MKTG #21 – BookStores

Hello, SE’ers! It’s Jan here to talk about another marketing avenue for Indie Authors. Unless you live in a tiny town, there is most likely a bookstore near you. So, I want to talk a little about how to convince them to take a chance with your books.

Image by Lubos Houska from Pixabay

There are a few things an author should consider before approaching a bookstore about carrying your book or books. That’s what I want to focus on today.

This first tip is a ‘don’t.’ Booksellers do not want to hear about your success on Amazon. Independent booksellers are in competition with Amazon, so even the mention of the giant will not be well-received. Also, it’s good to note that booksellers will not stock books published through Amazon KDP.

Before a bookseller will consider putting your book in their store, your book must have a valid ISBN. Those are purchased by the author directly through Bowker.

Be a good customer. It’s great to build a relationship with the bookseller before asking them to put your book on their shelves. Cultivate relationships with indie booksellers by purchasing books from their stores and encouraging your friends, family, and fans to do so as well. It makes sense to support your local independent bookstore before you ask them to support you. It’s one way to be a good literary citizen—and it’s good business, too.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

While you are in the bookstore, observe the customers. What are they picking up? That might give you a clue as to whether or not they will be interested in your book.

Niche bookstores carry only certain types of books. For example, there is a bookstore in Dallas called The Wild Detective. You can guess what genre they primarily focus on and what the readers expect to find when they go there. If you write romance or urban fantasy, this would most likely not be the best place to put your books.

If you want to sell your book to an independent bookstore, then consider the 55% wholesale discount and make it returnable. The book industry is a returnable industry, which means bookstores will expect to be able to return books they don’t sell and get credit for their return.

Another common way to get your books into independent bookstores is through consignment. Most often the terms are either 80/20 or 70/30 with the author receiving the larger amount. Usually, there is a time limit on the consignment. If the books don’t sell within the time period designated on the consignment agreement, you need to be prompt about picking them up. Always thank the bookseller! And it’s not a bad idea to give some small gift to show your appreciation, even if it’s a cup of coffee.

Talk to the bookseller about doing a book signing in the store. That is often a good way to break the ice with them and to help build a relationship. Almost all bookstores love having authors visit, especially if the author has any kind of local following.

Bookstores want to be around 90% sure they can sell a book before they put it on their shelves. One of the biggest things they consider is the quality of the book. Make sure your book is polished and free of errors so it can compete.

Price your book accordingly. It’s imperative your print books have a scannable bar code on the back cover with the price embedded in the code.

And last but not least, have a one-sheet you can hand to the bookseller. Don’t know what that is? That will have to be for another post.

Have you ever put any of your books in a store? Did you have any success? Let’s talk!

If you missed any of the Book Marketing Posts, you can revisit them here:

#MKTG Part 1 – OVERVIEW – BOOK MARKETING OPTIONS

#MKTG Part 2 – FACEBOOK ADS AND PASSION PAGES

#MKTG Part 3 – FACEBOOK ADS DETAILS

#MKTG Part 4 – TWITTER ADS

#MKTG Part 5 – INSTAGRAM

#MKTG Part 6 – PINTEREST

#MKTG Part 7 – IN-PERSON EVENTS

#MKTG Part 8 – GOODREADS

#MKTG Part 9 – AMAZON

#MKTG Part 10 – More AMAZON ADS

#MKTG Part 11 – AMAZON A+ CONTENT

#MKTG Part 12 – LinkedIn

#MKTG Part 13 – BOOKBub Ads

#MKTG Part 14 – Book Blog Tours

#MKTG Part 15 – Paid Book Blog Tours

#MKTG Part 16 – Rafflecopter

#MKTG Part 17 – TikTok

#MKTG Part 18 – Building an Email List

#MKTG Part 19 – Book Awards

#MKTG Part 20 – SCAMS

76 thoughts on “MKTG #21 – BookStores

  1. Pingback: MKTG #22 – Wrap-up | Story Empire

  2. Hi Jan, All my books meet the criteria for a book store currently, but I just haven’t gotten around to investigating any. I buy most of my books from Amazon. I am actually going to be trying out KDP for the first time soon. It’s an experiment that I feel I must try.

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  3. Pingback: MKTG #21 – BookStores — Story Empire | GeezWriter Blog

  4. One trick we’ve found makes everybody happy is to identify a public event in that bookstore’s town (the big city festival, county fair, parade day, whatever) and work together to put a table, booth, spot between here and there–whatever–that is sponsored (branded, signage, banner) by the bookstore. Meet the author (or several local authors, which ups the traffic). Example: We did the Slawburger Festival in Fayetteville, TN, let the lady running the local bookshop promote her store while handling sales for a cut while the author meet-and-greeted, signed, etc. with the message that people should discover local writers and support their local bookstore. She was thrilled for the exposure and now, two years later, she still sees people coming in to ask about that author and/or that book, which she has prominently stocked. DON’T JUST ASK FROM THE BOOKSTORES–OFFER SOMETHING, TOO. Thanks, Jan Sikes, for excellent advice.

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    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Stephen. You are right. We also need to offer something to the bookstore. It’s a great idea to get in on some sort of event. I set up a table outside on the sidewalk in front of a local bookstore once during Oktoberfest and did really well. I appreciate your comment and your contribution to the conversation! And thanks for reblogging!

