Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My CCLaP Journal: The Early Days

I apologize if this blog begins to feel a bit like a deserted dirt road in the middle of nowhere. It's still the early days of my position with CCLaP, and I haven't quite figured out how to balance these new responsibilities  with the old ones yet. My old friend Routine has packed up and run away and stubbornly refused to leave a forwarding address. But don't worry. I'll find it. I promise. It hasn't gone far... I hope.

To make up for the strange silence, though, I thought it'd be cool to post updates every now and then about CCLaP and our books and the interesting things I learn along the way as a newbie Marketing Director.

Like, take this database I've been creating. Have you used Newpages.com - an invaluable website that neatly organizes quite possibly every single independent bookstore (with or without a website) by state and city? I've been working off of that site, researching and emailing bookstores, for two weeks and I'm only just through Connecticut. Phew!

A few things I've noted about independent bookstores and their websites:

1. Some are amazingly indie - their websites have edgy themes and cool headers, and they have tons of information on their site for first-time browsers, giving those who are not familiar with their store a real feel for what they're all about.

2. Others are sadly information-less and seem to be no more than mere web-address placeholders.

The former makes my job incredibly easy - I can see what types of books they specialize in, I get a feel for their layout, and all of their contact information (including an email address - you'd be surprised how many list hours of operation and phone numbers but never list an email!) is easily accessible. This helps me determine whether or not they'd be interested in taking our books on consignment and whether or not our books would fit in with the rest of their stock...

The latter? Well... if the email address is there, at best, I'm blindly reaching out and crossing my fingers that our books and their store might be a match. And I really hate doing that. Because I liken this part of my job to that of authors who pitch bloggers.

(...lookit that segue. C'mon, admit it, that was sweet..)

As a blogger, I know how frustrating it can be to sift through endless author pitches requesting reviews of books that are just not a fit for you or your blog. A Vietnam War vet self published a memoir and they want me to review it why...?  You've written a historical steampunk romance novel and you're pitching me because...? Have you even LOOKED at my blog? 

I'm a firm believer in the power of proper pitching - of doing a little leg-work, donning that detective badge and sniffing out the blogs that are the absolute best match for your book. You've heard me advocate for that before. (Heck, some of the authors I've met and worked with have heard that from me before! Haven't you, fella's?) In order to help authors determine who and where to pitch, bloggers create "about me" or "review policy" pages. The purpose of those pages is to attract the types of books you most prefer to read and review, and warn away those authors whose books are a total mismatch, right? So, if you're a blogger, and you DON'T have a "review policy" page, you've made yourself vulnerable to all kinds of crazy pitches and you've got no one to blame but yourself.
(Edit:  Ann from Books on the Nightstand made a great point - that even WITH a review policy, bloggers still get buried beneath mismatched pitches, and that sometimes just HAVING a review policy page increases the likelihood that you'll be pitched ruthlessly with greater frequency. To this, all I can say is - those with a review policy in place now have the power to push back on the author who mis-pitched and help them "see the light", so to speak, and show them the error of their ways.)
The same goes for bookstores. If you're in the business of buying and selling books, everyone who's ever written or published one is going to want their books in your store. The best thing you can do for everyone involved? Create an "about" or "consignment" page. Let authors and publishers know what you're interested in, whether or not you support small press and self published literature, and if you do, in which ways you prefer to work with us. We don't want to inundate your inbox with emails that make your eyes roll and your breath push out between your lips and your head bang off the desk.

I want to find the bookstores that are a perfect match for our books.

But I need you to help me find you.

1 comment:

  1. I've been so disappointed when I have found an independent bookstore's website and had it be so minimal that I wasn't even sure if it was still in business! Thanks for passing on the website! Since my husband and I are doing some traveling, that will come in handy at each of my locations!