View Shopping Cart
Shopping Cart / Checkout | About Judy Cullins | Contact
Return Home Subscribe to Judy's RSS Feed
FREE Subscription: Why subscribe? | Privacy Practices

The Best Place to Sell Books is Not a Book Store

bookstoreTop book business influencers say this. Then, where are most of the books we read being sold?

Giants like Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup success says. “Only one out of seven people in the United States go into book stores to buy a book.” Book marketing experts John Kremer of “1001 Ways to Market your Book…” and Dan Poynter of the “Self-Publishing Manual” says something similar as does long time book coach, Judy Cullins, author 11 books and packages including “Write your eBook or Other Short Book-Fast.”

You may disagree, but do you wonder why these experts say that the worst place to sell books is in a book store?


1. You are not famous, and your traditional publishing support amounts to a possible three-month book tour, billed against your sales.

And it’s common knowledge that these don’t work well. Your book’s shelf life at Barnes and Noble or other brick and mortar bookstores is about three months too. They often refuse self-published books from Create Space and others like it. And, you the author must promote each book full time to receive less than 50% of the profits.

2. Your audience (who are they?) doesn’t go to a bookstore to find your book.

They go to browse and aren’t’ sure what they want. If your book ( as an unknown) is next to a popular author, only your book’s spine will show. Potential buyers will pass it by for the well-known name. In our San Diego Barnes and Noble, people bring their Starbucks coffee in to sit and read. If they spill coffee on your book, you will get it as a return, without a sale, and pay the postage.

3. Smart business people and personal growth authors know their audience is online.

They can sell straight from their websites.

And they market online to get their readers to their websites, with article marketing, social media marketing, and with a business blog for the same purpose-at least once each two weeks to stay in touch with their audience. The point of the blog is to build a community around your book. This happens when you capture your visitors’ emails when they sign up for your blog articles. This works for fiction as well as non-fiction.

Your audience wants to know and like you before they buy from you. They will more likely subscribe to your newsletter, your blog, and your free reports rather than get into a car and drive to the “brick and mortar” bookstore. After so many website visits, many will buy your books or use your service.

4. Know that after three months of initial placement, your book will fade away unless you put on your promotion hat to get customers to the store.

That is a whole lot of work-preparing your talk, scheduling press releases, and even travel. Why market the hard way and travel, especially in today’s faltering economy?

5. Speakers among you like to sell books at the front or back of the room after educating your audience on why they need their information and entertaining stories.

With the proper handouts, you can even sell your eBooks this way.
Speaking applies to giving teleseminars or interviews by audio and video to market your book to your best audiences. And you market these from your email and website. You get your website sales by collecting these emails from each venue. Teleseminars do take organization, but are far easier to do than giving live talks.

Most authors don’t want to put time into their book marketing, but this is the all-important action the author should make over a two-three year span-before they write another book!

Remember, a book website is not enough. Your fans and readers need to find that site. In your marketing plan, you need to consider the internet- a blog, Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter. In less than six months, you’ll see a marked difference in sales, so you won’t be the one with only 300 book sales.

6. You’ll make unnecessary book marketing mistakes that cost you sales.

Develop a book marketing plan that includes a blog and social media. With a schedule, it’s almost automatic.

7. Bookstores are not practical for authors..

Seventy percent of US adults haven’t been in a bookstore for the last 10 years with the internet and Google at their finger tips.

Bookstores will take 90 days, even a year or more to pay you for your total book sales. One local San Diego author had to take her distributor to court after non-payment for 2 years.

Bookstores only order two or three copies at a time because of limited shelf space. If you aren’t well known, and you don’t promote a lot, your book will disappear.

Bookstores buy only from a distributor or wholesaler. They also take from your book profits.If bookstores only sell 45% of the book sales, where are the rest sold? It must be the internet. Even grandparents are online. Your book audience is awaiting your book, so be sure to put it in their “hands.”

Sharing is Caring!

What has your experience with bookstores been? How about online sales? When you share, we all benefit!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About the Author, Judy Cullins

Book and Blog Coach Judy Cullins helps you gain confidence and transform your ideas into life-long money-making content. Author of 14 books for business people and authors include "Write your eBook or Other Short Book--Fast!"Judy offers free, up-to-the minute weekly publications on book and blog writing and online marketing at

*You are welcome to reprint this article provided the above bio is included.

Published by Judy Cullins

Never Miss a New Post! Subscribe to our website and our RSS Feed today! :)

  • Alice Rogers Cote

    Thanks for letting me subscribe free. I'm working on three book ideas, one of which is probably the one I need to read and follow for my own mental health, not sure of the title, but think it should be "Why won't you take me to college with you?"….(the alternative to those anxiety pills for mothers of freshmen college students)

    Needless to say, the title's too long…but it does say it all.

  • Judy Cullins

    Hi Alice, Good to think what audience wants in a book from you before you write it. So I like mothers of college students, but maybe hard to find where they hang out so you can promote to them.

    What other topics are you thinking about? if you are ready to know more strategies, then read my bok, “Write your eBook or …” at

    After reading it you won’t think it’s a big risk to write a book.

    Thanks for coming to blog and keep reading all the other ones!

  • Rhonda Sciortino

    Thanks so much for this. My experience tells me that you're absolutely right. I'm so glad I found your site. I'm eager to hear what else you have to say!

