Dana Gioia, a friend and proponent of all things literary, once told me “Bookstores don’t sell books. Readings sell books.” Of course, what he meant was that having your books on the shelf in a bookstore won’t get your books into customers’ hands. If you walk into any bookstore, you’ll see special displays to promote particular titles. Publishers pay bookstores for this kind of promotion, but individual authors don’t generally have this kind of clout. So to help your local bookstore sell your book, request the chance to give a reading there. You and the bookstore will both benefit.

The website http://www.booktour.com provides help to writers planning their own readings and promotional events, and is also a great place to list your readings. You need as ISBN number for your book to make use of the listing service. If you are self-publishing, keep this in mind. Having an ISBN is not a requirement of publication, but it can help you make use of the ways to market your book on the Internet.

Bookstore Readings

Not all bookstores welcome author readings and events, but most do, especially if the author is willing to help organize and promote the event. Bookstores that host author events often plan these six months in advance. Get started early.  Once you know when your book will be printed and ready for release, begin contacting the bookstores in your area. You can send a query by mail or e-mail. Follow up with a phone call, asking to speak with the bookstore manager or events coordinator.

Let the bookstore know you are a local author with a book to be released soon, and ask if you can schedule a reading. Bookstores will want to know who your publisher and distributor are. If you are handling this yourself, you can offer to bring the books to the store yourself prior to the reading and set up a consignment sale arrangement. The usual consignment arrangement is 60% for the bookstore and 40% for the author.

It’s a good idea to prepare a publicity kit to accompany the release of your book. This can be a folder with PR related material, or an electronic version that can be sent via e-mail. See the Publicity Kit page of this website for details.

Other Author Events

Consider holding book events and readings in locations other than bookstores. The income from the books you sell at these will go directly to you, in most cases, and for self-published authors, this is an ideal way to recoup your investiment.

Here are some ideas for events to promote your book:

  • Reading in a private home or literary salon
  • Reading or interview on a local radio station
  • Reading and/or workshop at a local college
  • Visit to a creative writing class or writing group
  • Meet-the-author event at your local public library
  • Guest appearance with a book club or reading group
  • Visit a senior residence or assisted living facility
  • A booth at a local book festival or book-art fair

If your book’s subject matter might have a particular audience in mind, consider visiting a professional group affiliated with this audience. For example, if your book would be of special interest to gardeners, contact your local garden clubs. If your book would appeal to historians, contact your local historical society. If  you have poems about hair styles, give a reading in a hair salon. You get the idea. “Readings sell books.”

Below is a list of bookstores and reading venues in the San Francisco Bay Area (and beyond) with contact information

(Compiled by Sixteen Rivers Press www.sixteenrivers.org)

Recommended Reading Venues

East Bay

Albany Library

1247 Marin Avenue

Albany, CA 94706


Contact: Catherine Taylor

Black Oak Books

1491 Shattuck Ave.

Berkeley, CA

(510) 486-0698

Bonanza Street Books

1604 Bonanza Street

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 932-2466

Creative Writing Reading Series

St. Mary’s College

English Department

Moraga, CA 94575

(925) 631-4472

Diesel, A Bookstore

5433 College Avenue

Oakland, CA 94618


Events Director: Hayley Hicks


Ecology Center Bookstore

2530 San Pablo Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94702

(510) 548-3333

Literary/Project Director: Kirk Lumpkin

Koncepts Cultural Gallery

1428 Alice Street

Oakland, CA 94612

(510) 451-5231

Literary/Project Director: Akan Boyd

Oakland Public Library

125 14th Street

Oakland, CA

(510) 238-6713

Director: Kathleen Hirooka

Marin County

Book Passage

51 Tamal Vista Boulevard

Corte Madera, CA 94925

(415) 927-0960

The Depot Bookstore

Mill Valley Town Center

Mill Valley, CA

Marin Poetry Center

P.O. Box 9091

San Rafael, CA 94912

(415) 454-7644

Director: Jean Pumphrey

San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center

P.O. Box 194

San Geronimo, CA 94963

(415) 488-9385

Director: Debbie Hubsmith


California Writer’s Club, Peninsula Branch

Belmont Public Library

1110 Alameda De Las Pulgas

Belmont, CA

Center for Literary Arts

San Jose State University

c/o English and Comparative Literature Dept.

