Selling your self-published book through Lulu and other online outlets feels good. Your book is now available to anyone, anywhere in the world just by downloading or ordering it through the Internet. But there might be something missing. What about being able to eagerly browse the shelf at your local independent bookstore and coming across your book there?
Independent bookstores have considerable trouble stocking self-published titles. First, they’re not often able to sell the book back to the self-publisher if the product doesn’t sell. As such, bookstores need to be pretty sure the book is going to be purchased before they buy it.
But fear not! There are quite a few ways to get your physical book into bookstores, just by starting small. By forming a relationship with your local bookstore, presenting yourself as an author with a stake in the community, independent booksellers are more inclined to take a chance on your title. Even offering to sell a few copies of your book at a steep discount (and at a loss), just to gauge the market, and to prove to the bookseller that your books do indeed sell, is completely worth it.
While the eBook market is growing, the majority of readers still rely on physical books, and many still shop and browse at bookstores.
Another tactic to getting your self-published book into bookstores is by holding a successful reading at your local bookstore. By packing the house and selling more than a few copies of your book to attendees (a percentage of the sales going to the bookstore itself), you can demonstrate the value of your product to the store. While it’s all very personal and grassroots, these kind of gestures are what get booksellers interested in selling self-published books.
Once you’ve established a reputation with one bookseller, its not a given that your book will be in demand at other stores, but it’s possible. Still, for anyone looking for that feeling of genuine satisfaction when you see your book on the shelf, neatly wedged and bounded by its alphabetical peers, a few creative steps are all that’s needed to make it a reality.
But a bookstore doesn’t have to be the be-all end-all for marketing your book in person. Lisa Jennings, author of Seven Splinters, has this advice for a non-traditional marketing campaign,
“Have a long chat with yourself about your goals for your writing career and who you want to read your book, write down a game plan, tell yourself ‘I can do this,’ and then set a date for your first book signing and work towards that goal. Pick a location appropriate for your book’s targeted audience (does not have to be a bookstore), call and negotiate an event. If they turn you down, shake it off, and try another venue. There are options. Be creative and open minded, untraditional.”
Lulu author David Jones made inroads with local media,
“I found if you research your local radio/television stations website, sooner or later you come across a contact that is willing to speak with you. Local interest stories tend to work on slow news days. Afterall, these people have time to fill within their daily programs and local interest peices are easy to fit in.”
Another path to promotion is by printing some posters for your book.
Anyway you spin it, promoting a work takes energy and creativity. But, seeing as how you’re already a writer, you probably have those qualities in abundance.