Published author.

Those words sound like magic don’t they?

But, like any writer knows, it’s not enough to just be published. You want to have your book out there, you want to find an audience, you want to see people reading it, discussing it, tweeting about it.

The best way to get your book out there is by having it on the bookstore shelves. And like every writer knows, even the thought of walking into a store and finding your book next to your favorite author is like a dream come true.

But getting your book on the shelf can be difficult.

This is where self-promoting comes in. And we’re not just talking about those writers who are self-published. For any writer, whether you’re self-published or not, it’s not enough to have your publisher help you, it’s not enough to occasionally tweet about your book, you need to go out and be active in your local community.

Make connections, make an effort, do book signing tours, do a reading of a few chapters or pages of your book at an independent bookstore or your local coffee shop. The possibilities are endless.

Of course, this sounds easier said than done but Brooke Warner wrote a great post for The Huffington Post describing the strategy authors should use to get their books on the shelves. These are the three points we found to be the most helpful:

• Go introduce yourself, prior to your publication date, to the book buyers at your local bookstores. If you live in a small town, you may have zero or one bookstore. Bigger metropolitan areas may have many more. Where I live in Berkeley, for instance, there are ten bookstores, and many more in the wider Bay Area. You might want to narrow your efforts if you’re lucky enough to live in an area with so many bookstores.

• Bring a copy of your ARC (Advance Reader Copy) when you go, and if you have a press release or a one sheet (a flyer that highlights information about your book and includes endorsements), stick it inside. If you’re not printing ARCs, wait to introduce yourself until you have a final copy of your book you can bring in with you.

• It’s unlikely that a book buyer will take an appointment with you if you call on the phone, so your best bet is to call ahead of time, ask who that person is, and find out when they’ll be in the store. When you approach them, be uber-polite and respectful of their time.

Yes, we know book buyers won’t always be interested, but taking risks and putting yourself out there is just part of your job as an author. Remember, stories are meant to connect with people, and therefore, as the author, it’s your job to bridge the gap between the story and your audience.

Sure it might be intimidating and maybe it doesn’t always work out, but taking the initiative to communicate with others about your novel is the only way to success.

Besides, what do you have to lose?

Did these tips help? Do you have any other suggestions for authors who want to get their books on the shelves? Let us know in the comments below and if you like what you read and want to see more, subscribe to our email list for more thoughts, quotes and writing prompts or follow us on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

Featured image by Michelle Marchante/Gras Publishing.


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