Thursday, March 14, 2013

Getting On Bookshelves...

Okay, yesterday was a big day for me.  My novel "THE BRIDGE" is now available in two 'brick-and-mortar' bookstores.  How did I make this happen?  Are sales jumping through the roof?  Is my name out there so much that fans are demanding it be available everywhere?  Two words.... I WISH!

No, the simple truth is when you're an Indie Author (someone who has published through Createspace or other means to make a printed copy of your book), you have to do a lot of things yourself.  One of them is marketing and getting your book into stores.  Now, if you've done a good job marketing and your sales on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites are going really well, you might land up in bookstores.  Some chains look to those sites to see what's the hottest sellers going and is it available in print form.  They don't want to be left out of the loop and fall behind.  But you have to have great sales for that to happen.  But if you're just starting out and are still building your reputation, you have to do research and make inquiries to bookstores about getting your work on their shelves.

Now, one of those methods is 'consignment'.  And that's what I did with these two bookstores.  Consignment is where the bookstore will split the profit on every sale of your book, in return for letting your product be on their shelves.  Now remember, space is a premium at a bookstore.  They want things on their shelves that's going to sell and not just gather dust forever.  So consignment arrangements can take two forms.  One is a straight split 50/50 or you can be charged a fee plus a portion of the sales.  Now I encountered both types.  One store is giving me a 60/40 split in my favor, but also charged small fee.  Now to me, this was fair and reasonable since I'm also an artist.  I'm used to this kind of arrangement because it's used in some art galleries.  You're renting space inside that business and they are taking a risk in the respect that if you don't sell at all that they still get a little something for having that space occupied inside their business by work that is not generating any profit for them.  The other store, went for a straight 50/50 split with me.  

Now, in both cases, the books are going to be on their shelves for the next 6 months.  So for at least 1/2 a year, my books have a presence out there where people can see it and become intrigued.  I also took the precaution of autographing all of them to help entice prospective buyers.  Plus I also made mention that these were 1st edition, signed copies.  Again, another method of trying to entice buyers.  People are always hoping that they might have a piece of something that becomes a big thing down the road.  And 1st edition, signed copies can be worth a lot down the road if that happens.

But that's not enough.  I have to get the word out that these stores are now carrying my work to help increase the sales.  Because the more that happens, the stores will want more copies.  Plus they'll also want the work to stay on their shelves even longer and be asking about future books you have coming out.  Now, am I finished approaching bookstores and asking if they carry Indie Author books?  Absolutely not.  I'm still building my reputation.  I've covered the local area stores, now I have to spread out farther.  The next towns are on my list, and contacting friends through FB, LinkedIn, my blogs, etc. and asking them if they know of bookstores where they live that would be interested in carrying copies of my book.  When you are starting out, building the reputation and getting your work known is ALL UP TO YOU!  I know I'd rather be working on the sequels, but they are going to go nowhere without the first one building a following.  

To that end, I'm in talks with 2 radio stations for interviews.  I'm also putting together press release packages and researching where to send them to (newspapers, magazines, television stations, etc.).  Some are going to go nowhere, others will be given a chance and help get my name out there.  But I'm the one who has to take the initiative and make it happen.  And so do you.  That's how we build ourselves up and gain fans.  

Amazon and Smashwords are great starts, especially when it comes to reviews.  But you need a lot of reviews to get that reputation going.  So far I've got only 6 on Amazon, all of them 4 and 5 stars (split between the Kindle version and the Paperback version).  However, I need a lot more.  If you'd like to see some of these reviews here's the link to see what people are saying.  If you like what you're seeing and would like to help out, please share the link and help spread the word.  That's another method for letting people know you've got a book out.  Using your network of friends and asking flat out "Can you help spread the word?"  And be willing to reciprocate down the road when friends ask you to do the same for them.  Thanks again and take care all.  And keep writing.