Once the holidays were over I felt there might be a lull in the activities but that was not even close to the truth. I decided to take every opportunity possible to visit bookstores outside of the Greater Milwaukee area. Emailing and calling was (and is) still an endless process and it works occasionally to get The Bezert into the brick and mortar stores, but there was always a big difference when I could connect with bookstore buyers and owners directly. Bookstores are more likely to take a risk if they can meet the author first hand and talk to them directly about the book. Over the past 8 months we have taken a few vacations, weekend getaways and they always included at least one or two fun days carousing bookstores! Armed with a suitcase of books, bookmarks, sell sheets & business cards me and my family went door to door the same way I had done locally.
Our first trip was in January to Minneapolis/St Paul area. My publisher had already laid some ground work there when she attended the Heartland Fall Forum 2014 to spread the word on Little Bahalia's Books. I had a list of about 10 fantastic bookstores in the area so we got to explore the cities through our adventure in bookstores. Several were very intriguing and a few of them were very interested in Bezert. They all got a kick out of the Bezert photo ops and some really had fun with it. The highlight of this trip was one of the bookstores just outside of Minneapolis called Wild Rumpus. There were animals, (ie chickens, cats & dogs) roaming around inside the shop. Also there were cages with chinchillas, ferrets, exotic birds and more. They all had names and seemed to be very well loved! Aside from this, there were other fun elements to this store....one of them being a canoe mounted upside down on the ceiling buried into a large crack above the check out counter. They also have small reading nooks and arches of fake trees build around bookshelves that make the atmoshere very cozy. Garisson Keillor's bookstore, Common Good, was fun to experience as well. Each shop we entered really had its own unique charm about it.
Our second trip was to Madison on a mild February weekend. We had a list of six bookstores and gift stores and stopped at two others on the way there. The highlight of this trip was a quaint bookstore in Watertown called Tribeca Books. Other than the historic old building and atmosphere, the owner and buyer were lovely and they both seemed to really enjoy their worklife. They hammed it up in some Bezert pictures and we talked about possibly doing an event for this coming spring. Another fun shop on the way was called The Velveteen Rabbit. It is a large pink Victorian B&B with a cozy bookshop on the lower level. Bezert currently resides there between the shelves.
Over spring break this year, I did a little research on a short trip we could take to find a good chunk of indie bookstores. Sadly they are becoming fewer and far between. Turns out Cleveland, OH called out to me and the icing on the cake was a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Everyone enjoyed this and my son benefitted by being able to do some research at RARHOF for a school project. I had a list of about six bookstores in the greater Cleveland area so we got another tour of a really fun city that we'd definitely return to in the future. From the five shops we visited two of them started carrying 'The Bezert' along with four more from our previous adventures. We had nice conversations everywhere we went and overall people were very supportive and receptive. I'd say, this method could prove to be fairly sucessful and is definitely TONS of fun. Who wouldn't want to see a new city through the eyes of their bookstores. My son's not complaining, he loves books and usually benefits greatly from this expereience by coming back home with a few new reads each time. Where to next...NYC & sunny CA!