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Terrible Places To Sell Books.
by Fern Reiss
margins are lowyou gross less than $4.50 on every $10
book. You get crummy display spacejust the spine of
your book shows. And lets face itthe
competition is awful.
But you can sell thousands of books each year to non-bookstore
First of all, think
audience and think niche. Whatever the topic of your
book, the audience hangs out in places other than
bookstores. So think about that audience, and think about
where theyre hanging out. If you have a golf book,
think golf courses and golf pro shops. If you have a
golden retriever book, think pet stores and dog shows.
Any venue that isnt a bookstore is a great place to
sell booksbecause you can display your books as you
like, get a larger cut of the retail price, and best of
all, youre often the only book!
So take your book to the sci fi convention
the ski shop
convention. Bring it anywhere there might be an audience
for it. And see how well it will sell in markets that
Second, expand this idea
to consider online sales. Your audience probably hangs
out somewhere in cyberspace as well. Think about where
those places are. Think about what listserves they are
reading, in what online discussion groups they are
participating, which websites they peruse.
And then make contact. Participate in the lists and
discussion groups yourself. Add meaningful content. Dont
be blatant about selling your bookpeople are turned
off by blatant sales on lists. But always include your
book title under your signature, as well as your website
or contact information. And when you find a website that
appeals to your audience, go after it actively. Write to
the webmaster, and ask that they link to your website.
Ask if they would be interested in selling your book, or
linking to it through Amazon if they have an affiliate
program. Find out if you can contribute content to their
site (along with a mention of your book, of course!) Its
amazing how effective this can be.
Third, think about
building reality into your book. (This is especially
successful for novels, which can be particularly
difficult to market.) Put in real place names, real
restaurants, real hotels, real associations, real
websites and organizations. And then market your book to
those venues. If your book mentions the local
neighborhood Italian restaurant, try asking the owner if
shed like to sell copies at the register. If it
mentions a real association, find out if theyd want
to consider a quantity purchase for their members. If it
mentions a corporation, find out if theyd like you
to give a talkand then sell your books at the back
of the room. These are all possibilities, and they all
pay better than bookstore sales.
My latest books, The Publishing Game series,
were all written at my local Seattles Best Coffee.
(None of my children live there, so its my favorite
place to get real work done.) Because they were so nice
to me while I was writing the books, I mentioned the
Seattles Best Coffee staff in my dedication. When
the books were published, I brought them in as a thank
you, and to show the staff (who had watched me chugging
mochas for months, in a booth that I probably should have
been paying rent on.) The books were left sitting behind
the counter for a few days, and the next time I came in
the manager asked me if they could sell the books in
Seattles. So many people have come in asking
to buy them, she noted.
At the local bookstore, they only stock one or two of
each of my books. They shelve them spine out. They pay me
At Seattles Best Coffee, they stock ten copies of
each of the three books. They shelve them attractively on
book stands and in carefully arranged stackstheyre
the only books in the store, so they stand out next to
the coffee paraphernalia. And they pay me 75%.
Guess where Id rather be selling my books?
So think about audience, think about niche, think about
including reality in your books. And if you want to chat
more, you know where to find me. Im in the corner
booth at Seattles Best Coffee.
© 2003 by Fern Reiss
Fern Reiss is the author of 'The Publishing
Game: Bestseller in 30 Days', 'The Publishing Game: Find
an Agent in 30 Days', 'The Publishing Game: Publish a
Book in 30 Days', and 'Expertizing: Positioning Yourself
as a Name Brand'. She leads intensive, all-day publishing
workshops across the country. More information on her
books and workshops can be found at www.PublishingGame.com.
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