Sadly, oh so sadly, some of you may no longer have a local book store. You can't see the tears on my keyboard, but there are real...and probably the reason my shift key keeps sticking. I digress. If you don't have a physical book store in your town, think about how far you are willing to travel and see if there is one close to you.
As soon as you have a release date, you need to make friends with the manager of your book store. This person can be your new best friend. Bookstores survive by selling books. So do you! Hey there, it's another win-win.
Here are a few ways you can work with your local book store to help both of you sell more books.
1. Launch party. This can be during open times or after hours. Either way, you are offering to host an event and invite lots of people (Including the media. Don't forget you're a local celebrity.) When approaching the store, you need to be very specific about what you are asking. You need to have a general idea of how many invites will be sent out, what support you need from the store and multiple dates and times that can work for both of you. As a bonus, ask if your local writing group will help by "sponsoring" the launch. A bookstore may be more willing to host if they know you'll have several helping hands to handle the event.
2. Signing/Reading. This will be slightly less fancy than a launch party, but all the same rules apply.
3. Signing stock. This is a sneaky little trick I'm a fan of. You're book store doesn't know that you have a book on the market unless you tell them. Otherwise, you're just one of the hundreds of books they have to choose from among the publisher's catalog. When you're release is getting close, give your local book store a quick call. Let them know who you are and offer to come in and sign stock. If they weren't planning on ordering your book (or only picking up a few copies) they may be willing to stock up some extra if they know they can get them signed and set a special "signed by the author" display. If they don't carry "signed by the author" stickers, I suggest purchasing a few of these. Readers love signed stuff.
4. Book Club. If you're super lucky, your bookstore has a book club. Here's a great opportunity to suggest your book and offer to come in for a private chat with the members. This gives the store an extra way to promote the club and get more readers to come in a buy books. Yeah!
In addition to these ideas, I suggest a little friendly neighborhood stalking. If the store has a newsletter, sign up for it and keep an eye on the kind of events they normally have. Stop in occasionally on different days of the week and check out any special promotions and what traffic is like. Get to know the employees. They will be much more likely to recommend the book of a local author they know, than from someone they've never heard of before.
Today's task, go introduce yourself to the local bookstore. Even if you don't have a book out yet, it's never too early to make friends. I'd love to hear about any great bookstore events you've been to down in the comments.