There’s an interesting article in today’s Wall Street Journal from Joanne Kaufman—Authors: Where Do I Sign? It talks about the delicate balancing game publishers face when setting up author signings, and it’s definitely something that we deal with on an everyday basis here at Overlook. While we recommend reading it in full, here are a few excerpts, with our thoughts.
"Which authors get to sign at which New York locations is a tricky gavotte involving publishers, chain bookstores and other venues. In fact, independent bookstores or locales like the 92nd Street Y are sometimes more appropriate perches."
As an independent publisher, we particularly like working with independent bookstores. Their specialties and dedicated staffs are always a joy, and the unique personality of each bookstore can work really well with many of our authors.
However, working with Barnes & Noble and Borders is a crucial part of our jobs. Getting to know the big locations of their stores, particularly in Manhattan, is one of the first things every publicist learns to do. Their staff works extremely hard to accommodate our preferences and needs (and will also sell books off-site at events, which means those sales will be reported to best-seller lists—huge bonus!) and it’s an efficient and friendly business model.
“It's not that certain branches confer more bragging rights than others, according to literary agent Laurence Kirschbaum. It's just that certain branches are simply better for certain types of books. "There are definitely uptown authors and subjects and downtown authors and subjects," he said. "A lot of it has to do with where a writer has most of his posse. Thus, you're not going to put the latest Tea Party author at the B&N at 82nd and Broadway," Mr. Kirschbaum continued, alluding to the store in the heart of the famously liberal Upper West Side.
This rings particularly true to us. Even a chain store will have its own personality, whether it’s in terms of size, accessories (the Lincoln Triangle B&N has a piano and excellent video equipment), or the surrounding neighborhood. An author who’s a West Village or Upper East Side resident or native will often get the best response there.
“Whatever the location, "the key thing is the network the author can call on to show up," said Mr. Kirschbaum. Indeed, Ms. Gottlieb's publisher asked about the size of her mailing list and the number of people she thought she could recruit for her event. "And they had to provide that to Borders to justify why they should have me there," said the author, who ended up with a respectable crowd of 100.”
Interesting anecdotes: that sports books often get the lunch slot at the Wall Street borders, and that it’s no coincidence celebrity books are usually at the biggest B&N, in Union Square—there’s capacity for over 1,000 people.
Anyways, whether you’re an aspiring author, a harried publicist, or a reader who enjoys meeting and greeting authors, this article delves into an important part of book marketing and publicity that isn’t often exposed to the public. (Interested in book publicity in general? We enjoy Book Flack at Large and the Book Publicity Blog).
And as an aside, we’ve dealt with this recently—author David Carnoy will be reading, discussing and signing from KNIFE MUSIC on Thursday night at 7:30 at the Lincoln Triangle B&N. Want more info on David? Go here. Hope to see you there!