How does a burgeoning author get his or her latest book out there for public consumption?
Having copies available for sale online is one thing, but physical presence in bookstores has a number of crucial benefits: in-store stock establishes legitimacy, ups the chances of exposure by virtue of the fact that the people frequenting bookstores are guaranteed readers (versus the general population of visitors to Amazon, for example), and–often overlooked–in-store presence offers the author a chance to establish a relationship with that bookstore that can be leveraged into readings and/or signings.
If you’re an author backed by a publishing house that’s setting up local or national distribution deals, this may not be an issue for you. But for self-published and/or burgeoning authors, it might seem challenging to figure out how to convince your local bookstores to carry your work.
Thankfully, many bookstores have consignment deals.
In the book world, a consignment deal is a paid agreement between author and bookstore in which the author pays a fixed amount to the store in exchange for copies of his/her book being carried in that store for a given amount of time, during which point the author will receive some percentage of any sales therein; depending on the package (there are often tiers), the author may have display and promotional opportunities. At the end of the established time frame, the unsold books will be returned to the author.
The specifics of the deal vary from store to store–some will allow you to pay more for a guaranteed reading event, display timeframes might range from five weeks to three months; some stores may offer inclusion in an e-newsletter or online, or a limited-time display in the front of the store.
As an author, it’s important that you do your homework, come up with a marketing budget, clearly define your audience and outline your goals are for the book in question. Things to consider include how much promotion you get for a given price, the location and/or reputation of the bookstore, what kind of people it attracts, and the specifics of the consignment deal package–are you looking for a store that guarantees you a reading event, or one that advertises your book in a biweekly e-newsletter for a couple months?
Consignment deals can help boost sales and reputation, and open an industry network that will help you take the next steps as an author. An easy way to get started is to just pick up the phone and call your favorite local bookstore and ask them what they offer!
Still looking for some guidance? Shoot me an email at analise@prforwriters, and I’m happy to discuss your needs.