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What Are Bookstores Looking For?

Posted by Sherrie Wilkolaski on Wed, May 22, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

by Amy Collins

A client recently asked me.  What the %$#@! are book buyers looking for? He went on to say “My book is priced right, well-designed and exactly what older American’s are needing… what more can I do?”

I thought I would share my answer in the hopes that it might answer other questions out there.

If the book is well written, has a topic and message that will appeal to their customers, and is well designed, it has a good shot of getting a test order from a bookstore book buyer.

describe the imageKeep in mind, there are more books published each year than could fit in 7 totally empty bookstores.  (And as you know, bookstores are not empty!)  Because of this, the buyers can only take a teeny fraction of what is presented to them.  Also, the buyers are judged (read: get to keep their jobs) by how many times their section “turns” a year.  The sales rate of their choices is closely monitored.  So they will pick books that they feel have the best chance to selling off the shelf several times a year.

That is where demand and platform comes in. If an author has a good platform, is reaching out to thousands, or tens of thousands of readers, is showing sales online (seen in Nielsen Bookscan reports) and has a strong PR plan with potential for a lot of media – the buyer will be far more likely to take the book in.

If the book does NOT have all of those things, then the buyer needs to see some other proof that the well-designed, beautifully-edited, fantastically-written, much-needed book won’t just sit on their shelves. There is a chance that someone will see your title on the spine on a crowded bookshelf and pick it up.  If they pick it up, there is a good chance that they might buy it. (If they need or want a book like yours). But a book buyer would much rather sweeten the chances of a “turn” by stocking books that will have browse-friendly qualities AND great press.  There are enough books out there that have great demand AND are great books to choose from.

Does your book have everything it needs PLUS good PR?  Is your book “All That” AND a bag of chips?

Infinity Publishing provides a bookstore return policy for our authors so there is always the opportunity for our authors to get their books into the stores.  Start locally and take Amy's advice on being well-positioned with your marketing, PR and online platform ~Sherrie

Editorial Analysis

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Amy Collins MacGregor started her career in the book industry as the book buyer for Village Green Books in Upstate, New York. In 1996, she “hopped the desk” and thoroughly enjoyed working as a National Account Rep for Prima Publishing.  In 2001, Amy was named Director of Sales at Adams Media in Boston and quickly rose to the Special Sales Director for parent company, F+W Media.  Over the years, Amy has sold to Borders, Barnes and Noble, Target, Costco, Wal-mart, and all the major chains as well as help launch several private label publishing programs for chains such as PetSmart and CVS. In February 2006, Amy started The Cadence Group and now runs the fastest-growing book distribution company in North America, New Shelves Distribution, where she offers her sales experience to small publishers and self-published authors.

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