by Pari Noskin Taichert
A few weeks ago, you met Kat MacGilvray who now works as the bookings coordinator for the University of New Mexico Press. In that first interview, she focused primarily on her experiences as a bookseller at an independent store. This concluding part of the interview emphasizes her work with a publisher.
What are bookstores looking for when they schedule an event? Have you noticed any changes since you started in the biz?
It really varies. When I scheduled events for the bookstore, our goal was to provide a venue for the community — both our customers and local authors. That meant hosting a variety of events each month. There’s a philosophy behind it that a lot of independents hold — you compete with chains and online retailers by supporting your community and providing a voice for its artisans. Often that goes beyond having author events to hosting Girl Scout meetings or knitting groups.
Having worked in an independent bookstore for so long, I became pretty biased — I developed an assumption that chain stores only want to host big name authors. But in the last year at UNM Press, I’ve really been turned around. It all depends on the individual store, whether it’s Corporate Mogul Books or Mom & Pop. Our chain stores in Albuquerque have been tremendous champions of local and regional authors. Similarly, I’ve encountered a lot of independent bookstores that arrange events based entirely on co-op money. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding out a bookstore wants $150 to host a local author.
Now that you’re on the other side of the computer, how important do you think brick and mortar bookstores are to sales?
Oooooh. I’ll support brick and mortar bookstores until paper is outlawed. You simply cannot replace the enthusiastic promotion and handselling that comes from booksellers. It’s important to understand that people who work in bookstores are special folk; they’re putting themselves through school, or they’ve got loans to pay off, and they could easily make more money selling their plasma or something, but they workthere because they LOVE it. Those are the people you want selling your book.
Always make friends with booksellers.
What do you wish authors knew about booksignings? How about the bookstores? What do you wish they’d do?
Authors: Don’t lose hope in small groups.
Bookstores: Treat authors as you would a guest in your home.