If you've been in a Barnes and Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, or other big chain bookstore you've probably noticed that they have a lot of books. A whole lot. Unless your book can sing and tap dance right off the shelves and into customers' hands, do you really think you have a chance of selling many books through these places? Here are some facts about these chains that many authors aren't aware of and what you can do about it.
Your Book Must Be Returnable To The Publisher
Yes, in order for your book to occupy a few glorious inches on the shelves of your local Barnes and Noble or any other big chain, your book must be returnable to your publisher. No big deal, you say? Well, suppose one of these chains puts in an order for five thousand books.
Although that sounds pretty great, it isn't when you look deeper. It doesn't actually mean you've sold these five thousand books. What it means is that it's available, right along side millions of other books, if and when someone happens to pick it up, like it, and buy it.
After a period of time your unsold books get sent back to the publisher, usually in pretty bad shape since they've been thumbed through or kicked around for awhile. How could you or your publisher resell them? You probably couldn't give away these battered books. The bookstore gets their money back and you don't get royalties on them.
Big Bookstores Get Deep Discounts
These chains get your book at wholesale, usually at a discount of 40% or more off the cover price. If and when you get your small royalty, which is around 5% to10% on print books, you're getting royalties on this discounted price, not the original cover price. Of course, some publishers may work differently, but this is very much the norm.
Smaller Book Stores Equals Bigger Profits
Get your book into smaller independent bookstores, even smaller chain stores, that specialize in your type of book. There are Christian bookstores, Metaphysical bookstores, and bookstores that specialize only in sci-fi or romances.
By getting your local area stores that specialize in your topic to sell your book you have a much greater chance of it getting into the hands of people who are interested in your type of book.
Don't Stop With Bookstores There Are Other Places To Sell Your Books
Think of any place that could be interested in what you've written. Say you wrote a book on teaching old dogs new tricks. You could talk to owners of pet stores, veterinarians, and groomers.
Offer workshops or speak for free at libraries, community centers, and groups related to the topic of your book in exchange for being able to offer your book for sale after the meeting or class.
By thinking that the only way to make it as an author is to get your book into the biggest stores in town you're holding yourself back and may be in for disappointment. Don't leave sales up to your publisher. By taking control of where your book is sold and concentrating on smaller businesses, you have a far better chance of making a name for yourself and selling more copies.
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