Approaching Bookstores…the Correct Way.

 As expected, I received quite a bit of feedback about my blog titled Approaching Bookstores the Wrong Way. Some remarked that my “advice” was a bit blunt.

Forgive the bluntness, again, my ultimate goal is to help you sell books.  I have counseled authors who listen politely then decide to do things their way. These authors come back months later to tell me they regret not following my advice.

Unfortunately, some people do not understand that you really do have one chance to make an impression. I am saying this with love in my heart. If you  make a bad impression –bluntness warning–there is nothing you can do to correct the image you have made with a bookseller.

Each day booksellers receive dozens of authors clamouring to have their books shelved. How can you stand out?


*  Dress appropriately. Do not show up wearing casual clothing.

*  Be polite. Pushy authors = bad impression.

*  Spend 3-5 minutes explaining your book. Not one second more.

*  Time your visit when the store is NOT busy.

*  Identify yourself as a local author (if applicable).

*  Prepare a printed sample chapter to leave at the store. This is easily done at home or at any office supply store.

*  Include the distributors who carry your book, book price, contact information of you and your publisher.

*  Follow up with an email which includes: a PDF of the book cover, sample chapter and publisher contact.

*  Send a hand-written thank you.

*  Most important:  SEND READERS TO THEIR STORE.

When someone asks where they can purchase a copy of your book, do  not send them to online distributors. Send them to the local brick and mortar store. This may mean they have to wait two days while your title is ordered and shipped. This “wait time” would happen even if they ordered online, unless they purchase an electronic copy of your book.

Once bookstores begin carrying your titles, link your website to theirs.

All of this advice and more is covered in my newest release: Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. If you live in the Atlanta Metro area visit my website or this link to participate in an upcoming workshop. And remember, subscribe to this blog and be registered to receive a FREE copy of the book which will be awarded in December 2011.

Renea is a two-time winner of the Appalachian Writer’s Award, in 2010, she was awarded the Denny Plattner award. Her work has appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Georgia Backroads, Smoky Mountain Living, Long Leaf Style and Georgia Magazine. She is a frequent radio guest, appearing on many radio stations, including Georgia Public Radio 90.1 FM. Her memoir, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes (2010, Little Creek Books) earned a SIBA and GAYA nomination.

Approaching Bookstores: The Wrong Way

I understand… really, I do. 

Revenue from online sales do not pay the bills. You thought eBooks were all the rage. Now you know the truth. Your book needs to be displayed in a local bookstore.  The weight of the world is on your shoulders. Your husband/wife/partner has had it up to here with your writing career.  You are under a tremendous amount of pressure. You need to sell your books…speedy quick.

Here are the top five things NOT to do when approaching any bookseller or independent business.

* Have a friend pose as your publisher.

* Lie about being represented by a “Major Publisher.”

* Be pushy, demanding and downright rude.

* Approach a bookstore without first being a customer.

* Visit a bookstore while they are having an event and then,    monopolize the owner’s time.

Let me begin with the last first because it is the most important. Please heed my advice. My words may seem harsh, but my intent is to save your reputation. Approaching a bookseller during another author’s event is a career-damaging move.  The sole purpose for attending any author event should be to support the author who has been invited to speak, and the business who has gone to a tremendous expense to host the event.

Pause for a moment and think: how would I feel if someone came to my booksigning to sell their book?

You would not appreciate the gesture.

They don’t either.

I am constantly amazed when booksellers tell me people call them “posing” as publishers, agents, publicists. Being deceitful might work for the Kardashian family; it will not work for you. 

Before you reach out and do the wrong thing, pause. Create a relationship with a bookseller that is based on your love of the written word, not your need to sell books.

Learn more about effective marketing in my book: Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. Subscribe to this blog or leave a comment and be registered to receive a FREE copy. Make Your Mark Publishing will award one subscriber a free copy mid-December.

 Renea Winchester is the author of Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. Her first book titled: In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes, earned  a SIBA nomination and a Georgia Author of the Year nomination. She is an award winning author who believes in the value of community and relationships. Visit her at

Discipline and Patience

Discipline and Patience:

One of three character traits all authors must possess

Fresh from a workshop with legendary Terry Kay, I have much to share. First, a confession: I have missed my critique group. Please, if you don’t have a core group of souls with whom you share your work, make it a point to find one. I had no idea how much I missed the camaraderie of Lynn, Mary, John and Lee. Being around other scribes is crucial. I owe much of my success to them. They kindly (and forcibly) reminded me that I have been away for far too long and that I must attend the next meeting.

They are correct.

Mr. Kay spoke to a crowd of eager pupils about the craft of writing. Any author who believes he or she knows everything about that subject is a fool. Regardless of the number of books you have written, purpose to learn something new. Keep your writing fresh. After leaving the workshop with eight pages of notes, I was encouraged, hopeful and energized.

