by Laura Dawson
Bowker | Wed Mar 27, 2013
As a publisher, the bookstore is actually your customer. And of course you want to give your customer good service.
Customers respond well when they are treated well. They buy more of your product. So it's very much in your interest to treat booksellers the way they want to be treated, even if it means a little extra work and thought; bookstores are the portal to your readers.
Some general rules of thumb:
- Getting a person's name at a bookstore is not necessarily going to open a lot of doors. If the person is in charge of technical issues, she'll have to forward emails and phone calls about merchandising issues (why a book isn't listed, metadata corrections, how to get your book to the warehouse); this will take extra time, and cause some annoyance internally. If the person is in charge of ebook issues, she'll have to re-route questions about physical book inventory. If you're just writing to the only person whose name appears on the website, in the hopes of getting the attention of an actual human, that can backfire - actual humans can get irritated when instructions aren't being followed. It's important to read the instructions provided to you - on the website, in documentation - and do what that bookseller requires. And yes, every bookseller's procedures are going to be somewhat different.
- Bookstores have lots of suppliers of books. They are not vested in selling your book, particularly - there are many more publishers and distributors they can work with. Threatening them with excluding them from ordering your book is not very effective, even if you are a "big name" author. You only alienate your readers this way, by reducing the number of outlets from which they can purchase your book.
It's unusual to think of a bookstore as a customer - when usually, we as readers are a bookstore's customers - but in the case of self-publishing, it's really important. Bookstores deal with thousands upon thousands of authors and publishers a day. You don't want to be known as the one who doesn't provide good customer service.