Friday, April 26, 2013

POP - Store Design: Jan's Paperbacks Store Remodel & Open House


Morgan here with the second part of our interview with Debbie Burke, owner of the independent bookstore, Jan’s Paperbacks and the 2012 Romantic Times Bookseller of the Year.
Debbie is also a member of the Portland Area Used Booksellers Association, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Association, Rose City Romance Writers and last but not least Romance Writers of America.
Large and simple signs convey clear messages.

 Morgan (M): What are some of the things that you do to draw people to your store?
Debbie Burke (DB):  We have a newsletter that we published through Mail Chimp.  In fact Kat Martin saw one of our newsletters and contacted us saying, “How can I advertise in your newsletter?”  We said, “Write whatever you want and we’ll publish it.”  That’s another thing we would like to publicize, the more author input we have for our newsletter, the more the customers are going to love it because it is direct information from the author and it’s also free advertisement.  They just have to give us the information.  And it is real easy to add pictures.  We also advertise upcoming events and books signings on our website.  
Our biggest and most successful venture is Social Media.  We advertise on Facebook.  For $10 {USD} you can have a marketing campaign.  It’s pay per click.  You set how much money you want to spend, like say $20 {USD}, and it will stop when you hit $20 {USD}.  Plus you get all of the analytics to track your results. 
I also join anything that doesn’t cost a lot, the more I spread my name around the better plus when I am  trying to get someone to do something for me it is always helpful if you can let them know that you belong to the same organization, that type of thing.  There are also newsletters and other info associated with these organizations so you can stay on top of what is going on.
M: What were some of the thoughts that went into your new store design?
Featured Local Authors
DB: Our goal was to organize everything so that books could be easily found.  We don’t want people to have to do a lot of searching.  The old store design had shelves that were high and the signage was fairly small and not as noticeable.  So now we have bigger signs and more signs.  We added shelf tags that tell you which section you are in and the letter of the alphabet you are in within that section.   I can’t take credit for that.  That was my daughter’s brain child and the customers are loving it!  Before, we had author names on the shelves and customers didn’t realize that there were other authors’ books between those names.  Now we just use alphabetical tags.  Signage needs to be quite specific to guide customers.
M: Plentiful and simple, right?  We tell people all the time to keep it simple. Focus on the book you are promoting and don’t put too much ‘stuff’ on your signs.
DB: Right!  Keep it simple. I put up more signs to help guide people to the books they want.  There are some people that are reluctant to ask for help.  And there are others who will ask regardless of how much signage you have up.  If there is too much on the sign, and this goes for flyers as well people won’t read the whole thing.  Go figure, readers who don’t read.
M: Who is your ideal customer?  Who are you targeting?
DB: The avid reader. <laughs>  And kids, because they are our future customers.  If kids aren’t going to read today, then we aren’t going to have any customers tomorrow.
M: How long did the store makeover take?
The Marvelles among the tall
bookcases in the old store design.
DB: We started planning in December 2012.  And we started the actual construction on 09 February, 2013 and it took us two weeks.  We closed one Sunday to get the outer walls done and the rest of it we tackled one section at a time.  We did the work at night.
M: Wow! That was really fast to turn a whole store. 
DB: And it was a pretty dramatic change.
M: Yes! I see what you mean about people asking about the lighting.  The whole space is brighter and more open.
DB: Now you can see all the way across the store from one end to the other.  There was another bookseller that, unfortunately, went out of business.  So we were able to purchase quite a few of the store fixtures and shelves.  Our old shelves were recycled to make the lower, four sided shelves.  The lower shelves open up the space and the lights seem brighter.  Plus, the tops of the shorter shelves create center islands for more displays and merchandising.
Shorter shelves. Now you can see all the way
 across the store.
M: I always thought that the store ended at the wall.  I thought the other room contained your offices.
DB: Oh no, in the second room we have our erotica and paranormal.  Some of the sections have been in the same place since the store opened.
M: When did Jan’s Paperbacks open?
DB: March 1981.
M: When did you take ownership?
DB: January 2000.
M: So what are some of the things that you still want to do with the store?  What is your vision?
DB: Nothing.  I have done everything that I envisioned doing with it.  The remodel was the end of it.  The only thing to work on now is just getting the website profitable.  Now, we’ll see if we can stay in business as long as possible.  My daughter wants to take it over when I retire, but I’ll never retire.  I will still come in and ‘play’ bookstore when she takes over. <laughs>  On my own schedule of course.
M: Debbie, thanks so much for your time.  I’m sure our readers will appreciate your perspective and insights.  And thanks for your continued support of local authors, The Rose City Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, and RT Book Reviews.


