Get Shelved: 5 Tips for Being Stocked by Bookstores

Though many people buy books online, it’s not just gratifying to see your title on a bookstore’s shelf—it’s also smart business. We still like to hold something in our hands before we buy it. When a book is on the shelf, a reader can find it even when they’re browsing the store for other things. And you cannot put a price on the worth of the passion of a bookseller selling your book face-to-face to a reader.

Here are a few points to consider as you go for the bricks-and-mortar gold:

Be proactive. Start early when it comes to your relationships with stores and your relationships with readers.

  • Buy books yourself from the bookstores you want to carry your book. You’re not bribing them—and they still don’t have to stock your book; instead, you’re becoming a part of their community and putting action behind your words. Do you want the store to be around to sell your book? Shop there yourself.
  • Introduce yourself as a new author. Engage with their stores on social media.
  • If you plan to travel, contact bookstores there ahead of your visit. Ask if you can stop by and bring copies of your book to show them. (It helps if you have ties to that community and/or your book’s subject matter connects to that store’s customers.)
  • Be prepared to share a sample of your book with booksellers.
  • Consider placing your book on consignment to independent bookstores. Often, independent bookstores already have a consignment process in place. With this method, stores don’t risk funds on a currently unknown, new author; you get immediate placement on the shelf. It’s a win-win!
  • Know your target market, where they can be found, what they enjoy, and how you plan to get your book in front of this market. Bookstores want people to request and buy your book. If a bookseller believes you have done the work to nurture an audience, they are more likely to want to carry your book on their shelves.

Think about your book from the bookseller’s perspective.

  • What’s in it for them if they carry it?
  • How will your book delight their customers?
  • How can selling your book make the store money?
  • Will it bring them some positive new media exposure?

Be confident in answering those questions when you meet with the bookseller. Focusing on these questions also helps steer you away from the temptation of bulk emailing. Each store is unique—treat them as such and engage in one-on-one emails or, better yet, call or visit in person.

Make sure your book is available in multiple formats. Give book buyers as many choices as possible. Hardback and large print are essential to bookstores. Audiobooks and eBooks are also great, especially for those stores with smaller physical spaces. Make it easy for the seller to sell to everyone, regardless of their preferred format.

Make sure your books are returnable. If a bookstore buys your book, and it doesn’t sell, they have three options, and only one works in their favor: (1) return it to the wholesaler to get their money back, (2) mark the book down to a clearance price to get it off their shelves, or (3) throw the book away.

The bookstore loses some or all its money with those second two options. A returns option, however, is like an insurance for them. It lowers the risk when it comes to carrying your book. This is especially important when you aren’t a well-known author who’s proven your books can and will sell.

Schedule a book event or signing. Both you and the store will appreciate a captivated audience who are sure to buy copies and may purchase other items while in the store. Remember that hosting an event, in person or online, is work for bookstore staff and can appear risky since they need to commit to ordering several copies of your book so that everyone in the audience can buy. For this reason, ramp up your marketing efforts to fill those seats. Offer to write something for the store’s newsletter and let the local press know you’re available for interviews. Record the event so that you can use clips in future marketing efforts.

Outskirts Press’s Publishing Consultants can help you set your book price and establish a returns program for your book (we call it Retail Returns). In addition, our Book Marketing Specialists can guide you in developing a sound book marketing plan, including using our First Chapter Preview option, which sends an excerpt of your book to more than 3,000 independent bookstores. This excerpt will also go to libraries, reviewers, and other select readers. And, of course, all our top publishing services include Ingram wholesaler distribution and availability, the top pick of most booksellers, big and small.

Connect with a Publishing Consultant today to learn how Outskirts Press can help YOU publish YOUR masterpiece:  

3 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Plan

Book Marketing Specialists Outskirts Press

Almost every blog, workshop, and website about self-publishing advocates for creating a book marketing plan even before your book has been printed.

You will already have read about several marketing methods, from virtual book tours to book signings to book fair partnerships to glossy mailings featuring your book. Have you followed that advice?

Sometimes, even when we answer “yes” to this question, our sales numbers may not reflect our hard work and the (usually) good advice we receive. You might even be following—to the letter—every piece of advice you’ve been given. So, how could this be? And more importantly, how do we fix the problem?

The simple truth is that your book’s marketing plan may have a fatal flaw, and this flaw may be costing you sales. And truthfully, this is a common problem among self-publishing authors, which means you’re not alone. But rest assured, we’ve figured out some surefire ways to troubleshoot the issues.

