Thank Heavens for Independent Bookstores

“We would ask you to invite as least 100 friends and family members to come to your signing and purchase your book.”

Um, say what now?

My mom's cat, aptly named Diva.

My mom’s cat, aptly named Diva.

I received the above response from a chain bookstore after inquiring about a book signing. I blinked—you know, just in case there was something in my eye—then read it again. And then I laughed.

  • First of all, I don’t ask family members to pay for my book.
  • Second of all, I’m an introvert. I don’t have 100 real-life friends. Acquaintances, maybe. Friends, not so much. Certainly few I’d feel comfortable asking to come buy my book.
  • Third, those who know me and are interested in the book have probably already bought it.
  • Fourth, if I sold 100 books to friends, I’d make a greater profit selling them directly than the $1.50 I get selling them through a bookstore.

But I don’t mean to be salty. I get it. Bookstores have a business to run, and they can’t offer every author a book signing, especially one published by a small press.

But it would be nice if they held a local author event or something along those lines. After all, the most they lose is a table and chair for two hours. The most the author loses is self-respect and dignity when no one stops by.

what if nobody comes

But good news exists!

Independent bookstores are much more receptive. They respond to emails. They see if your book is something they’d like to offer. They might even agree to a signing—no 100-friends-and-family strings attached.

So today I’m giving a huge thank you to:

The Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson, Ohio, where I’ll be signing copies of Eating Bull December 10th from 6-8 pm


The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene, New Hampshire, where I’ll be signing books December 23rd from 2-4 pm.

I’ll also be having a signing in Columbus after the New Year and am in the process of setting up more, so if you happen to be near any of these cities, I’d love to have you stop by. (Oh dear, did this introvert really just say that? Big girl pants, Carrie, big girl pants.)

Ah. Thank heavens for independent bookstores.

Anything make you salty lately? Authors, what are your book signing tales?

Addendum, 2-18-16: I thought it only right to mention I’ve recently been invited to attend a chain bookstore’s Local Author Exhibition, for which I am very grateful and appreciative. So I guess I owe a little mea culpa. Oops. 🙂

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Rubin4Carrie Rubin is the author of Eating Bull and The Seneca Scourge. For full bio, click here.

299 Responses to “Thank Heavens for Independent Bookstores”

  1. RobinLK

    Hmmmm…. can’t think of anything making me salty lately, and I don’t have author tales (yet!), but I can 100% agree with your sentiments about independent bookstores. LOVE them and seek them out when we travel. 👍


    • Carrie Rubin

      It’s always fun to explore their aisles. There’s a huge one in Columbus where I’ll be scheduling a signing that has something like 23 different rooms of books. It’s wonderful!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kourtney Heintz

    My local B&N has a local author night and is really nice. An independent book store in my area makes authors jump through hoops and pay fees to be part of their author night. I’ve heard great things about the Toadstool! Hope your event went wonderfully!


    • Kourtney Heintz

      BTW, I’ve also had good experiences with indies and bad with big chains too. But I wanted to share my opposite experience too. 🙂


  3. Sue Archer

    Kudos to those independent bookstores! Having worked in a small bookstore, I saw how hard it was to make a profit, and yet these stores are more willing to support their communities. I miss that as the bigger chains keep eating up the smaller stores. I hope your signings went well!


  4. Problems With Infinity

    What?!? They ask you to bring 100 friends and family members!?! That’s totally insane! Seriously- I would be able to bring like one friend and one family member- and even they would most likely be reluctant to buy something written by me!

    I prefer going to small bookstore signings- they feel/are more personal and makes me feel less like just one of the herd.


    • Carrie Rubin

      I was definitely taken aback by the request. And since I couldn’t deliver, I couldn’t get a signing there. That’s what I get for being honest, I guess. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Anthony Taylor

    I’m going to have book signing tales one day. I have yet to conquer my draft yet. Congrats on all your success and I hope you get lots more!


  6. A @ moylomenterprises

    Keep moving forward. When the door closes check to see if the window is open! Jump!!! ☺


  7. butimbeautiful

    You’re very brave and determined, Carrie! I too would be flabbergasted if I had to round up 100 friends (although I do have a lot of family members). I will order my copy of Eating Bull for Christmas, after a long hiatus off the internet. And..happy Christmas!!


    • Carrie Rubin

      Well, I told myself I need to do more face-to-face promotion with this new book, so I have to hold myself to it. But I think with each appearance it will get easier.

      Thank you so much, and Happy Christmas to you too! I hope you’re doing well. 🙂


  8. Britt Skrabanek

    Wowza. Who in the world knows 100 people off the top of their heads? Even if you have a decent online presence, your readers are all over the world…not specific towns in the U.S.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’re doing some in-person events. Hope they went well, doll!


  9. Kally

    I stumbled upon your blog while looking for some new materials for my articles. Good read!! Love what you have written!


  10. michellejoycebond

    Lol, I can’t believe they asked that–especially since most writers must have a similar reaction! Thank you for posting on this topic. I hope I’m lucky enough to have a published book to sign in the future and will definitely look to independent bookstores. 🙂


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