Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Of Books, Bookstores, and Ego by Norma Gail

Is your goal to see your book in a bookstore? Today, Norma Gail shares her experience with bookstores and tips to help you gain better visibility for your book. -- Sandy

Gail: I had a hard time selling Girl Scout cookies. I longed to see my name on a bookstore shelf. However, bookstores may be more of an ego boost than smart marketing. Here are some of the lessons I have learned.
Getting my book published is the victory. Getting my book published by a traditional publisher was a victory. I reached my first goal and accomplished what God called me to do.

My book on a bookstore shelf does not guarantee sales. Having a book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble does not mean it will sell. Books written by well-known authors sell first. Large corporate stores remove books not on their sanctioned list. Even a “Local Author’s Table” does not mean the store will keep it in stock.

Beware of the pitfalls of large, corporately owned bookstores. It was easy to get local bookstores, even large chains like B&N and Hastings to order my book when it was “returnable”. It stoked my ego but not my book sales.

Books returned are not books returned. Bookstores do not mail the book back to the distributor for sales elsewhere. Stores rip the beautiful cover off and send it to the publisher to prove that they returned the book. The rest of the book is recycled.  

Returned books come out of your royalties. Returns come out of author’s royalties, translating into no royalty check. Discuss with your publisher if asking stores to stock your book is a worthwhile goal.

Placing books in a store on consignment gains visibility for your book without risk to the store and puts money in your pocket. Books sold on consignment do not count toward your sales numbers, but they put your book in front of consumers with no risk to the store. Many local booksellers will agree to a percentage arrangement, usually 70-30% where the store keeps 30% of the sale price. Some generous storeowners offer 80-20% splits. One store allowed me to do a book signing before Christmas and keep 100%. Consignment sales mean the money you earn goes into your pocket to offset other marketing expenses.

Choose locations for book signings with care. Friday night at Hastings appeals to customers renting cheap movies. A tearoom could literally eat up your profits by the amount of tea and scones consumed. Churches, book clubs, library author events, and craft shows may be a better place to get your book in the hands of readers.

Learn to evaluate the market for your book. Where and how to market your book is a complicated matter. Your publisher and marketing consultant are your best advisors.

As a Christian author, I meet my goal with each positive review and each comment that shows a life touched by what I wrote. The book is the Lord’s so let prayer, not ego drive the marketing.

© Copyright Norma Gail Thurston Holtman, February 23, 2016

Have you found bookstores to be a good source of sales? Are you published by a small publisher and must fight for shelf space?


Norma Gail is the author of the contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals and poetry have appeared at, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and the New Mexico Christian Novelists. Norma is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 40 years. They have two adult children.

Connect with Norma:

Book Links:
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas Bookstore: