Bookstores Are the Worst Places to Sell Your Books

Article reprinted with permission from Dog Ear Publishing.

How many times when you dreamed of readers finding your book did your dreams center around them finding it in a “brick-and-mortar” bookstore? Chances are, most of the time . . . This is the fantasy the leads too many authors to the endless pain of the author-agent-publisher rejection cycle. And, it rarely sells any significant amount of books.

The realities of bookstore sales are frightening – far more books fail courtesy of bookstores than succeed. Consider these facts:

Returns rates exceed 70% in many categories — that means bookstores send back 7 out of every 10 books they buy. YOU the author bear the biggest brunt of the pain of returns. The publisher has other books they can rely on – you, however, have seen your dream destroyed.

Bookstores buy very few copies on a story-by-store basis, and they typically only merchandise the books that have big marketing dollars behind them. Unless you can afford a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign, it is highly unlikely that your book will be stacked anywhere a potential buyer can find it (let alone in the front of the store.)

Author signing events typically sell only about 7 books — all your scheduling, time, calling stores to set up events — results in selling 7 books…

Bookstores take up to 90 days to pay for your books — and to mitigate what they owe you they will quite often return your remaining stock WITHIN the 90 days.
Retail outlets typically command very large discounts (but then so do online retailers in many cases…)

The typical retail buyer is not a destination purchaser, but a browser (most readers who know what they want go to the online retail sites). A reader in search of a book can be a GREAT customer. But when you are shelved next to all the other books in your particular category, your competition stands as good a chance at getting bought as you do… and if you are stocked near a well-known author, most buyers will bypass your book to pick up the well-known name.

Now that you’ve had all the “good” news — here is an interesting fact:

Over half the books sold in the publishing industry are sold through NON-bookstore vehicles.

That means that more books are sold in other places than bookstores- and your book is likely to be most successful through these outlets. And online sales — driven by a targeted, effective, and comprehensive marketing plan – will be the cornerstone of your book’s success.

Authors spend a lot of time and money chasing the improbable, when the “golden egg” of self-promotion is right in front of them. In my opinion, I’d sell my books everywhere except the brick and mortar bookstore!

Utilizing the tools that make the internet the powerhouse it is today will build sales that you never dreamed were possible. Search Marketing, blogs, newsletters, email campaigns, web sites, and your personal appearances (yes, the human touch still has meaning in book sales) are the new tools for building great book sales.

Thanks for reading. As always — if you like this information (and found it helpful) please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around. Please just give us credit here at www.dogearpublishing.net

May you have success in your creative efforts!

 Ray

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