You’ve written the world’s greatest book. You want to see it everywhere.
But when you walk into a bookstore or library, it isn’t there. As a bookseller and librarian, this is my most frequently asked question from authors: “Why don’t you have my book and how can I get you to carry it?”
Here’s some tips to help get it on the shelf.
Ask nicely. An author who makes a polite inquiry will get a lot farther than one making demands. You will make more sales in the long run if you are kind and courteous to the people purchasing and selling your books.
Give the name of your publisher and distributor. The buyer needs to know how to buy your book and if they’ve already ordered it. Your publisher’s name is the quickest way of finding that out. If your publisher has a distributor, you should give that as well.
Make sure the book is a good fit. Don’t ask a mystery bookstore to carry your picture book or a children’s bookstore to carry your mystery book. Do basic research. If they don’t have your book, it is often not a critique of it. Trust that they know what sells and circulates for them.
Read the policies. If the bookstore states on their website that they don’t take self-published books, don’t try to pitch them one. If a library outlines the books they look for in their collection development policy, read it.
Include links. When asked where your book can be bought, include a link to an indie or IndieBound. For those looking for a library that carries your book, link to your local library or WorldCat. Bookstores and libraries do a lot of work promoting you. It makes a difference if you promote them.