Joan at Village Books
I’m taking a little break for something not workshop related. I have to say thank you to my favorite bookseller. Joan works at Village Books, about ten minutes from home. I stopped by there today and found (to my great delight) that she has been busy hand selling Tied to the Tracks.

Hand-selling is the term for one person talking to another person about a particular book. So if you went into Village Books and asked Joan if she had any suggestions, she might steer you over to Tied to the Tracks and give you all kinds of encouragement about how much you’re going to love it.

She did this this morning, in front of me. Joan’s enthusiasm was infectious; the woman bought the book (which of course I signed, at Joan’s urging).

Handselling doesn’t really happen outside small bookstores. The chains usually don’t have people on staff who can make real recommendations. The online booksellers are trying to duplicate the hand selling process by parsing your buying habits and serving up suggestions whenever you come to browse. If you loved … you’re gonna love …. even more.

Sometimes those recommendations are successful. More than once I have found out that an author whose work I follow has a new book out I didn’t know about. And of course there is the internet, flexing its muscle. Publisher websites, reader websies, author websites — you could jump from one to the next for days. You’d come away with a long list of books you didn’t know about, but now you do and you want to read them. That’s a kind of handselling, too.

I’m going to post about the publishing biz after the workshops are over, but for the moment let me say this: what every lesser known author really needs is a Joan of his or her very own.. In fact you need hundreds of Joans, in bookstores all across the country.