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THE INSIDE SCOOP: Covers That Sell

Whether setting up a display to entice readers or creating a cover from scratch, there…

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An author can spend countless hours and thousands of dollars giving their books away on sites like BookBub hoping that it will boost their rank enough for readers to find them on Amazon, and still, that may never be sufficient to create the attention needed to sell books.

All the while many indie authors are neglecting a massive, expanding market. Indie bookstores are back with a passion, says The New York Times. CBS News reports, Indie bookstores see growth for the seventh straight year. According to the American Booksellers Association, independent bookstores in the United States are thriving, up over 27% since 2009. The ABA’s chief executive, Oren Teicher told The New York Times, American indie bookshops have filled the vacuum left by big box bookstores like Borders (which went out of business in 2011) and Barnes & Noble (which has closed hundreds of stores). They have also capitalized on a spirit of localism and urban renewal that is coursing through some American cities. “The enthusiasm and optimism is pretty staggering,” Mr. Teicher said. “Despite all the quantum leaps in technology, the fact is nothing beats a physical, bricks-and-mortar store to discover books that you didn’t know about.”
But this is more than just an increase in the number of bookstores thriving across America. Perhaps even more shocking is the growing volume of bookstore sales as compared to a stagnating ebook market. In 2015, national sales in independent bookstores were up more than 10%, said ABA spokesman Dan Cullen. And this year, the ABA posted an article on their website stating that retail sales at bookstores are on the incline still today.
As the president and publisher of a traditional publishing company and past owner of several independent hobby/bookstores, it’s my personal and professional experience that booksellers across America are eager to discover and help manifest the next bestselling indie author. Authors need to understand that each one of the over 4,000 independent bookstores and public libraries across America could become a mouthpiece for their book.
All it takes is a well written, carefully edited, beautifully designed, and strategically marketed book and it is entirely possible to win over a few hundred bookstores and their staff. That's only 5% of the total U.S. bookseller market. And these booksellers can often act like personal publicists, promoting an author’s book across social media as well as in their bookstores. Only when this happens will an author truly start to see a return on their investment.
I hear it all the time, “But, Keith, I just don’t make enough money selling wholesale.” This statement drives me out of my mind. It simply makes no sense whatsoever. These are sales that would never have materialized without the wholesale market. Who cares if you only make $1.75 a book instead of $3.00. These are brand new sales, which are almost inevitable in the long run to increase your ebook sales. Not to mention, this could cause Amazon to take notice. After all, they pay attention to the sale of print books just as much as ebooks.
When an unknown author starts selling thousands of books through brick-and-mortar bookstores... that means something. This sudden movement of physical books could cause Amazon (as well as other online booksellers) to amp up their promotions of your book, and it could also spawn the curiosity of traditional publishers, opening other, bigger possibilities. But this will never happen so long as authors continue that same old routine of giving all their time and money to websites promising the world, only to give away their books.
That’s where TopShelf Magazine can help. We utilize the influence of our traditional TopShelf Publishing imprint to help indie authors get the attention they so desperately need and deserve. TopShelf is the full package. When authors list books in TopShelf Magazine, they know that professionals are standing behind them, promoting their books across all of the same website and social media platforms used to promote TopShelf Publishing titles.
Booksellers are tremendously busy people. As much as they may desire it, they simply cannot sift through the hundreds-of-thousands of independent book titles published in America each year. Therefore, booksellers rely heavily on bookstore industry resources, such as TopShelf Magazine to get the information they need to know which books to investigate further. At the end of the day, I believe authors need to start realizing that alienating over half of their sales market and losing out on hundreds of potential mouthpieces, is a HUGE mistake.