Information for Authors on selling your book at Spellbinder
Congratulations on publishing your book, and thank you for considering Spellbinder for placement of it! We are a small bookstore with limited funds, and the number of requests we receive from authors for us to carry their books has increased exponentially over the last couple of years. Therefore, it has become necessary to develop this written explanation of our policies, to save time and to avoid misunderstanding. Before contacting us about your book, please take a few minutes to read about our philosophy of and policies for self-published and print-on-demand books:
- We are primarily interested in books by local authors, authors with a local connection, or books with a local-interest slant. For our purposes, ‘local’ means the Eastern Sierra, from as far south as the Ridgecrest area to as far north as Bridgeport, and including areas of Nevada as far east as Tonopah. If your book does not fit any of these criteria, it is unlikely that we will be able to carry it.
Additionally, we recognize and welcome the fact that print-on-demand technology has made publishing easier for and more accessible to writers. By carrying these books on consignment, Spellbinder can feature a much wider variety of self-published and print-on-demand titles than we could through traditional purchasing. However, there are flip-sides! Books often appear in print without the benefit of professional editing, proofreading, and evaluation of marketing and distribution. Another consequence is that the number of books we are asked to review continues to rise dramatically. No bookstore can carry every published title, whether from a major publisher’s list or a self-published author, and many factors influence our decisions. Of principle importance is whether the book will sell in our store. We consider the subject, production quality, retail price, reading tastes of our customers, terms, and our judgment of the writing and editing. We review thousands of books each year and we decline many books, including those by well-known and award-winning writers, if they are not a good match for our store. Some of the things we look especially closely at, in addition to an author or topic of local interest, are:
a. design, production quality, proofreading, and editing: many books we are asked to carry contain so many typo’s, misspellings, grammatical errors and unclear writing that we cannot in good conscience offer them for sale. We strive for a good reputation of offering quality books; while we cannot guarantee that every book we offer is 100% error-free, we do require a reasonable level of professionalism in presentation. The extra time, effort, or even expense of having a knowledgeable person proof and/or edit your work may be well worth your while in the long run!
b. retail pricing compared to similar books on the market: many of the self-published or print-on-demand books we are asked to carry are overpriced compared to similar books. A surprising number of writers acknowledge that they themselves have never paid a similar price for a similar book from an unknown writer and an unknown publisher with no objective reviews!
- If accepted, we will try your book, initially at least, on a consignment basis. We generally like to start with five copies of each book.
- Our consignment percentage for books is 70% to the author and 30% to the store. We have done an extensive review of other independent bookstores’ consignment polices and almost everyone does 60% to the author and 40% to the store (in some cases, an administrative fee is also charged). We want to do everything we can to support local authors, but for our store to remain in business, we must average a 40% discount from retail. While we are keeping our 70%/30% split for the time being, this policy may be reviewed at a future date. We will notify you should a policy change become necessary!
- If your book proves to be a consistent seller (i.e., a minimum of 8 copies sold per year), we can discuss moving to an outright-purchasing model, at 60% to you and 40% to us of the retail price. Or, if your book is available at standard terms from our wholesaler (Ingram Book Company), we may order stock from them. We generally have not placed orders directly with print-on-demand houses, but proceed on a case-by-case basis depending on the book and the situation. Also, under no circumstances do we order books from, or do business with, amazon.com or the large chains. We are proud to be an independent bookstore, and these entities (especially the former) represent a serious threat to our continued ability to do business and provide our community with literature. Please do not expect us to send money to the very entities that pose the greatest threat to our viability as a contributing member of the Eastern Sierra community!
- We agree to try your book in our store for at least 6 months. If, at the end of that time (or at the end of any six month period), no copies have sold we may, at our discretion, ask you to pick up your books.
