Published: 29 Mar 2017 updated: 20 Apr 2017
You have a book; you’re proud of it. It’s a good book. Of course every bookshop will want to sell it. Won’t they? Not necessarily.
According to the International Publishers Association, UK publishers released more than 20 new titles every hour in 2014. The UK publishes more books per person than anywhere else in the world. The UK is the third biggest publisher in the world; the biggest in Europe. Good news? Well...think competition.
In the UK, around 180,000 new titles are published a year. 180,000.
No bookshop can stock them all. How do you convince them to stock yours?
Recently a locally prestigious bookshop, Books@cafe, agreed to sell my book.
I live in Jordan; it’s not a book-reading culture. I write in English; I don’t speak Arabic. But my book is now on sale in stores in Jordan.
The answer is patience and persistence and promotion.
Publishing the book is just the start. I know. You’ve sweated and toiled and endlessly edited. Seen your baby delivered. So breathe a sigh of relief and sit back; job done. NO! It’s then that you have to push.
Sure, use Facebook and Twitter and Amazon, and have a website. Very important; but even in these internet-heavy times, you need to see your book on a shelf in a bookshop.
It’s simple, actually. Network in advance of publication. Make contact. Talk. Promote.
Even when I was sweating over the text, deep into writing, I was promoting. I went to Books@cafe regularly. Browsed other local shops and talked to the staff. Had a coffee. Bought a book. Enthused. I did not overtly talk about my book, but I was seen. Then one day, I mentioned that I was an author. Would they like to see my book? Sure, they said.
I had an example with me, of course. Engaging cover, nice paper, quality printing. It’s important: a book is not a concept, it’s physical. Your story may be very good, your writing excellent, but if the packaging is poor no one will take it off the shelf; the book shop owner will not want to stock it. Think about all the other books on the shelves. Competition.
I was known as a customer. Now I was a potential supplier. The bookshop owner agreed to meet for coffee. I enthused about promoting my book, all the things I was prepared to do to sell it: book signings, meet and greet. Could I bring a poster, speak to the local press? I was helpful. He fingered the book, admired the cover, and even smelled the nice paper. He was convinced. "Clearly this is a quality book," he said. He was hooked.
Persistence, networking, promotion, placement.
The way you get your book into a bookshop is to meet the staff; meet the owner. Be present. Be a customer. Be a friend. Then be a helpful supplier. My book is now on their limited shelf space: by the front desk.
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Haydn's first novel, The Scent of Lilacs, is available to purchase on the SilverWood website, Wordery and The Book Depository. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.