Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In this episode we are going to talk about how to work with brick and mortar bookstores. Barnes and Noble was recently purchased by a hedge fund.

Show Notes


  • Book stores are shrinking, but they’re never going to go away.
    • You’ve Got Mail and Fox Books
    • The Shop Around the Corner is going to stay
    • Book People in Austin
  • Listen to Episode 141 for a breakdown of Amazon’s brick and mortar strategy.
  • Where the majority of a book’s print sales come from.

What Bookstores Want:

  • Foot traffic
  • Sales
  • Good community relations, a good reputation.

How Bookstores Work

  • Catalogues, Distributors and Sales Teams.
  • B&N’s local first strategy

Tip #1 Use a Personal Touch 

There’s nothing like looking a store manager eye to eye. Once they get to know you (and hopefully like you) the rules change. They’ll do more for you and be happy to do it.


Tip #2 Realize You’re Just Another Author 

Unless your initials start with J.K. or the like, they won’t be ready to kiss your pinky ring. I could have been put out that they didn’t have stock which made me take a trip for nothing and simply left without engaging the manager in conversation. That’s the point. It didn’t turn out to be nothing. It started a relationship that turned into more sales.

Tip #3 Come loaded for bear even if you don’t think you’ll get the chance to shoot 

I was only there to sign stock so I could have walked in the store with nothing but a Sharpie. Instead, I brought three posters bookmarks, and postcards. The manager was thankful and said she’d start using the pieces right away.

I realize you can’t do this in every bookstore across the country. So do it in the ones you can. Whenever I’m driving around I’m figuring a way to drop in on a store and say a quick hello. And I’m ready whenever I travel.

Keep bookmarks and collateral in the back of your car and in your carry on when you’re out of town. Once you start looking for chances to spread the word about your book(s) more opportunities will pop into your brain like, well, popcorn.

#4 Start before you’re published

Remember the idea of telling everyone about your story?

James’ story from Seaside, OR.

#5 Bring a party.

Throw parties for your fans at bookstores. These have a bigger draw than signings and are more fun! Not a signing … your friends and family.

The Kingsman …

Drives stocking at other stores.

#6 Fish Where the Fish Are

Advanced Tip: Go to the conferences and events book store owners go to, to build relationships. Librarians too.

#7 Look for Non Standard Bookstores

Look for other kinds of stores that could stock your book as one of their products. Browse the mall looking for shops that might be a good fit for your book. Ask the question, where does my ideal customer shop?


  • Tourist Traps
  • Specialty Stores
  • Gift shops
  • Made in Washington?

Featured Patron

95 Tweets: Celebrating Martin Luther in the 21st Century by Peter DeHaan   

This book explains each of Luther’s ninety-five concerns and then updates them, reframed as ninety-five tweets, complete with hashtags.


The Tax and Business Guide for Authors

In this course you will learn how to qualify for tax deductions for your writing-related expenses (not all writers qualify) and about 19 tax deductions authors can take advantage of. You will also learn how to start making a writing income even before your first book comes out. You will also learn business fundamentals like when and how to form an LLC, how to create a business plan and how to reduce your chances of being audited by the IRS. The course is taught by Tom Umstattd a CPA with over 35 years of experience working with authors.

Learn more at

Patrons save 50%!

Liked it? Take a second to support Thomas Umstattd Jr. on Patreon!

Want more help?

Get a weekly email with tips on building a platform, selling more books, and changing the world with writing worth talking about. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!