~Responses to: Marketing to Bookstores – Waste of Time?~
I enjoyed your article about self published authors selling to bookstores and wanted to comment. When I first published my book, Culinary Kuduzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing up Southern, I was pleasantly surprised with the ease at which I was able to get it on the shelves of local bookstores, gift shops, and gourmet stores, as well as a Barnes & Noble in nearby Jackson, Miss.
However, I learned to allocate a minimum of time and resources to marketing and distributing my books to retailers. After the discount, the amount of money you make is not so much. And, just like you said in your article, having the book there is no guarantee that sales will be affected. I do book signings and tastings and that helps drive traffic in the store that day, but again, in my experience it is a great deal of what for less than stellar results.
I keep my books stocked in these stores (a few copies, anyway) so that I can mention in promo materials and when people ask where the books are available locally. In my neck of the woods, it lends a certain amount of cache that it is in upscale stores.
Sales – and profit-wise, I find the most effective means of selling is write ups, articles, and mentions in print media. These always bring a flurry of sales. Giving talks on a topic (cooking and entertaining, in my case) with back of the room sales is also very effective. In my tiny hometown of 4000, I spoke at the local library during National Library Month and sold 18 books. This was after my book had been out for a year and a half!
I have a free monthly ezine, but oddly don’t find it brings much business. This is the exact opposite from what I have heard from any number of successful business people, which tells me I must not be doing something right with it. But that’s another story.
Thanks so much for all that you do, Angela.
Keetha DePriest Reed
Get Delta Dish, a free ezine of food, books, & more! Just visit our web site.
Thanks for the note about getting your book into bookstores! It’s so true! The bookstores I’ve approached want me to leave the book on consignment AND they want a 60/40 split, which would leave me with less than $1 per book. I did try it out in the small town local bookstore, but they sell a copy here, a copy there. The visit to the store isn’t even worth it to collect the $2.
Thanks so much for your wonderful weekly newsletter, and especially your article on October 20 on Marketing to Bookstores – A Waste of Time? It was truly a word in season for me, and actually encouraged me a bit to finally see the truth. I’ve spent the last few months trying to promote my recently published inspirational book titled Battleground Earth – Living by Faith in a Pagan World and found some moderate success – until I approached the bookstores! The only one that agreed to carry it was indeed a local bookstore that is well known for promoting local authors, but they would only take a handful on consignment. Basically, those few copies are waiting on a shelf for somebody to notice them. I’ve sold significantly more myself through people I know, church, and word of mouth at this point.
Other stores I approached informed me that they just aren’t allowed to stock print-on-demand books. At least they were kind and encouraging, and all of the managers wished me luck and said they did hope to work with me more in the future – but unfortunately they can’t help me in this early stage of my publishing career.
This story opened my eyes to a reality of book publishing and distribution that I already knew but didn’t always acknowledge. Intellectually, I knew that only about a third of the books on the market are in bookstores, and that more people are buying online. I guess the constant question of “What bookstore is your book in?” distracted me from this fact. I’ve been wondering if I should direct more of my efforts to getting more hits on my web site and Internet promotion, and I thank you so much for confirming that in your story. At least I have more of a sense of direction now in how to get this book out there to the eager public. After all, more people are buying online, and I have noticed that bookstores never seem to be crowded.
Thanks for opening my eyes and welcoming me back to reality. I’m still a writer whether the bookstores will carry Battleground Earth or not. At least I now know where to direct my efforts – and much to my delight, I can still do that from home!
Thanks, and keep up the great work!
Sherri Fulmer Moorer
Author, Battleground Earth – Living by Faith in a Pagan World
Several years back, when I first started writing professionally, your site gave me enough leads to earn the down payment for our first house — And, you were kind enough to print information about one deadbeat editor I suffered under, Cube Central.
Since then, I’ve concentrated on my fiction, specifically my first novel, STREET RAISED. Well, it got picked by PointBlank Press in the UK, and should hit the shelves in May. I couldn’t have done it without WritersWeekly showing me I had what it takes to make writing a career.