Placing in BookstoresIt can be extremely challenging to get your books put onto book store shelves. You might think a bookstore has a ton of shelves - but there are millions of books out there vying to get those spots. It is a very tight market. The key usually is to drum up interest in the book, so that people are asking for it, and the bookstore realizes it's going to make them money to have the book.
Remember, book stores generally aren't out for charity reasons. They want to make money. If you can prove your book will sell, they'll gladly sell it! They aren't going to take a chance with books that will sit on their shelves, costing them money, though. It's not their responsibility to "trust you". It's your responsibility to prove to them that your books will make them money.
You do this by hosting a book signing there. Bring in lots of family, friends and visitors with a wide variety of publicity options. When the bookstore sees the book sells - and they make that all important personal contact with you - they're likely to keep a few books on the shelves after that!
Important note - book stores want to make a profit on the book sale. They don't want to pay you $9.99 for a book, sell it for $9.99 to the customer, and make zero profit for the work they did. They have to make a profit and often they're looking to make 100% profit. They want to get a book for $5.00 and then sell it for $9.99. That means if you have a "list price" on your book at Amazon and even written on the book itself that says $9.99, and you then give it to them for $9.99, they are going to be unhappy. They will always want the "wholesale price" - a much lower price. That way they can mark it up to the actual sale price when it's on the shelf.
Depending on what your current pricing is, this might mean you have to "subsidize" the book store in order to reach a larger audience. That is, say your base author purchase price for your book is $6. Say you want to sell it for $8 on Amazon. Even if you sell it to the book store at $6, they might not find a $2 per book profit is enough to deal with the hassle. You may need to sell it to them for $4. This could get it on the shelves, which would be cool for you, and part of your marketing engine. If there's enough volume in this, you might consider raising your Amazon purchase price to $12 and that way the book store can match that and be happy paying $6 per book. It's all about balancing your markets and finding the price point which works best.
For smaller book stores and gift stores related to your theme topic, try writing them a presentation letter. Explain how well your book will sell in their area, making them money. Remember, they don't care about your talents or why you want to sell your book! They only care that the book will appeal to their customers and make them money. Write the letter to explain how well your book will sell for them.
You can also write internet stores. These could be specialty book stores, stores which focus on the region you live in, or stores that cover the topic you wrote about. They might ask for a physical stock to ship out themselves. On the other hand, they might simply link to your Amazon sale entry - which is fine! Easy for them, more publicity for you.
The key overall is to get your book listed and available in as many places as humanly possible. You never know where an individual interested customer might be!
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