Doesn’t it seem like a dream come true to get your book into a book store such as Barnes and Noble? Ah, to see your book flying off the shelves in a “real” book store….. a store with thousands of books; hundreds in your genre; many traditionally published by the big guys; all languishing, sad and unnoticed.
How do you feel about this? Is it worth the effort to actually get you book on these shelves? I wonder. It is a fact that the big publishers are making a great deal of money- reportedly more than ever and even less to the authors than previously. The world hasn’t turned exclusively to the online retailers yet. There are still those readers who want to hold a book –even if the price between a print books and ebook can be extreme. The usual cry is “what is better selling 2 books at $30 each or 20 at $3. I would say the 20 books because the more readers you have the better chance you have of establishing the much desired word-of-mouth needed to make your book a best seller (not necessarily a big money maker). I believe the success of a book is based on the number of sales and not the revenue.
So if it isn’t necessarily worth the work to get your book into the big brick and mortar book sellers, and online retailers haven’t grab all the market (yet!) how do you sell copies of your book to readers? First it is important to understand that no matter how your book got onto those shelves, once they are there, they are equal as they sit on the shelf whether it is published by you or Penguin. Ask most readers and they don’t actually take much, if any, notice of the Penguin stamped on a book cover as they browse the choices. You do however grab a reader’s attention with a good cover and title. Once a reader picks your book up to check it out, the blurb will turn them off or have them checking out more. They may even read a paragraph or more before heading to the check-out. Then, before you become their next favorite author and searching for more of your work, you need to write a good book which has been meticulously edited. That is all there is to it! HaHa-
Back in September 2014 we posted a blog about being creative in marketing your book and it is an even bigger topic today with so many book chains struggling. So again we ask – is it worth the pressure- and disappointment- of trying to get on their shelves?
Everyone knows the story of how John Grisham sold books out of the back of his car at fairs. A creative and successful way to get attention and readers. I bet he had little competition in that arena and attracted more attention for being the only book seller on the row of venders.
Authors and readers alike have shared with us creative ways to sell books without competing with the thousands on dusty shelves. We will share many of their thoughts and ideas with you here:
First, know your audience. Then, hunt for stores, events, fairs and clubs that share an interest with your topic.
How about getting a table at a Renaissance Fair or Historical re-enactment event. While at a Civil War re-enactment held yearly in Wisconsin, I saw a couple of authors selling their books to a respectable number of visitors who shared their interest in that event in American history and, more importantly, they weren’t competing with hundreds of other books. There are so many of these events celebrating just about every event and era in history.
Have you thought about selling your romance novels in lingerie shops? I bet your book would be the only one display and a great cover would attract gift buyers.
Children’s books in local children’s boutiques or toy shop?
Local coffee shops are often a gold mine! Bring all you family and friends to guarantee their coffee sales and post professional posters and enjoy sharing your books with those stopping by for a coffee break. Many coffee shops even have books shelves for their readers to enjoy and a great place to donate a few books!
What about asking your veterinarian to display your book about animals in their clinic and donating a portion of profits to animal welfare groups?
Books featuring dogs would be great at the many local dog shows and training programs.
Fund raising events of all kinds would be happy to give you a place to sell appropriate books if you donate the profits.
What about contacting local social groups. I once belonged to a mother’s group when my children were young that invited all sorts of speakers for free entertainment and an opportunity to sell books at the end of the program. It can’t hurt to call and ask if they might be interested!
2 authors we know shared a table provided by a small book store at a local street fair. The authors sold ALL of the books they had brought with them and created a lot of traffic for the book store.
Even more fun would be to contact some other local authors or your writing group and see if they would like to join you and share the work, fun and success.
Marketing takes imagination and a bit of work – OK, a lot of work. But, knowing your audience and finding a way to get in front of them can result in a lot of sales and maybe, just maybe, the buzz to make you the next John Grisham!