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If you are a small press author, trying to get your book to physical stores can be one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. If you are a POD author the chances are almost impossible unless you are dealing with local independent bookstores which are generally more flexible and open to helping local authors. But, as a general rule, large chain stores do not stock a POD book, mainly due to the lack of returnability and the bad (and mostly unfair) reputation of print-on-demand books.

But, like I said, small independent bookstores are more open and flexible and are more willing to take a little risk with an unknown author. While it is true that most people (about 52%) buy books at large chain stores, here your book will be lost among thousands. In a small bookstore, however, the competition will be less because there are not as many books on the shelves. Of course, most people buy their books at the big chain stores, hence their popularity.

If you want to market your book in bookstores, the first thing to do is locate them. You also need to decide which guy to contact. You may want to contact bookstores by genre or geographic area. If you live in Los Angeles and your book is a mystery, for example, you may want to contact all the mystery bookstores in your city before moving to other geographic areas.

To locate libraries you can consult:

* Directory of Yellow Pages in your city.

* Directory of yellow pages on the Internet.

* The ABA library directory: [http://www.bookweb.org]

* The American Booktrade Directory (available at the library).

Another easy but expensive way to locate bookstores is to rent a mailing list. For $ 40, you can get a mailing list of the top 700 independent bookstores at http://www.bookmarket.com.

Once you have a list of the bookstores you want to contact, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind before contacting their owners:

* Prepare an attractive brochure or media kit, which should contain your contact information, book information, an author’s biography, a description or blurb of the book, citation reviews, and mention of any awards. If you don’t know how to prepare a brochure or media kit, be sure to do some research on the internet first. Amateur footage will be thrown away, you can be sure of that.

* Some owners prefer a brochure, others a sample copy of the book. You should also include a personal (not generic!) Letter introducing yourself and your book. Be short and professional, never boast about the great qualities of the book. The book should speak for itself. If you have quotes from rave reviews for your book, the place for these is in the brochure or media kit. Many bookstore owners like handwritten or post-it letters. The ‘personal’ aspect of this will make you stand out. Of course, it is always a test, and the reality is that most of the material received by the owners ends up in the trash. But the more personal and professional you are, the better your chances of success. Alan Beats of Borderland Books says: “Send a well thought out cover letter with a review copy. The quality of the cover letter is very important. If it’s misspelled or has grammatical errors, I won’t even look at the book. The letter will gain major positive points if it is clear that the person writing it has researched our store and is addressing me directly. “

Some bookstore owners prefer that the publisher himself send them sample copies rather than the author. Otherwise, these people will not consider a publisher legitimate and will not store your books.

* Do not call. Bookstore owners are too busy and don’t like desperate authors to harass them over the phone. “The worst thing we can do is get upset after we send it,” says Del Howison, owner of Dark Delicacies, a bookstore specializing in horror. “We are not a criticizing service, so we will not give you a summary of the good and the bad that it has. There are many publishers who will do that for you. ”Howison prefers a sample copy of the book rather than a brochure.

* Make sure your book is relevant to the store. If your book is a novel about witches or vampires, you will have no luck with a Christian bookstore! Make sure your time and resources are not wasted.

* Keep a record of your contacts and marketing efforts for future use in other books.

Although most marketers continue to insist that bookstores are not the best places to market your books, and while this may be true, there is one thing for sure: nothing beats seeing your book on a bookstore shelf!

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