Being Stocked at the Bookshop
After weeks, months, years, of writing your book, it’s finally finished; you have it printed and you’re ready to share it with readers. But how do you get your independently published novel onto the shelves of Dulwich Books? Or any bookshop?
Well, to make this process easier we have created a quick guide…
How to contact our booksellers
Ideally we would like to be emailed; it gives us time to think about your proposal, time to chat to our colleagues, and the opportunity to deal with the request within our normal day.
Please don’t visit unannounced; it’s beneficial instead to email ahead so that we can arrange an appointment with the appropriate buyer at a time that works with the shop diary.
What Booksellers need to know
To help us make our decision, you should include the following information on your proposal:
- A quick synopsis of the book – two or three sentences is perfect.
- A couple of lines about you.
- A few sample pages for us to have a read of.
- Tell us why you wrote the book.
- Who are the competitor authors in your eyes – and in which section should we display the book?
- A jpg of the jacket.
- Tell us if the book has any local ties. Is it set in our area? Did you go to school round the corner?
Ensure you provide sales details:
- How much your book retails for.
- How much you are selling it to bookshops for. A discount of at least 40% should be offered.
- The format (paperback/ hardback), always with a spine and a 13-digit ISBN.
- Returns information (all stock should sale or return as standard).
- Think about payment terms and the length of time the bookshop should have the stock for sale.
- Be competitive regarding the pricing of your book; a standard paperback is around £8.99.
- Look at the production quality; a well-presented finished product speaks volumes.
- Pick your time of year carefully; the majority of new writers are launched in the beginning of year. If you release too close to Christmas, your book will get lost on the shelves; if you come in February or March, we will have the space to display your book where it has a better chance of selling.
- Never ever send an Amazon link in your proposal to a high street bookshop.
- Think about how you might promote your book and direct people to the bookshop for sales. We send our sales information to Nielsen BookScan, so if we sell a lot of copies your book may get noticed in the book industry.
- What will be your marketing and publicity plan for the book if we take stock, to generate interest?
- Supply: get your book stocked by Gardners or Bertrams, at a standard trade discount, with returns. This simplifies our ordering/reordering of your book and increases your chance of being stocked by us.
How Dulwich Books picks books to stock
Our small bookshop holds a maximum of 6000 books, including multiple copies of bestsellers and event stock. We pick most of our stock through meeting with publisher sales reps; the ones we see cover around 130-150 different publishers (this figure doesn’t include imprints of bigger publishing houses such as HarperCollins). We also work from catalogues and on average are sent a hundred proof copies for review a month.
We understand what our customers like and what genres sell well, we tailor our stock around that…
Our thought process before deciding to stock a book:
- Our market: we understand what our customers like to read and what genres sell well, we tailor our stock around that (we also try and find the books they didn’t know they liked).
- Our tastes: if we read and love a book you can be sure we’re going to be telling our customers about it.
- The subject: if a book is on a topic that we feel will be of interest to our customers then that is a huge swaying factor for us.
- The author: if we know their work and their track record, we can make a judgement on how well we think the book will sell for us.
- Marketing: we look at what sort of promotion the book will be getting (is there already a buzz around it?).
- Format and price: this is a major selling point for us; it’s not unusual for us to wait for a paperback to come out before taking a chance on a title.
- Design: as with the format, we look at the jacket; sometimes a stunning cover can be the swaying point between us taking a book or not.
One thing to remember is please don’t be disheartened if we say ‘no’ to your book. What works for some bookshops doesn’t work for others; what sells huge numbers in say the Edinburgh Bookshop might not sell here and vice versa. That’s the beauty of high street bookshops – they’re all different.