Guest Bookseller: Sorensen Books

Shonna Slayton — 

I’m loving this series we are doing on librarians and booksellers—they add a new perspective for us. I’ve known Cathy Sorensen for years and years. We lost touch, but reconnected on Facebook. I was thrilled to learn that she has her own little bookshop, Sorensen Books, in Victoria, B.C., Canada. She’s even online, so please support this independent bookstore. What makes me laugh about Cathy’s post is that she is obviously a bookseller. Note that she is hand selling even here! Yes, a good bookseller is a writer’s best friend.

I sell new and used books and have been selling books for 20 years. There isn’t much space in my 900-square-foot store for books that don’t sell.

I sell a lot of children’s books. They are allotted two prominent bookcases right in the centre of the shop. For me to order a children’s book, the artwork is admittedly the biggest draw. The books are paraded before me in catalogues with usually only the briefest synopsis of the content and the front cover image. Believe it or not, your book design and cover are important. People are drawn to lovely artwork, fonts, paper, French flaps* and texture. Don’t take the time to write something and wrap it in a boring package. Presentation matters. If you are not an artist, do not do the artwork yourself.

When writer Tim Beiser teamed up with artist Rachel Berman, they created a marvelous children’s book. Bradley McGogg the Very Fine Frog not only had a delightful story but also stunning artwork to match. I recommend this book to customers all the time and children love the rhymes and the images.

Which books sell the best in my shop?

1. Promoted books. The more press your book gets the better: talk radio programs, face out presence in the bookshop, poster ads. If I like your book I will hand sell it to customers over and over again.

2. Well edited books.
A good editor is hard to find and essential. They look at your work in a technical way finding errors both in grammar and factual accuracy. Don’t self edit, you are not an editor. Poorly edited books with factual errors are scorned by book critics and rejected by publishers. Hopefully, if you have a publisher, you won’t have to worry about this.

3. Interesting subject matter.
One of my best-selling books is a self-published book written by Ken Roueche about the history of the neighbourhood of Fairfield in Victoria, B.C. Not a history of the city, just one community.

This books also sells because it is well promoted, hand sold by the bookseller and skillfully edited. The artwork on the cover was soundly chosen. Robert Amos, the artist, lives and paints in Fairfield and locals instantly recognize his work. All these factors contribute to the success of Ken’s book.

With the days of the eBooks now upon us, trying to sell an actual book is becoming more difficult and publishers and booksellers are looking for quality, originality and distinctiveness, something that sets your book apart.

*(Glossary: French Flaps (from A book with French flaps indicates a trade paperback with long covers which are folded inwards. This gives the book a more expensive look, creating the half assed illusion of a hardback. The flaps make the front of the cover seem thicker, although not as thick as a standard hardcover book, and additional information can be printed on them, such as the plot synopsis, blurbs and the author’s picture and/or biography. )

Cathy blogs at:

Shonna Slayton

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Shonna Slayton is the author of the 1940's YA novel Cinderella's Dress (2014, Entangled Teen) and its sequel, Cinderella's Shoes (Fall 2015) . Visit her website at sign up for her newsletter.

One response to Guest Bookseller: Sorensen Books

  1. Kitty Bucholtz at

    Thanks for sharing with us, Cathy. Great post! And I have to say, the frog book looks like something I’d like to read! LOL!!