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Can Indie Authors Have a Book Launch at Barnes and Noble?

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

Guest post by Dawn Hosmer

Recently, I shared with the Writing Community about my experience talking with my local Barnes and Noble about scheduling a book launch there. Many people expressed interest in finding out more information about this, so Emma thought it would be a good idea for me to share a blog post about it.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Being able to take this risk, started long before I stepped foot in the store. When I made the decision to sign with a small, independent publisher, I also committed to a few things outside of my comfort zone. The biggest commitment I made was to say yes even when something scared me, if it helped me promote myself as an author or my books. I decided that when an opportunity presented itself, I would ask myself whether or not it made sense for my writing career. If that answer was yes, I vowed to push past my fear (or sometimes, push down my fear because it was still there) and just do it (Nike is onto something with this slogan).

Some of the things that this has involved which required me to step outside of my comfort zone are:

  • podcasts

  • YouTube videos

  • on-camera book readings

  • live book readings

  • reaching out to stores and asking for their support

  • blog interviews where I shared parts of my true self.

Essentially, I decided to not let my comfort zone become my prison.

Too often, whether in writing or life, we become complacent and stuck in a place where we’re comfortable and not stretching ourselves. There is no room for that when you are an indie author – at least not if you want any type of success.

Squash that Fear of Rejection

Over the past couple of years, I’ve heard several indie authors say that their local Barnes and Noble stores have been happy to work with them by carrying their books and/or allowing them to do events in the store. I put “Go to Barnes and Noble” on my to-do list when I published Bits & Pieces in November 2018 and it has been there for fifteen months. You may be asking why I didn’t do it before now. The answer is fear of rejection.

This fear really was unfounded because I have reached out to many stores since I was published, either via phone or email, and every single one of them was happy to work with me by ordering books or allowing events in store. The only difference with Barnes and Noble is that doing an event with them, or having my books in their store, has been a lifelong dream. I think that the bigger the dream, the bigger the let-down will be if the answer is no. Also, asking them was different because I couldn’t hide behind the computer or a phone call, I had to ask in person. So, if they rejected me, it would be to my face which would be harder to take than in a phone call.

I guess I can thank my mom for the push I needed to go in the store and ask. She bought me a Barnes and Noble gift card for Christmas. My fear tried to convince me to order books online and not go in the store. I realized that nagging little voice for what it was, though, and refused to order online.

I went to the store and filled my arms with books I wanted to purchase, all the while, eyeing the information desk and trying to squelch the fear inside trying to convince me they would say no.

Crank Up the Bravery

Finally, no customers were at the information counter and I saw my window of opportunity. This way, if the answer was no, I wouldn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of having customers overhear it, unless of course the manager busted out laughing (which my fear convinced me was an absolute possibility).

I approached the desk and asked to speak with a manager. There were three staff at the counter, and it turns out all three of them were store managers. In case it’s helpful to someone, this is exactly what I said:

“Hi! I’m Dawn Hosmer, a local author. I have 2 books out now and my 3rd releases in June 2020. I wanted to know how you partner with local authors?”

One of the managers asked for my ISBN numbers and looked the books up in their system. She clarified that the titles she found were mine and then asked if I would like to do the launch party for my next book, Somewhere In Between, with them in June. My answer, of course, was yes. Since it was February, and the beginning of all the concern over the coronavirus, the manager gave me her card and told me to contact them closer to the release date to schedule a firm date. Instead of her laughing at me, guess what? She actually seemed excited. She said we could do a Friday evening or Saturday afternoon event and talked through which one might get better traffic. She said they would do signage and advertising for the event to draw a big crowd. And, she thanked me for coming in and asking.

Now, with everything going on in the world with this virus, and the state of Ohio being on lockdown, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to do my launch party there in June, as originally planned. While this saddens me, it’s not going to stop me. If I can’t do it in June, I’ll try for July. If July won’t work, I’ll try August. If not August, then sometime later. My point is, I will do an event in Barnes and Noble as soon as I am able to.

Have Courage and Faith in Yourself

A few takeaways from this to serve as reminders to me in the future and, possibly, to you:

  • Pursue your dreams, even when you’re afraid

  • Don’t let your comfort zone become your prison

  • If there’s something you want, ASK!

  • Take yourself seriously as an author if you want others to do the same

  • Find ways to combat those nasty little voices in your head telling you to quit, or to not ask for what you want, or that you’re an imposter. For me, I have to use a variety of strategies for this, but the main one I use is simply to tell my brain to shut up. Sometimes it keeps shouting at me even as I step forward to do the exact thing my mind is telling me not to do.

  • Learn to do things afraid, for that is true courage. We don’t have to have the absence of fear to take steps toward our dreams. We just have to put one foot after the other and keep going.

What items are on your to-do list that terrify you? What step can you take today to conquer that fear? What are you willing to do to make your dreams come true?

I wish you much courage and favor on your journey as an author!


Dawn Hosmer is the author of Bits & Pieces and The End of Echoes. Her third book, Somewhere in Between, releases June 2020 and is currently available for pre-order.

She spent her career in social work but had to quit working due to a chronic illness, so she now focuses her time on writing.

Dawn is a wife and the mother to four amazing children, three of whom are now adults. She is a lifelong Ohioan but loves to travel. She also enjoys reading, playing board games, watching true-crime TV, and HGTV.

Where you can find me:

Twitter @dawnhosmer7

Instagram @dawnhosmer71


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