Inside tips for authors from three Australian booksellers

Inside tips for authors from three Australian booksellers

February 10, 2023

Want to know how to get your books into bookstores? Or the best timing to get in touch with a bookseller to organise your book launch or book signing? Or what thoughts booksellers go through before choosing which books to stock? You do? Well, in addition to reading the interview with a bookstore manager and bookstore distribution tips in Chapter 29 of Look-it’s Your Book!,  tune into this wonderful, generous conversation hosted by authors Irma Gold and Karen Viggers on their podcast, Secrets from the Green Room.

In Episode 26: Booksellers, you’ll meet passionate and thoughtful booksellers including Katarina Pearson from Harry Hartog, Alison Page from Dymocks and Peter Armando from The Book Cow. This is why we love booksellers people!

Together they share their thoughts on authors, books and bookselling in general.

It was interesting to hear that approximately 15% of books are returned by bookstores to publishers, it’s a percentage that is not often mentioned out loud in the publishing industry but I think an important statistic for authors to know when you’re trying to calculate the possibilities for your book, or are awaiting your royalty statements…also, the environmental consequences of the industry potentially producing and pulping so many books.

Reasons for book returns include the book just not selling, the book being damaged in some way, changing market and economic conditions (including pandemic shutdowns), or perhaps even because the book was accidentally over-ordered, for example, two cartons selected instead of just one.

Returns give booksellers the opportunity to take risks on new books and authors, as well as the confidence to order in good quantities to ensure great stacked displays – but for authors, it can lead to disappointment when months later, books you thought had sold, are sent back to the publisher and wiped from your royalties.

Indie authors can avoid this by striking consignment deals with key bookstores, or instead of distributing their book physically through a book distributor, make the title available on IngramSpark (with ‘no returns’ ticked). This way, bookstores can order the title in when requested by customers, or, if you know you have some great publicity coming up – you can also let the bookstores know in advance so they can order extra copies if it suits their audience.

In this episode, the booksellers also talk about the importance of being friendly with your local bookstore (though ‘not too full-on’) and the important role of book sales reps and the sell sheets and the book sales catalogues they share.

If you’re an indie author, being a self-publisher means you won’t have your own book sales rep, but there are customisable templates and a micro-course about advance information/book sell sheets on the Bold Authors site: Advance Information Sheets / Book Sell Sheets & Templates – these are a wonderful way to let bookstores, librarians and media know about your book in advance.

Secrets from The Green Room is just one of the great Australian podcasts that dives deep into author life and the world of writing and books. Hope you enjoy discovering and listening to Season 3, Episode 26: Booksellers.