Dealing with Bookstores 101 – Pt. 5

Publicity Tip #64

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 hand shaketo 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

We’ve all been given the advice “Don’t Give Up” or “Keep at It” and while this is very pertinent to most aspects in the field of writing, you have to be careful when it comes to marketing yourself and publicizing your work.

If you push too hard, you might lose an opportunity.

This is especially true when dealing with people – either selling your book in person at a signing or talking to consignment reps. I have dealt with some branches of big name stores that just keep saying, “We’re full right now and won’t be taking on any more independent clients until such-and-such a time” over and over again every time I call.

I’ve also tried to connect with some reps who don’t email back in a timely manner and I begin to wonder if they even got my last message. The general rule of thumb here is to give them 2 weeks before sending a follow up message. If you can find out when they’ll actually be working in the store, stop by and introduce yourself if you can scrape the time together – sometimes the reps behave better in person.

However, if a rep says they’re not taking on ANY consignment books or refuses to give you details to try and get in on the next round of options, then just walk away. Find another store. Honestly, the frustration is not worth it and you don’t want them to spread the word to head office that you’re a bad author to work with.

When in doubt, leave it be.

If you find this is your life motto then you’ll need to consider carefully what kind of responses you’re getting from these people. If it’s indifferent or you feel ignored, then take the risk and send a follow up email or voice message. If you’re sensing tension or any level of hostility then follow your instinct and leave it alone.

The same is true for dealing with potential readers. When you’re at these bookstore events you have to carefully consider who your target market is. If your readership is potentially quite wide and your book is likely to speak to a lot of different people, then you have the luxury of being more forward in your sales pitches. But if you’re not a naturally social creature, selling your sci-fi novel might be a bit harder. I’m being generous in saying that 1 in 15 people are science fiction readers and even then you have to consider whether you write hard or soft sci-fi… so you’ll need to create realistic goals for yourself and experiment with new ways to pull readers into your gravitational field.

Above all, go forth with confidence and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Show people why you love this book and let your excitement catch their interest.

If selling in bookstores is a goal of yours, know that it can be done 🙂

Good luck!

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