Attn. Mark Bussmann

One Washington Square

San Jose, CA 95192-0088

(408) 924-4302

Gallery 2611

2611 Broadway

Redwood City, CA


Kepler’s Books

1010 El Camino Real

Menlo Park, CA 94025-4306

Events Coordinator: Jennie Davis

(650) 594-5935

Printers Inc. Bookstore

301 Castro Street

Mountain View, CA 94041


Director: Michael Hurst

Villa Montalvo-Literary Arts Committee

P.O. Box 158 Saratoga, CA 95071-0158

(408) 961-5850

Director: Lisa Ramirez

Waverly Writers Group

1037 Ramona Street

Palo Alto, CA 94301-2444

(415) 725-1717

Director: Maureen Eppstein

San Francisco

Alexander Book Company

Rhythm River Poetry Series

50 2nd Street

San Francisco, CA 94105

(415) 495-2992

Events Coordinator: Bernard Henderson

Bernal Books

401 Cortland Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 550-0293

Contact: Michele Tea

Book Bay at the Main

San Francisco Main Library

100 Larkin Street

San Francisco, CA 94102

Manager: Rand Salwasser


Initial contact: Byron Spooner

Friends of the Library

Fort Mason Center, Bldg. C

San Francisco, CA 94123


Books, Inc.

601 Van Ness Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94102

The Booksmith

1644 Haight Street

San Francisco, CA 94117

(415) 863-8688

City Lights Bookstore

261 Columbus Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94133

(415) 362-1901

Events Coordinator: Peter Maravelis


Escape From New York Pizza

333 Bush at Montgomery

San Francisco, CA

Katherine Harer

(415) 584-8294

send press kit to:

Glen Ingersol

(510) 841-6820


P.O. Box 12002

Berkeley, CA 94712

Great Overland Book Company

345 Judah Street

San Francisco, CA

Intersection for the Arts

446 Valencia Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 626-2787

Director: Kevin Chen

The Lab

2948 16th Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 864-8855

Director: Laura Brun


P.O. Box 720125
San Francisco, CA 94172-0125

Phone: (415) 750-1497

Mechanics’ Institute Library

Director of Events: Laura Sheppard

57 Post Street

San Francisco. CA 94104

Modern Times Bookstore

888 Valencia Street

San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 282-9246

Director: Brenda O’Sullivan

National Poetry Association

934 Brannan Street, Second Floor

San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 552-9261

Director: George Aguilar

The Poetry Center

San Francisco State University

1600 Holloway Avenue

San Francisco,

CA 94132

(415) 338-2227

San Francisco Center for the Book

(for letterpress books/artist’s books)

300 De Haro Street

San Francisco, CA

(415) 565-0545

Director: Steve Woodall

San Francisco Main Library

Joan Jasper, Exhibitions and Public Programs

100 Larkin Street

San Francisco, CA 94102

(415) 557-4595

University of San Francisco

Master of Arts in Writing Program

2130 Fulton Street

San Francisco, CA 94117-1080

(415) 422-6208

Director: Aaron Shurin

Sonoma County

Copperfield’s Books

140 Kentucky Street

Petaluma, CA 94952


Copperfield’s Books

Sebastopol, CA

Stephanie Deignan

North Light Books

550 East Cotati Ave.

Cotati, CA 94928

(707) 792-4300

Petaluma Poetry Walk

P.0. Box 13

Petaluma, CA 94953-0013

(707) 763-4271

Director: Geri Digiorno


Readers’ Books

127 East Napa Street

Sonoma, CA 95476

(707) 939-1779

The Sitting Room

170 East Cotati Ave.

Cotati, CA 94928

Directors: J.J. Wilson, Karen Petersen

Sonoma County Book Festival

P.O. Box 159

Santa Rosa, CA 95402



Word Temple Series

Sonoma County Museum

425 Seventh Street (bet. A and B Streets), Santa Rosa, CA

Phone (707) 579-1500
Director: Katherine Hastings

Farther Afield in California

Livermore Literary Arts

Ravenswood Estate

2647 Arroyo Road, Livermore, CA

Contact: Cher Wollard


Carl Cherry Center for the Arts

P.O. Box 863

Carmel, CA 93921

(408) 624-7491

Director: Robert Reese

Gallery Bookshop

Tony Miksak

Mendocino, CA

(707) 937-2215


Sacramento Poetry Center
1719 25th Street
Sacramento, CA 9581
(916) 979-9706

Readings held at:
1631 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 441-7395


University of California, Davis

Creative Writing Program

One Shields Avenue

Davis, CA 95616

(530) 752-8519

Project Director: Sandra McPherson

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