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What's Your Biggest Challenge with Your Book?

I'd be interested to learn what authors/publishers on this network think their biggest challenges are with their book. I wonder if there's any common, pervasive challenge we all face.

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Hi Bill,
I'm a first time author. My book is a memoir, A Healing Heart. My biggest problem is getting managers of bookstores to put my book on their shelves. They turn when they see PA being a print on demand company. I have my book in Borders' Express and Readmore Books in Taunton, MA and Baker Books in Dartmouth, MA. They got there from determination. I will continue to push to get it out there.

Little bookstores and gift shops...and Curves in E. Freetown, MA has taken my books on consignment.

I guess we just have to keep pushing.
One of the challenges with a POD publisher, such a Publish America, is their return policy on unsold books. Most retailers insist on being able to return a book to the publisher if it doesn't sell. This is a policy that dates back to the Great Depression. No booksellers were selling books, so publishers agreed to place books in bookstores on consignment. Today, the practice persists. POD publishers do not accept book returns, for the most part. (There are exceptions. Infinity Publishing, for example, accepts book returns).

The bookstore managers are simply reacting to your publisher's policy on non-returnable books. A bookstore manager doesn't want to add a book to inventory if it can't be guaranteed to be sold or returned.

Independent bookstores such as Readmore Books and Baker Books may be more willing to take a chance on your book. Several factors motivate their decisions to buy. You're a local author. They know their clientele better than most chain stores and they must feel your book has local appeal.

The other stores that took your book on consignment are willing to take a chance because there is little downside risk. What the stores will need, however, is help to sell your book. Typically, an author can prepare a "one-sheet" to help the retail clerks "hand sell" the book. Hand selling is an industry term for recommending a book to a customer. The one-sheet includes the key points in your book. It also helps to compare your book to other books on the market—"my book is like…" That helps the clerks to recommend your book based on what a customer likes or asks for.
Hey, Lynn. What's wrong, or limiting, about selling 90% of your books to women? It's a fact that women do most of the book buying (and one assumes reading, too). If you read today's newspaper, you saw the article that over 25% of the adult population has not read a book in the past year. Of that, men outnumbered women for not reading a book last year. If one had to select the target gender for a book, women would be a better target than men.

A different way to look at your situation might be to figure out how you can network with other male social workers who counsel abuse victims. Contact one or two of them who have purchased your book. Ask what magazines they read. Ask how they get their information on the subject of violence and abuse. Then contact those sources to pitch your book. Perhaps there is a magazine or newspaper that caters to this audience. Contact the publication to write a review of your book. Find a columnist to provide quotes on abuse and recovery—you may be mentioned in a future article. As a last resort, consider taking out an advertisement in the publication to promote your book.

By all means, post your book on Amazon. Have readers write reviews (positive reviews) about your book. Being on Amazon will increase the exposure for your book. You'd be surprised how many people search on Amazon for topics such as violence and abuse. All of them are looking for specific solutions to their situations. Your book will be the solution for many potential readers.
Lynn, Your post raised my curiosity. So I went to your website very briefly. I looked at your book cover and the first page of your book. your book cover is BEAUTIFUL and very professional. But is the eye of a female. Also, your website shows all females in the pictures. (At least that is what I recall from my quick look.) It looks like you are marketing to women. On one hand-CONGRATS! It's working. Women are buying your book! On the other hand, men aren't. Maybe it has to do with the visuals attached to your book and website and maybe your other marketing tools.

Just a thought from a dude.
self published authors face the distribution challenge and the no bdy to some body challenge.

without distribution you can't sell in the major books stores and some independant stores.

to promote your book you need to become some body.

How have my wife and I faced tackled this challenge? ( we wrote a cookbook chef robert presents romantic dinners for two)


call call call don't get discouraged it took us 8 months
after that you have to be on top of the distribution to get baker & taylor, ingram to list your book.

Then you can try to get into the major chain book stores.

no body to some body

do local radio, television, print media get practice you are going to need to be ready.

get yourself out there.

sooner or later you are going to connect with someone that "GETS YOUR BOOK"

you need to be ready.

If you can afford it go to the Book expo of america tyr to get invited to book festivals.

we have done all of this and it has been hard work.

we are in barnes & noble, Borders, Chapters and Indigo.

just online and slowly as we contact managers our book is being ordered and put on the shelves.

we now have to contact all the stores and talk to the managers to get our books in the stores.

we are also going to be guest experts on a television show that airs on the lifetsyles network in October

oh ya I forgot selling

We sell anywhere we can,cooking stores, hotels for romantic packages, gift stores, we also sell to online sellers etc.

this helps pay the bills/ expenses.

if it was easy everyone would be doing it.

chef robert
What a great success story! And a story of perseverance. Eight months.

To emphasize something you wrote, Baker & Taylor is more friendly to authors than other wholesalers. That's a great place to start a distribution hunt. For specialty books, such as yours on cooking, there are also specialized distributors who sell into cooking stores and nutrition stores. if your book is specialized, go to the specialty stores to ask the managers from whom the purchase their books. In most cases, the manager will tell you the name of their book distributor. Press further, if you can. Get the name of the rep that calls on the store, or the contact information for the distributor, then contact them yourself.

