Saturday, July 8, 2017

Joy Preble: Advice from a Bookseller

Joy Preble is the author of a medium-long list of young adult novels including the Dreaming Anastasia series, the Sweet Dead Life series, and Finding Paris. Her newest novel, It Wasn’t Always Like This, was called “epic and addictive” by Beautiful Creatures’ author Kami Garcia and “a suspenseful treat with a gooey romantic center” by the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. She teaches writing at Writespace Houston and is also the Children’s Specialist at Houston’s Brazos Bookstore. Visit Joy at or follow her on Twitter @joypreble

As a reader and a writer, your local bookstore should be one of your favorites places.

But as a published author, it can also be an incredible resource for sharing and marketing your work. IF you learn how to give as much as you get.

Joy Preble knows. Her first ever bookstore event bombed big time. "I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't know how to publicize it, I did everything all wrong," she says.

These days, as a multi-published author and part-time bookseller, she knows better. And she's sharing her hard-earned knowledge with you.

"As Mark Twain said, 'The world owes you absolutely nothing,'" Preble says. "And I'll add to that a caveat: your local bookstore owes you nothing, too."

First things first: become part of your local bookish community -- especially at your local indie. "Be a reader, be a shopper," Preble says. "Get to know your local booksellers, talk to them about books -- and not just your own. Come out for events, buy books when you can, be present."

Take the time to learn policies and timelines. Events are scheduled well in advance. Go to Edelweiss and look at what's coming up to see if you can build something interesting -- and start those conversations early. If you're planning an event, add value by bringing in other authors to join you. "Join your debut year group and other author communities so you have a network you can draw on," she says. "There are layers and layers of connections. If you don't have them yet, get out their and make them."

How? Be generous. "I go into my local bookstore and turn my friend's book face forward, then share it on social media to give her little boost," Preble says. "Sometimes we need that. I'm a firm believer in the karma of Pay It Forward. But I guess that's part of my platform. I'm nice. So many people have helped me along the way, as friends and mentors. It's only fair I do the same."

If an indie loves your book, they work hard to handsell your book. "And if we love it, we can do a lot for you," Joy says. Things they can't do: guarantee you an audience, get you press or media opportunities, keep your book in stock forever, promise you sales. But building those indie relationships will bolster your career in the longterm.

And in the meantime, "write the best books that you can," she says, "and do as much for it as you can, marketing-wise. That's all you can really control."

One last thing: "Two words everyone forgets -- thank you. Use that penmanship and hand-write a note. It will be appreciated."


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