What Are Book Store Buyers LOOKING For?
A client recently asked me. What the %$#@! are book buyers looking for? He went on to say “My book is priced right, well-designed and exactly what older American’s are needing… what more can I do?”
I thought I would share my answer in the hopes that it might answer other questions out there.
If the book is well written, has a topic and message that will appeal to their customers, and is well designed, it has a good shot of getting a test order from a bookstore book buyer.
Keep in mind, there are more books published each year than could fit in 7 totally empty bookstores. (And as you know, bookstores are not empty!) Because of this, the buyers can only take a teeny fraction of what is presented to them. Also, the buyers are judged (read: get to keep their jobs) by how many times their section “turns” a year. The sales rate of their choices is closely monitored. So they will pick books that they feel have the best chance to selling off the shelf several times a year.
That is where demand and platform comes in. If an author has a good platform, is reaching out to thousands, or tens of thousands of readers, is showing sales online (seen in Nielsen Bookscan reports) and has a strong PR plan with potential for a lot of media – the buyer will be far more likely to take the book in.
If the book does NOT have all of those things, then the buyer needs to see some other proof that the well-designed, beautifully-edited, fantastically-written, much-needed book won’t just sit on their shelves. There is a chance that someone will see your title on the spine on a crowded bookshelf and pick it up. If they pick it up, there is a good chance that they might buy it. (If they need or want a book like yours). But a book buyer would much rather sweeten the chances of a “turn” by stocking books that will have browse-friendly qualities AND great press. There are enough books out there that have great demand AND are great books to choose from.
Does your book have everything it needs PLUS good PR? Is your book “All That” AND a bag of chips?