How to Sell Your Book on Consignment – The Ultimate Guide




Illustration of bookshelves inside a bookstore. The Bookstore is selling books on consignment.

Navigating the world of book consignment can be a daunting task for many authors, but with the right strategy, it can open doors to new audiences and revenue streams. If you’re an indie author envisioning your book on a bookstore shelf, but unsure of how to make that dream a reality, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get started.

  • Understanding the profit split, book quality, and finding the right consignment agreement are essential for successful consignment selling, while overcoming challenges and exploring alternative options like IngramSpark can enhance the process.
  • Authors play a crucial role in promoting their consignment books through effective marketing strategies and building relationships with bookstore owners.
  • Selling books on consignment is a beneficial strategy for indie authors to gain visibility and credibility by having their books displayed in local bookstores.

Understanding Book Consignment: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Book consignment is a concept where the author provides copies of their book to the store, and only when a book is sold does the store pay the author, typically splitting the profits. Essentially, the store is acting as a physical display and sales point, with the added benefit of being a local and trusted entity.

The process begins with an agreement between you and the bookstore. You provide copies of your book, set the retail price, and agree on the profit split. After this, you’ll be primarily responsible for marketing and promoting your book to drive sales, while the bookstore handles the actual transactions.

Why is Consignment Beneficial for Indie Authors?

The world of indie publishing is competitive. Being a self-published author requires wearing many hats: writer, editor, marketer, and salesperson. With consignment, authors gain the ability to utilize local businesses as their sales force.

  • Firstly, consignment provides visibility. Being present in a physical store, among other established authors, offers a certain level of credibility and recognition. It’s an opportunity for your book to catch the eye of a browsing customer who may not have discovered your work online.
  • Secondly, indie authors can build local relationships through consignment. Bookstore owners, customers, and other authors form a community. Being part of this community can lead to further opportunities, like book readings, author signings, or local literary festivals.

How Important is Book Quality and Fit for Consignment?

Quality is paramount for any book—more so for self-published ones. High-quality cover design, professional editing, and good production values are essential for a book to stand out. A poorly produced book can detract from your credibility and make bookstores hesitant to stock it.

Moreover, the book should fit the store’s genre and customer preferences. A bookstore specializing in science fiction might not be the best place to consign a cookbook. Research the bookstore, understand its clientele, and target those that align with your book’s theme and content.

What is the Role of an Author in Promoting their Book on Consignment?

The role of an author doesn’t stop once the book hits the shelves. Marketing and promotion are crucial aspects of the consignment model.

Firstly, an author needs to drive traffic to the store to increase the chances of their book being purchased. This can be done through social media, email newsletters, author websites, and local publicity. Some authors host book signings or readings at the store, further enhancing the visibility of their work.

Secondly, the author should maintain good relations with the store owners and staff. Regular check-ins, offering to restock when necessary, and understanding the store’s sales trends can foster a fruitful partnership.

How Do Bookstores Promote Consignment Books?

Bookstores often have limited resources, so while they may provide some promotional support, the bulk of the effort will likely fall on you. However, some bookstores may feature consignment books in a special section or during events.

To make the most of the bookstore’s promotional efforts, consider providing materials such as posters or bookmarks that highlight your book.

Also, engage with the staff – the more they know about you and your book, the more likely they are to recommend it to customers.

How is Profit Split in a Consignment Agreement?

Profit split in consignment varies, but a common arrangement is a 60/40 or 50/50 split in favor of the author. That means if a book sells for $20, the author earns $10 or $12.

Hands of two guys tear a bag full of dollar bills as a symbol for a profit split.

However, there’s more to consider. If the author’s cost to produce a book is $10, a 50/50 split results in no profit, while a 60/40 split yields only a modest $2 profit. Authors should negotiate terms ensuring their consignment deal is profitable after accounting for printing, shipping, and any bookstore fees.

What to Look for in a Consignment Agreement?

Consignment agreements vary from store to store. Some may charge a handling fee, while others require a minimum commitment period. Consignment agreements should outline the terms and conditions of the deal clearly. Authors should look for the following:

  • The consignment period and what happens at the end of it.
  • The profit split and payment schedule.
  • Handling or stocking fees, if any.
  • The store’s insurance policy concerning lost, damaged, or stolen books.
  • The author’s responsibilities, like promotion and restocking.

Before signing any agreement, it is crucial to understand all the terms. Consult with a legal professional if necessary to ensure that your rights are protected.

What are the Challenges in Selling Books on Consignment?

Despite its benefits, selling on consignment has challenges. The initial financial outlay for printing and providing books can be significant, and there’s no guarantee of sales.

Moreover, managing multiple consignment deals can be time-consuming. The author must keep track of inventory, sales, and payments across different stores.

Lastly, not all bookstores are open to consignment deals, especially with unknown authors. It requires perseverance and a bit of salesmanship from the author’s side to convince bookstore owners of their book’s potential.

Why are Bookstores Reluctant to Accept Amazon’s Print-on-Demand Books?

Many bookstores are hesitant to stock books printed via Amazon’s print-on-demand service due to Amazon’s competitive tactics, which have often been perceived as harmful to independent bookstores. Furthermore, Amazon’s print-on-demand books are non-returnable, a policy at odds with traditional publishing, where unsold books are often returned to the publisher.

To circumvent this, authors can use other print-on-demand services, like IngramSpark, which is more bookstore-friendly, offering returnability and wholesale pricing.

How to Find Bookstores for Selling Books on Consignment?

Look for local independent bookstores in your area. Independent bookstores are more likely to accept books on consignment because they usually have more flexibility in their business models. You can use Google Maps or a directory of independent bookstores to start your search.

Look on the bookstore’s website or contact them directly to find out if they accept books on consignment. Some bookstores will have their consignment policies posted online.

Summing It Up: What Are the Next Steps to Start Selling Books on Consignment?

Step 1

Selling books on consignment starts with a quality product. Once your book is ready, identify potential bookstores that align with your genre.

Step 2

Prepare a sales sheet showcasing your book’s cover, blurb, reviews, and your marketing plan.

Step 3

Next, approach the bookstore manager with your proposal. A personal meeting can help you establish a rapport and allow you to understand their needs better.

Step 4

After you’ve reached an agreement, it’s time to start marketing your book and driving traffic to the store.

In conclusion, selling books on consignment is a journey, full of learning experiences and opportunities. It’s not just about sales, but about building relationships, gaining exposure, and setting a foundation for your future as an author.

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