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For authors, dealing with booksellers can be key

Lisa Napoli May 27, 2010
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Bill Radke: America’s largest marketplace for books is doing business this week in New York City. “Book Expo America” is jammed with 30,000 people from 40 countries, all looking to buy the books that end up on the shelves of stores around the world. Reporter Lisa Napoli looks at what some authors have to do
to get buyers’ attention.


Lisa Napoli: Speed-dating isn’t just the domain of single people. Here, the technique is being used by authors of children’s stories to sell their books to stores:

Authors: This story is more fantastic than a movie . . . It’s the first of a series and the second book will be out in March.

It’s not enough to have sold a book to a publisher. Now that these authors’ ideas have made it into print, they have to convince bookstores and librarians to buy them. A winning pitch can mean the difference between the remainder bin and great sales.

Second-time author Beth Fantaskey is one of 22 writers hoping to attract attention. She used to think the hardest part of being a writer was writing the book.

Beth Fantaskey: Oh my gosh, marketing is huge as an author. I was shocked when my first book came out how much goes into marketing.

This speed-dating event gives an author like Fantaskey a chance to get face time with someone like Jill Moore, the children’s book buyer at Square Books in Oxford, Miss.

Jill Moore: You know, it’s kind of a role of the dice for authors whether or not they’re going to be accepted. So the bookseller is the person that can really make that happen.

Rebecca Miller: Time to move to the next table, please. Ring ring ring!

Rebecca Miller of the Children’s Book Council says her group sponsors the session to help authors break out from the stacks of tens of thousands of kids books published each year:

Miller: This way, they’ve a meaningful connection, even though brief, with someone who can really put that book into the hand of the right kid.

And the child is ultimately the gauge of whether an author will be successful. But the first step happens here.

Bookseller: Your book is so awesome.

Author: You’ve read it already?

Bookseller: Yes, yes.

Author: Amazing. I’m shocked and thrilled.

Bookseller: My sales rep told me to put it in the top five.

For some kid’s authors, there’s no question this first date will lead to a fruitful relationship.

From New York, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

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