Hello everyone! I'm new to bookselling, and will be contacting bookstores pretty soon about selling my book. I'm not a salesperson at all, and have no idea what to say or how to approach a bookstore. Do any of you have tips on the proper/standard verbage? I also want to know how pricing works. Do I sell the book to them? Or is it normally a consignment type of deal? If I do sell it to them, how much should they make from the book? Is there a standard percentage? Any advice would be grately appreciated. Thank you! (I'm posting this in more than one group, so my apologies if you see this question again.)
Retail bookstores, especially the big chain stores, won't deal with the author directly. They buy books through book distributors. If you use print-on-demand through LSI (Lightning Source), they distibute through Ingram's--a major distributor. There are other distributors, local and national, but you'll need to do your homework to find them and find out what is needed to contract with them.
Smaller, independently-owned bookstores will work directly with authors--but not all of them. Some will only work with distributors like the chain stores. You can negotiate the terms so that it benefits both you and the storeowner. I, personally, would advise against doing consignment unless you live near the store. Why? Because unless you can easily keep tabs on sales and check on progress, you may just be giving away your books.
But don't overlook other retail outlets. If your book covers an area/topic, look for stores in your area where your book could fit in as part of their merchandise. For example, if your novel has a protagonist who owns a diner and you live near a cafe that has reading area or sells other merchandise--approach them.
This works. One of our best-selling books can be found in a record shop.
I think the idea of approaching independent stores is a good one. A large, independent bookstore in my city has a section that features local and independent authors. I don't know the details but I believe they have a consignment policy. And as I understand it, each book they sell has to have an ISBN.
I just love Zetta's idea of trying other stores. I'm going to try that!
Hi Kitty, First, it's important to go in person and have a copy of your book and a business card with your contact info in hand. Ask for the manager or person responsible for purchasing books, then ask if he/she would be willing to stock your book. Leave a copy for them to read, if possible. If they aren't available, get their name and contact info and leave a book for them. Then follow-up by phone. As for pricing, I purposely didn't print the price on my cover as I wanted to be able to change it as needed. Mostly I priced the book a few dollars less than it sells for on Amazon and asked the bookstore to use their price stickers (and of course pay the tax.) I was never able to get the store to buy the books outright; all my placements were on consignment with mostly a 60-40 split (60 me, 40 the store.)
Now, for the bad news. I never sold more than a couple of books in a bookstore, and for the amount of work it was, it wasn't worth it. I write women's fiction, so I began thinking about where my target audience hangs out. I began visiting nail salons, hair salons, boutiques and spas; places where my book would either by the only book or one of a few. My sales took off. So, my question is do you really want your book in a store with hundreds of other books? What's going to make yours stand out? Where's our target audience? Think about it.
Author of "Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever," optioned for the big screen
so I began thinking about where my target audience hangs out. I began visiting nail salons, hair salons, boutiques and spas; places where my book would either by the only book or one of a few.
Terrific! Great advice. Really the first step of any marketing plan should be to ask this question ("Who is my audience?" and "Where can they be found?") and so many skip it.
I recently bought 2 books, both by local authors, at a crafts store. The store represents 100 local potters, painters, jewelry makers, etc, so the books are just an extension of its original purpose. When I take my book in, I'm going to try to wrangle some front window space.
Great advice about thinking about your target audience for placing your books in retail shops. Spas and salons sound perfect for your book. I'll have to spend more time thinking where to place mine.
Thank you all so very much for your advice! I truly appreciate it! Gives me a lot to think about. I was leaning toward independent stores bc I really didn't expect I could get into the big chains, except online. I will look into other outlets as Zetta & Judith suggested. @Petrea, I do have an ISBN. I printed through createspace, but I bought my own ISBN directly through Bowkers, which I'm glad I did. @Karma, I agree, that was great advice. I do need to seek out my audience. The name of my book & the cover lends itself to erotica, but it's female contemporary fiction. I'm trying to figure how I can approach women in a beauty shop bc the title is so risque. I've been contacting book clubs, and so far I've had three respond. Two did book reviews and one wants to put me in their author's spotlight. I am concerned about what Judith said, about putting all of that work in, and getting so little out of it. Makes me wonder if it's worth it? But I would love to see my book in at least one store:)
How do you get an ISBN? I am new at all this and I would like to write a book and what are the steps? I need a ghost writer to perfect my book and then what happens? How do I get the front cover done and how much does it cost who does the art work for the cover which mine will just have a courthouse on the cover. Please let me know all the steps please.
@Kitty - If you plan to be a successful author, you have to be prepared to do the work. And if you're self publishing, that means you have to do ALL the work. The writing is the "easy" part, but it's only the BEGINNING. After publication, it's all about marketing and promotion.
Yes, there will be times you'll wonder if it was worth it, but if you give up, then all that hard work would have been for nothing and you would have been better off doing something else.
You have to ask yourself what is YOUR purpose/reason/motivation to be a published author. Is it just to see your book on a shelf in a bookstore, or do you feel and believe that your writing has something of value and you would like as many people to read it as possible. Or is your motivation something else entirely.
Success and fame doesn't happen overnight. The TV and media only makes it look that way.
Zetta is absolutely right. Even though it's been almost three years since I published my book, I still spend one to two hours a day doing marketing. Just got my 50th 5-star review yesterday as a result. As Zetta said, ask yourself what your ultimate goal is. Mine was to get my book optioned, which I'm thrilled to say has happened through my direct efforts. And yes, it's great to see your book on a shelf in a bookstore (see my picture). But if your goal involves selling books, you've got to be willing to put as much time into marketing it as you did into writing it.
Love the pic, Judith! Congratulations!
Congratlations Judith! That must feel amazing!