A Publisher’s Rant

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Okay, I have to go on record with this one. We spent the day ( a very successful day) at the South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia, SC.

For the entire day we had a steady stream of customers in our booth. There was not a time at any point during the day that we were not selling a book. It was tremendous. Or as our cute little waitress at Longhorn said, it was “grand.”

So what could possibly be wrong with this? Well, it’s other writers. I would like to point out a few simple guidelines or ettiquette rules to consider if you are a writer heading out to an event.

1. If you are an aspiring author and you want to meet with a publisher, contact them prior to the event and set an appointment. If a publisher is at an event they are probably there to sell books. When you walk up unannounced and go into your whole sales pitch for your book it is distracting and honestly it is very rude for those who are there to shop or who have made appointments.

At Echelon we do work on a referral system and we do tell you to meet us at events and we mean it, but there is a proper way to do it. Put together a very small packet, honestly I am good with a business card with contact info and a one or two line brief about your story. Drop it off and move on. If a publishing rep or author is trying to tansact business GO AWAY. Do not stand their and contiue talking. Chances ar they won’t be rude to you, but don’t make them tell you to go away.

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2. If you are a writer and you have a friend who is being featured at an event or a book signing, do NOT monopolize that author’s time. When an author goes to an event they have probably paid to be there and their main goal is to sell books. If you stand at the front of the booth constantly talking to the author who is trying to sell books you are inhibiting their ability to effectively sell books and give the readers and actual customers the attention they deserve. If you DO stop to talk and feel the need to chat, at least make it worth the author’s while and BUY THEIR BOOK!

This has become a major peeve of mine and I see it almost every event I go to. If you have no intention of buying a book, MOVE ON and give the real customers some room. If you want to chat with an old friend, call them on the phone or take them to lunch. Don’t rob them of the opportunity to increase their sales and recoup the money they have invested to be at an event.

3. Support your fellow authors. You know what it is like. If you have books to sell, you know how valuable time is. If you want someone to buy your book you have got to be willing to buy their book. Don’t make excuses. Either buy it, or move on. Period

4. Finally. When you go to visit a friend at an event, book signing, festival, whatever, DO NOT slip your promo material onto their table. If you did not pay for that space, it is NOT your space to promote in. At almost EVERY event I go to I throw away dozens of pieces of material that authors who have come to see a friend or even authors who have come to give me submission materials have left behind with hopes that they can get some free promo exposure.

I’m telling you, if you tell me you want to submit and then infiltrate the space paid for by or for my authors, to try and promote your other works,  I will NOT publish you. I will also not like you.

These are just common sense, and yet more times than not this is what happens. Please be courteous to the rights and opportunities of your friends and fellow authors.

Okay, I am done. I apologize for this rant, but after today, I really felt this needed to be said. Want to buy books? Come and see us. Want to look at our books and see if maybe you might be interestd in something, come on over. Want to chat and catch up with someone you have not called in a year. Do it on Monday after the event.

I love to meet authors, but not at the expense of sales and my authors’ rights.

Karen Syed…wearing her publisher hat…




12 responses to “A Publisher’s Rant

  1. Pingback: iPad Links: Thursday, March 11, 2010 « Mike Cane's iPad Test

  2. Michael K. Jones

    Hi Karen

    Wow! I think I must have broken at least two or three of these rules while chatting with you at the SC book festival. I hope you’ll forgive me since it was my first time ever at such an event.

    I think you must have considered me an exception because you wrote your name on the back of an Echelon Press business card and told me to mention it when/if I submitted something for publication.

    The sessions at the festival gave me valuable information to help my writing. I’m hard at work attempting to complete my first novel – a scifi/fantasy thing.

    Thanks for your kindness and patience with me during my chats with you at the festival.

    Michael K. Jones

  3. These are excellent tips! I try not to get frustrated with the talkers at book events, but it can be exhausting when they’ll come by to take our freebies, talk it up while we’re behind the booth, and generally take up our time, but they won’t buy a book.

    There really is etiquette involved, like when you get free samples at a grocery store. You’re not supposed to hog all the samples, block the plate from other customers, and not buy anything from the vendor.

  4. ‘…if you tell me you want to submit and then infiltrate the space paid for by or for my authors, to try and promote your other works’

    I’m gobsmacked. Someone actually tried that?

  5. I agree: don’t be sorry for this post or anything. There are niceties that need to be observed, for sure!

  6. I agree. Don’t brush it off as a rant. These are the rules of the road at such an event, as important as submission guidelines.

  7. I completely understand what you mean. When my father and I go to book fairs to promote his novel, I kinda run interference for the people who don’t get it. Sometimes he cringes at how blunt I am, but we’ve been going to bookfairs for about three years now and sometimes we just get these people who want to talk.

    I get the sense that their either an aspiring author or just plain lonely.

    Sometimes I end up cutting the conversation so he can talk to someone who is going to buy a novel.

    Sadly the people who do these types of things, don’t do their research and probably the majority who need to see this blog – will not.

    We get all sorts of questions he doesn’t mind answering, but when it comes time for someone to come buy to buy a novel they keep on going like this is a meet and greet and not a chance to sell books.

    The worst is when people come to visit at the booth next to you and they stay and they stay and they stay. Buyers are less likely to come by to a booth that has a crowd hanging around it (not buying books).

    I normally have a package ready, and like you said, ask the publisher if they would like one and that’s it, I skedaddle. I am quick like a bunny and I move out of the way.

    pictures at the last event here: http://www.escape2earth.com

    • Lauren,

      It’s nice that your dad has you as security. I may have to actually get a security person soon. I know that people want to chat and often get enthusisatic, but at our Saturday event we had SEVERAL different people who were writers, or authors, who stopped by to chat. One stayed for 40 minutes and came back numerous times. One came by stated for abou 20 minutes, ten came back multiple times and brought other people.

      For us this is very diffcult because we have multiple authors in our booth and when a small group of people stand at the front of the booth it blocks everyone.

      I love to talk as much as the next person, but there is a time and a place.

      I met a few people, one had made contacted me beforehand and she came by, gave me her stuff, and moved on. She knew what she was doing.
      A few others wanted to talk, and I kinda had to ignore them. I hae to do that because I hate to be rude. But…

      • Sometimes after everything’s over my dad will say, “That was rude.” And then I’ll say, “But we made two sales.” lol

        The best book fair was when my nephew came to help. He’s 16 and I see so much potential in him to work really well in promotions.

        It’s not bad that they want to talk, but it’s bad that they want to stay and be in the way and you just feel like you want to tackle them.

        I’ve found that other writers are very kind Jon Maberry, LA Banks, Greg Frost and a few others are very nice and talkative (trait of a writer I suppose) but don’t block a sale. It’s their livelihood.

  8. 5kidswdisabilities

    Those are great suggestions.
    Do you ever consider potential authors on the basis of a blog? You can read it when you have some down time and it won’t interfere with your time at events. Just asking…because of COURSE I have an unbelievable, heartwarming FUNNY, (sometimes hilarious) blog…

    Lindsey Petersen

    • Lindsey,

      Sometimes I do use stuff like Blogs to consider an author. It’s all part of the package. If an author cannot market effectively, I really don’t want them. So it helps to have this knowledge.

  9. Well done. I agree 100%

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