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Sharing With Writers by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Authors and Publishers Can Utilize Booksellers Organizations


When Book Sales Are Getting Musty


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Excerpted from The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't


Use booksellers associations to your advantage. You may wonder why authors would want to have anything to do with associations that exist to help bookstores with their business. It goes without saying that we authors have enough to do with writing and promoting. Booksellers' associations won't help you with writing but they sure enough can help you with promotion.


You do that my marketing your books to their member stores. Yes, even if your publisher is already doing that. Yes, even though your book is a bit older and past its prime. (If your book is an older copyright date, you may have to use the marketing skills you've learned in this book—skills like zoning in on current events, or specific interests of their customers or designing workshops, panels and seminars that will bring them more business.)


You may have to join some of these organizations to take advantage of the perks they offer but you may not. Go to each website (see below for website addresses) and poke around to find those requirements.


So, when you see an opportunity, here are some of the things you might consider:

  • Advertise in their member directories.
  • Participate in their Christmas catalogs. By doing this you reach book buyers—certainly an important audience for you—as well as retail consumers. That's because the associations member stores pass these catalogs out (or mail them) to their retail customers.
  • Take a booth at their tradeshows. Those who attend these tradeshows are people who sell books.


Caveat: Reread the section in this book on book fairs. I don't advise renting table space at tradeshows unless you can be there to pitch your own book.


  • Submit articles complete with your byline and tagline to their newsletters. If you choose to query, be sure you tailor your article idea to their mainstream membership group, i.e. bookstores.
  • Advertise in and send announcements to these same newsletters when you have something of interest to booksellers.
  • Rent the lists of their bookstores/book buyers members to blast out your own sell sheets.
  • If you qualify, enter their book award contests.


Here are some of these associations.

American Booksellers Association (ABA) ( is the largest. Their website lists 12 regional associations, sort of mini associations that will help you target your efforts. The regional organizations within this larger one will be especially useful to you if you have a book set in a specific region, or a nonfiction book about a certain region. Some of them are Great Lakes Booksellers Association, Midwest Booksellers Association, Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association, New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, New England Booksellers, New Orleans South Gulf Booksellers, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, Southern California Booksellers Association, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Find them through the ABA site or Google them individually.

Here are some specialty booksellers associations:

Canadian Booksellers Association:

Catholic Booksellers Association:

Christian African American Booksellers Association:

Episcopal Booksellers Association:

Museum Stores Association (they almost always carry books!):

National Association of College Stores:

Northern California Booksellers Association:

The Independent Online Booksellers Association:

Mystery Booksellers Association:

The New Hampshire Antiquarian Booksellers Association:

You may want to do an online search for others and don't neglect other kinds of associations as well. Here's my best frugal advice: If you choose to join one and must pay for membership, have a plan of action for utilizing it before you send in your application form. Like anything else, what you get out of your money and efforts when joining organizations of any kind will be commensurate with what you put in.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a UCLA Extension Writers' Program instructor, is the author of The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't, winner of USA Books News Best Book Award and the Irwin Award and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success, also a USA Book News winner as well as winner of Reader Views Literary Award. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything You Need To Know To Sell Your Book in 20 Minutes or Less." Learn more at


Carolyn Howard-Johnson

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