The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) offers advice to authors seeking to work with indie books stores:
- Know the Marketplace
- Know Who And How To Contact
- Know the Terms (i.e. your business arrangement with the bookstore)
- Don’t shoot yourself in the foot (avoid mentioning that you book is available on Amazon.com)
This is good advice for authors when working with indie booksellers. The operative words are “with indie booksellers.” Truth be told, the majority of the sales for books I’ve helped publish come from Amazon.com. The reason for this, I suspect, is that Amazon.com is where the masses go to buy books.
Know that I am a big supporter of indie bookstores. But I’m also practical and know that indie bookstores attract a niche audience of readers. Some book titles do better at indie bookstores than others. For example, if you’re a local writer with a book on regional hiking trails or you’re a local poet with a book, you may do better at an indie store than on Amazon.com. That being said, Amazon offers a 45/55 terms of sale (a smidge better than indie stores offering a 40/60 terms of sales). That may not seem like much, but if you’re a small publisher, that 5% difference may cover cost of shipping products to bookstores which directly impacts breakeven numbers for book titles.
As an author (or small press publisher), know that you have sales options. And avoid mentioning Amazon.com when working with indie booksellers — it gives them ulcers.