This week, I have a few tips for all the local and small press authors that we carry in the store. Nope, we don’t have a contract, and we don’t care if you self-published or wrote the book while standing on your head. We have shelf space, we try to read all of your books, and it’s the first section we talk about when customers come into the store. Matter of fact, it’s the first section IN the store.
We do a straight 60/40 split with our authors – I’m sorry if you think you’ll lose money on this deal, but that’s not an issue to negotiate with us. Talk to your publisher about that contract if your discount isn’t deep enough, or reconsider whoever you paid to publish the book. A 40% discount is standard, even average – some books, via traditional distribution, have an even lower discount.
There are a few ways to make sure your book gets noticed, and therefore purchased:
First, write a great book. Sounds like a “duh,” but really – yes, we’ll put it on the shelf but if it doesn’t hold our attention, we might not get around to reading it. Sorry, but there are a lot of books and limited time.
Second, use an editor. A few mistakes are okay, all books have errors, but consistent boo-boos make our eyes water and it’s very difficult to tell a customer “oh, just ignore those.” They’re paying for a product, make it a good one.
Third, if your cover makes our eyes bleed, it will do the same for readers. They’ll pass right over your book, unless, in horror, they stop and stare. Then they’ll move on. If the cover’s bad, what fresh hell must be on the inside?
Fourth, we like you. We really do. And we’d like to see you once in a while. Don’t just drop off your books and disappear, only to call six months later and ask if we sold any copies of your book. You could recommend us, too. If all you do is post online “get my book at Amazon!” we aren’t going to put out a lot of effort either.
Fifth, being our customer helps too. We can order books if we don’t have them in stock, we do that a lot. But it seems like the authors on our shelves must never read a book – or they’re going to Amazon. We’re happy that they’re saving a few bucks, but they may as well come get that right out of our register.
And finally, the big secret:
If you do all these things, your book will sell more copies.
If it’s good, we’ve read it. We can give a detailed recommendation. If we can focus on the story and not the mistakes, so can others. If it looks good, customers will be curious to see the inside. If we know you, we’ll tell people about you – the good stuff, natch – just like you tell people about your friends, but scarcely mention strangers.
And no, you don’t HAVE to be our customer for us to tell others about your books, but it does keep us in business. A lot of you have Kindles, and of course we don’t do those – I understand. It’s okay, really.
And in case you haven’t been in lately, we have “Top Sellers for 2013” red stars on the shelves, from January 1 through today. If your book doesn’t have one, well, reread from the top! There is still time, until November 30, to get on our “Best Sellers of 2013” list that will be published all over the web and in the store starting December 1 – just in time for the holidays!