Publicity Tip #63
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 how to make sales
Know when to press your luck
Wouldn’t it be lovely to place your books on the shelf of a bookstore, wait for a few weeks and then get a cheque for sales without, essentially, having lifted a finger?
Unfortunately that rarely happens. Most people who enter a brick and mortar book store are looking for something specific – they have their go-to genres, their favourite authors and that short list from their good friends of books they ‘have’ to read.
Now, I’m not saying that readers don’t browse – they do – but they need to make time to do this and time is a luxury in this day in age. Whether your book is available online or in a physical book store you are going to have to get the word out so that:
A) Readers know you exist
B) They’re drawn in/interested
C) They know where to buy your book
That means marketing yourself in the locality of every book store you have your book on consignment in. Otherwise you risk having your book sit there and sit there and sit there until your consignment period is up and the manager/owner asks you to clear the shelf space for someone new.
Find out what your local radio stations are and send a press release with a request to be spotlighted on so-and-so’s program (make sure you’re aware of what they offer their listeners) to talk about being an author/publishing/writing/etc. and let people know about your new book. If you get some air-time make sure you tell the listeners twice where they can buy your book locally – once at the beginning when you introduce yourself and once at the end as a call to action.
Whenever you participate in an event make sure you have a sign that clearly states : Available in print at ________ so that people who are interested but are shy or don’t have cash on hand know where they can find your work when the event is over.
Propose a one-off article to your local newspapers that focuses on either a theme from your book or the field of writing/publishing in general. Go in with two solid pitches and make sure they’ll let you list a short bio at the end of your piece that mentions your latest book and where to buy it.
Talk to people. Wherever you go, find a way to casually mention that you’re an author or drop a line like, “I wish I could relax, with my new book out things are crazier than ever.” That way you’re not “spamming” conversations but making the references relevant to what is being asked of you or discussed. People will invariably say in one way or another, “Oh – you’re a writer? What do you write?” Don’t sluff-off this opportunity – have your elevator pitch ready and tell them.
The point is, you need to get the word out to the local reading public that you exist and you have a fabulous book they’ll want to read. If you leave it to chance that they’ll happen to notice your book just because it’s sitting on a shelf in a store somewhere, you’ll be waiting for a long time.
Dealing with bookstores is a two-way street. Once you get the shelf-space you can only keep it if your book doesn’t sit there for long.