Bennett's Blog

Part 4 - Brick and Mortar Stores

Bennett R. Coles | May 29, 2011

There's a lot of focus on the online book sales market these days, and with good reason. But for a new author looking to build credibility, there's still nothing like seeing hard-copy books sitting the shelves of local "brick and mortar" bookstores.

First, hard-copy books provide tangible proof of your literary accomplishment. The biggest challenge new authors face is convincing the world that their book is not only real but better than the rest. A professionally-produced, hard-copy book is the best way to show that you are committed to the book and didn't just upload a text file to a free web service. This isn't to say that the content of a printed book can't be rubbish, but the initial impression it gives is of quality and dedication - an e-book simply cannot do this in the same way. And a printed book sitting on a real brick and mortar store shelf suggests even more that at least someone beyond the author feels that the book is quality.

Second, for purely economic reasons, brick and mortar sales channels provide another means of selling the book. It costs more to produce and takes more effort to get them placed, but hard-copy books still reign supreme in the eyes of most readers today. Even though e-readers are growing in popularity and e-books are now accepted as mainstream, millions of readers still buy hard-copy only, and if you don't have a product available to them you will sell precisely zero to that sector of the market.

Third, perhaps most valuable to the new author, brick and mortar stores can provide valuable new ways of promoting the book. The most common way is through author signings: maximize these occasions by inviting everyone you can to attend, informing the local media, and promoting yourself confidently at the signing itself. Another excellent means of exposure is if the bookstore is willing to do a review of the book - not only might this appear in the local media, it gives you an invaluable boost to your credibility as an unknown author.

So while it is a lot of work and takes much more time and money than e-books, printing hard copy books and getting them into brick and mortar stores is an essential pillar to the marketing strategy of a new author. While it doesn't have the reach of online sales, it gives credibility in several ways that e-publishing simply cannot.

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