If you're an independent author, chances are you've been brainstorming ways to market your book. You've probably heard that it's possible to consign or sell your book to local bookstores. While this may seem like an intimidating concept, it's actually a common way for authors to get their books on shelves.
In fact, most indie bookstores are on the lookout for local authors. They choose authors with several factors in mind. Before teaming up with a local bookstore to sell your book, make sure you meet the bookstore's requirements before meeting with the owner. So what is it that indie bookstores look for in a local author?
Will Your Book Fit in at the Bookstore?
A bookstore owner wants to make sure your book aligns with their customers. Niche bookstores will only carry a certain genre of literature. Know your genre and your target reader. Be able to accurately and concisely explain what your book is about. That way, the bookstore will have a better idea if it fits with their readership.
Before you approach a bookstore owner, research his or her background first. Get a feel for the shop’s customers and the types of books they promote and sell. When you do meet with the owner, use this information in your pitch. If they have a certain type of customer that will be interested in your book, mention it.
Are You Dedicated to Your End of The Bargain?
It's the bookstore's job to sell your book, not market it. Busy bookstores may be approached by authors often, and they are probably inundated with consignment offers on any given day. You will be expected to fulfill your end of the bargain in the form of marketing. The bookstore wants your book to sell, but don't expect the store to do the legwork for you. Have a solid marketing plan in place, and let the bookstore owner know what it is. It will show them that you have initiative and confidence that your book will sell.
What Are Your Printing and Returns Capabilities?
Keep in mind that a bookstore is not likely to buy a thousand books from you outright. They want to be sure your book will sell before they take on a large volume. If you're self-published, print-on-demand services are a cost-effective way to get your book out there. A bookstore will be more likely to buy your book if the distributor has return capabilities. Bookstores don't generally take Createspace publications because they don't allow returns.
Is it Worth it For Them?
Bookstores expect a 40% or higher discount on your book, so you should account for that from the start. A bookseller won't want to deal with inconvenient distribution, either. When they work with distributors, they can order, sell, and invoice books in bulk. But working with indie authors means they have to do all of this individually with each author. Using a reputable distributor for your book will be more convenient for the bookstore.