How to Get Your Book into Bookstores
Everyday thousands of new books are released, most by first time authors. What is interesting is that what an author thinks is a good book is not always what a book distributor or the general public deems a quality book.
The first item to look at is your cover. Sadly, people do judge a book by its cover. It’s prevalent today because of the sheer number of options available. It’s the cover that will need to grab the attention of a customer within 1-2 seconds. The cover needs to convey the theme of the book and be genre appropriate. Look at other books within your genre. Does it look and feel similar, but with its own distinct twist? Or does it break from the norm? Generally if you break from the norm, most book distributors, wholesalers and retailers will pass on the book. There is a way to be distinct and stand out without deviating from the overall look and feel of other books within the genre.
The next item to look at is the price of the book. Most authors make the mistake of getting into a dollars and cents aspect, thus pricing the book at double or more the cost for them to print the book. Unfortunately, that is not how the book industry works. There are several items you need to look at first before pricing the book.
First, is it hardcover or paperback? Hardcover can generally command a higher dollar amount. Paperback usually needs to be lower and is generally below $19. Then, you need to look at your genre.
The genre will give you a general price range for your book. Just make sure you compare the appropriate binding (hardcover/paperback). If you don’t, you’ll end up pricing the book either too high or too low. Genres like Fiction command a much lower price point than Business. Looking at the different prices within the genre will help give you an idea of how it all works.
The last item for determining price is the page count. You’ll get a nice idea of what it should be by looking at the binding and genre, but to pinpoint it you will need to dig a little further and find the page counts of the books within your genre. This will give you a much better idea of where to price the book. There some other details to take into account such as experts in their field tend to command higher prices, i.e. well established authors like Stephen King, will skew the prices a little higher. Just keep it in mind when looking at pricing.
The final important aspect of what a top distributor is looking for is a platform or audience and brand. The question a distributor asks is who is going to buy this book? A good distributor will get your book into many places across the country, from airports to Indie stores. They might even get your book into a non-traditional location like a grocery store or big box store like Costco. However, if you do not have an audience to reach out to and get the word out that you have a new book, the book won’t have a chance to be successful. The most successful authors have an audience to speak to and drive customers to retail outlets.
It can take time to build that audience, and it will probably take you a couple of books before your audience really grows. It takes time and effort, but when your audience grows, it becomes more and more fun.
Now, you could get your book into a good distributor with just two of the three aspects above. This is because some may offer platform services. Taking advantage of their platform services will sway the distributor to work with you because they see you are working to build that audience.
The biggest burning question is, doesn’t the quality of the writing play a part? Yes and no. The distributor does prefer the book to be reasonably well written, but if it is not, some distributors have an editorial staff that can fix most of the major problems. Even so, 50 Shades of Gray wasn’t exactly classic literature and the public swarmed to bookstores.
Today’s society is more about marketability of the book. Does it have appeal? Are customers willing to pay that price? Are there people that will buy it early on?
To get a good distributor to take your book, you need all three aspects to be on point. You need a great cover, appropriate price point and an audience (or building one). When all three items are good, it is VERY hard for any distributor to pass up an opportunity to distribute your book.