Getting Your Self Published Book in a Library Part Five – Not Actually About Libraries…

This is the fifth in a series of posts by Eseme. The Intro;
Part One,
Part Two,
Part Three, aannnd
Part Four

Getting Your Self Published Book in a Library Part Five
Not Actually About Libraries…

I’ve done a lot (fourteen pages thus far!) of talking about self published books in libraries. I’d like to shift focus a bit, to talking about things that people in the book business (both libraries and bookstores) look for in a physical book and then totally sift to bookstores. I am not, by any means, an expert in bookstores. I did work at one for about three months one summer in college. However, I do read a fair amount of the articles up at Publishers Weekly’s website, and one of the blogs they host is written by a couple of owners of children’s bookstores (which also have small sections of adult fiction). And they have talked about approaching bookstores with an indie book, so I dug up a whole slew of links.

Bookstores and libraries want a book which will be of comparable quality to the other books on the shelves. Self-published books have improved by leaps and bounds, but there are still some people who feel they can spot a self-published book by looks alone.

There are blogs out there that focus on cover art design, and why some things work and others don’t. They also post a huge number of cover images. I managed to only find two teen/YA ones, and one humor one. Take a look:

This blog compares covers every friday (often two covers for one book, either the paperback and hardcover, or an older edition and a new one):

Jacket Whys focuses just on teen book covers. There are a lot of posts on the use of stock photography.

The Jacket Whys author asked book cover designers to walk readers through the process:

This one highlights bad book covers, go there for a good laugh, and to be confident that your cover is not that bad!

Here is some additional book design advice from the readers of the Shelf Talker blog on Publishers Weekly. Remember, making your book stand out on the shelf matters.
Nancy Werlin : The Anatomy of a Book Cover
One author shows the cover design process one of her books went through. In it she links to one stock photo website. You may not have the mad photoshop skills of her big publisher’s cover team, but things like mood and lighting and fonts are discussed.

Strong Spines Redux : Essentials for Standing Out on the Shelf
At most bookstores and libraries, people will see the spine of your book. This post includes tips for making that look good – sadly it looks like all her photos from a year ago vanished, but the text still has her salient points (as well as a link to a book cover art blog).

What You Wish They Knew : A Conversation Between Authors, Publishing Folks, and Booksellers
This is a great post. Take note of what booksellers say sells books. There are a lot of comments, and it is worth it to click through and read the older ones.

And now, on to indie books in indie bookstores!

Shelf Talker is a blog by children’s booksellers, and while it often focuses on children’s books, a lot of this applies to all books, and they do sell adult materials. There have been multiple posts about getting self published books into bookstores. I think that, like with libraries, this will vary widely from bookstore to bookstore. It sounds like the best policy is to let the bookstore take one or two copies of your book on consignment with a time limit. The store does not pay you unless the book sells (which the store will be happy with).

The oldest entries listed first – the very oldest is from 2008.

Do read the comments – other booksellers chime in which gives a wider range of opinions. One annoying thing about the comments – the oldest ones are on the bottom, so if you read down you get the conversation in reverse order.

Why No Bookseller Can Read Everything
A visual depiction of how much stuff bookstores get sent to preview.

Self Publishing Tips
A DO and DON’T list of tips for interacting with your local bookstore. I believe this one is the one where she discusses, in the comments, the need for self published authors to offer her the same discount that big publishers do.

Promotional Emails: Do’s and Don’t’s
All good tips, which can also apply to contacting librarians (we get lots of email too).

How, Ultimately, to Get a Book On My Shelves
This is a tale of what not to do, in which she points out several mistakes a self-published author made in contacting her store. Tip number one is NOT in December!

Self-Publishing Successes
From just last month, she outlines how two local authors were able to each sell very well at her store. She highlights what worked.

Her 2010 End of Year Advice post included one item for self published authors:
“Self-published authors or new reps for sidelines should not come to any store in December and expect anyone to be able to talk to them about their book or product. This is our busiest time of the year and while you might think it would be a great time to sell your book, you should have thought about approaching your local store in October or November when staff would have been much more receptive.”

So You Want to Publish a Book:
While I think anyone reading here knows not to hand their manuscript to a bookstore manager or librarian, apparently this needs to be said. There are good author resources mentioned in the comments.

Finally, while I can’t reccomend paying Publishers Weekly Select to review (or more likely, just list) your book, they did interview bookstores all over the country on the topic of what makes a self-published book successful at their store. The full article is worth reading:

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