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  5. We have two independent bookstores in my area and I have books in both of them. One approached me about adding my titles and the other picked up a few of my books after I did a signing there. Strangely, I seem to have more recognition through my local library. I admit I’m mostly clueless about this side of marketing and have stumbled into it more through blind luck.

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    • How awesome, Mae! You are fortunate to have that kind of a relationship with the bookstores. It is great! And I love that you stumbled into it. It’s also great that you have a good relationship with the libraries. I recently got three of my books into a library in McKinney, so I’m stoked about that. Thanks for visiting. I hope you have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. All great suggestions, Jan. I consider it an added luxury when a local bookstore agrees to carry our books. As you said, it’s essential to cultivate a relationship as one could potentially be doing business with a local bookstore for many years.

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    • I love your comment, Pete. It is an added luxury if a local bookstore would carry your books. But you nailed it when you talked about cultivating a relationship. I think that it the key. Thank you for stopping by! Have a great weekend.

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  7. Another great idea for authors and writers. Sadly for authors and writers in Germany. Here we have lost independent book stores, and all is only organized by the publishing industry. So, here we are the “Land of the not so Free”. 😉 Thanks for sharing all these great ideas, Jan! Will spread the word. Have a beautiful weekend! xx Michael

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    • I’m sorry to hear that, Michael. I know some countries do things differently, but how awful that you don’t have any independent bookstores. I’m sorry to hear that. Sometimes we don’t know how lucky we are. Thanks for chiming in and for sharing!

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  8. Great post. Some of my books are in the local bookshop. Lol- I really didn’t think that they would refuse me as I spend so much there. I just thought I would mention that I decided to take things a little further and not only use bookshops. I thought of all the places that had waiting rooms. I gave free copies of a collection of short stories to all the Doctors, surgeries, Dentists, Veterinarians, Hairdressers and barber shops that would take them. Not all did. I left a bunch of books with each. They get 20 percent of the cover price for each sale; I get the rest. Obviously, it is quite expensive to start with, but I usually get a couple of dozen sales a month from them. Worth thinking about.

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    • Thank you for sharing that, Ray! It’s a great idea, although, as you say, a little expensive. Anyplace people have to wait is a great place to put a book. I love your idea and hope it pays off with sales! I appreciate you adding to the conversation!

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  9. Great post, Jan 🙂 We have a few thriving bookstores in our area. I have never approached them though as of yet. I even knew a owner from our daughters going to school together who just retired. I felt like the story needed to be set locally to be able to promote it here. There is one I do shop at and did make the mistake of mentioning Kindle….lol. this is an a avenue I will try at some point though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that’s wonderful, Denise! You already have an ‘in.’ Just don’t mention kdp. 🙂 Your books are perfect for your area, especially Voice In The Silence. It’s worth a try. Good luck with it when you try. Let us know! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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  10. Loved this post, Jan. I never put my books in a book store, but I love going to them and have purchased several local author books.

    There is something about going to a book store and meeting a local author that writes what you like. That makes it a win-win for both the author and the store. A personal touch is always welcome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment validates my post about bookstores. There is something special about meeting a local author and picking up a book. It’s definitely a win-win. Thank you for chiming in today, Michele! Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

    • What a great idea, Judi. At least if they enjoyed your participation, they are more apt to go check out your books. Thanks for adding that to the conversation! You are right about meeting prospective readers. There is nothing that replaces that personal contact.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for the informative post, Jan. The nearest bookstore for me is over an hour away, but I have done signings there (with modest success), and I have left books there on commission (with no success). The personal touch seems key, and it’s a nice way to develop that important relationship with the seller too. My paperbacks are kdp which I can see is a problem for some retailers, but I don’t plan to change that. Bookstores haven’t been a huge success for me, but I do enjoy the face-to-face contact. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You make a great point, Diana. New readers are more apt to pick up your book if you’re sitting there in person and can chat. I’m glad to hear that this is something you’ve done. You are right about the kdp part. Booksellers shy away from those. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve had success with smaller bookstores, Jan. Like you mentioned, it’s important to establish a relationship with the bookstore owner/bookseller. In addition, look beyond bookstores and maybe into stores that reflect your genre. My books have a Scottish/Irish theme woven within them. I’ve reached out to Scottish stores within my state to stock my books (usually the first in a series), and enjoyed success there. Enjoy the Pecan Festival!

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    • What a great approach, Mary, to go for the stores that reflect your genre. I’m glad to hear you’ve had some success! Congrats on that. Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. Have a great weekend!

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  13. The nearest independent bookstore is several towns away. I visited often when our company was located in that town, but we moved in 2004 and that store has changed ownership. It might be worth visiting again, as you say, to find out what they have in stock. You’ve done a great job with this series. Good luck at the Pecan Festival.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. There’s a local bookstore about fifteen miles from where I live, and I’ve been planning to visit it. Your post is an incentive to do so. Thank you, Jan. You’ve some great suggestions! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Friday Free For All! – Writing and Music

  16. I’m like Harmony – in small village, and the one bookshop in the nearest town closed a decade or so ago. If I lived closer to one, I’d definitely be following your advice here. It’s always possible that one will open near us in the future. Your marketing series has been genuinely helpful and full of sage advice -thanks!

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  17. Pingback: MKTG #21 – BookStores | Legends of Windemere

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