Yes, everyone wants to see their book on the shelf of every Barnes & Noble and indie bookstore, and featured at every regional book festival. And those are wonderful author goals. But when it comes to savvy book sales, many authors have turned to non-traditional, alternative bookselling options to improve their sales.
The advantages are obvious:
- Less competition from other books/authors
- Targeted audiences
- Better return policies than from traditional outlets
The challenge is, which alternative bookselling options will work best for your book? And the solution will be very closely related to two factors: the genre of your book, and its actual content, including subject matter, issues, even geography.
Here, in no particular order, are a number of alternative bookselling options that authors we know have used with some success. Have another to contribute? Let us know with your comment below and we’ll add it to the list!
- Farmers Markets: Kwame Alexander, Newberry Medal winning author of poetry and children’s fiction spoke at IBPA Publishing University and told indie authors and publishers that he’d discovered doing booths (very inexpensive) at farmers markets up and down the east coast brought tons of attention and sales to his books. Bonus: You won’t have much author competition and will attract sales from tourists who may want a local flavor souvenir that won’t spoil before they get home…
- Coffee Shops: If you’ve been to a major market Starbucks you may have seen limited bookshelves. But thousands of indie coffee shops would benefit from book sales, too. Start in your own local market; perhaps even offer a few books on consignment. If your book offers local flavor, even better.
- Gun Shows: Don’t laugh! If you’re a writer of western fiction, this may prove a more lucrative option than you’d imagine. McKendree Long swears by gun shows as a primary sales outlet for his western fiction. “This is an especially appealing purchase for wives being dragged along to the show by their husbands,” says Long.
- Grocery Stores: Big chains require contacting distributors (Kroeger, Costco, etc.) But smaller stores and chains, especially those in the healthy food space, have extensive shelves of books. If you’ve written anything on alternative healing, cooking, or lifestyle, this could be your sales Holy Grail.
- Specialty Stores: Don’t stop at supermarkets. If your book has a related specialty, you may have a lucrative opportunity to match it up with a specialty store. A few we’ve seen with books to match include:
- New Age (for new age work, healing modalities, even coloring books)
- Sporting goods
- Toys (an obvious children’s book or coloring book option)
- Western apparel
- Craft shops
- Cookware (obvious appealing for cookbooks or regional food works)
- Local Festivals: It doesn’t have to be a book festival to provide a book-selling opportunity. In the case of author Lynn Marie, she offered up her historical fiction about pirates at a festival celebrating tall ships! If your book has a particular area of interest, there may be a festival for you.
- Salons and Spas: If you have a female-centric book (even better, one that takes place in/around beauty shops a la Steel Magnolias or Kim Boykin’s The Wisdom of Hair, then salons might be a place where your book gets sold AND talked about… a lot.
- Hospital Gift Shops: This is an especially appealing option if you have a story that uplifts and inspired.
- Museums and Zoos: History, military, art and science museums, as well as zoos and aquariums, all offer books – Does your work appeal to one of these potential sales areas?
- Local Attractions: Along the same line as museums, many local area attractions, whether historic houses, gardens or factories have gift shops. If you have local and/or tourist appeal, your book may be a good fit.
As you can see, “anywhere books are sold” truly can apply to your book…
Have a cool event or place you’ve sold books? Please share it with fellow authors in your comments below!