So, I was in a little town Wednesday, doing my day job (selling commercial roofing solutions) and I saw a little "Chapters" book store on Main Street. I was inspecting the building next door so I stopped in and gave the manager my card. I hoped to get an agreement for a consignment opportunity or maybe a book signing. This town is almost 100 miles from my home.
The manager informed me that she and the owner are very particular in what they shelve because they are limited on shelf space. I looked around, and she was right. I noticed that the mystery and romance sections dwarfed everything else in the store. I got the feeling that either that was the preference of the owner and/or manager, or it was the preference of their customers.
I also noted something that I feel is becoming very common in book stores. Most of the window space and the front of the store was home decorations, nick-knacks, and local memorabilia. In a store that was 25 feet wide and about 100 feet long, the first 20 feet of the store contained very few books. It was an education to me.
In the end, she recommended that I donate a book for them to read and to determine if they wanted to stock the book. I chose only to offer a book that had some local flavor or interest. I don't think I would have much chance getting some of my other titles past their vetting. She was very nice and the next time I trek there, I will stop in again and hope to meet the owner.
Sometimes authors have to find personal relationships with individual book store owners. Even though most books do not find a large success in individual stores, the long tail story is that building on a dozen stores or more can significantly impact an overall sales plan. In the end, we have to sell one book at a time. In that relationship that we build as we hand-sell that title and connect with our readers, we can find a special moment that transcends the commercial aspect of writing.