After BEA, the Work Begins…

Josie Leavitt - June 4, 2009

Better than a Sham-Wow: great ideas from BEA that actually work!

The following is my compilation of the most important things I need to do since returning home from BEA.

Oh sure, BEA was fun, but now it’s time to implement all the ideas we heard about. I can’t help but remember what John Rubin said last year at Winter Institute, that if we didn’t implement new ideas within 10 days, we weren’t going to. Okay, I’ve been home five days and I’ve made some awesome lists, but it’s time to lay it all out so I can make sense of it. So here goes.

The educational session, Thought Leadership, has really lingered with me. The main thing I’ve absorbed is thinking differently about getting into the school system and how this can lead to future sales down the line. The whole premise of Thought Leadership is how to patiently build relationships within your community and having the faith to know that it will pay off with future sales. There are book fairs which everyone conceded were not good money makers; however, they are a great way for the school community to see what makes your store stand out from Scholastic’s book fairs. And it gives you a great chance to showcase your unique stock. I will now try not to say "no" to the next school that asks me to do a book fair. I’ll say "yes" and see what happens.

The other thing I really learned from this was to become a provider of continuing education credits for teachers.  Take book talks and a teacher night which most of us do already. If your store registers with the local district office, you can get set up as a provider of continuing education so the attending teachers can use it to fulfill three hours of continuing education credits. You continue to provide your expertise, but now your target audience can get even more out of your presentation. You can also take the show on the road and help provide part of an in-service day for schools. You get paid a nominal fee for the service and your store is exposed to more teachers than might otherwise come in to shop. I just love this idea. It’s the perfect marriage of what the store already does and what local educators need. I will update this as I progress through set-up and implementation.

One piece of advice I came away from the Small and Medium Store Roundtable was to not check my email as often as I do. It can distract from my real list of things to do. Every morning, or right before bed, I will make a list of four to five things I would like to accomplish. I will keep the list doable and not leave work until they’re all done. I think a five-item list stand a very good chance of getting done. Often putting out the small fires of day-to-day retail can get in the way of the big picture, like getting into the schools. So, one of my list items will be a step toward reaching a long-term goal.

The last thing I want to get done is send the follow-up emails to the publicists I met. Each one said in response to my inquiry of arranging an author visit was, "Send me a proposal." Okay, proposals are item number one on tomorrow’s list.

In case you were like me and didn’t get to all the booths you wanted to find out about specials, this link will lead to a listing of all the show specials. Some theoretically expired with the show, although I’ve always found this to be a flexible deadline, especially if you call pleading while placing your order.

Summer is also a great time for huge deals. Penguin is having an awesome series of specials. If you need to restock the perennial favorites Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Katie Kazoo, and Hank Zipzer, there is a great buy-two-get-one-free deal which works out to saving a whopping 66%. There are more specials so contact your rep for all the details.

Random House, long known for not having specials, is having a great one through the end of July. Place a minimum order of 50 units and you get an extra 3%

So, like a Sham-Wow, I hope this post can be used again and again to make your bookselling life easier and maybe more fun and profitable.

5 thoughts on “After BEA, the Work Begins…

  1. Carol Chittenden

    Like you, I resolved to pay less attention to e-mail. But the resolution is crumbling in the face of waiting for your posts. And writing to other colleagues. And putting off the dratted press release composition. And … what was the lesson again?

  2. kathleen duey

    I think the email thing would benefit authors, too. For the teacher nights, local authors could perhaps play a part, suggesting writing tips/execises for classroom use? Talking about the art of storytelling? We all love indies. We know to whom we owe our careers…

  3. Cheryl McKeon

    Fabulous ideas — I have a toe into the monthly District Librarians’ meetings but these ideas really ramp up my thoughts for next fall. With dire finances in Washington State our poor schools will embrace our offerings, I think. We once were rebuked as “for-profit” and ineligible to speak to teachers in one District but I hope this has passed.

  4. shelftalker elizabeth

    Kathleen, what a great idea! Love that, bringing an author in to the continuing ed. piece. Josie, does this mean I have to have a list of five goals every morning/night, too? Let’s divvy it up and take two-and-a-half each….


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