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How to get your book in bookstores—and why you shouldn’t

You walk through the entryway doors to a crisp, air-conditioned oasis. All around you, in every direction, are shelves and rows of adventures, memoirs, histories, education . . . books. And there, right in the front of the store, you behold the beauty of the coveted bestseller shelves. And lining the top row . . . there it is . . . your masterpiece, YOUR BOOK. You glance over to the checkout counter only to behold that every customer in line has a copy eagerly in hand. “Cha-ching!” you hear in your mind.

As dreamy as this image may be, there is, unfortunately, a very slim number of authors who will achieve this type of success for their published books. Nevertheless, if you’re bound to get your work onto bookstore shelves, here are a few ways to help you get there.

  • Develop a Pitch and Be Prepared:

    People are busy. Prepare a concise and well-rehearsed pitch, and keep copies of your book with you at all times—you never know when someone will want to buy one on the spot! Consider developing a flyer or press kit that contains your contact information, website or blog URL, social media handles, book synopsis, pricing details, and any other relevant information. Be sure to include special highlights or impressive accomplishments (e.g., writing awards, social media stats, blog traffic, etc.).

  • Start Local:

    Everyone loves a town hero. Get acquainted with the bookstores and libraries in your community, specifically their managers and decision-makers. Find local shops where your book’s subject might be a good fit. If you have a reliable number of family and friends that would attend an organized book event, see if a local shop or library would be willing to host it. Your book is much more likely to be given a fighting chance if you garner the support of your local community and move forward from there.

  • If At First You Don’t Succeed . . . Try, Try Again:

    Book publishing is a tough industry. According to the International Publishers Association Annual Report of October 2013-2014, the U.S. alone published nearly 305,000 books. That’s some heavy competition! Therefore, expect rejection, but always think in the long-term. As you build relationships, maintain them. Keep buyers informed of your successes by sharing flyers or business cards directing people to good reviews of your book. Be creative in your offerings. If a bookstore isn’t willing to buy several copies up front, offer a few copies of your book on consignment. (Then be sure they sell out!) If acquiring physical shelf space is not an option, see if your e-book can be promoted. Celebrate each little victory and move on to the next.

  • Attend Industry Events:

    There are several bookseller and publishing associations throughout the country. If you want to learn from and network with buyers, storeowners, and publishing professionals, it is helpful to find ways to involve yourself with these organizations and attend trade shows and writing conferences. Again, start building relationships with the local groups first, and you may find potential sponsors and supporters to help you along the way to even bigger opportunities.

  • Get Them to Call YOU:

The best way to get yourself into bookstores is to create such a demand that buyers are calling you! There are many creative ways to market your book to audiences yourself. Harness the power and influence of social media. Create an author page or blog and establish a strong following. Get involved with book blogs and forums in your genre. Reach out to influential bloggers and book reviewers to do blog tours, offer guest blog posts, and get your book reviewed. Build up a strong following for your book, prove that it sells, and stores will be dying to get it on their shelves!

While it is incredibly desirable and admirable to get your book onto bookstore shelves, there are several factors to consider before you decide to pursue the bookstore route. For instance, take a look at the following points:

  • Most bookstores require a 55% to 65% discount off the book’s retail price.
  • National distributors take another 25% to 35% discount on the wholesale price.
  • Some bookstores charge $40 to $50 per month in storage fees.
  • Don’t forget to include your marketing costs.
  • By the time the profit arrives, you may be splitting a whopping $3 per book with your publisher.
  • Furthermore, in order to avoid the risk of books going unsold, bookstores require that your books be returnable. This leaves you with the risk of having to take back the books you thought you sold and then offer full refunds.

 

Doesn’t sound so dreamy anymore, does it?

Whatever you decide, the team at Sourced Media Books will help you get there. We offer a wide range of publishing services in both traditional and print-on-demand models. Our experienced professionals will also direct you in the publicity and marketing of your published book. But be prepared to work hard and put yourself out there. There will be bumps in the road, but don’t get discouraged. Just learn from them and move on. If you are unable to get that coveted bookstore shelf space you were hoping for, utilize print on demand fulfillment and focus on marketing and growing your online community. You may yet achieve every writing success you’ve ever dreamed of.