Now I am not an expert here at all, and as a new author I’ve only had one encounter with a bookshop so far, to say it went badly would be an understatement. However, I learnt some valuable lessons from that one encounter and I’m going to share those lessons with all of you aspiring authors.
As a new author you will want to contact local and independent bookshops. WH Smiths and Waterstones may be less likely to take you, as a new author, seriously but that’s not to say they won’t stock your book at all. Many Waterstones have a local author’s section but as I’m sure you have noticed, the giants tend to stock the famous authors and celebrity cookbooks. Local and independent bookshops will also stock these books but they are more likely to stock your book too.
Most independent bookshops (though not all) would prefer you to send them an email and follow it up with a phone call, or call them initially anyway. Simply walking into a bookshop with your book in hand is brave, but the owner may not have the time to speak and deal with you right then, and they may not appreciate you just dropping in on them out of the blue. Most bookshops will have a couple of authors approaching them every week, so it’s better to send them an email with all of your details and then follow it up with a phone call. If you have an editor or agent who can contact the bookshop for you first then great, but still send an email yourself and make a followup call just to be polite.
Now for the email, you will need to introduce yourself so keep it brief and friendly. If you’re feeling particularly brave and have a professional photo you can attach this too. You will also need to attach a picture of your book cover, blurb and give a brief description of your book. The bookshop will want to know the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), and where and at what price (including any discounts) they can purchase your book from. Most independent bookshops will buy their stock through wholesalers like Gardners. So make sure you know who has copies of your books! If you have a website and social media links, make sure you add these too at the end of your email.
If your book is available on Amazon, then you may want to be careful about mentioning this. Unfortunately independent bookshops are not fond of Amazon for a number of reasons, but mainly because it affects their sales. Money makes the world go round as they say and independent bookshops are struggling to make profit, which means they are directly competing with every other independent bookshop and the giants. I recently read that one independent bookshop refuses to consider books published under any Amazon imprint including CreateSpace. So you have been warned, tread carefully.
To really grab the attention of a bookshop, then having some sales under your belt that you can backup with evidence is a great way to start. Word-of-mouth and promoting is effective. Ask your friends and family to promote your book to everyone and anyone they meet and you yourself can promote your book in this way too. Make sure you carry around and give out plenty of flyers (if you have them) and have a copy of your book to show people. There may be a few reading groups in your area too so try to approach them and ask them kindly if they will read and review your book. It is also useful to have a good following on social media sites like Youtube, Twitter and Facebook. If you can prove that you’re engaging with a lot of potential readers it will help to tick the right boxes for independent bookshops.
It is also worth approaching local bookshops before the launch of your book. If they feel you are likely to attract a healthy local following they may consider you for a book signing (this includes Waterstones). This can then be excellent pre-release publicity for a book launch.
That’s it from me today, please feel free to leave a comment below and any advice if you, as an author, have had any experiences approaching bookshops. Thanks for reading!
Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new – Albert Einstein.