Instead of looking at your book marketing plan as an “enemy” actively working against you, ponder these three questions. Your answers might just help reshape your marketing plan to be more insightful, effective, and successful at moving your book off the bookstore shelves.

  1. Have you clearly defined your target market? When you wrote your first book, you just knew that everyone would love it. It would make you the talk of the town (or maybe even the talk of the nation . . . or globe). It would be the “it” book everyone would want to read. But . . . that’s a rather lofty goal. Many might even say it’s an impossible goal, in that even the most successful authors (like Stephen King, Tom Clancy, and Jan Karon) cannot reach everyone with their books. And that’s fine; they have developed loyal followings among readers who are committed to them and their books. That’s where their success lies, and even if you’re not a blockbuster breakout success on the scale of a Stephen King, one can learn from that core truth: loyal followings sell books. How, then, do you seek them out? First, ignore all the white noise, and dispense with the idea that your book is for everyone. There isn’t a book on earth that’s for everyone. So, who is your book for? Who is your intended audience? Start locking in the details, from demographic information like age and occupation to the qualities people look for in books. Define your target audience with care and with specificity. If you can’t name some specific characteristics, you can’t market to them.
  2. Have you figured out what differentiates your book from the other books available to your target market? Can you tell us why your book is both different from and better than any other book on the market in its genre? Is there a lesson taught in your book? Are your characters easier to relate to? There has to be a reason why readers want to buy your spy thriller instead of the latest from John le Carré. As daunting as it is to consider as a competitor THE AUTHOR who leads the pack in terms of sales in your genre, doing so will help you figure out your book’s strengths. You aren’t just churning out another Vince Flynn action book; you’re publishing a book with its own strengths of plot and character. Find out what makes your book special and use that as your unique value proposition . . . in marketing as well as every other context.
  3. Have you updated your book marketing plan lately? The book marketing industry, like any other, evolves with blinding speed. If you don’t keep your plan up to date, it can quickly become irrelevant, and your book sales will flag. Therefore, we recommend that authors review and update their book marketing plan at least once a year and make sure to get eyes other than their own on their plan. Having that external insight is vital to ensuring that every detail of your marketing plan serves a purpose!

Have your book sales been flagging, and you can’t figure out why? Perhaps it’s time to consult with one of our Book Marketing Specialists. Right now, Outskirts Press is offering an instant 10% savings off the regular price of $349 when you claim 5 hours of 1-on-1 marketing assistance with one of our book marketing specialists. Enter promo code salebms at checkout to instantly receive 10% off.

So, are you ready to publish your masterpiece with the A+ rated and #1-rated self-publishing company according to the Better Business Bureau and Top Consumer Reviews, respectively? If so, connect with Outskirts Press right now in whatever manner is easiest for you:

Get started with your personal Book Marketing Specialist today!

How Book Marketing Specialists Are Helping Self-Publishing Authors

As a self-published author, do you know how to develop a book marketing plan or even what should be included in it? Do you have the time and know-how to snag and schedule book signings? Are you confused about when, where, and how to implement these and other elements of your book marketing plan?

A professional book marketing specialist can assist you with all these tasks—and more!

What, exactly, can a book marketing specialist do for you?

  • Develop a marketing plan. A book marketing plan is as vital to the marketing of a book as an outline is to the writing of it. And a marketing plan must be continuously tweaked to stay aligned with your goals. When you hire a book marketing specialist, you will receive a customized marketing plan with recommended actions and invaluable information you can use TODAY to sell more books.
  • Arrange book signings. Book signings are special moments for any author and book fans. Your book marketing specialist will help you schedule these events and coordinate all the important details.
  • Develop your author platform. Your online presence says a lot about you as a person and can say a lot about you as an author. An internet presence explicitly tailored to your needs will help you fine-tune your image, get the word out about your book(s) to a large, targeted audience, and give readers important and helpful ways to find you and buy your book. Your author platform includes a website, social networking accounts, and more. A book marketing specialist can ensure you make the most of this helpful marketing medium!
  • Follow-up on marketing leads. When life gets busy, it’s nice to hand off the little details to someone else—like following up with potentially valuable marketing leads. Your book marketing specialist will chase down these leads for you and ensure you get ’em while they’re HOT!

Marketing a book is not a cookie-cutter science. Instead, the successful path depends upon the book, the author, and their goals. That’s why it is imperative to meet with your book marketing specialist first, typically via an initial telephone consultation. Once you determine you and your marketing specialist are on the same page (pun intended), you can work together more efficiently and effectively.

