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Comments

Edward G. Talbot

A nitty-gritty question here - you mentioned attending a book signing event at a chain store. Let's put aside the discussion about whether this is a good use of an author's time and assume that I want to do it. Let's further assume that my book is available from Ingram or B&T with a short discount. If the store agrees to a signing, is it generally accepted that I will bring the copies or that the store will order them? In either case, I know sales will be done through the store, but in the case of the former, how do the logistics of the payment work? Would it be treated the same as a regular order but just processed "after the fact"?

Terry Cordingley

Book signing events at chain stores are good promotional opportunities for the author. It helps get your book "out there" and if the signing is successful, the bookstore may locally stock a few copies in their local interest section. One of the authors I work with has done most of his events at chain bookstores and they have sold so well during his events that his book is now stocked regionally.

As for payment, if your book has distribution through Ingram or B&T the chain bookstore will order from the distributor. In some cases, they will order from the publisher. On rare occasions, chain bookstores will allow an author to bring books to sell on a consignment basis, or they will sell the author's books and replace them by ordering replacements from the distributor. If books are sold on consignment the store may either cash out the author for books sold during the event, or a check will be cut and sent by corporate. If the bookstore opts to replace the author's books, the author is getting the royalty from the replacement copies being ordered through distribution.

Dana

Thanks Edward and Terry. One additional point -- you may want to bring along some extra books in your car in case the store runs out of books during your signing. However, make sure you have a clear understanding with the store of how many books you are supplying and how you will get paid. I know of one author who sold a lot of their own inventory at a signing and the store never paid him for the books.
Dana

Edward G. Talbot

Thanks, Terry and Dana. Good information. It seems to me that I might be more likely to get a bookstore to agree to a signing if I don't ask them to order 10 or 20 or 50 copies for the signing, but instead bring them. But having no experience with it, I realize my assumption may be wrong. Dana's point is of course well-taken: whatever the arrangement, it needs to be clear up front.

One last question - if done on consignment, would it generally be done with the same discount the store would receive if they ordered the books? So for a short discount, if the cover price is $10, the store might pay $6 for each book sold. I understand arrangements can be individualized, just trying to find out if there is a generally accepted practice.

Terry Cordingley

Dana makes a good point. Always work out consignment arrangements in advance. Having extra books on hand is always a good thing to do, but make sure the store is fine with it, particularly the chain stores like Borders or B&N. Some stores in these chains may be open to selling your extra books on a consignment basis, and some are not. I recommend getting consignment arrangements in writing which notes how many copies of your book you are providing.

The traditional split for a consignment arrangement is 60/40, with the author getting 60 percent of the retail price for each book sold, and the store getting 40 percent for hosting the event.

Edward G. Talbot

Thanks again Terry!

Dana

Thanks for the dialogue! Just one point about discounts -- in the book trade "short discount" usually means 20% discount. Standard discounts usually run 40% for sales direct to retailers, 55% to wholesalers and 65% or more to distributors.
Dana

Leigh K. Cunningham

I signed an exclusive arrangement with a local bookstore, which resulted in my book being on their top 10 bestseller list for children's fiction. See photos of the front-of-store display and poster, at no cost to me.

How did this exclusive arrangement come about? Back in October 2009, I volunteered for the Singapore Writer's Festival as an Artist Liaison. One of my artists, John Ajvide Lindquist, had a book signing at Times Bookstores and, as was part of my role, I ensured he was there on time and everything was in order. During John's book signing, I chatted away with the staff, and of course, made no mention of being a writer or having a book published—that would be highly unprofessional. Some time later, they learned that I had a book, we met to discuss it, and they agreed to stock it. I offered standard publishing industry terms as follows:

40% discount off the RRP.
They pay me at the end of each month for books sold during the month.
Unsold stock is returnable at my expense.

Note: when setting the RRP for The Glass Table in Singapore, I scouted the bookstores for comparable titles, and priced mine accordingly.

In April, Times Bookstores are having a 1st-year anniversary celebration for their new flagship store and have asked me to be one of their "highlight authors" during the celebration including a "Meet the Author" event and book signing. It's all about building and nurturing relationships and conducting yourself as a professional at all times.

Dana

That's a wonderful story Leigh, thanks for sharing!
Dana

Sarah Butland

Cover to Cover in Riverview, New Brunswick, my neighbouring community, was gracious enough to carry my book. Although they are a used bookstore they decided to carry local books and have them front and center at the cash.

I had some on consignment at my local Chapters but they were difficult to deal with and took much of the profit.

Dana Lynn Smith

Thanks for sharing, Sarah. It's always nice to hear of bookstores supporting local authors.

Authors, you might want to check out this article about indie bookstores charging indie authors for store placement and promotions: http://bit.ly/bN6fnP

Dana

Djana F

My book is sold in Books and Books because I brought it to them. Some yoga studios and self-enrichment centers as they agreed to stock it because they wanted to help. Several new age stores.

Joanna Poppink, MFT

My non fiction book, Healing Your Hungry Heart, recovering from eating disorders for women, comes out through Conari Press 08/11.

What should I be doing now to help it get placed in bookstores?

I'm in Los Angeles. This is my first book, and I am open to suggestions and advice.

Thank you!

Joanna

Dana Lynn Smith

Joanna, congratulations on your upcoming book. Your publisher should be responsible for getting your books stocked in bookstores, but you may want to talk with them about whether you should get involved in contacting stores in your local area, especially indie bookstores. Many bookstores are willing to stock books from local authors and many even have a special section in the store for them. I'd also ask your publisher if they will provide any support to you in arranging for bookstore appearances or if you are on your own.

You can also explore other local retail outlets that may be appropriate for your book. See this article for tips: http://bit.ly/bU1c6h

Even though you have a publisher to help get your books into stores, you are still largely responsible for creating demand to drive customers to the stores to buy them. Books don't hang around the store long if they aren't selling, so be sure to have a promotional plan in place before the book is published.

Good luck with your book!
Dana

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Update

  • The Savvy Book Marketer podcast, guidebooks and training programs are no longer available, but the blog articles will remain online for a while.

    Thank you to everyone who has supported the Savvy Book Marketer website, and I wish you much success with your books! Dana Lynn Smith