Continued success.
Hi Robert Catherine,
I appreciated you giving me ways of promoting my book. I've come a long way since I last wrote. My book is in five bookstores; B&N in Braintree, Borders In Taunton, Readmore in Taunton, Baker Books in Dartmouth and Bev Loves Books in Rochester. I realize they are not flying off the shelves.

I have learned a lot listening to Steven Harrison on phone seminars. He gave the differences from poor authors and rich authors that rang a bell. Poor authors depend "only" on book signing and getting their books on the shelves. A rich author finds ways that he or she can find to use their other skills.

So, I put my ideas together. I have been teaching Beginning Writer's Workshops to libraries and senior seniors and not charging much. Tomorrow I'm mailing out a resume to the South Coast Learning Center in New Bedford, MA. I'm signing up to be an instructor for their Spring class. There's good money doing this.

The center also sends the instructor to their other locations in either Newport, RI and Needam, MA, if you're willing to go. So, I am. The director of education will send you on radio and tv shows. I'm going to volunteer for it all. This may get my name out there and a chance to introduce my book.

Now when I do my next workshop, I'm going to record it and put it into a CD. That way I can sell it on my site with a free item to go with it.

I went on the WBSM Radio in Fairhaven, Ma this year. I have an audio of the show and I want to find how to get it on my website since I already have a video of my book.

Jay Fadden and Fr. Robert Reed from the CatholicTV show, "This is the Day" is reviewing my book and wants me on his show (GULP). It's one of the EWTN Network shows.

The Catholic women's organization "The Magnificat has asked me to speak next year at their breakfast. There are over 200 women who attend this function that meets four times a year. If you are a speaker, you can book sign.

My last promotion idea fell on my new book "Please God, Not Two" which I'm hoping to have finished by next year or sooner. It's based on a true story about me losing my husband, RIchard (46 years old) in 1986 from Cirrhosis and my daughter, Lori, at 39 years old on November 22, 2006 from the same terrible family disease.

Yesterday I called the Gosnold Rehab in Falmouth that Lori had entered. I introduce myself and will be donating a poem that I wrote for my new book called "The Demons" in a two-sided clear frame along with Lori's favorite prayer card and her picture in memory of her.

I then asked if I could speak to the women during their meetings. They were thrilled and said they never had anyone from the other side speak. Once I do, I will ask to speak to the men at the same rehab. I'm calling on the AA groups that Lori attended and more to do the same.

Slowly, I want to be seen and heard. When I'm looking for a publisher, I can add my experience as an instructor to writing workshops and a speaker in rehabs and AA groups. This can also be added to my new book.

Another suggestion was from Penny Sansevieri from the Marketing Experts, Inc. (, which is wonderful. She stresses that the author should NEVER try to sell their book. Sell the BENEFITS that your book can offer to readers. My ears perked. I never looked at that point of view.

These are the things I have learned in the past three weeks and I'm not talking about it, I'm doing it. I hope these ideas help others.

I am by no means an authority on this but on reading your post and then the comments to it a thought came to me. Many of the spiritual / metaphysical / new age books address the issue of abuse in some form or another. Have you thought about that as a target group for your book? Just a thought.
Great idea! You may contact a Spirituality/Metaphysic/New Age distributor to inquire about selling books to these types of stores. The largest distributor in this area is New Leaf. You may also try Greenleaf Book Distribution.
I've returned from speaking at the Ventura Book Festival. I was sandwiched between two great speakers: Patricia Fry, president of SPAWN (the Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network); and Irwin Zucker, book publicist and founder of the Book Publicists of Southern California.

I spoke to a crowd of about fifty people on the subject of book marketing and distribution. We spent the majority of the time discussing Amazon as a distribution channel. I referenced Brent Sampson's book "Selling Your Book on Amazon." Listeners wanted to know which books I thought were the best books on the subject of self-publishing. I recommended them to my ListMania! on Amazon: Check it out for yourself.
Hi, Gary. Congratulations on the regional success you've had with your book. I checked out your Amazon page for your book, "The Triangle." It lists Great Reading Books out of Austin, TX and the publisher. Is that your publishing company? If not, how much control do you have over the marketing?

There are two things you can do with your Amazon page to increase your book sales. First, you have two reviews for your book; one from a Top 500 Reviewer. That's good. It's not enough reviews to make a difference, however. Critical mass for the number of reviews on an Amazon page is seven. You are five reviews short of critical mass. Why seven? It used to be that after seven reviews one of the reviews became a "Spotlight Review." While Amazon no longer has Spotlight Reviews, seven may still be the tipping point. Amazon is driven by software algorithms and it's unlikely that Amazon rewrote the software when they stopped having Spotlight reviews. Seven may still have a significance although it is no longer immediately apparent what that significance is.

Second, have you utilized the Tell A Friend feature of your Amazon page? You can use the Tell A Friend button to send an e-mail to your entire mailing list announcing your book on Amazon. The e-mail has a link that takes the recipient to your Amazon page.
Hi, Bill. This is also a problem that I am reviews as of yet.


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