There’s probably an independent bookstore in your town. You, an author, want your books in physical bookstores because readers can browse there and discover–something that’s much easier in a bookstore than online.
So you’d like this local bookstore to carry and sell your books and make money for you, not to mention find new readers for you.
How do you get the ball rolling?
First, you may need to change your expectations.
Bookstores make a living buying books at wholesale (40 percent off or more) and selling them at retail, not a huge margin. If your books are print-on-demand with high printing costs, you may not be making money off this. But consider it prospecting for new readers and be willing to consider “break-even” a good thing.
Many local bookstores will take local author books and put two or three on the shelves somewhere. Depending on how visible they are, this might attract browsers, or it might not.
To help, you can figure out how to help your bookstore do its job. Here are some suggestions.
- Consider how you can help facilitate their mission. Be ready to help bring in traffic by offering to do a writers’ workshop, host a book club group, etc.
- Prepare some bookmarks to put at the cash register. Do not put an Amazon link on such a bookmark. Instead, you might say, “Available at your favorite local bookstore.” Take in 25 autographed bookmarks at a time, and revisit every month to see if they need more. Offer to autograph the books you’ve left there, too.
- Don’t ask them for anything.
- Never answer a question they didn’t ask.
- Give them stuff with no agenda except to bless the bookstore.
- Be ready with a 60-second pitch on your book, if requested.
(This information comes from a workshop I attended hosted by Suzanne and Shawn Kuhn of SuzyQ consultants, book marketing experts.)