Friday, December 18, 2015

7 Reasons Why Every Aspiring Author Should Work in a Bookstore

I started working at a bookstore this past summer because well, I adore books and bookish things. Also, as a writer I had it in my head that I could learn about the market. Little did I know that when it came to my authoring endeavours, there were many more benefits that I wasn't even remotely aware of.

One evening, I started talking with a coworker while the store was quiet. I was telling him about how this February I would be traveling to Florida to pitch my first novel. He asked me if I was nervous and I responded by saying, "A little, yeah."

"Don't be," he replied, "You literally pitch books to people every day and get paid for it."

I blinked. He was right. My job is to sell books and often times that means elevator pitching books that I've read myself or even ones I've only heard of or read the back cover of. Not only that but the people I'm pitching to are complete strangers. Sound familiar?

Our conversation got me thinking about all the reasons why this job was beyond perfect for me so I compiled a list.



As I mentioned above, you pitch books daily! It's fantastic practice for pitching your own book. You learn what catches people's attention and what doesn't, you learn how to adjust pitching a single book based on the customer. Age and gender matter when it comes to pitching; different people will react differently. 


You learn all about the market. Not only can you see what kinds of books are actually on the shelves but you get to watch how the new releases change from month to month. Also you can observe what's selling and what's not. 

There was one book in particular at the store I work at that had a ton of advertising. We all thought that the books would be flying off the shelf but we were completely wrong. I haven't seen a single customer with a copy of the book. 


Not only do you learn what's IN the market but you learn what's LACKING. Customers will come in looking for something specific to read and there will be nothing that matches their description in our system. Believe it or not, bookstores don't have every type of book out there. It just goes to show that there's still original ideas out there to be claimed! 

Some things I've been asked for are secular teen romances without swearing or sex, teen historical fiction that ISN'T about the second world war, or adult mythology fiction (like an adult Percy Jackson). There's a high demand for these things, writers! Get on it before I do ;) 


You start to pick up on what type of people buy certain types of books. This is a massive lesson on audience. I've learned a whole lot about who I'll be selling my books too and let me tell you, I was a little off on what I was originally speculating. Plus, as an employee of the store, I get to talk to these people. It's like talking to your future audience and it's so cool! I get to ask them what they liked about certain books and what they didn't like about others. It's fabulous research. 


Plot bunnies! The cover art is enough to spur plot bunnies alone but even some cryptic back cover synopses have gotten the ideas flowing. I have a coworker who will try to guess what books are about based on title alone. It's an amazing way to get ideas for new stories in my opinion ^ ^ 


Marketing strategies are acquired. When new books come out or are reprinted, I get to witness firsthand which of the marketing strategies are best received by certain customers. It's kind of another way to look at your audience and generate some ideas about how you might approach advertising your story within a bookstore. 


Publishing houses are starting to become less of a mystery to me. I'm starting to piece together what genres certain houses like to publish. I'm also learning that there's many more houses out there than I thought. Hopefully one day I can be represented by one of those publishing houses and have one of my books on the shelves :D  

Just a small handful of publishing houses I've come across

Do you work in a bookstore? If you do, do you have anything to add to my list? 

Keep calm and write on, Wordlings!


  1. It would be so cool to work in a bookstore. If only I could get hired at one, lol. Even so, you offered a lot of insight really into the second-hand selling of books (instead of being a writer selling her book, a bookseller selling a book), and I think that would really contribute to how you think about selling your own books later. Thanks for that perspective!

    1. Yes, definitely! You would love working in a bookstore ^ ^ Just keep applying and you'll get the interview ;)
      That's a good point. I hadn't thought of it like that but second hand bookselling would definitely help with the future selling of your own book!

      You are very welcome! Thanks for stopping by and for the comment :D

  2. Jealous!! Working in a bookstore would be my dream entry-level job (you know, before I become an author...). I never thought about it as learning to pitch stories. That's fabulous.

    I work in clothing retail, so in a distant way, I guess I sort of get to practice that too? It's not the same as pitching a book, of course, but working in sales is great for all-around people skills.

    Those market insights must be GOLDEN, though! ^_^ Good luck on that pitch in February!!!

    1. You should totally apply then!! It's worth it. Clothing retail is also great practice for talking to strangers and such so you're right about that :) It looks great on a bookstore resume too ;)

      YESH. They're definitely golden! I could write a whole post just on the type of things I've learned about specific types of books (audience and marketing all that) XD

      Thank you very much! And thank you for the comment and for reading :)

    2. I did apply at my local bookstore back when I was job-hunting, but they're fully staffed, and the next-closest option would mean too long of a commute for me. Maybe someday, though! :)

      *gasp* You should write a whole post on that! I'd love to read it.

      You're so welcome! (BTW, not sure if you saw my comment on your Sweater Weather post yet, but I'd totally missed the fact that you tagged me... So I hope to do the tag sometime in the new year, but with modified, wintery questions. XD)

    3. Whoops, I forgot to mention that I've tagged you for the Christmas tag. Participation is, of course, optional. ^_^

    4. Someday indeed!

      I think I will ^ ^ I would hope that a lot of people could benefit from it :)

      Yeah, I just commented back to you on that one ^ ^ I don't know how I missed it. I check the comments regularly so that was a little weird on my brain's part XD

      Ooo! A Christmas tag! Thank you :)

  3. These are some great points! I'd love to work in a book store!

    1. It would be awesome if you could work in one! You'd LOVE it ^ ^

      Thanks for the comment and for reading :D

  4. Great post! I began selling Usborne children's books recently. The experience is a bit different than selling in a brick-and-mortar store, I imagine, but like you said, it's great practice pitching and spawns a multitude of plot bunnies (I didn't write children's books before, but I see it in my future...). I would love to get experience selling the genre I typically write. If only I lived closer to a bookstore. :)

    Olivia (<-- work in progress)
    (Blogger makes it more or less impossible to comment from a Wordpress account. After ten minutes of attempting the impossible I am ready to strangle the whole internet. It's a conspiracy!)

    1. I know what you mean about the children's book thing! After getting put in different sections of the store, I've found that my favourite is by far the kids one. I'd love to write a children's book one day ^ ^

      Yeah my comment system is a little finicky...I'm thinking of switching to disqus over the holidays. Hopefully that will work better for people.

  5. This is an AMAZING post and I love it so much!! TOO TRUE. ALL OF IT. And I particularly like the plot bunnies one. ;) I literally get plot bunnies no matter what I do or where I go. XD I'd love to work in a bookstore or a library one day....#goals And, zomg best of luck with YOUR book!!
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    1. Aww, thank you! Yes the plot bunnies may be the best part ^ ^ I a little notepad that I carry around specifically for that reason.
      You would LOVE working in a bookstore! Plus you would have amazing recommendations to give :D
      Thank you so much ^ ^ And you're welcome :) Thanks for stopping by here too :D