Friday, April 19, 2013

POP - Working with Independent Book Sellers - Debbie Burke, Owner - Jan's Paperbacks

Morgan here with our very first formal interview!  Recently I sat down with Debbie Burke, owner of Jan’s Paperbacks and the 2012 Romantic Times Bookseller of the Year.  Jan's Paperbacks' Mission Statement is: To work with our community and customers to buy and trade books to reduce costs while maintaining a broad selection of reading materials. Support local authors and publishers and advocate for locally owned businesses and their impact on the community.

Many, many thanks to Debbie for her time and continued support of local authors and the romance writing community.
Debbie Burke in her 2012 RT Bookseller of the Year Tiara.
Work it Debbie!
Morgan (M): When coordinating a book signing, what are your expectations from the author?
Debbie Burke (DB):  First, the author should have a website.  On that website, they need to post that the book is ready for sale AND that it is available for sale at Jan’s Paperbacks.  They also need to put the word out about the book signing.  They should post it on Facebook, Twitter, send out emails, call their friends and family, post flyers in places they do business - do whatever they can to get people to come to the signing.  They can’t assume that the bookseller is going to do all of the promotional and marketing work for them.  They need to work their network.
M: How do you work with self-published authors?
DB: Typically, I sell self-published books on consignment.  We have a local author and self-published shelf that displays our self-published books.  As a professional courtesy, a self-published author should call ahead of time and make an appointment to meet with me to discuss their book.   I require that they give us a free copy to review.  {The reviews are on display as hang tags on the bookshelf.}  If we like it, we say so, if we don’t like it we state why.  There was an author who didn’t like our review.  Authors need to understand that my customers have come to rely on my recommendations and they trust what I say.  I have to be honest in my reviews.  I have customers that make purchases based purely on my recommendations and they are repeat customers. 
Kobo In-Store Display
M: How do you work with e-published authors?
DB: I sell Kobo e-readers and e-books through Kobo.  I have a display of e-books in the store.  They are cards with QR Codes so you can scan right now or take it home to remind yourself.  Or you can go to our website which will take you to the Kobo store via our site where they have over three million titles available.
M: How would you work with an e-published author to sponsor an event in your store?
E-book Display
DB: Now that’s a tough one.  E-book readers can come to an event and buy the book via a different seller.  If I am spending the money on an event I obviously need to make money and that isn’t going to happen if they are buying from another source, possibly using my wi-fi to do it.
M: During the book signing, what are some of the things an author can do to make the event a success?
DB: In store posters and signs.  If you have a high-resolution file of your cover, go to Costco.  They can make you a poster for $6.99 {USD}.  Then you can glue it to some foam core from a craft store to make your own sturdy, in-store signs.  Prizes and treats are a good thing, too.  Especially the homemade variety.  One of our last signings one of the authors brought the biggest pile of Snickerdoodles I have ever seen.  There were none left over.
M: What are some of the things you do to promote your store and upcoming events?
DB: On our website, we post our coming events.  We also have a Facebook page and Twitter account.  We also have a section on the bulletin board at the front of the store for upcoming events.  We produce press releases and have received great coverage in the Beaverton Valley Times.  Authors should know that on a slow news day, a well written press release pays off.  Free press!
M: It was great to see you win 2012 Bookseller of the Year at the 2012 Romantic Times Conference.  How has attending this conference helped you, as a bookseller?
RT Magazine at the checkout stand
next to author promo pieces.
DB: I started reading RT Magazine to know what’s coming!  The reviews are great too but it keeps me a month ahead.   It’s the only magazine I sell in the store.  Kate Ryan is the Book Store Liaison at RT.  She is great at designing programs for the Booksellers Track at RT’s conference.  I have met folks from the major publishing houses and spoken with them directly about how they can better help booksellers.  RT has helped me build a network of fellow booksellers and taught me a lot about how to better run my business.  Going to RT and any other conference is a way of networking and this works for Authors too.  The more people you know the more people to repost and reTweet what you are doing.  Social media works and everyone should be using it to further their business whether you are selling books or writing the books.
M: Any final thoughts on how authors can better work with you and other booksellers?
DB: Yes, I can’t stress how important it is for authors to work their networks, especially the self-published authors.  Tenacity is key with regards to marketing and promotions.  Use my newsletter – authors can submit articles and announcements to me for my newsletter.  Pictures are great, too.  And of course, link to Jan’s Paperbacks on their websites.
Next week, my interview with Debbie continues.  She will reflect on her business and tell us how she is using POP marketing as part of her recent store remodeling.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Workshop #10: POP with Colors to Make Sales

Color affects our mood, appetite, and {yes} purchasing decisions.  As you move from an Aspiring Author who has a story to tell to a Published Author who has a story to sell, the colors you choose for your marketing are key.  From your persona to your website, book covers, business cards, and posters, step back and think of your overarching themes, genre, and emotions - then choose your color palette.  Want to incite a feeling of danger, excitement, urgency, or passion consider using the color red.  If calm and sensual is more your speed, try purple.