If you haven’t yet secured the services of a professional book marketing specialist to help you market your self-published book, perhaps 2023 is the year to do it!

About Outskirts Press

Since 2002, Outskirts Press has helped thousands of authors just like you develop, publish, and market thousands of high-quality, award-winning books featuring . . .

  • exceptional cover design
  • professional interior formatting
  • high-quality printing
  • award-winning publishing
  • worldwide distribution
  • and extensive book marketing services

Personal Service for EVERY Person—A Benefit of Outskirts Press!

You’ve got questions? We’ve got self-publishing experts with answers!

It starts from the moment you make contact. Our associates are people just like you: writers, readers . . . driven individuals who love books and want to help authors share their talent with the world. When you choose Outskirts Press, you’re assured personal attention from U.S.-based industry professionals, including:

  • Customer Support, available by email, phone, appointment, or live chat
  • a knowledgeable Publishing Consultant who will advise you on the best path for your book
  • your personal Author Representative who will get your book put together just as you want it
  • an optional Book Marketing Specialist to help you jump-start your selling

Ready to begin YOUR self-publishing journey? Know that you don’t have to go it alone. Outskirts Press is there for you every step of the way, with real people eager to lend a hand. Connect with Outskirts Press today in whatever manner is easiest for you:

Or click that button above to order the best publishing package for you today!

3 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Plan

3 ways to improve marketing plan

Almost every blog, workshop, and website on the subject of self-publishing advocates for creating a book marketing plan even before your book has been printed.

You will already have read about several marketing methods, from virtual book tours to book signings to book fair partnerships to glossy mailings featuring your book. Have you followed that advice?

Sometimes, even when we answer “yes” to this question, our sales numbers may not reflect the hard work and the (usually) good advice we receive. You might even be following to the letter every piece of advice you’ve been given. So, how could this be? And more importantly, how do we fix the problem?

The simple truth is that your book’s marketing plan may have a fatal flaw, and this flaw may be costing you sales. And truthfully, this is a common problem among self-publishing authors, which means that you’re not alone and that we’ve figured out a couple of surefire ways to troubleshoot the issues.

Instead of looking at your book marketing plan as an “enemy” which is actively working against you, ponder these three questions. Your answers might just help reshape your marketing plan to be more insightful, more effective, and more successful at moving your book off the bookstore shelves.

  1. Have you clearly defined your target market? When you wrote your first book, you just knew that everyone would love it. It would make you the talk of the town (or maybe even the talk of the nation or globe). It would be the “it” book everyone would want to read. But . . . that’s a rather lofty goal. Many might even say that it’s an impossible goal, in that even the most successful authors (like Stephen King, Tom Clancy, and Jan Karon) aren’t able to reach everyone with their books. And that’s fine; they have developed loyal followings among readers who are committed to them and their books. That’s where their success lies, and even if you’re not a blockbuster breakout success on the scale of a Stephen King, one can learn from that core truth: loyal followings sell books. How, then, do you seek them out? First, ignore all the white noise, and dispense with the idea that your book is for everyone. There isn’t a book on earth that’s for everyone. So, who is your book for? Who is your intended audience? Start locking in the details, from demographic information like age and occupation to the qualities people look for in books. Define your target audience with care and with specificity. If you can’t name some specific characteristics, you can’t market to them.
  2. Have you figured out what differentiates your book from the other books available to your target market? Can you tell us why your book is both different from and better than any other book on the market in its genre? Is there a lesson taught in your book? Are your characters easier to relate to? There has to be a reason why readers want to buy your spy thriller instead of the latest from John le Carré. As daunting as it is to consider as a competitor THE AUTHOR who leads the pack in terms of sales in your genre, doing so will help you figure out your book’s strengths. You aren’t just churning out another Vince Flynn action book; you’re publishing a book with its own strengths of plot and character. Find out what makes your book special and use that as your unique value proposition . . . in marketing as well as every other context.
  3. Have you updated your book marketing plan lately? The book marketing industry, like any other, evolves with blinding speed. If you don’t keep your plan up to date, it can quickly become irrelevant, and your book sales will flag. Therefore, we recommend that authors review and update their book marketing plan at least once a year and make sure to get eyes other than their own on their plan. Having that external insight is vital to ensuring that every detail of your marketing plan serves a purpose!

Have your book sales been lagging, and you can’t figure out why? Perhaps it’s time to consult with one of our Book Marketing Specialists. Right now, Outskirts Press is offering an instant 10% savings off the regular price when you claim 5 hours of 1-on-1 marketing assistance with one of our book marketing specialists. Enter promo code bmssavings at checkout to instantly receive 10% off.

