BAM! Publish > How to Prepare for Bookstore Marketing!
Imagine walking into a book store and finding your book on the shelf. This is the dream of most authors. To have countless readers thumbing through the pages of your book is a moment nearly every author covets. Until now, only authors who have been lucky enough to contract with New York publishing houses have seen their books on book store shelves.
We’ve created a better way, a way that rewards good authors who have written good books. We’ve created a simplified self-publishing program for writers to publish printed books and potentially get them on the shelves in our Books-A-Million (BAM) stores throughout the country. Books-A-Million is the second largest bookstore chain in the United States, with over 250 stores in 33 states. Many of our stores feature cafes, which encourage readers to relax with a good book and a tasty drink.
The benefits of our self-publishing program are twofold: placement and marketing. While sales of eBooks and print books through online venues are a great option for indie authors, having your book placed in a bookstore for browsing readers to discover is a big advantage. You can have the best of both worlds with BAM! Publish by keeping your print and eBook publishing rights while also selling your printed versions in local Books-A-Million stores.
Books-A-Million has made this prospect even more attractive by supporting in-store signing events with BAM authors. There’s no better way to get a lifetime fan than by meeting them in person and talking about your work. Whether you hold a book signing for your newest book launch, or join in a combination event with many authors in your genre, marketing events in Books-A-Million stores is guaranteed to reach readers you never could find otherwise.
How to Prepare
While all authors who join our program have the opportunity to get their books on the shelves of brick and mortar stores, there is no guarantee. Books-A-Million, like other book stores, has standards for what we offer on our shelves.
What does this mean? Basically, the content must be reviewed and approved by our expert buyers to be offered for sale in the stores. If your goal is to have a book on our book shelves, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure the published book is of the highest quality by industry standards.
- Have your book professionally edited. Online editing programs are great for a first pass, for finding typos and missed words, but they can’t take the place of a human being with the education and experience of a trained editor. Editors cost money, true, but this will reflect upon your reputation.
- Design a great cover. If you’ve got a degree in design, you might be able to make your own book cover. If not, take your time and try out a few cover designers until you find one who can translate your vision into reality. Good book covers don’t have to cost thousands of dollars, but they do need basic design rules in place. If you’re not certain of what they all are, hire a professional.
- Use multiple beta readers, and not your friends and family members. Find a group of non-biased readers and offer to let them read your book for free in exchange for honest feedback. Social media groups designed around your genre are great places for finding these readers. Listen to what they have to say. If everyone thinks your heroine is a sappy wimp, find a way to rewrite her some spine. If your mystery doesn’t have a fair ending that readers can figure out, put in a twist for them to find. Beta readers won’t work on editing, but they will give you a better story.
- Write a great book description. On a printed book, it’s the copy on the back cover. You can find advice online on how to write a great blurb; there are entire books written on the subject. Your cover is the lure to entice the reader, but the description is the line that will reel them in.
Once you have the best product you can create, turn your attention toward marketing. Marketing a digital or eBook takes an incredible amount of time and effort. Add more and different marketing efforts to highlight the fact that your book will be in stores. You’ll need to start advertising much sooner than you would if your book was only digital, in order to generate interest. Readers need to already be familiar with your book before they walk into the store. If they’re not, they’re only about half as likely to buy it. Once they already know about it and look forward to reading it, they’re much more likely to buy your book from a store.
Book marketing takes many forms, both online and offline. Some of the most common activities for authors include:
- Social media posts
- Contacting book bloggers for reviews
- Cover reveals and page or chapter sneak peeks
- Dropping marketing materials off at libraries and community centers
- Scheduling ads and email blasts for the official launch day
Create a marketing schedule that includes some form of marketing every day for two months before your book release. It can be something small like creating some social media ads to be placed later in the week, or it might be something major like contacting five book reviewers in your genre and asking them for a review on their blog. Marketing has to be a constant stream in order to be effective, it can’t stop and start. Schedule time for marketing so you know exactly what you’re doing every day, beginning with 60 days out.