Say “local author” aloud in my store and you will hear a collective sigh from my staff.

Our experience has found that managing local authors and their inventory is a difficult feat. Some stores have expressed that the hassle isn’t worth it, banning both the people and the process from their businesses. Local authors are typically self-published, making them somewhat unaware of the publishing demands, much less the retail business.

We’ve had great success with a handful of local authors who work at managing their own accounts. But, in general, they seem problematic and hard to deal with, along with having unrealistic expectations. Bottom line, it just doesn’t sound like good business given that selling books is all about relationships with both authors and customers.

But, the surprise was on us. With a refocus on the upsurge of self-publishing and the “buy local” movement, we’ve gained new vision for our neighborhood authors. We’ve seen a shift in why it works for authors and stores alike.

Self-published authors need CBA stores

Self-published authors don’t have a team of editors or marketing experts to rely on. Depending on retail relationships can give these authors a platform for finding feedback, marketing suggestions, discovery of their books, and encouragement from store staff that want to see these authors succeed.

One of our best success stories is Sharon Garlow Brown, who started as a self-published author through WestBow Press.

“The local bookstore plays a crucial role in promoting any author’s work, especially in the case of a self-published or local author,” she says. “The store becomes a primary conduit for making the work available to readers, not just by providing shelf space, but also by providing opportunities for the community and the author to interact in meaningful ways. I’ve been so grateful for my ministry partnership with my local Christian bookstore.”

Self-published authors promote ‘buy local.’

As we’ve fared through the process of finding what works with local authors, we’ve learned what makes a story successful. The base of that success lies in authors who shop our store regularly, manage their inventory well, and send their readers to us regularly.

That’s the beauty of our best local authors—they ask their diehard fans to buy local. They’re social media gurus, tweeting or uploading pictures of their books on our shelves. They’re at the heart of the movement, sending their followers to our store. They ask readers to buy from us, because the relationship between us all is important to our community. We, in turn, gain new customer relationships through their ever-increasing profile base.

It works well … if we work it.

Baker’s local author investment agreement

This is our professional agreement for local authors who would like to create a book event in our store. It’s simple and certainly brings in authors who are strategic in marketing their message. Our tiered event fees help pay for the administrative and promotional expenses.

Gold

$75

One scheduled meet-and-greet event approximately 2 hrs.
In-store publicity
Listed on store marquee on day of event
Online publicity on Facebook and store website

Silver

$50

One scheduled book-signing table approximately 3 hrs.
Online publicity on Facebook and on store website
Face-out placement in appropriate sections within the store

Bronze

$25

One scheduled book signing table approximately 3 hrs.
Face-out placement in appropriate section within the store

-Sue Smith