How Book Marketing Specialists are Helping Self-Publishing Authors

Book Marketing Specialist helping self-publishing authors

As a self-published author, do you know how to develop a book marketing plan or even what should be included in it?

Do you have the time and know-how to snag and schedule book signings? Are you confused about when, where and how to implement these and other elements of your book marketing plan?

A professional book marketing specialist can assist you with all these tasks, and more!

What, exactly, can a book marketing specialist do for you?

  • Develop a marketing plan. A book marketing plan is as vital to the marketing of a book as an outline is to the writing of it. And a marketing plan must be continuously tweaked to stay aligned with your goals. When you hire a book marketing specialist, you will receive a customized marketing plan with recommended actions and valuable information you can use TODAY to sell more books.
  • Arrange book signings. Book signings are special moments for any author, and for book fans. Your book marketing specialist will help you schedule these events and coordinate all the important details.
  • Develop your author platform. Your online presence says a lot about you as a person, and it can say a lot about you as an author. Having an internet presence that is tailored specifically to your needs will help you fine-tune your image, get the word out about your book(s) to a large, targeted audience and give readers valuable ways to find you and buy your book. Your author platform includes a website, social networking accounts and more. A book marketing specialist can ensure that you make the most of this valuable marketing medium!

Follow-up on marketing leads. When life gets busy, it’s nice to hand off the little details to someone else–like following up with potentially valuable marketing leads. Your book marketing specialist will chase down these leads for you and make sure you get ’em while they’re HOT!

Marketing a book is not a cookie-cutter science. The successful path depends upon the book, the author, and his/her goals. That’s why it is imperative to meet with your book marketing specialist first, typically via an initial telephone consultation. Once you make sure you and your marketing specialist are on the same page (pun intended), you can work together more efficiently, and effectively.

If you haven’t yet secured the services of a professional book marketing specialist to help you with the marketing of your self-published book, perhaps 2022 is the year to do it.

Reach more readers—no matter when you publish

Book Relaunch Campaign Outskirts Press

If the bloom has fallen from your publication, now is the time to shake off the dust and get excited again.

After all, things in the marketplace may have changed in your favor since you first published. So bring your book back into the spotlight by relaunching it with renewed zest and zeal!

If you need help strategizing and/or implementing book relaunch tactics, the Book Relaunch Campaign is a great place to start.

Our professional Book Marketing Specialists will help you map out a plan to breathe life back into your book marketing efforts and help you market your book at new times, in new places, and to new buyers to reinvigorate your sales!

The Book Relaunch Campaign includes:

  • Updating Your Marketing Plan.
  • Arranging Book Signings/Readings/Interviews.
  • Recommending “New and Improved” Opportunities.
  • Enhancing Your Author Platform.
  • And lots more!

Get started today to see how we can help you reach more readers—even years after publication!

A Self-Publishing Author’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Writers are naturally curious about what’s going on around them. That’s a good trait considering that exposure to new things helps increase your brainpower and fuels your writing ability. Likewise, authors want to know what other authors are up to and what’s working for them.

To help satisfy some of your curiosity, we’ve listed a few of the most common questions that new (and seasoned) authors ask:

  1. How do I decide on a price for my book? The best way to figure this out is to research the market. Find books that are similar in content (page count, subject matter, etc.) and review their pricing. Your pricing doesn’t need to be the same, but you should be sure to price your book competitively. In addition to researching other books, you must also consider your experience as an author. If you are unknown, you may want to price your book just a bit lower because buyers are less likely to pay a premium price for an unfamiliar author.
  2. How do I get my book into bookstores? You must have a combination of things – a higher trade discount (40% or more), full returnability, and a strong sales history.  Meeting these “requirements” doesn’t guarantee that the bookstore will want your book, but you must have each (at a minimum).
  3. How can I sell more books on Amazon.com? Your listing on Amazon should be pristine, and you should strive to provide as much information about your book as possible. Book reviews also help. If you’re stuck, our CEO’s book, Sell Your Book on Amazon can help.

Do you have your own questions? If so, we’d love to add them to the list. Just drop us a quick comment below, and an Outskirts Press representative we will answer any of your questions live on this post (but for THIS WEEK ONLY). So, lay it on us. What burning questions do you have about the book publishing/marketing process?

If you’d like more one-on-one help, it may be a good idea to speak with one of our book marketing specialists.

Ready to take advantage of your own publishing and marketing team?

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