Sunday, May 2, 2010

Selling Books Through Varied Outlets

Shortly after the spring release of my paranormal novel, In Franklin's House, I approached the manager of the local Barnes & Noble store about a possible book signing. She seemed enthusiastic, promised publicity and set a signing date for late May to allow sufficient time to produce signs; feed information to newspapers/newsletters, etc. However, a week later, my phone rang. "Sorry, we can't host the book signing, because your novel is print on demand, and we can't return extra copies to the publisher."
I notified Billie, who immediately assured me that B&N was dead wrong. Further she promised to contact the store and inform them of this error. Additionally, she sent me a form from Ingram that states an OTP return policy. Armed with that form--one available to any OTP author and one successfully used by authors over the years--I can approach commercial businesses with great ammunition.
Now a question for seasoned OTP writers: what has been your experience in placing your books for sale in outlets besides book stores?


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I do far better with my books on consignment at our local gift shop and in a used bookstore (they sell new books of local authors).

Also, book and craft fairs are great. I've done some bookstore events where I've brought my own books, but works best when you are giving a talk, or doing the signing with other authors.


Kit Sloane said...

I agree with Marilyn. Unless you have a million devoted wealthy friends in lots of cities, book signings tend to be for the birds. My best venues are selling after speaking to a group. I've also contributed part of sales to whatever group it is and they seem to like that and buy more readily since it's a win/win deal.

WS Gager said...

I ran into the same thing at the Barnes and Nobles and between Billie and I, we got it straightened out in the computer systems. It was wrong in the Ingram's system, which Billie handled, and I worked with the local store and did the book signing last November. It pays to act professional and thank them even when they give you bad news. I have a great rapport with the Barnes a Noble CSM and she owes me from my last signing, so I will be collecting when book 2 is out.
W.S. Gager

beverlylauderdale said...

Thank all of you for your input. I've wondered about consignment at various stores and now must explore if a contract is necessary, what percentage is given to the store, how often one needs to check the store to replenish books (note the optimism there), etc. Additionally, I'm pleased to read the happy ending to a Barnes and Noble experience.

Kit Sloane said...

but the unpleasing part of convincing any bookstore to "stock" your books is that Barnes and Noble and any other store will simply return your any books at any time they wish to where they came from. I'm not sure how long most stores will keep them on the shelf, but it isn't long (a few weeks is usual). It costs them nothing to stock them for a few weeks and if they aren't sold, send them back. And no one has figured out how to sell the books off the shelves that are left after our signings or chat, before the bookstore simply sends them back, postage paid, to the publisher/distributor. that's why publishers lose money and authors don't make any. go figure!

Monti said...

You are so right, Kit. How can a small publisher make it when all those extra costs are involved? If you don't have a big name, it's just about impossible to have your books on the shelves at B & N. Sometimes they ship the books back immediately following a signing. When Wendy Howell Mills and I did signings together for our first books several years ago, we believed that autographing the remaining copies meant the bookstores would keep them. It did not! Bille wound up with many autographed copies back in her inventory. Sometimes the stores will keep copies of books by local authors, but usually no more than three copies.


Sunny Frazier said...

The big outlets don't want me, I don't bother with them. The closest bookstore for me is 40 miles away. At Left Coast Crime, publicists stated that more people were buying from Amazon now. This gives each of us a fighting chance for sales. That's why I feel Internet marketing is critical.

Good post, Beverly. We want to learn more about you and this is a great way to do it. I'm catching up with the blogs now that I'm back on the mainland, but impressed at how everyone is participating!