With large chain bookstores such as Barnes and Noble shutting down locations, one might think that brick and mortar bookstores are a thing of the past. However, while these big bookstores are decreasing, small independent stores are growing. In fact, a large number of book sales still come from physical bookstores. The question then becomes how to get your books at these locations.
Find the Right Bookstore for Your Audience
Know the Requirements
When an independent bookstore decides to sell your book, they are taking a risk. They are removing a book from their shelf — one that has been making them money — and replacing it with yours. Even if they like your book and want to sell it, they have no guarantee that they will sell any copies. This is a risk that can affect their business. That being said, don’t go about bragging about your Amazon.com success. This is their competition and in fact, some companies will refuse to sell books published through KDP, which is why options such as IngramSpark are best when it comes to distribution.
Libraries also have requirements, which vary city by city, so reach out to your local library and see what they require. Once you’ve met those requirements, request that they purchase your book. You could even have a family member or friend also submit a request that they purchase your book. Many libraries have a “request a book” option when the library doesn’t own a copy of what they’re looking for.
Establish a Relationship
Just like with any business opportunity, it is important to network and build relationships with potential clients. A great way to do this is by being a good customer — visit the bookstore or library, get to know them, their story, demographic, and what they look for in published authors. It’s just like applying for a job — it’s best to know about your employer before the interview. Find the right bookstore for your genre and approach them with confidence, knowing that your book is the right fit for their store. If they choose your book, they’re taking a risk, and you want to show them that this risk will be worth it.
Not sure who your target audience is? Check out this helpful podcast!
Networking and Marketing
Not only is it important to establish a relationship with the bookstore you plan on approaching, but you need to have a solid marketing plan in place. What are you going to do to help sell books at their store? This can be as simple as an ad campaign linking back to the store, letting readers know your book is available there. While you do this, continue to network with booksellers, authors, and others in the community that would benefit from your book. For example, if your book is related to businesses, consider reaching out to local business owners.
The most important object to keep in mind is getting to know the bookstores you plan on selling your books to — know what they require, their audience, and what they are looking for. Don’t try to sell a business book to a store that caters to fiction and fantasy. Find the best fit for you!