Friday, September 7, 2012

Getting Your Own Book in a Bookstore

An Encore Presentation

As an author, if you’re planning to actually sell your book, you have to get it on the shelf. Oh, sure, you can sell books online in any number of places, but I’ve never met an author who said, “Um, no thanks, I don’t want to see my book in a bookstore.”

If you are with a major publisher, one of the Big Six, you probably don’t need to be reading this. If you’re with a small publisher, or have self-published, listen and learn:

First, make sure the cover looks good; make sure it stands out. Second, make sure the title is simple and memorable. Third, that book had better be edited to within an inch of its life!

Many booksellers won’t carry anything they can’t return if it doesn’t sell, and this includes a lot of small publishers and especially self-published books. Some won’t carry self-published books at all, period. Don’t bother making up a publisher name, unless you DO have a small company or intend to start one in the very near future – fake names are easy to check and besides, if a bookseller looks at what other books “you” have published or, worse yet, can’t even find a website, the jig is up. Likewise, booksellers are familiar with the names of vanity publishers, you know, the ones to whom YOU cut a large check and then they “publish” your book? Yeah, those. Stay away from them.

Don’t send letters, postcards, bookmarks, etc. Booksellers are busy people; those things are likely to end up in the trash. Bring your book to the store, in person. Present yourself well. Show the book, talk about the book. Ask for a  shelf spot, ask for a book signing. Often, the person you talk to isn’t the one who makes the decision and you may have to leave the book. It could take several weeks for them to get to it, and/or several weeks to schedule a signing. It’s okay to check back after say, two weeks, but don’t be a pest.

Most likely, a bookseller will grant you some space on a trial basis or on consignment. If it’s a trial, pick up your unsold books promptly at the end. Consignment can certainly vary from store-to-store, but since publishers usually give a discount to booksellers, they expect one from you too. Typically, you’ll paid 60% of the retail price, or sometimes the sale price if the bookseller needs to move merchandise. You could be paid monthly, quarterly, or by some other arrangement. Don’t quibble over this and, again, don’t be a pest – but do check in, no more than once a month.

It’s not particularly hard to get your book into an independent bookstore, but it does take persistence and politeness and the ability to sell yourself.

Thanks again, Robin! I’ve no doubt your series will be more than helpful to a lot of our readers! Here's all the links, for those who might have missed something: 

Until next time, good people, have a simply marvelous Friday!

M. J.

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution