MY BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO SELLING BOOKS by Jackie Taylor Zortman

RSCN8690We live in a bustling and spectacular little tourist town inside a National Forest at 8000 feet in the southwestern Colorado mountains and unquestionably “in the boondocks”.  The tourist season runs from Memorial Day till mid-October. A few folks come for the holidays or ice festival in January.  After that, the sidewalks seem to simply roll themselves up and things get extremely quiet and astoundingly deep in snow.  However, it does become the perfect cozy and quiet spot in which to write.  I once owned a bookstore here and had no problem selling books.  I sold the store in 1986, became a writer in 1990 and wrote my first book in 2013.

There is one bookstore in town and the owner doesn’t permit book signings.  His gorgeous store is located in an historic hotel and opens into the busy grille restaurant in back and Main Street in front, the ideal spot in which to sign books.  But he feels it keeps people out rather than drawing them in.  He does stock my books, as does Barnes and Noble, 100 miles distant. Ditto for any radio station that does author interviews.

The next little town is 10 miles away with one bookstore/coffee shop and the owner appears to enjoy being a barista more than a bookseller.  My first book is non-fiction and written about this area, so I thought he would want to sell it.  However, the day I stopped to introduce myself, he didn’t say one word to me the entire time I spoke.  He simply glared and said, “I have the book your publisher sent me,” turned and walked away, leaving me with the only option to do the same.

A larger town, 40 miles distant, has a Hastings Bookstore and a large Christian bookstore.  My first book “We Are Different Now” is about my journey through grief when my 21-year-old grandson fell 100 feet off a mountain ledge to his death in the pitch black of night. As you can imagine, that book contains numerous references to heaven, angels, God, etc.

A chiropractor friend of mine suggested I visit the Christian bookstore and tell them he sent me.   I cheerfully buzzed right in there to learn the owner was irritated to see me. She said, “I have read your book and it absolutely has no business in a Christian bookstore.” My immediate response was, “You’re kidding!”  Suddenly, her husband came rushing to her side like I was going to jump over the counter and attack her.  I’m a relatively small person and she isn’t, so that was never an option. My book sold as a text book in two stores near the University of Kentucky, so I assume it was for classes relating in some way to religion.  It also sold in numerous Christian stores all over the world, according to Google. So, I left with my feelers hurt, as my late grandson said as a little guy.

But onward and upward!  I went directly to Hastings and they were anxious to stock it, if it was listed with Ingram. Yes! They got the catalogue up to order it right then and there, only to discover it had been listed incorrectly as “We Are Different Noow.” Awkward! The buyer ordered it anyway and my publisher had the listing corrected.

When promotions sent out clearly marked Advanced Reader Copies for early reviews and back cover blurbs for my current fiction novel “Footprints inCFwithPSWA-FootprintsintheFrost the Frost”, Amazon sold copies at full price, to our chagrin. This confused readers who bought it, thinking it was the real deal. Then it took two tries to get the correct cover up when the actual book launched.  These obstacles took time and corrupted early sales when the ARC copies were returned by disgruntled buyers.

Obviously, personal visits are not a viable option to sell books where I live, so I fully utilize social media, send out newsletters, have my blog linked to Goodreads, Facebook, my Amazon Author’s page, Linkedin and Facebook Author’s page. There is a new venue opening soon and the owner called to ask if she can sell both my books. You bet! Of course, in a small town, word of mouth works much the same as jungle drums, too.

Conclusion:  In Colorado they say location is everything and in real estate, it’s a major plus. However, I have to admit my beautiful home town’s locale is the biggest obstacle to selling my books. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I didn’t become a writer to get rich anyway.

Angelo-Gemmi-page-border-1-800px

Jackie Taylor Zortman is a published writer and author who has had numerous articles and short stories published over 25 years. She is the author of the non-fiction book “We Are Different Now – A Grandparent’s Journey Through Grief” and her First Place Award winning fiction novel “Footprints in the Frost”.  She has won seven writing awards.

Jackie is a Charter Member of The Public Safety Writers Association (originally the Police Writers Club) joining when it was founded by Roger Fulton in 1994.  She is a contributing author to the anthologies “Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides”, “American Blue” and “The Centennial Book of the National Society of Daughters of the Union”.  In addition, she writes poetry, genealogy and history.
She lives in a quaint tourist town in the beautiful mountains of Colorado with her husband and Siamese cat. Bustling and crowded during the summer, the town becomes quiet when the deep snows of winter blanket the terrain.  That is when her home’s spectacular views become the perfect spot in which to write.

 

Jackie’s blog:  www.jtzortman.wordpress.com

Facebook:   www.facebook.com/jtzortman.author.2013

Amazon Author:  http://www.amazon.com/author/jackietaylorzortman

Books available at: www.amazon.com & www.bn.com as paperback, Kindle & Nook.

Footprints in the Frost is also available at All Romance eBooks at https://www.allromanceebooks.com/Product-footprintsinthefrost-1990300-152.html ; http//oaktreebooks.papertrell.com/id00384111/Footprints-in-the-Frost OR Apple’s iBooks at https://itun.es/us/_-Xoab.l.

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “MY BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO SELLING BOOKS by Jackie Taylor Zortman

  1. marilynm says:

    In the past it was easier to get bookstores to let you do signing than it is now–for one thing, there are less bookstores. We have none where I Iive or in the two cities closest to us. I do events in other places such as the art gallery, 2nd hand gift shop, and of course libraries.

    • jtzortman says:

      Marilyn – Thanks for stopping by. Most of the stores don’t have a lot of excess room here and our season is short. I didn’t think of having a signing at the library, though or one of the art galleries. I learn a lot from you, as you know.

  2. jtzortman says:

    P.J. – Thank you for having me as a guest author on your wonderful site. I am honored to be here.

  3. Nancy LiPetri says:

    I enjoyed learning more about this favorite author, her career path and Colorado home. If only selling wasn’t so frustrating for us authors!

  4. radine says:

    Yes–outlets for book sales are a big plus!!! My husband and I have commented many times on J A Konrath’s on line comments about the many bookstore events possible to him near home. Well sure–it’s Chicago! I feel very lucky to have four bookstores in my home area of Arkansas. (Trolley Line Books and Barnes & Noble in Rogers, and Nightbird Books and Barnes & Noble in Fayetteville.) All my books are also available from my web site and, of course there are the large on line booksellers and advertising outlets as you mention. But, in gratitude, and even at (perhaps) at some loss of convenience and price, I buy books from one of the four bookstores near my home!

    Thanks for bringing this up.

    • jtzortman says:

      Radine – Living remotely really rations access to bookstores or other places that will sell your books. With my first book, the local bookstore and the beauty salon sold it. Surprisingly, the salon volunteered to sell it and sold quite a few.

  5. vweisfeld.com says:

    Sometimes it seems there is as much creativity needed for selling the darn books as there was in writing them in the first place! What a great post from Jackie about the reality of “mixed response”!

  6. It’s a mutual problem. Selling books is not like selling other products. I’m handicapped by the fact there are no Indy or chain bookstores within 30 miles of me. There is a great independent store within 60 miles and I have sold there in the past. The nearest B&N turns up its nose at any book not published by the N.Y. Biggies. Many Indys today are more like gift shops and are fussy about what they carry. I’ve had more luck selling in libraries, to clubs and at street fairs than I ever had with bookstores.

    • jtzortman says:

      John – As the cliche says, misery loves company. It sounds like you also live rather remotely, which is a huge challenge when you are marketing books. B & N will order my books in their stores and sell them on-line, but the nearest one to me is 100 miles. Once again, I see the library coming up as a good place to sign books. Thanks for commenting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s