Most authors currently sell their books online on platforms such as Amazon and Kobo – and that is perfectly fine because most people are in the habit of buying online anyway. However, selling your book in a real bookstore is secretly a dream of a lot of authors. Seeing your book in the window of a bookshop or seeing it on a shelf is incredibly exciting. But as a self-published author, it might seem impossible to get your books into real life, brick and mortar bookstores. Especially since the number of self-published books that are finding their way into the bookstore around the corner is incredibly small. But don’t despair: there are few ways to get your book into an indie store, just by starting small. So, here are some steps and tips you might want to consider in order to get your book in that bookstore window.
Know your marketplace
Get to know the bookstore you would like to sell your book. Start small. Do not try to get into Waterstones when the indie bookstore around the corner might be incredibly interested in selling your book. Do not try to run before you can walk.
As for the research, have a look at what kinds of books the store is selling before you approach them with the question to sell your book. You also might want to call ahead and ask to make an appointment rather than just rolling in unannounced.
Bring a sample or even a few copies of your book. It is easier to convince people when they have something to hold in their hands, to touch to smell… to read! This can also help them to determine the quality of the book and if it would appeal to the store’s customers.
Commit to a Good Quality
I absolutely hate the saying “do not judge a book by its cover”. Why? Because when it comes to marketing and selling books, the cover is one of the most important elements. It can literally make or break your book sales – both online as offline.
The cover image is literally the first thing the reader sees. Most people choose to pick up books based on the cover design and only if the design speaks to them they decide to read the blurb. This is why it is important to invest in a great and professional looking cover.
Another reason why bookshops might reject your book is the editing. I know a lot of self-published authors that did not have the money/wanted to pay for an editor, but in the end, it is actually quite noticeable when reading through the first few pages of the book. If you are serious about selling your book in bookstores, serious about becoming a best-selling author, you might want to find yourself an editor.
People who stroll into bookstores want the whole package—a fabulous cover that matches the kind of book, excellent writing, and a professional print. If the book seems to have an unprofessional design, has not been edited properly, or the print quality is poor, the bookshop will most definitely pass on it.
Announce your Book to the World
Once your book is accessible in the store, tell readers, friends, family, and co-workers where they can purchase copies. You can also tell your social media followers and email-list subscribers that your book is available and they can get a copy of it if they can visit the local bookstore. The more interest and sales you can create in the store, the higher the shelf life your book and the more prominent a place it will get in the shop. Have them reel their requests so your book sets a constant sales record.
Create a Marketing Plan
The key to getting your books into stores is to generate a marketing plan in order to produce a demand for your book. Once you have performed your research and find the appropriate booksellers to approach and the appropriate contact person, make sure that your marketing materials look professional and will leave a good impression.
- Create flyers. postcards, and create a website with excellent design and catchy style.
- Incorporate essential information on your sell sheet: ISBN, price, publication date, availability through Ingram or other distributors, etc.
- Choose a bookseller as your store of choice and become an affiliate of those stores.
- Send a copy of your book, flyer, or brochure that introduces the book and the featured reviews and comments in your targeted mailings.
- Design an email campaign that would attract to stores in such a way that they will want to open and read it and then follow up.
Most independent bookstore will only offer consignment plans. This means that instead of buying your books at wholesale price, they only pay for your books when they sell. They do this as buying a self-published or first-time author’s books without the representation of an agent or publisher can be a big gamble.
So what kind of money are you looking at? Well in all honesty, most agreements go for 50/50 but it is not unheard of for shops to ask 40% or 60% instead. We have had some questions of clients asking us why they can’t get 70% to 80% of the sale and our answer is always the same –bookshopss need to survive as well.