Publisher's Association of the South (PAS)

I attended a PAS conference yesterday in Winston-Salem (sans stilettos, for those of you concerned out there).  Learned a few interesting tidbits:

  • Now with POD and other arenas, over 10,000 books a month are printed
  • It usually only takes selling 8,000 books to have it considered a success.  When we hear about books selling 100,000 copies that doesn't take into account all the returned books. (If bookstores don't sell your books after a certain time period, they return them to the publisher and you have to give them back their money).
  • Resale use is hitting authors and publishers deeper.  Resale is when you see a brand new book for sale on Amazon or E-Bay for 1/2 price.  There was also mention of an airport bookstore where a customer can pick up a book in one airport, fly to another airport, and return the book for a credit for his next purchase. The book is then sold at a discounted price to the next traveller.  Almost like a low-priced library system.  Great for readers, not so good for publishers.  Systems such as this are expected to cut into how many copies of a book are printed (which affect author advances).

There was also a discussion panel with independant bookstore owners, which was fascinating.  I came away with thinking the answer to everything is "it depends."  For example, one guy said the best way to reach a bookstore owner is to just call and talk about your book.  A woman on the panel said she refuses to answer the phone and prefers mail.  Both said avoid e-mail...they get so much they can't even begin to find the time to sort through it.

Other tips: Oddly shaped packages or small gifts included with the book help get their attention.  They can't stand authors who just sit behind their table with a cup of coffee - approach them with a plan or presentation for how you'll draw customers to your signing.  Don't send them huge posters with your book cover - they have nowhere to put it.  Small posters that fit in store windows are welcome, however.  Also, be available for book group discussions via phone.  Doesn't cost you the author anything and is a big treat for book club members who get to talk to an author.

What I found most heartening was the bookstore owners attitude.  "Remember," said one man on the panel, "those of us in the book store profession are there because we love books.  We're excited about new books.  We like to find and meet authors.  Take advantage of that."

I gave my card and a promo piece to each of the panelists and will send them my book when it comes in.  Now I just need to come up with a fun "presentation" type idea to do at a book signing.