klefstad is a longtime radio host and newscaster at NPR station WNIJ. His latest novel, Fiona’s Guardians, is about humans who work for a vampire.