Are you ready?
Here we go!
Last post, we looked at getting into independent bookshops and gift shops, the pros and cons, and how to do it. While these two potential sale locations are similar, large outlets and chain stores are a very different ball game. Let’s take a look at both…
Retail chain bookstores e.g. Waterstones or Barnes and Noble
Big names in the book business, Waterstones and Barnes and Noble, are for many people, the go-to place to shop for books. If you want to see your book on their shelves here are some things to consider, and some tips on how to get there.
Large retail chain stores are unlikely to deal directly with you. They don’t want to accept hundreds of deliveries each day from different suppliers – it would be impossible for them to manage. So, to begin with, you’ll want your book available through a book wholesaler.
They will expect the stock to be available on their terms, at the time and quantity they want it. You’ll need to make sure you have the stock to fulfil the orders, and you’ll need to be able to deliver it on time. If you cannot fulfil the order, they may well cancel it, so having the stock ready is very important.
Larger shops will most likely expect a higher wholesale discount than perhaps your local indie bookshop – up to 60%. This is absolutely something to consider when pricing your book (make sure you can still make a profit!). You will also need to get the books to the wholesaler at your own expense. You may not get paid right away either – check their terms and conditions (more on that next); you could well be funding the printing, storage and shipping of these books and not getting paid for 2-3 months – maybe longer.
The T’s and C’s…
Make sure you read the terms and conditions – sounds obvious, but you don’t want to get caught out.
When it comes to larger retail shops, you are likely to be supplying books on a Sale or Return basis (SOR). This means that you may need to refund any returns, damages and books that don’t sell – which will then be returned to you. This comes with two considerations - Firstly, financially, will you be able to cover this if needed? Secondly, space. If these books come back to you, can you store them?
As mentioned a second ago, they will also have terms relating to how and when they will pay you. When you apply to be stocked in a large retail store, they will advise you of their payment terms; this could be 2 months from the invoice date or even more. For example, from the Gardeners website, “We will pay you 30 days from month end of the invoice so, for example, a January dated invoice will be paid at the end of February”
The whole process up to this point will therefore have to be funded by you. This may also include Point of Sale (POS) materials which you will have to design and make at your own cost.
Other large retailers, such as supermarkets, will have a very similar setup to the retail chain bookstores. They will be doing it all on an even larger scale though. This could mean the stock sizes you need to maintain are higher, the delivery costs increase, and more POS items will be needed.
Ultimately, the very best thing you can do before diving in to become a large retral supplier is to sit down and really consider all of the numbers, your author goals and what you think is the best setup for you.
It’s not going to be an easy road – even if your books are available through a wholesaler, there’s no guarantee big stores will pick them up. And even if they are – can you fund the whole process?
If you want to see your book on the shelves of the chain bookstores and supermarkets, then amazing! Go for it! And let me know where they are so I can go buy a copy!
But don’t forget there are many other ways to sell your book. With children’s books particularly you can have LOTS of fun with it too.
Let me know your thoughts on this topic. Do you have any experience in this area?