October, 2015

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“I Want to Sell My Book to Wal-Mart and Costco”


costco logoWhen I meet authors and publishers who are interested in growing their sales, I ask them this question: “What shelves to you want to see your book sitting on?”

What I hear the most often is “Costco”, “Wal-Mart” and often, “My book would be PERFECT for Airport stores!”

While that may be true, I hate having to tell them what I am about to tell you…

That will only happen if you have already sold enough copies to prove to the buyers at these stores that your book will be worth their time and shelf space.

Airport stores, Costco and Supermarkets have very limited shelf space compared to the rent they are being charged.  It is a book buyer’s job to make sure that those shelves earn their keep.  Each inch of shelf space needs to yield a minimum amount of money each month. If books are put on the shelves that don’t sell enough, the buyer has to replace them. This is expensive and a waste of time and money for the store.

So buyers are judged by how well they choose books that will sell well and make money per shelf spot. The best buyers have an innate sense of the books that will succeed.  All buyers (if they are smart) look at data and sales history to back up their gut feelings before they put a book on their shelves.

No matter how great your book is, a buyer needs to PROVE to their companies that a book will make money.  You need to prove to the buyer that your book will make money.  How will you do that?

Airport stores don’t have the luxury of trying out books to “see how they do”.  They choose books that have already done well in the book market or online.

One buyer I work with needs to make $3000 off of every title on her shelves each month.  Does your book sell $3000 worth of units each month?

Sales reps pitching books to Wal-mart from major publishing houses KNOW not to present ANY book that is not scheduled to sell over 10,000 copies in the first year.  Minimum.  That is the BARE MINIMUM. This is because Wal-Mart needs to know that the book given a few inches of their very valuable shelf space has already proven that it will “earn its keep”

So, before you approach the national offices of any of the major chains, you HAVE to have the materials and the data that shows that they will make the money they are required to make.  If you don’t have sales from online or the book retail chains, then you can try approaching a manager of a local airport store or Costco and ask if you can do an event.  A successful book sales day at Costco can be leveraged into a conversation with the main buyer in Washington.

I am not saying that you cannot have your book accepted into Target… I am just letting you know what the book buyer’s job looks like and what you will be up against.  I have some free cover letter templates that increase your chances of getting a buyer interested.  You can download them HERE.

If you want our help getting into Costco or Airport stores, there are ways to get tested in local Costco locations and ways to use co-op funds to get tested at airport stores.  If you are interested in earning your way onto the shelves of these major chains, please email Amy at amy@newshelves.com and we will come up with a plan for you!