Last month we had our annual goal meeting and I swear that as each week has gone by I have added another goal. One of my newest additions is to get out to the bookstore at least once each month.
As an editorial assistant working in NYC, I used to spend a great deal of time at the Barnes & Noble Union Square location. Not only is this three-story bookstore incredibly inspiring, but getting to a bookstore was the best research I knew. It was here that I could see what the competition was doing, what was hot and what wasn’t, and where came up with some of my best ideas for new books, both fiction and nonfiction.
With the rise of the internet and the decline in the number of bookstores, visiting one in person to do research has become a novelty and not the norm. Something I’m ashamed to admit. Sure it’s easy to look things up on Amazon, but it’s not the same experience when it comes to browsing. In researching women’s fiction titles, for example, I can’t just peruse the shelves to see what subjects are selling, read the acknowledgments to find out who is buying, and find something I never knew existed. Mostly though, I can’t fall in love again. I can’t just plop myself down on the floor in front of the shelves, smell the smell of books and listen to the murmurs of other book lovers.
In any business, it’s imperative that you learn what the competition is doing and while I keep up on reviews, trade magazines, and the latest trends in publishing, there’s nothing more valuable, for agents, authors, and editors, than getting your hands dirty and making new discoveries all on your own.