Bookstore placements can be difficult to accomplish, and why would you want your work competing with thousands of other books anyway? It’s more labor overall and profits have to be given up to the location that does the selling for you.
At Wise Publications we’ve seen how a physical store will display your books to the local community which makes your title seem more real than online. It is just one more portion of your Book Marketing Plan. This can lead to better media acceptance for reviews and it’s all pretty cool too.
What Bookstores Require - Firstly, your book must be saleable in their system. It must have an ISBN number, a bar code, a printed price, a good cover with design, an ABI entry and a standard listing in Bowker Books In Print. Our staff can provide all these requirements for you.
Local Indie Stores - This is where the literary opportunities are, and they actually want quality books that other places don’t stock. You want to build a relationship first and know the store’s readership. What kind of books do their shoppers like to buy anyway? What is the theme this establishment projects?
When approached in a businesslike manner, owners are usually supportive of local authors. Then the manager will look over your offering and decide for themselves if they can move some books for you. If the staff likes you and your book they will even recommend it thru hand sales.
Chain Stores - The big box stores are flooded with self-published titles and just won’t stock them. This is a surprise to many of our authors, but corporate only wants books that will sell across multiple store regions. Their websites do list submission requirements, but it’s a lot of hoops to jump through. We suggest that you explore this after your book has a good track record of sales to readers.
Author Appearances - All authors must be prepared to promote themselves. It’s how things are done nowadays and provides good feedback from your fans. Busy staff don’t really need another book on the shelf. Promotional events that bring in new customers to their shop is what you have to offer.
Inform them of how many followers you have on Facebook, how many email addresses you will announce to, what kind of “reading events” you can provide. Discuss how you will increase overall sales for them, not just sitting at a table for a few hours. An experienced manager will be more interested in giving your title a shot if they are convinced that your success is their success.
Wholesale Discount - The industry standard is a 40% discount. This means you sell them a $20 retail book for $12 wholesale. They earn $8 for maintaining their store and sales staff. You should think of this as one more outlet for additional sales in your overall publishing business. Almost everyone operates on a consignment basis, but at least they’ll give you a try.
Market, Market, Market - Promoting yourself like this can all be difficult, and outside your comfort zone. But it’s their world you’re entering and many authors learn to enjoy this business side of being a published writer. Start with someone you know locally, and get the hang of it as you go. You’ll develop a feel for it soon enough. But if your particular title is not received well, then you’re still doing all those online sales at full profit.
Getting Your Book Into Bookstores
Sell More Books Thru Gift Shops
Many authors regret the lack of independent bookstores in their area. But they don’t realize the incredible rise in book sales at other outlets as a result. Wise Publications sees our most successful authors moving books everywhere and many have sold over ten thousand copies thru a wide variety of retail locations.
A Good Gift - First of all, your title must be suited to the type of buyer in the store. Owners need to see the actual book in person. Store managers are very good at selecting stock and will be looking for a sharp retail design, quality content, spine imprint and ISBN. They just know what will sell and are not too concerned with any literary traditions. Put a “Local Author” and an “Autographed Copy” sticker on each book - it adds value.
Who Do You Know? - With a referral from a good customer, managers will often carry a book on consignment as a courtesy. Gift shops often expect a 50% discount. If your book doesn’t sell with their customer base they’ll just ask you to pick it back up. Many are agreeable to an author signing and remember, each sale drives readers to your website where the real profits are.
How Do I Get Started? - Most of us only shop at certain stores but there are hundreds more you haven’t noticed. Drive down the main streets of your area first and look around for places with good retail foot traffic. Places where you see the free newspaper stands are good. Carry a box of books in your car at all times. Use online yellow pages to scout surrounding towns within an hour’s drive. Stores in smaller communities actually sell even more because there’s less book outlets for readers.
Our List - Wise Publications has compiled this list from our discussions with thousands of authors over decades. You should start by emailing your press release with a message that you’ll be visiting soon with a book to show. Then just walk right in and ask to speak to the manager. The all-time bestselling regional authors we have known are out there promoting every week. They learn to enjoy the personal selling of autographed copies.
Gift Shops - There’s just so many of them. Books purchased as gifts for others really widens your marketing to readers. Customers will often buy two. The larger shops will move more books and the smaller ones will hand sell authors they like. - All genres might be carried.
Hospital Gift Shops - Store managers know that the institution’s staff also browse there and read a wide variety of topics such as Inspirational, Children’s, Novels, Women’s, Local Interest, and Gift Books. May do an Author Signing for a charitable contribution.
Tourist Shops - Lots of traffic looking for Gift Books, Local Interest, History, and Children’s. Retirees buy a lot.
Hotel Gift Shops - Lots and lots of traffic. Local Interest, Motivational, Romance, Children’s.
Clothing Boutiques - These like to have items other than clothes and often have a book section with Chick Lit, Cookbooks, and Inspirational.
Office Building Coffee Shops - As good as a bookstore. - All Genres
Gourmet & Kitchen Stores - Has the kind of buyers looking for Local Interest and Cookbooks. Lots of gift basket sales.
Airport Stores - Perfect scenario of readers with time to kill browsing. - All Genres
Visitor Centers - The Tourist Bureau gift shops are actually looking to support local books, and every Chamber of Commerce is on your side also. They will recommend books to newcomers and promote signings.
Museums - Local Interest of course, Children’s, History, Cookbooks; and they’re usually wanting more income also.
Chain Stores - The big box stores will only take books through their distribution network and the managers have no way to stock you. However, the manager does have authority to permit table sales at the front door. Usually just because someone asked, that’s why you see the Girl Scout cookie people all the time. Use referrals, talk them up in person, offer a free book, and in a year’s time, do another book signing.
Grocery Stores - For every chain store, there’s plenty of family grocers to talk to. - Sci-Fi, Novels, Mystery, Romance, Cookbooks, Local Interest, Christian.
Pharmacies - Independent pharmacists are always wanting unique local items because the chains do not stock them. All genres do well.
Indie Toy Stores - A discerning clientele, just the type to seek out Children’s Story Hour.
Restaurants - They can sell a lot for you. Lots of traffic, buyers waiting for a table, and in the mood for Cookbooks, Children’s and everything in Local Interest.
Galleries, Interior Design - Upscale shoppers with money to spend on Coffee Table books, History, Cookbooks, and all genres.
Guy Stores - Golf Pro Shops, Fishing Stores, Gun Shops, Fitness Centers, Garden Centers, Hardware Stores and even Feed Stores can sell a lot to men who aren’t regularly visiting gift shops. Western, Sports, Nature, Sci-Fi, and History.
Shows - Lots and lots of buyers. But don’t spend money on a table, it’s hard to earn enough profits back. Go to the show, find someone you know who markets each year and ask to join them. An author signing books is a good draw to their wares. Smaller shows will even want to have you as a type of extra entertainment and promote the appearance in their marketing.
Get out in front of the table and place your book in people’s hands. When someone has actually met the author, that’s when they want to read it and will then tell all their friends too. That’s what drives traffic to your website. - Church Festivals, Gun Shows, Flea Markets, Holiday Shows, Town Festivals, Conventions.
Whenever you see a review in the newspaper about another book, note where they are being sold. We have many authors with several titles who have sold tens of thousands of books in just their region. Mostly non-fiction, and they do it by getting out there and selling like a real publishing business. Then they write another one and go around all over again!
This type of independent self-publishing can offer immediate feedback from your fans. With a good, well written book, it really is possible to earn a living this way. Here at Wise Publications we answer author questions all day and can share a lot of tips others have learned.