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Online sales verses high street bookstore sales - how do they compare?

Posted by Kerry McDuling (Publicious Book Publishing) on 24 October 2016


There is nothing more exciting than seeing your book at a bookstore the title peeking out amongst writers you might admire or aspire to. If you are lucky enough to have the cover facing out, shiny and colourful in its resplendence, then be even more grateful; shelf space is limited as publishers vie for attention in a hyper-competitive market and only the most eye catching book cover designs tend to be displayed.

But how likely is it that your novel will even make it into a physical bookstore? By looking around at any major retailer, you wouldn't think it would be difficult, but for every book you see, there are countless others which didn't make it. Based on the trends of global book and Ebook distribution, I'd like to talk about the challenges and opportunities for getting your book sold at a physical retailer, compared to relying solely on Print on Demand (POD) and Ebook distribution channels.

Like many industries today, the publishing industry is incredibly competitive. Publishers need to have solid relationships with bookstores, and in some cases, pay a premium for prime shelf space.

If you are self-published, there are many factors to consider. For a start, most major retailers will not consider a Print on Demand book, as they have accounts with specific distributors, and going outside those channels is generally seen as time-consuming and unnecessary.

A distributor's job is to sell your book to bookstores, using their sales team. For you to get represented by a distributor is possible, but they may take some convincing. An unknown author with no track record is a big risk for any publishing related business to take on, so some sort of media coverage, impressive social media stats or other proof of book marketing/publicity may help. You'll need to self- fund a large print run, which is probably one of the most off-putting aspects of achieving distribution.

If you want to stick with smaller, independent bookstores, you'll have a much better chance of being accepted. Start with your local bookstores and push the 'local author' angle. Some well known names such as Dymocks in Australia are also franchises and may accept Print on Demand books, but each store owner makes their own purchasing decisions and you'll need to approach them individually.

If you have a professional quality Ebook, your chances of succeeding in the online market is significantly higher. With few barriers to entry, online stores such as Amazon and iBooks have opened opportunities for writers around the world, attracted by the opportunity to participate in affordable book publishing.

Be warned however, just because you have created an Ebook, don't skimp on the details. Ensure that you've enlisted some sort of quality control, such as manuscript assessments/copy editing/proofreading. There is nothing worse than picking up a book that is full of typos and grammatical errors.

Another important element of self-publishing is getting feedback on your book. Hiring a developmental editor is an option, but isn't essential you can simply ask family and friends. Be warned that many of them will be eager to please you and make you feel better for all the work you put in. Don't be afraid to choose your most critical friends, or ask friends of friends you feel will be honest.

As soon as your precious manuscript is ready for the world, it is time to source a quality affordable book publishing service for peace of mind, choose one that will also offer a Book typesetting service, Book cover designs and Book marketing/publicity.

Author: Kerry McDuling (Publicious Book Publishing)
Tags: Andy McDermott / Director

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