  • Judy Cullins

    Rhonda, I wonder where you are now with your book project? Still writing it, or now marketing it? And the title is…? You can always email me at [email protected]

  • Marie Pinschmidt

    Thanks, Judy, for this interesting information. I have three novels published and promote them on my website, do an ocasional tea and booksigning, lecturing, etc., but feel I'm still not doing enough. Naturally, I'd like more readers although the books have done quite well. I have a memoir ready for publishing as well as the beginning of another novel. Frankly, I'm hesitating to go forward in the present publishing climate. Will your book help? Forgive the dumb question - of course it will help. LOL.

  • Judy Cullins

    Marie, I have more than 13 books to help you. Do you need marketing or web or just writing? I do it all as a full service book coach. You are promoting the hard way in person. I know the net may be daunting. Maybe you can afford $35 for a strategy meeting for you? Just email me at [email protected]

    You should look over my site. It's full of good info. Let me know what book topics you need,

  • Kathleen Gage

    Great article Judy. Your insights are amazing. I am in complete agreement that bookstores are not the best route to take. Online marketing, live presentations and bulk sales are the way to go.

  • Judy Cullins

    Kathleen, After 25 years coaching through traditional to online-many changes. Writers need to be aware of them.

    Like you I too want to raise consciousness on the book business, if only beginners and pros would listen! Smile.

  • Ronnie Dauber

    Judy, thanks for sharing this valuable information. I totally agree that brick and mortar stores are not a good market for books anymore. Thanks for the suggestions of how to market online. Your help is appreciated. Have a great day.

  • VoiceOfReason

    Really on point, Judy. I know some indie publishers who have stopped putting their books in bookstores because the return costs were too expensive. Now they go to bookstores only for signing events, and bring the books with them. The delayed return of damaged books was killing their profit from the ones that did sell.

  • LorenMGG

    Great points, Judy. Thank you for the reminder about the value of different marketing strategies. My book was published 2 years ago, and it is hard to keep the momentum going. I participate in health fairs, wellness programs, give talks, teleseminars, offer incentives, and it’s still a struggle to get my message out there…I’m now working on book #2 which I plan to do differently from the first. And you are sooo right when it comes to “publisher’s support” pretty much nonexistent… Anyway, I always appreciate your messages, inspiration and direction. Thank you!

  • AlexBrantham

    It’s a shame, but it’s true. I love bookshops - the smell, the feel of the books in my hands (I do try to be careful with them!), the ability to glance over a very large number of books in a very short time. But, despite that, and having a couple of good bookshops I can get to quite easily, I still buy most books online, just because it’s so easy.

    The next question, though, is - if you’re selling online, then where? It’s hard to stay away from the behemoth that is Amazon, but do many writers take the trouble to sell directly from their own websites?

  • judycullins

    Hi Voice of Reason, thanks for your comment. If
    book authors could make enough money without undue effort on their books speaking-wouldn’t it be great? Just think of the author and her losses with returned book!

  • judycullins

    Hi Ronnie, so glad you got it. And I am having a fruitful day (love my
    clients). I wrote an earlier version of this 4 years ago - and it still has merit.
    If you have a question, just email me.

  • judycullins

    Alex, Thank you for your insightful comments. Your idea of selling on the authors’ sites is so right. I can say I’ve made as many sales and more from the book and audio how tos on my site. It started in 2000 when I got on the internet, and I still sell on Amazon, other book peoples’ sites and my own site. That’s why authors need to write a short sales letter for each thing they want to promote—even the freebies need promotion.

    This includes webinars, teleseminars, subscriptions to ezines and blogs, and most of all your books! Sure glad you found value in this post.

  • judycullins

    Thanks Loren for
    your comments. A good book coach tells clients things they don’t want to
    hear. I can tell you not to write the next book until you have the marketing
    success on the first one. Who is your primary audience? Market only to them
    first ( 2 years+) Later, expand to secondary audiences. Cheers and good luck on
    your adventure!

  • LorenMGG

    Thank you for your reply. Yes, I find that I am holding off on the writing, and now it makes sense. I continue to learn so much from your messages.

  • John Desaulniers Jr

    Thank you for the post, though I would caution an “all-or-nothing” approach to any marketing. Thirty years in the book industry has convinced me that the best strategy is a comprehensive one, and that bookstores need not be left out of the mix. Sell online. Sell at events. Sell through your blog. Sell when you speak. But also sell in traditional stores. As a self-published author, that could mean either additional marketing on your part or finding someone who handles that segment of the business. Yes, it’s “more expensive” because of the margins needed by booksellers, but it’s still a venue worth pursuing.

    Every venue attracts a different audience. Online will reach some; traditional will reach some. Perhaps there is a need for a shift, but I would not recommend eliminating any venue.

  • judycullins

    Thanks John for you side of this discussion. In all my years, I have done both kinds of marketing. I just see the advantages of content marketing on the net as much easier, less money and less time than those traditional ways. It’s direct and rather than shoot to the general audience as in a press release, a blog article is a direct hit to our targeted audience. When they want what we have, book sales are not a long shot, And even if you choose traditional, I advise anyone who markets to choose only a few kinds that suit them and their goals—certainly not all of them. You sound like an old soul in the book business, and do have something to add here.

  • John Desaulniers Jr

    Yes, I’m “old soul” and old school in some ways, but not to the exclusion of new forms of communication and new sales channels. Just as I believe Kindles actually help print book sales, I believe online and brick-and-mortar can have a symbiotic relationship as well.

Solution Graphics