3. Rather than our previous policy of leaving the onus of responsibility on the author to check in with us for sales on their book(s), beginning in 2011 we will review consignment sales on a quarterly basis and issue payments for books sold 4 times a year: ie, in April we will review and pay for January – March sales, etc. This change will serve four important purposes:
- it will prevent authors who forget to check with us from ‘falling through the cracks’;
- we will be able to reorder books that have sold in a timely fashion;
- it will allow us to review books that have not sold so the author can be notified and collect their books if they want;
- it will enable us to plan for and set aside a time to accurately assess and pay for all consignment sales at the same time. Our current method of reviewing sales and issuing a special check whenever an author inquires has turned out to be a very inefficient one for us, and with the increase in self-published and consignment books we are being asked to carry, we will no longer be able to offer this ‘on-demand’ service.
i. Currently-carried Consignment Authors: If this new arrangement is unacceptable to you, please notify us so that we can arrange for the return of your books.
4. Book Display and Promotion: Here’s something we hear often: “If you would buy a big stack of my book and put them on your front counter, they’d sell!” Regardless of whether or not that is the case, we can’t fit the whole store on one counter. Too, authors may not be aware that at many stores, this premium display space is expensive real estate and publishers or authors pay a hefty display allowance fee for it! However, we now have a special display table (don’t worry – no charge!) for local authors and books, and that has been working well. Your book would be displayed on this table, and – stock permitting – in the section it pertains to.
- We also advise authors to send press releases to local media to notify them about titles that are now available locally. We don’t do this ourselves primarily because it looks like we are asking for free advertising, and it doesn’t work! A press release or story sent in from the author has a much better chance of appearing in the news than one coming from us.
- Like the ad says, word of mouth: it’s priceless! Don’t forget to tell your friends and family that your book is available from us. Bear in mind that if you give away copies of your book to your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and everyone else you know, you may have just saturated the market, leaving very few people who might come into the bookstore looking for your work.
- In this age of online retailing, your web presence is important. Most authors have their own web site, or at least a page provided by their publisher, to promote their book. We would very much appreciate it if we were listed on your site as a source for your book. At the very least, please try to include a plug on there somewhere for independent booksellers … we are generally not inclined to carry books when their authors give the impression online that they’re only interested in selling through amazon.com.
5. Author Events: normally, author events are very costly for us, to the tune of about $500.00 each! We work hard to make sure our events are as widely promoted and well-attended as possible. Creating publicity, and preparing for, working, and cleaning up after an event is time-consuming, and advertising is expensive. For example, for a $20.00 book that we keep 30% of, we’d have to sell 85 copies just to break even! We generally can only provide an event if the publisher of the book in question is able to contribute at least $150.00 in co-operative advertising money, and we recognize that print-on-demand houses do not provide such funds and this is out of range for most local authors. At the same time, Spellbinder is not in a position to lose money on events. However, some of our independent bookstore friends have developed a ‘local author book fair’ or party model that is a group event featuring several different authors, who each contribute a much smaller amount towards advertising and promotion. Our goal is to host two events of this style each year, so please provide us with your email address if you’d like to be in the loop! If you are absolutely certain that you need an event specifically for your book, we can schedule a time during store hours (please note that we need about a month’s lead time) for you to do a signing, but can only provide a lesser level of support in designing and disseminating marketing and publicity, and cannot guarantee use of space for a reading, slide-show, etc.
6. If, after reading though our above policies, you’d like to submit your book for consideration, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating that you’ve read our policy, telling us a little about yourself and your book, and including any reviews, etc., that you might have. Sending us a review copy does not guarantee that we will carry your book; if you send one and we decide not to carry it, it is your responsibility to arrange for its collection. As with review copies from traditional publishing houses, such uncollected review copies may be donated or otherwise disposed of at our discretion. Please understand that it may take us a couple of weeks to reply (again, our volume of email is steadily increasing, but we are a small store with a small staff and we all multitask as we find the time), and we are likely to need a longer time frame to reply during the holiday season (Thanksgiving through New Year).
Thank you very much; we look forward to hearing from you and good luck with your book!