Interview with a Bookseller: Daniel Goldin of Harry W.
Victoria: Who are you and how long have you been
Daniel: My name is Daniel Goldin, and Iíve been here for over 20 years.
Prior to that, I was a publicist at a New York publishing house.
Victoria: What is the name of your store and where
Daniel: Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, with five stores in Milwaukee. I
will warn you up front that my e-mail is public ([email protected] )
but we will generally not take self-published or POD titles from authors
unless there is a Milwaukee area-connection. In those cases, we will
consider the title for our consignment program.
Victoria: Does your store have a particular focus?
If so, what is it?
Daniel: We are general bookstores, but like many independents, our
strength lies more and more in fiction and narrative nonfiction.
Victoria: Whatís the biggest change youíve seen in
bookselling in the last year?
Daniel: Online availability at steep discounts continues to change buying
patterns. Concurrently, we are seeing more and more print-on-demand titles
with selling terms that are really meant for on-line sales only (effectively
non-returnable, since the availability of the book is virtual).
Victoria: Whatís the biggest change you expect in
selling books in the next year?
Daniel: I am not a soothsayer.
Victoria: How should a would-be writer approach a
bookseller, say, for example, for a reading or signing, or simply for
Daniel: 1. Make sure that your small press or POD title has good enough
terms so you can place the title on consignment at a 60/40 split. If you can
do better than that, the bookseller will be pleasantly surprised.
to pay for services, whether it is fees or co-op. If you tell us we are
lucky to not have to pay you an honorarium for your appearance, you are
unlikely to get a booking.
3. Come to the bookstore with your media contacts
4. Offer to give the store reading copies. Nothing will sell your
book like a good read.
5. If you are asking for advice, understand that
there are other people in the world besides you, and that our professional
advice would be quite expensive if we hung out a ďconsultantĒ shingle. If
you take the bookseller out for coffee or lunch, pay for it. If you come to
their shop, consider bringing a treat.
6. Start local, then widen your
scope. I donít personally care, but some booksellers want to hear about
success stories from other independents, not from B&N and Borders.
no graciously. If you are nice, the bookstore might not mind hearing from
you later when youíve lined up more publicity, or have had some sort of
sales track record.
8. Consider stocking your book in another kind of
retailer. Certain books wind up doing better in the appropriate specialty
store or gift shop.
9. If you are a nonprofit, donít expect the bookstore to
take your book for a smaller cut. The problem is that we cannot deduct these
as a contribution. Consider organizing a fundraising event or shopping night
to benefit both the book and the bookstore.
Victoria: What is your opinion of POD books?
Daniel: 1. No matter what the promotional literature says, we see these
titles as somewhere between self-published and contract press. Some of us
are happy to sell these books; others arenít.
2. These books and their
selling terms are often designed for virtual bookstores, not real ones.
If you really believe in your book, consider negotiating for Ingram
returnable, full trade discount. It costs more, but it will make it easier
for you to get in bookstores later.
4. When it comes to regional nonfiction,
I donít care where it came from. But I still need to break even.
Victoria: What is the greatest frustration that you
have with mainstream publishers?
Daniel: 1. Every publisher is unique butÖ
2. We could use more regional
titles, but there arenít many mainstream publishers interested in Milwaukee.
Victoria: What advice would you give to aspiring
Daniel: 1. Donít rest on your laurels.
2. Find your hook and get your
3. Start local.
4. The world has many niche opportunities. Find
5. Very few books are good enough on the first draft. Consider
6. Learn to graciously accept a ďno.Ē
Victoria: Thank you, Daniel, for sharing your time
and your expertise!
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