Beyond the Bookstore

By Suzanne Kuhn

We all know it’s more difficult than ever to connect with our audiences since the COVID lockdown. Even now, as restrictions are removed, our live interactions are merely trickling in.

Local businesses in our communities, the ones that haven’t had to close their doors forever, are in great need of support and sales. 

Let’s pair these two points—the author and speaker with the local business.

Last December I contacted one of my favorite local consignment shops to ask about placement for some of my author stock. I figured a few of my books might sell in their store. To my delight, not only was the store willing to advertise and keep my “local author” books in stock, they asked me if I would be willing to join them for a signing event one Sunday, and Sundays are busy for them.

I recently read that the average book signing sells eight books. Well, my two-hour event turned into three. I sold approximately 30 books that day.

I offered to come back the next Sunday. During the week between signings, we each continued to advertise and take phone call orders, leading to a fantastic second event. In total, over that one week, I sold more than 50 books in a consignment shop.

My books have remained in stock at this local shop and my current total sales are right around 100, in just four months.

Then in February, I shopped a locally owned specialty lumber store. As I was chatting with them, I was asked what I do. A couple of minutes into our conversation, she gestured to their showroom and asked if I would work with her to bring events to their space. Kathryn said, “I’m always looking for new ways to draw potential customers into our store.” 

What?! A hardware store wants to partner with authors for events?

After more than 30 years in the book business, 22 specifically on the brick and mortar retail side, it’s safe to say I love bookstores. But, as authors and speakers, we need to constantly look for new and fresh ways to connect with our audiences and find new audience members. 

Have you considered looking at your local businesses? Would you consider partnering with stores that aren’t an obvious match? 

God has placed a message within our hearts, a call upon our lives. We need to be creative not only in how we present our messages, but also in how we define potential. 

Within months my bottom line improved. More importantly, I’ve affected my favorite local store’s profits and impacted my community.

So, do you have a favorite local shop? How might you support your community? What are some creative ways for you to use your influence and message to impact your neighbors? 

Armed with this idea, you can sell more books and expand your reach. 

Let’s collectively share our ideas in the comments. Together we are stronger. 

#shoplocal #supportlocal #supportcommunity #impactyourcommunity


Mark the Dates—The Speak Up Conference will be virtual on July 14-16, 2021. That means no airfare, no lodging expenses, and an opportunity to experience this equipping event with like-minded people who know God has called them to speak, teach, write, or lead.  There will be five live keynote sessions, 4-panel discussions, and 42 breakout sessions, multiple ZOOM networking opportunities, and one-on-one appointments with industry professionals.  All information is here.  

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7 Comments

  1. Peg on 2021-04-21 at 1:44 PM

    I love these ideas and have made my list of local stores to reach out to!
    Thank you!
    Peg Arnold

    • Suzanne Kuhn on 2021-04-22 at 7:00 PM

      Peg, you will do so well with this idea. Please, let me know who you’ve connected with.

  2. Shannon M Popkin on 2021-04-21 at 12:04 PM

    Suzanne, that’s amazing! So how did it work out with the hardware store?

    I was chatting with my local merle Norman store (makeup) owner who suggested a similar event in her shop. We brainstormed together as I tried on eyeshadow shades:

    I would send a targeted email to women from churches I had spoken at in her community. She would offer a 20% off coupon during the event. I would speak 15 or 20 minutes and I could sell products. It sounded fun!

    I never followed up because Covid happened, but you have inspired me…

    • Suzanne Kuhn on 2021-04-22 at 6:57 PM

      Shannon, the hardware store and I haven’t set a date yet, but we will soon.

      I love your Merle Norman idea, I think it’s a great pairing. Keep me posted.

    • Suzanne Kuhn on 2021-04-22 at 6:58 PM

      Shannon, the hardware store and I haven’t set a date yet, but we will soon.

      I love your Merle Norman idea, I think it’s a great pairing. I can’t wait to hear how it goes.

  3. Bonnie Emmorey on 2021-04-21 at 10:04 AM

    I love creative problem solving, and Suzanne has truly done it with this marketing plan! I’m excited to hear from others with what happens because of this blog. Thank you, Suzanne!

    • Suzanne Kuhn on 2021-04-22 at 6:54 PM

      I’m excited to hear from others too. Being creative and brainstorming together is more fun, isn’t it?

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