Publicity Tip #60
Whether you’re self-published or with a small traditional publisher, your book is likely not being stocked in the local bookstore. Why? With limited shelf space many bookstores only carry books from the big guys. Here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with bookstores get your share of the shelf space:
Know what you’re getting into
Know who to contact
Know how to make the approach
Know how to make sales
Know when to press your luck
The first thing to consider is why you want to have your book in one or more book stores. The answer to that is usually, “I want to reach the local market.” And why do you want to reach the local market… to make more sales. Now, if making sales equates to making money you need to sit down and do some important math.
Most big-name book stores like Chapters, Barnes & Nobel, or Books-a-Million will charge you 45% of your book price in order to have your book on their shelf for sale. If your book cost you $11 to have it printed (since you bought in bulk either from your self-pub printer or directly from your small-pub printer) and it’s listed at the suggested retail price of $20. You would be making $9 profit on every book sold – right?
Consider this – your book is average size for your niche market but the average suggested price for your average sized book on the shelf is $16. If you list your book at $20 then you seriously need to ask yourself, “Why would someone spend $4 more on my book than his book of the same topic?” So you consider dropping the in store price and offering a discount on your book to make it more appealing and competitive. That still leaves you with a profit of $3 right?
The reason the suggested retail price of your book is $20 in the first place means that your publisher/printer has taken into account that gouging from the big-bookstore and the $11 you make on the sale of your book literally pays for what you’re out of pocket. By lowering the price to $16 you would in fact be losing about $4 on the sale of every book.
Freak out time? Maybe, maybe not.
The more books you buy bulk from your supplier the lower the cost per book should be. If you’re able to get your costs down to less than $10 per book then you can consider lowering the retail price of your book. You will be on the higher end of your niche market, but with strategic marketing and contentious publicity you can still get your book into the hands of big-bookstore buyers… but you still won’t be making much, if any, profit.
So what do you?
Either buy more books by bulk (if you have the money and the space to store them and you honestly believe they will sell like hotcakes) or consider your local Independent Bookstores as an alternative. Most Indie bookstores charge around 30% for space and time on their shelves. That reduction of %15 give you, the author, a little more breathing room and a chance to make either more money or more sales depending on how you decide to price your book.
Yes, getting your book on the shelves of bookstores could help your sales and get your work in front of those particular shoppers but you need to know what your motivations are ahead of time.
Do the math.
Don’t lose profit.