Last week we talked about how to get into bookstores and looked at the things you needed to know before you began actually speaking to stores and asking if they would consider carrying you. I also mentioned some of the basic stuff about making sure that your book was market ready. If you read up on it last week and didn’t think you were quite ready, you might consult my step by step roadmap to Indie Publishing that will walk you through getting your book fully saleable.
Another great resource to help with this (which includes the above article) is my book The Indie Author’s Bible
Now onto some of the practical things you can do in order to get carried on a bookstore.
You can pay a service that pitches titles to stores in the hopes that they will be carried by them. Ingram has a catalogue called Advance that they send to stores.
Have a friend request and buy a copy through the store and suggest that they carry it once it has arrived and the store has seen it as a quality product.
Call the store and make the request; this is often easiest when you are trying to set up a signing for a future date. You will want to speak to the manager in all likelihood.
Ask if they have a local author section you could be placed in.
Look for long-ranged events on the community calendar that fit your book’s genre (knitting convention happening nearby in July? July would be a great time for them to carry your book on yarn crafts and host a signing.)
Call and ask something like this. “I was just wondering if you were able to see XYZ Book in your system? Do you carry it on your shelf? Actually, I’m the author… I was wondering if you would consider buying a copy to carry in order to see if there is any local demand.”
Guerilla warfare. I’ve heard from some authors who have actually brought their own books in to chain stores and placed the book on the shelf and left it there. It’s a giveaway at that point, but could end up falling into someone’s hands who wants it (though you will make no money on the sale and risk angering a manager who will inevitably need to deal with trying to sell a product that’s not in their system.)
If it is a bookstore that does consignment, make sure you discuss which option you want. Run the numbers, you might actually make more money with a consignment option, depending on what your books cost and what it’s priced at.
Ask if you can leave some free bookmarks at the store whether or not they agree to carry you on the shelf. It may help create a demand and allow you to turn a No into an eventual Yes.
Remember: The chief thing concerns for you are 1. Cutting through the noise and being discovered (this is why I recommend speaking to the book buyers rather than sending mail or email. Phone is okay, in person is better.) 2. Being seen as legitimate. You want to be professional and have a book that is at the top of it’s game. These days, everyone is an author. You have to give the store a reason to be carried on the shelf. There is so much available supply that you must fight for space, so put your gloves on and get in the ring (make the phone call to your nearest store.)
We will continue this topic next week and talk about tips for self-promotion so be sure to follow this blog!