Sell Your Book Through All Retailers… Not Just Bookstores

sell your book

Expand your approach to book sales to include retailers other than bookstores (including online retailers). The more strategic you are about where your book is available, the more likely your target buyers will be to find and buy it.

Bookstores are retailers. Many other retail establishments sell books, but most authors ignore them. Examples include airport stores, supermarkets, gift shops, discount stores, and specialty stores — and you can increase your book sales by selling through them.

The good news is you already know how to do it, since most retailers operate the same way as bookstores. You work through a distribution partner and your books are placed on shelves for sale. Here are some things you can do to compete and grow your profits selling through other retailers.

Define your prospective buyers. Using the “Five Ws” technique, define who your buyers are and where, when, why, and what they buy. Knowing where and when they shop will lead you to the appropriate retailers.

Know the customer of your customer. Before you try to get into a retail store, visit it and get a feel for who its customers are. Customers of a Hallmark store are much different from those of a Spencer Gifts.

Learn what they are already selling. While you are in their stores, find out what types of books a retailer is already selling. What are the topics, bindings, sizes, and prices of their existing line? How will your book fit in? You may have to redesign it in order to compete with those in your genre for that retailer.

Know why retailers buy. As a general rule, retailers want increased store traffic, faster inventory turns, and more profit per square foot. If your book does not help them accomplish those goals, they will take it off the shelf, return it, and replace it with something that does. Let them know that your promotion will mention that your book is available in their store.

Find out who the distributor or wholesaler is for the store. Ask the store buyers who their distribution partners are. Your current distributor may already be selling to them. Here are two examples.

  • Symak Sales Co is a “leading importer and distributor of general merchandise throughout North America. Symak products can be found in a wide range of retailers and wholesalers, including discount stores, variety stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, distributors, department stores, and dollar stores.”
  • Readerlink Distribution Services is the “largest full-service distributor of hardcover, trade, and paperback books to non-trade channel booksellers in North America, including the biggest names in retail across multiple retail channels.”

Work with your distribution partners. Retailers do not sell books — they display books. The job of distributors is to get the stores to carry your books and fill the pipeline to the retailers when the books are sold. Neither sells your book for you. It’s up to the author to do the promotion that gets your books sold. When you submit a plan to a potential distribution partner, make sure you describe the promotion that you have done — and will do — to help sell your book. Describe the research you have done and why your book is particularly appropriate for the retailers you have investigated.

Know the distribution discounts and fees. Read every contract carefully to make sure you understand all the costs involved when partnering with a distributor. Work with your printer and suppliers to reduce the cost of producing your book so you can be profitable in this segment.

Your path to self-publishing

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Selling to Non-Bookstore Retailers
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Why Companies Should Use (Your) Books As Promotional Products
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  1. I have written a book about how I overcame a tragic injury at 16 yoa and became a successful deputy sheriff from my wheelchair in the radio room and patroling the highways in my home town in Union parish Louisiana. While also patroling the hallways and dorms in our local jail from my wheelchair. God gave me the power to overcome my injuries and live a complete life and marry my wife of 33 years. I want to share my story with as many people as possible so they will know that anything is possible with God’s help.

  2. I self-published 2 books through Amazon. They are books for children and focused on vocabulary development. One if bilingual and the second one is in Spanish. Would love to sell them through all retailers.

  3. In the process of completing my book on poetry
    and considering self publishing it. Would like to learn more on how to go about selling it.

    Thanks, Jessie Burgess


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