Simon Kolz

A weblog by Simon Kolz

Book Promotion Myth — The Best Place to Sell Books is a Bookstore

When authors think of their audience buying books they think of bookstores. This myth sends authors taking the long, arduous road to seeking out an agent, a publisher, hoping their book will become a best seller. It won’t. Why?

Because you are not famous, your publishing support amounts only to a three-month book tour, billed against your sales. Your book’s shelf life at Barnes and Noble or other brick and mortar bookstores is about three months too. And, you the author must promote it full time to receive less than 50% of the profits.

Another reason bookstores disappoint the author is that most people go into the store to browse. They want fiction, some non-fiction, but they aren’t sure what. If your book is shelved among more popular authors, potential buyers will pass it by for the well-known name.

Marketing guru, John Kremer, author of “1001 Ways to Market Your Book” says “I’m glad I don’t rely on retail “brick and mortar” bookstore sales for my income, but it will be nice to add that icing on the cake into my cash flow again.”

Before his updated version this year, in three years, John has sold 45,000 copies of his book. He is a marketer par excellence. He uses non-traditional marketing strategies; his web site, his ezine which offers tips, products and seminars, specialty stores, foreign markets, libraries, and back of the room sales from speaking engagements.

Because John is a recognized name, he gets a lot of shelf space in the bookstore–cover side out. For your lesser-known book, only your spine will show and after three months of initial placement, your book will fade away unless you put on your promotion hat to get customers to the store.

In one book coaching session, a new client thought he wanted to sell to the bookstores. I asked him who was his particular audience. He said business people. What kind of business people? Do these people go to the “brick and mortar” bookstore for a business book? Or, will they be more likely to subscribe to online business ezines or visit a business Web site for specific kinds of business books?

Your book coach knows that online promotion is the cheapest, easiest, and most profitable way to sell books.


*Seventy percent of US adults haven’t been in a bookstore for the last 5 years.*Bookstores sell only 45% of all books sold.*Bookstores return non-sold books to the author-think of the Starbucks people dripping their coffee and scone on your book.*Bookstores will take 90 days, even a year or more to pay you for your total book sales.*Bookstores only order two or three copies at a time because of limited shelf space.*Bookstores buy only from a distributor or wholesaler.

Why the big push to get a wholesale or distributor and get into the bookstore?

These people represent so many other authors don’t you wonder how much attention your book will receive? They exact healthy fees, around 55%. That leaves a small profit for the author, and remember, bookstores, distributors and wholesalers don’t promote your book!

After her distributor went belly up and she lost $160,000, one author said she would rather have more control over her priceless products. She distributes them all herself now through various venues that suit her personality.

Authors spend a lot of time and money chasing the improbable, when the “golden egg” of self-publishing and self-promotion is right in front of them. In my opinion, I’d sell my books everywhere except the brick and mortar bookstore!

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