Being stocked in bookstores is a dream for many an aspiring author, but it can be difficult to get your foot in the door. A well-crafted pitch is much like a spell, opening doors that have previously been closed to you.
Here’s Part Two of our “Tips on How to Pitch Your Book”. Miss Part One? Click here to catch up!
Understanding your book’s place in the market is vital to a successful marketing strategy. What kind of books similar to yours are out there now? What books constitute your competition, and why? In what ways is your book similar, and how does it differ? As discussed in Part One of this segment, being able to assess your book objectively allows you to present it to the right readers and the right bookstores. Knowing how your book compares to others helps the retailer judge how well it might sell. It also shows you've done your research and are confident you have something new to offer.
Pro Tip: Knowing how your book stands against its peers also allows you to illustrate how it’s unique from them. For example, "My book will appeal to fans of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones because it is a gritty high fantasy with involved and intricate plot lines. However, unlike these predecessors, my book is fast-paced, comparatively brief, and very accessible in its writing style."
What kind of work have you done to promote your book? Do you have an online following of considerable numbers? Do you have advertising or interviews— local or national— lined up? Are you willing to do in-store events such as readings, signings, or workshops? A ready audience is a huge selling point for any book, and the ability to demonstrate a following— and by the same token, a ready market— is another excellent way to get your book into stores. Your relationship with your retailer is a symbiotic one; in order for your book to be a success, both you and the bookstore need to do well. The more you can do to put both you and your stores in a position for success, the better!
Pro Tip: Promotion is accumulative: the more waves you make, the bigger and more consistent they become. It's important to time your launch alongside your promotion so that you can convert interested readers into purchasers in one go. Your Book Promotions Specialist will assist you in your planning and strategy.
Your readers may be lining up to buy your book, but if they can’t locate it easily, many will quickly lose interest. So, where can readers find your book? Some bookstores (usually smaller ones) may request or be enticed by exclusivity. In other words, they wish to be one of a very small group of stores that hold your book. If you are planning on selling your book by consignment, this will also keep your business manageable. In this scenario, ask yourself, does the store have enough clientele to make up for such an arrangement? Sometimes the bookstore will forgive other locations carrying your book if you focus on them in your advertising—like mentioning them on your website, for example. Larger stores with many branches will likely try your book out in a few key locations, only expanding sales to other stores based on its initial success. You can also offset your book’s availability online or in other stores by offering a bulk order discount (made through your Author Account Manager) to your bookstore.
Pro Tip: Be honest about your book’s availability. Each store has its own requirements, so find out what each wants from an independent book, and see if it aligns with your needs and values.
FriesenPress does not print a market price on your book cover which offers both you and your book seller more flexibility when it comes to pricing. It’s important for you to decide the price of a single copy before approaching your retailer. While you can certainly negotiate, you should have a firm foundation to start from. This will also allow you to decide whether there will be any discounts for large quantities. If your bookstore is purchasing through Ingram (wholesale), these numbers will be handled by the provider. If they are ordering them through consignment (directly from you), you will need to set these margins yourself.
Pro Tip: Bookstores require at least a 40% royalty/profit margin in order to carry a book, so your pricing program will need to reflect this. Book Return Insurance is also necessary to trade directly with brick-and-mortar stores. Your Author Account Manager is available to discuss pricing and BRI options with you at any time during the production of your book.
Written by Astra Crompton, FriesenPress Author Account Manager
Edited by Kate Juniper, FriesenPress Editing and Illustration Coordinator