Bookstores everywhere are facing extraordinary pressures. The switch to ebooks is squeezing them, while in many places they are facing massive rises in rents and rates.
Books are rarely their most profitable item. More and more of their selling space is given over to cards and gifts on which they can make a profit. Inevitably, this means less space for books.
On the other hand, independent bookstores often put tremendous time and effort into author events and local literary festivals, promoting and supporting books and authors with genuine passion. Those books they do put on display are those that the staff really believe in – not just ones publishers have paid them to promote.
So before you walk into a bookshop with that newly self-published book, pause for a moment and see yourself through the eyes of the bookseller. You might think you are offering them the next bestseller. What they see is someone bidding for a piece of their scarcest commodity – their space to sell books.
How Bookstores View You and Your Book
The first thing they look at is the appearance of your book. It may be unfair, but research shows that the cover is the prime factor in people’s decision to buy a book. If you are self-publishing, know that if that cover isn’t striking, if the inside is sloppy and cheap-looking, why should the bookseller give it precious shelf space?
The second thing they’ll consider is you. The author. You’re asking for their support, but if you’re an unknown quantity when you walk through that door, why should they care about you?
Your relationship with the local bookshop should begin before you publish. In the intervening time, buy books from them, attend and write about events they run. When the time comes to launch the book, you can pitched it, or participate in events.
Don’t expect to walk into a bookshop as a complete stranger and ask them to stock your book. Be a customer first. If they organize events, attend them. Follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook. Write about them on your blog or pitch an article about them to your local paper.
Get to know them and let them get to know you. It will pay off. For more information on self-publishing, contact The Country Press.