I have been thinking about selling books on consignment. Specifically, my children’s books. Other authors are doing it, so I decided I should give it a try. Truth is, I know nothing about selling books on consignment. I didn’t understand how it worked or where I should begin. The good news is there are a few new independent bookstores in my area. These bookstores might be interested in my books. I asked for advice from author friends and I spent some time online gathering my facts. It would be exciting for me to see my books on their bookshelves. The question is how do I get my books on those shelves?
What does it mean to sell your books on consignment?
Selling on consignment is an option for self-published authors. It is one way to get physical copies of your book on a shelf in a bookstore. The author is responsible for providing a number of copies of their book to the store. The author is also responsible for the bulk of the marketing and promotional work. Authors need to help to get readers to visit that store to buy the book. The store, in turn, will handle the actual sale of the books.
Getting your books on their shelves
Getting your books on their shelves is no easy task. First, my books are print on demand from Amazon. Bookstores will not purchase your books from Amazon. One thing that has helped me is the fact that my books are not exclusive to Amazon. That opens the door a crack.
It’s up to the author to let bookstores know that your book is available. You will need to convince bookstore owners that your book is worthy of their shelf space. Book distributers are one way that bookstores could get copies of your books. Many bookstores are not inclined to order from book distributers because of wholesale pricing and a book’s returnability. That’s why selling on consignment becomes a viable option for self-published authors.
It goes without saying that your book needs to look good, inside and out. Your book also needs to be a good fit for the store. I visit the store in advance to see what children’s books they carry and where my book might fit.
Selling books on consignment
Consignment makes it easy for third-party bookstore owners to sell the book for you. In exchange, the bookstore will keep part of the profits from the sale of your book. The first thing you need to do is to find out if the bookstore has a consignment program. Many indie bookstores have consignment programs available. It is very important that you do your research before committing yourself to participate in a consignment program.
What are the terms of the consignment agreement?
Most stores will charge a handling fee and require a contract before accepting a book into their consignment program. For example, they may charge $25 to $50 for the month. They may require one to three months minimum commitment. Make sure you know what those terms and fees are before you commit to the agreement.
What is the profit split?
The bookstore will keep a portion of your book’s profits. Many bookstores have a 50/50 split contract. Be sure that you do the math to ensure you are making a profit. If you buy your book for $10.00 from the publisher and the cost of your book is $20. The store will get $10 per sale, and you get $10 per sale. That means you will break even and not make any money.
What are the terms?
When can you expect payment for your sales? From what I have learned it is often when the consignment contract ends. You are also responsible to pick up the copies that do not sell once the contract ends. Part of the contract may involve marketing strategies. Read the contract carefully and ask questions.
How will the bookstore promote your book?
Suggestions from an experienced consignment author was to visit the store before you submit your book for consideration for consignment. She suggested creating a sales page for the book with a summary, several reviews and the book category. She advised me to hand deliver this sales page and a copy of my book to the owner. If you can, have a conversation with the owner and get to know them. It is an opportunity for you to ask questions and learn about the bookstore and those that frequent the bookstore.
Most bookstores that offer author consignment programs probably have all of these details available on their websites. If they don’t, look for contact details on their site so you can connect with the consignment program manager.
I decided to apply my learning and I reached out to one of the new bookstores. I went to their website first and read through their fact sheet about selling books on consignment. Next, I gathered my books and my sales sheet and headed to the bookstore. I was able to meet with the manager and share my materials. Since they are just getting the bookstore up and running they have asked me to be patient. They did say they loved the books and would be giving me a call shortly. I promise to keep you posted on my progress.
With gratitude …
I am so glad you’re here and I thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am grateful that I can share my writing journey with you.
I’m looking forward to helping you as a children’s book writer in any way that I can. Speaking of helping — please leave a comment below and let me know what questions you have about picture book writing.
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