However, there is no way to sugarcoat the message. Kay reminded the group: “authors must have three character traits: a lot of discipline, a little bit of talent, and a lot of patience.”

This is my message to you, of discipline and patience. The books we love are the result of discipline. Someone sat for hours on end writing, reading, cursing, crying, fretting over the words placed on the page. If they didn’t —and this is going to sound rude—their book probably isn’t worth your time. Most books require months, if not years, of discipline.

You will be that author. You will be disciplined and invest the necessary time both when writing your book, and when marketing.

Conversely, marketing your book takes an equal amount of discipline. Take publicity for example.

A Message from Captain Obvious: Readers do not know about your book unless you (or a another reader) tells them about it.

It is necessary to invest the time to send individual emails to each person you have identified on the marketing list.

No group emails.

This investment of time requires discipline.

To impart a bit of personal information about me, I watch one television show, one night a week. Period.

I do not waste time…I manage it.


Patience: Quite frankly, I don’t have time for patience. I am guilty of wanting an instant return on my time-investment. Realistically, this never happens. It is human nature to want lightning-fast results. However, writing (and marketing) is the ultimate lesson in patience.

Personal Example: Last month, after working two consecutive days at the computer emailing every newspaper, radio personality and blogger imaginable, I wanted instantaneous result. C’mon now people, why haven’t you responded to my emails? All have responded, in their time, not according to my schedule.

However, a year and a half ago I contacted a company regarding making copies of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes available in their grocery store. They commonly carry books by local authors and since Billy is from the area, I thought my book was a perfect match. I approached, delivered my best marketing spiel and waited. I heard nothing…for a year and a half.

Upon returning from the workshop last night, I had a Facebook friend request from the manager of the marketing department. Does this mean she is going to stock my book? I am not certain. I know this; we have no mutual friends, so how did she find me unless she sought me?

I understand, more than you know, how difficult it is to approach people and want so desperately for them to buy your book. Truly, at the end of the day one must remember the words of The Great Terry Kay: “Discipline and Patience.”

Write the words on a note.

Adorn the walls with those two words.

Practice them and believe in yourself.

Remember, subscribe to this blog, or comment in order to be registered for a free copy of Renea’s latest book: Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. Learn more about Renea Winchester through her website.

Newbie No More

In October, 2010, after more than a year of waiting, and after almost five years of perfecting my craft, Little Creek Books released my first title: In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. The book had been rejected by some of the best agents in the business, and passed over by large publishing companies. Their reason: “the book wouldn’t sell outside of the south.” Little Creek Books, believed in the story enough to take a risk; for that I am grateful.

Without an agent, or a publicist, I took this book and converted it into a “must-read” within the local community. I have been blessed with readers throughout Georgia, my homestate of North Carolina, and my home-away-from home, Tennessee. As we all know, it takes a large reading audience to successfully sell any book.

I don’t have a marketing background. In fact, that’s probably why I have been so successful. I didn’t do what someone told me I should in order to sell my book. Instead, I followed my heart. I approached booksellers and readers and said: “I’ve written this book about a special man. I’d like you to give me a chance.”

Not only did they give my book a chance, these readers and booksellers got behind the book and pushed it with strength only a true book-lover could. It was the reader, not the agent or the publicist that expanded my market outside of my target audience. Readers bought ten copies and gifted the book to loved ones. When a reader in Australia contacted me, I couldn’t help but smile. Having and agent has nothing to do will selling books.

If you’re almost ready to launch a book, please know that relationships with readers are the key to successfully selling your book.

During my travels, while speaking to bookclubs, I’ve also been taking note of what worked for me…a newbie, a writer without an agent, living in a town filled with Best-selling Authors. Do you reliaze the improbability of me being able to sell books in the midst of such competition? Still, with hard-work, dedication, and lots of prayer, I now stand on the platform with them. You can also, if you work hard and focus at effectively marketing your title.

Some lucky person will win this book !

And now I bring you: Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. For years, authors and booksellers have said, “someone needs to teach writers how to market their book.”

I want to do that for you.

Thank you to Make Your Mark Publishing for publishing this book. Stress-free Marketing is already in the top 100 Kindle books. It is also available in paperback through independent booksellers, and online distributors.

Last night, while trick-or-treating with my family, someone asked, “aren’t you the one who wrote that great book about Farmer Billy.”

It is during those time that I pause, give thanks and am grateful for everyone who believed in me.

Remember: Subscribe to my blog, or post a comment and be registered to receive a FREE copy of Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. The publisher will award a free copy in December. As always, I’d love to hear from you.