Giving Back to Bookstores

Photo courtesy of Designs Next

Photo courtesy of Designs Next

The other day I had a conversation with an independent book owner about author signings and it gave me a lot of insight. Her enthusiastic support for the authors was wonderful and unwavering, but during the conversation I wondered how much do we authors give back?

When we have been graciously invited to do a signing somewhere, do we expect the store to set up for us, clean up after and do all the promotions? Do we support the store with our own patronage and recommend it to others long after our own 15 minutes of literary fame is past?

I suspect we, as authors, can get so focussed on getting our name out there that we can forget simple courtesy and appreciation… and returning the favor.

Independent bookstores have a tough gig, just like independent authors. We have to make their generous support of us worth it by returning the favor. When we do a signing it’s our job to do the promotional footwork, no one should ever have to clean up after us and a handwritten thank you is an important courtesy.

For my birthday this year I’d like to organize a book buying flash mob. I want to find as many people as will participate and we all rush into Bayou Book Co. in an orderly mob and everyone buy a book to show support. Any book that looks good will do.

Read the book, and then review it on Amazon. Once the review is up, donate the finished book to Friends of the Niceville Library for sale in their used book store. That’s three gifts for one birthday—the bookstore, the author and the literary charity—and my way to stress how important we all are to each other.

Without independent bookstores, authors lose an epic supporter. Without readers—what’s the point? Reviewers are the greatest gift. They take the time not only to read, but to give their feedback so we can be better. And libraries? That’s a no brainer. It’s where all authors hope to one day be—nestled in the shelves as well worn and much loved volumes with a waiting list.

So… who’s up for a book buying birthday flash mob this November?

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher, and author with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. She co-publishes Space and Time magazine with author husband Ryan Aussie Smith. For more information visit
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