Author Marketing 101 is Our Platform as a business but there are Two Personas on that Platform.  As marketing professionals, one of our primary decisions was the colors and format of our workshop slides. We played around with many color combinations until we found one we both liked that represented a solid message (blue) with a dash of flash (orange). {Therese has lots of this shade of blue in her wardrobe while Morgan had plenty of orange in clothing and accessories.}

While we recommend working with professionals at every stage of transitioning from Aspiring to Making Sales we also want you to have fun with it, and the first step is loving the colors that will represent you!  Here are some posts and sites that can help you make great color choices.

 Choosing Colors for your Covers from Passive Guy 3/21/2013 has fun and easy to follow instructions regarding color pallets for websites and book covers. As he's not a cover designer, his advice is as valid as ours but there are some great comments to review including:
Maria Zannini March 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm I’m a cover designer and most of this is intuitive to me. (And fortunately, I didn’t have a cute boy distracting me the day they covered this in art class.)   Re: Color Scheme Designer - Pretty cool program. It would've been nice to see the color palette converted to CMYK so you could see how the print version of your cover would look like too.
Back in September, we posted a workshop about How Color Affects Purchases  and we invite you to review that workshop again!
"It is a scientifically proven fact that color has an affect on mood, hunger, and purchasing habits.....yup, purchasing habits. I found this great post via a link Therese recently shot my way. I tried to embed the post graphic, but the resolution is a little fuzzy. If you are unable to read it here, check out this direct link to the infographic from Daily Infographic."
Another past post to review is how Morgan was inspired to Purchase a book from Nikki Navarre: Turing Marketing Messages into Actual Purchases:
"Note: her messages touched me THREE times, before I made a purchase: 1) free read in the goodie bag, 2) during the bookfair / signing, and 3) via her workshop presentation. (I didn't see her ad until after my purchase.)"
Additional points to consider when choosing color:

  • Time Frame / Decade / Era - salmon and sea foam green invoke thoughts of 1980's South Beach Florida and Miami Vice.  Midas gold, violet, and blood red conjures thoughts of Renaissance royalty.  What colors were prominent in your world building?
  • Just because you love a particular color palette for your home decor, doesn't mean that it's a good color palette for your persona, website, or books.
  • Know your audience - There are dramatically different color schemes used by erotica authors, when compared to young adult (YA) authors to attract readers.
  • If you are designing your own book covers, take some time to research and study the covers of successful books in the same genre.  And while you are doing research, take a gander at how the authors you aspire to emulate are using color in their marketing and promotions.

While it may seem like a lot of time and effort to make one sale, what works for one sale will work for many.

Friday, April 5, 2013

POP - Have an Ebook Launch Party

"It's an E-Book, there's no books to sign and sell, why would I have a Book Launch Party?"
We've heard this said both as a relief that the author didn't need to do that "selling" or "reading" in public thing - - and also in annoyance that digital releases have denied the author this exciting rite of passage. It is the most intimate and exciting Point-Of-Purchase for an author!

Then we heard of a Book Launch Party taking place at the local Starbucks. Therese arrived with camera (and her sister) to see what it would be like - and -

We Are Thrilled To Share Deanne Wilstead's E-Book Launch Party!

Table at the entrance:
Includes Release Party Poster. Raffle Bin. Paper to enter raffle. Pens.
Mailing List Signup Sheet.  Promo Cards

4 x 6 Promo Card with Title, Cover, Author, Buy Now At: Website, Publisher
Back of Promo Card includes blurbs for both books by the author.
Main Table includes snacks, printed reviews in the quote bubble.
Copy of the review in the local newspaper.
One Review in a Quote Bubble - This makes it much more fun to read!
Meet A New Reader, who is also a neighbor, While Looking Your Best!
A display table that shows The Book on a basic Kindle - this is a nice touch!
Raffle Prizes were drawn and awarded between short talks and readings by the author.


If you have a delightful young girl to do a reading, as the young girl who is a primary character in your story, You've just made a Triple Score with your audience.
The entire Starbucks was silent to listen!

This a great example of how to present a Book Launch Party for a Digital Release Day - but most importantly - the audience was thrilled to be invited. This is the Starbucks where Deanne goes to write her stories. AND - for followers of her blog with the delightful theme of "Overheard at..." the location on those posts originated at Starbucks.


What would you do for your own Book Launch to make it represent you and your books?