are you, again?”
I sighed inside and shifted my
weight as I stood at the info counter at the Redmond Borders bookstore.
“James L. Rubart. I’m here to
sign stock. My publicist set up an appointment with you for one p.m.
And I’m doing a book signing here in January as well.”
“She did? What’s your name
“James L. Rubart.”
“Hmmm, not sure about that
signing stock thing. Let me look up your book. What’s it called?”
“Rooms and Book
The lady at the counter typed
Rooms into her computer and a few seconds later turned with a smile.
“Oh, I know who you are now. I
didn’t recognize your name, but we know your book. It’s selling really
“But, we don’t have any stock
for you to sign. Your book is sold out.”
She glanced back at her
computer. “But don’t worry; we’ve ordered more.”
She told me she’d set up a
display with Rooms and The Shack (a lot of people see similarities in
the two books), which is one of the reasons Rooms was sold out.
For the next five minutes we
chatted about my books. The manager asked for reader copies of both Rooms
and Book of Days so her staff could read them and
then recommend them to customers. She was kind, accommodating, and took
a genuine interest in me and my novels.
You’re ahead of me, I know. So
let’s talk about the marketing lessons we can learn from my visit:
touch. There’s nothing like looking a store manager in the
eye. Once they get to know you (and hopefully like you), the rules
change. They’ll do more for you and be happy to do it.
2. You’re just another author. Unless your initials
start with J.K. or the like, they won’t be ready to kiss your pinky
ring. I could have been put out that they didn’t have stock, which made
me take a trip for nothing, and simply left without
manager in conversation. That’s the point. It didn’t turn out to be
nothing. It started a relationship I bet will translate into more book
sales and a better than normal book signing in January.
loaded for bear, even if you don’t think you’ll get
the chance to shoot. I was only there to sign stock, so I
could have walked into the store with nothing but a Sharpie. Instead, I
brought three posters, bookmarks, and postcards (thanks, B&H).
The manager was thankful and said she’d start using the pieces right
4. You’re not omnipresent. I realize you can’t do
this in every bookstore across the country, so do it in the ones you
can. Whenever I’m driving around the Puget Sound area, I’m figuring a
way to drop in on a store and say a quick hello. And I’m ready whenever
I travel. In November I was in Grand Rapids recording the audio version
of Book of Days. Before I flew home, I stopped at
Family Christian Store and a Barnes & Noble. Keep bookmarks and
collateral in the back of your car and in your carry-on when you’re out
of town. Once you start looking for chances to spread the word about
your book(s), more opportunities will pop into your brain like, well,
As always, if you have a
marketing question you’d like me tackle in this column, shoot it my
way. And I promise I’ll remember your name.
Editors note: Jim’s second
novel, Book of Days, just released from B&H
Fiction. RT Book Reviews gave it 4 ½ stars and Publishers
Weekly says, “Rubart has created a page turner.”