This is the last installment of How to Sell to a Bookstore. Like I have said in the previous weeks, you should read Part One and Part Two first otherwise you might not get the most out of this post. Also if there are any bloggers that are interested in doing a guest post let me know, there are a few writers who I have talked to, but I would love that have input from as many minds as possible.
Phase 3: The Sale
Return to the store with the same professionalism as the first meeting. Make small talk, but quickly jump into the meat and potatoes of why you are here. Ask the Representatives if what they had read since your last meeting made them interested in your work Don’t mention the word “buy” until you are ready to close. It can create pressure that can scare them away. Try to talk about the book itself.
If they are interested, begin talking about different scenarios in which you can increase the retail sales of the book. Talk about the possibility of doing promotional events, advertising you have done, pretty much anyway that you are going to drive customers to their store to buy the book. Ask them for ideas as well. They may talk about putting a display front and center, or maybe they sponsor a book club, make this part of the sale a discussion rather than a presentation.
When you involve them in the idea of a community, they will become excited in the prospect of your novel. Your enthusiasm with promoting your book will make them enthusiastic about their business. The question will change from, “Will you buy my book?” to, “How can we sell the most books?” This almost makes the Bookstore ready to make a purchase even though you haven’t made them actually say yes.
Once you get some of the plans down, ask them how many copies do they want to buy. You are selling at the wholesale price, not the MSRP. If the book goes for $20 at retail, then wholesale it should be $10. Refer to How to Set a Book’s Price in order to discover how to set your prices. The bookstore should be able to double however much money they are willing to invest. This is the moment of truth. Before you let them answer you should say something about a return policy.
Traditional publishers allow booksellers to return unsold books after a given period. Let’s say that the bookstore buys ten copies and 90 days later there are two left. The bookstore has the option to return those two unsold copies and get their money back. If you want to compete with a traditionally published author you need to allow this too.
The bookseller will likely lose any apprehension, because even though they are making an investment, they have no actual risk. Selling your books this way, will not earn you as large of a profit margin, but you can sell a higher volume. Finish by signing appropriate papers, taking their payment, and shipping the number of books to them as quickly as possible. Maintain a good relationship with the vendor, and they will be eager for your next release.