If you’re an indie author, you know how hard––it not impossible––it is to get your book onto the shelves of brick-and-mortar stores. Some shady companies offer “distribution packages” that make it sound like your book will be everywhere, but all it really means is that your book will be on a massive list of titles that bookstores can order if they want—which by the way is something they can already do. If your book has an ISBN, any bookstore can order it.
My first novel was self-published before it got picked up by a traditional publisher, so here’s what I did about the distribution hurdle: I went to an art store and bought a handful of little bookstands, then headed out on foot around the San Francisco neighborhoods where my book took place. My target audience was single professional women, so I looked for cute boutiques where single professional women would shop. In each store I approached the owner and explained that I’d written a book set in the neighborhood, and that my readers were a lot like the store’s customers. Then I’d whip out a book and a stand and ask, “Would you like to sell the book at your store?” I’d also offer to give them a signed copy for themselves.
Granted I had to do this on a commission basis, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to get my book out there, and it worked! Within a few weeks I had my book in seven stores in San Francisco, all perfectly suited to my target readership. I was also able to list those stores on the “where to buy” section of my website, which helped my other marketing efforts because it made my book look more appealing to anyone who checked out my website, for example the many book club moderators I contacted.
Where do your target readers shop? Have a think about it—then get out there and pitch!