Publishing Insiders Wrap-Up: Getting Your Book Into Bookstores with Elaine Wilkes

by | Nov 17, 2010 | Book Marketing Basics, Social Media for Authors

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We had another great show titled ‘Getting Your Book Into Bookstores,’ with special guest Elaine Wilkes, who offered timely and useful tips for getting your book into stores – just in time for the holidays!

To kick things off, we consulted Search Engine Marketing Expert Susan Gilbert for a tip.

One Sky Photo Quilt:  October 1, 2005
Image by cobalt123 via Flickr

Susan discussed the need to resize or edit online photos and images. Programs like Photoshop are difficult for some people to master, but a free site,, allows users to upload images there. While it’s similar to Photoshop, fotoflexer is easier to use. You can edit photos from Photobucket, MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa and many other sites. Features include animation, scissors, smart resizing, recoloring and more.

For additional resources and tips check Susan Gilbert’s website,


About our guest: Elaine Wilkes, Ph.D., N.C., M.A., LEED is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Nature’s Secret messages: Hidden In Plain Sight, that was awarded a rare star recommendation from the prestigious Publishers Weekly – known as the Bible of the book industry. She has been an interviewed on numerous radio and TV shows such as CNN, Headline News, E! Entertainment, and has been quoted in major media such as Forbes, CNN, Chicago Tribune, and Woman’s World, to name a few. As an actress, she was under an exclusive contract with NBC, and appeared with “A” list actors in numerous TV shows, movies, and in over 75 TV commercials. She’s a motivational speaker who gives dynamic presentations on marketing, health, and well-being. Visit:

It doesn’t matter whether your book is soon to be released or is already released; you don’t want your books sitting in a distributor’s warehouse or in a garage. Did you know there are thousands of stores that sell books? It’s true, it’s not just bookstores but: gift stores, health food stores, farmer’s markets, military bases, hospitals, souvenir stores, specialty stores and much, much more. And 70 percent of books sold are sold in brick and mortar stores.

When Elaine’s book was published by a major publisher she assumed her book would be carried in all the stores. It had even received a coveted starred review from Publishers Weekly. After publication she went to a local bookstore to see her book on the shelves, but the store didn’t have it. In fact, none of the local stores stocked her book. It wasn’t ordered for the stores because six months before a book comes out, the publisher’s sales rep meets with bookstore people – and at that point her book wasn’t finished, the sales rep didn’t know much about it and as a result, no bookstores picked it up.

This shows how important it is, if you have a publisher, to make sure you get to know the sales rep right away. The sales reps have a lot of books to shop so make your book stand out – pitch your book to them and get them fired up to make the sale.

Typically for a bookstore to pick up your book you need to have a distributor (such as Ingram) in place. Bookstores are not the only sales venue for your books, however.

Where can you sell your book?

At the farmers' market
Image via Wikipedia

Think of all the different places for your book depending on its topic: farmer’s markets, Kinko’s, Office Depot, Kmart, beauty salons, hospitals, health food stores, specialty stores, gift shops, Hallmark, natural food stores, Walgreens… What are you waiting for? See if they’ll carry your book!

Ask for the manager in person and start with one store. If you do get into one store, and your book is selling there, go to other store managers and see if they’ll stock your book based on its sales at the first store.

Be proactive; if you’re doing media then let the local stores know about it; authors often lose sales by not letting stores know they’re doing media in the area. People come in looking for the book and it’s not there. Make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

If you email bookstores to request they stock your book, they can use that information to prequalify you. You should include your book’s ISBN, your contact information, and let them know if you have a distributor and if your book is returnable (it’s easier for stores to order your book if it’s returnable because then they incur no loss for leftover books).

Tell them you’ll do a book signing – sometimes they’ll put your book on a front table to promote the event – and get a lot of additional authors to do a signing with you so you don’t have to carry the burden of the event yourself. By combining efforts with other authors you can get a better turnout, too, with each of you inviting all of your contacts to attend.

If a store takes your book on a trial basis and they sell copies, they’ll re-order, and now you’re in the computer as a book that sells.

Robert Dugoni Book Signing
Image by Michael @ NW Lens via Flickr

Don’t take ‘No’ for an answer

When you get “no,” it means you have to be a little bit more creative: think of all the places you can get your book sold. Also don’t call or ask just once and then quit, follow up, make your case, you can’t give up. Be persistent in a nice way.

The good news is that it’s not too late to get into bookstores or other stores for the holidays – start calling or emailing now!


Upcoming Episodes – Please join us Nov. 30 for Secrets to Getting Your Book Into Libraries,

In an economically challenged climate guess what starts to soar? Libraries. The library market is strong and getting stronger. If you haven’t made libraries part of your target market you should. And despite all the book buzz online, it’s still nice to get your book onto a library shelf. For most of us, this seems like an exclusive right devoted to an exclusive group of best-selling authors. While some piece of this is true, the reality is that if you have a good book, you can get into the library system. We’ll show you how. Learn more at

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