Today’s post is by author and Grammar Factory editor Sara Litchfield. Sara is the author of dystopian thriller The Night Butterflies, and recently discovered that as a self-published author, getting your book in stores on the shelf of a major bookstore chain can be as easy as simply asking the question. Read on for her top five tips on how to get your book in stores.
How to get your book in stores
It’s easy to live in an online world once you’ve self-published a book.
With the Kindle, iPad, Nook, Kobo, even phones large enough to read on these days, it’s no wonder some bookshops are struggling. Then there’s the wonderful and cost-saving print-on-demand model, and the ability to set up a shop on your website or gain an income through affiliate links. Sales efforts can become something of a social media spiral, tempting people to click links and download – to comment, to like, to share.
I’m an energetic social media butterfly on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Goodreads. I have a website, a book landing page, an Amazon author page, as well as LinkedIn and Who’s Who profiles. I’m on Instagram, Pinterest, even Ello. With one click, there’s an array of content at my fingertips.
With one click, there’s a new book on my Kindle. Often for less than the cost of a cup of coffee, sometimes even for free. When was the last time you needed to go to a library?
However, while I embrace the digital era, for me, there’s nothing like turning the pages of a bound book. There’s nothing like seeing your title in print and spying it in a shop where you can browse book upon book, surrounded by shelves, rubbing shoulders with readers. These are magic words.
And many book lovers still seek that magic too.
People are aware they can buy a book cheaper on Amazon – whether eBook or discounted paperback – but they will often pay a premium for holding the product in their hands before they buy, and having it instantly. Meanwhile, you can’t catch the attention of your impulse/opportunistic buyers (the kind I turn into when I have time to kill in an airport bookshop) if you’re not on the shelf in front of them. And then there’s the added credibility of saying that your book is available at Dymocks or W H Smith or Barnes & Noble…
So how can you get that coveted shelf space?
While it can be much more daunting to walk in to a shop and speak to someone than it is to email, post, or tweet; It can be much more rewarding too. Here are some tips to get you started.
5 tips to get your book in book stores
1. Start local
Then, when you spread your wings farther afield, you have home to refer to. I think one thing I wasn’t expecting was how happy complete strangers were for me that I had this book in my hands, self-made. They took joy in my success because I was from their neck of the woods – it’s been lovely.
2. Approach libraries
This can give you the confidence and starting block from which to approach shops. Unlike an eBook, which can’t be shared easily from one reader to the next, a library is where you can touch unlimited lives. My first stop was my local library in Queenstown, NZ, where the librarians were just lovely. They took my book away for review, and it was the boost from their accepting it and purchasing it for their collection that fueled my next moves.
3. Don’t let scale deter you
You really have nothing to lose. I’ve hit a common stumbling block – some shops and libraries only deal with book distribution companies. It can be too much trouble for them to set up independent publishers as suppliers. Having spoken to a couple of these companies, I would have to pay to print a large print-run, provide it to them, and then just hope that their reps would be able to sell the whole run to the shops, at which point I would receive 30% of an agreed-upon price. I shall wait to become more well-established before revisiting whether it is worth it. You may assume that many big names will require such a middle-man, but this isn’t the case. When I approached Whitcoulls in NZ, they stuck to their policy, but they did still ask me to send them a copy of my book for review when I spoke to their buyer at head office. Meanwhile, I signed as a consignment author with Dymocks in Adelaide on the spot, and will receive 60% of sales in return for keeping in touch.
4. Keep it warm
If you can’t find someone to speak to, ask for a better time to come back, or for a name and a number. And have the details of the person who has given them to you, so you have a reference when you speak to them. I’m not a fan of cold calling, and I think the quality of our interactions speak more than the quantity of them. Being able to say that someone referred you improves that quality.
5. Keep records
Build a CV for your book, as well as yourself. Add to the list of where it is available, so you can point someone down the street to a physical shelf as well as to an online platform.
An internet presence is a pre-requisite these days, but if this journey’s taught me anything, it’s how important the physical realm remains.
Best of luck with your book in both spaces!
Sara is the author of dystopian thriller The Night Butterflies.She is one of our lovely editors at Grammar Factory, and also blogs on happiness and hope at www.rightinkonthewall.com, which is also home to her editing business and publishing division, RIW Press – all aim to make the right mark on the wall of the world. Born in the English midlands, Sara earned a Masters in Theology at the University of Cambridge before becoming a reluctant big-four accountant in London. She is now recovering in the southern hemisphere, where she devotes herself to all things words and wonderful from her base in Middle Earth (sometimes known as New Zealand).