Book Sales: Bookstores are Not an Instant Answer to Success

When an author sees his or her book in a bookstore, it can be a thrill – the pinnacle of success.  There it is in the flesh, or ink and paper, in a real live bookstore – the book you dreamed of writing for years then toiled for years to create! However, having a book in bookstore doesn’t mean it’s sold.  The harsh reality is this: The accomplishment of having a published book in a bookstore doesn’t guarantee success.


Why?  It boils down to simple math and location, location, location.  There can be 50,000 titles in any given bookstore.  Your book could be on the bottom shelf in the very back corner of the store – the worst place.  How will customers even find your book?   Not to mention that you are also competing with 49,999 other titles.


Your book needs a prime location to be easily visible to the highest volume of customer traffic.  The best spot is usually the three or four tables at the front of the store – but that bookstore real estate is usually already taken by big-name authors such as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, and comes with a high price tag.  Publishers for such big-name authors pay tens of thousands of dollars to secure those up-front locations, and even then prime location doesn’t necessarily translate into sales.


Every book store sells books on consignment.  If a book doesn’t sell within 90 days, the bookstore can return it to the publisher without having to make any payment whatsoever. More and more bookstores are adding coffee shops and cafes.  This lures visitors to engage in casual reading – but often doesn’t relay into sales.


Then there’s the internet.  In this day and age the internet drives business, with the world of book publishing being no exception since more and more book sales are being transacted online.


For an author’s book sales to be successful, the author must have a proactive platform for marketing channels.  This platform is a strategic marketing plan that includes identifying the target audience, identifying and delivering the message that the target audience wants to hear, and identifying sales markets that the author already has access to such as church congregations or Rotary International.  This is a critical point to success in order for a book to hold its own in a book store.


Authors must understand the reality of competing with the other titles in a bookstore.  That’s why a comprehensive, proactive plan for marketing channels that extend beyond bookstores is absolutely essential.  Having your book in a bookstore doesn’t hurt at all – but it’s certainly not the instant answer to success.

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