Novelist Darcy Conroy, whose debut self-published novel gained over a million reads on Wattpad, shares her success story of getting the book stocked by the Australian bookstore chain Dymocks. An inspiring case study that sends the clear message that a professional and well-planned approach can work wonders!
As anyone who self-publishes knows, it's difficult to get a self-pub book into bookshops. Doing my research, like a good self-publishing author does, I read time and again that the best you can hope is to be accepted by an indie-friendly, indie-bookstore on a consignment basis. So I'd decided that I wasn't going to worry too much about brick and mortar stores. but my heart wanted to be in at least a couple of stores in my home town, where the novel is set.
How I Approached the Bookstores
So I began composing an email pitching to a little bookstore that I knew was open to consignments from local self-pubs. I typed the sentence “…I'm writing to ask if you would consider stocking my novel on consignment.”
Then stopped. I had this surge of energy, and the thought came to me: what I really want is for them to just stock it – really order it, pay for it, like any other book. So I deleted “on consignment” and continued. As I described the book, I began to worry, not for the first time, that this indie bookstore has a literary focus, and my novel is general, contemporary women's suspense. My readers are more likely to be at Dymocks, Australia’s biggest book chain.
I deleted the email address of the indie store and swapped it for the name and email of the fiction buyer at the huge Dymocks in my central business district. I put in everything to show I have produced a quality product and understand I need to do marketing:
- the trad-pub editor and proof reader I engaged
- the cover I’ve had professionally designed
- noted that I’d had the interior designed, too
- outlined my social media platform (over a million reads on Wattpad as the central pillar) and other marketing plans
Oh and – very important it’s turned out – that they could order the way they usually do through Ingram. Feeling particularly precocious. I added a request for an in-store book launch – what could they do but say ‘no'? I clicked send. It was 7pm by this time. so the buyer wouldn't get it till the morning. I pretended I had no expectations.
Bookstore Success Story
At 9.29 the next morning, I received a reply. She'd be happy to stock my novel. She said the cover looked solid, the synopsis was great, and she was sure I'd have a lot of interest from bookstores and readers. She reminded me that the chain stores are mostly franchises, so I'd have to contact them all individually. but to email her when the book was available for her to purchase through Ingram.
Speechlessness. Dancing. Just one store, but the store I wanted and my first email. Talk about inspiring!
The next day I called all 70+ stores in Australia for the name and email of their fiction buyers. I then sent out emails to all but the several that are stocked from the head office. That was a week ago as I write this, and so far I've had two more stores say ‘yes', albeit one that asked for consignment which I will do (just the once), and I've had a request for a hard copy to review from the head office. I have absolutely no expectations, of course (just wild hope), but I'm hoping that the fact that my local city store has, indeed, granted me that in-store book launch for July 17th will help a little.
All-in-all it’s been an inspiring pre-release week and a reminder that it’s always best to go for what you want most, first, and compromise only when you have to.
OVER TO YOU
Please feel free to share your bookstore success story with us wherever you are in the world. We'd love to hear about it!Australian success story by indie author @DarcyConroy #Authors4Bookstores Click To Tweet
Hi Darcy. Wow, this gives me hope. I’ve been searching for an example email of what to send to bookstores and am coming up empty. I have a clean sell sheet but what to put in the actual email has my palms sweating, thinking that if I write crap, it’ll go right into the bin. Any suggestions?
I find this page in my own search on how to sell my self-published book to big retailers. Is this the Ingram you were talking about, or Ingram spark? https://www.ingramcontent.com/
IngramSpark is the platform for indie authors
Thanks for this, that’s encouraging. Browsing a bookshop is one of life’s great pleasures and it’s good to know that at least one of the big stores is open-minded.
Thank you for a wonderful blog post on attaining bookstore success. I am just beginning to research bookstores to carry my debut book RSVP From Heaven on their shelves.
When I first indie published in 2008, (Book One of The Chronicles of Eirie – a hist.fantasy) my local Dymocks store was absolutely fabulous. They ordered my books from Ingram because I was a local writer, stocked them on the front pedestal of the store and they subsequently told me they sold more of that title than any other new release author they had profiled.
When I became indie, I always said my books had to survive on their own merits – no consignment, independent orders from bookstores and readers only. It worked!
Dymocks in Tasmania is a lateral- thinking store with a tremendous attitude toward reader and writer alike and I LOVE them.
Fabulous backup to this post, Prue. Congrats! You deserve it.
I loved your post. I am just starting out as a self published author and I wanted to know if you could tell me what Dymocks charge to put your book on the shelf.