I Got My Book in B&N by guest @MHartnerAuthor

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today please help me welcome author Mike Hartner to the blog. Mike has had great success working with Barnes & Noble and other book stores. Check out Mike’s tips below on how to keep good relationships with bookstores. 

“I got my book in ________… now, I’m going to sell, sell, sell…”

Substitute the name of your local bookstore in the blank. In Canada, the largest bookstore by volume is Indigo/Chapters; in the United States, it’s Barnes & Noble.

You can see the check now, can’t you?

REALITY CHECK: Lots of things can happen. That eight figure check you’re dreaming of, could happen…but then so could winning the Powerball lottery, and we all know what the chances of that happening are.

So, now that you’ve gotten the powers that be to agree to carry your book, what do you need to do?

  1. Book Signings. That local manager that was nice enough to help you get in to the inventory system probably will also let you have a signing. Since driving traffic into the bookstore is YOUR responsibility. And even if they buy one copy of your book, they may also buy other books as well.
  2. Network. It’s not the store’s responsibility to set the book on shelves in five stores. It’s the store manager’s requests that do it. So call the various stores. Pick a few near you, and then a few more near relatives. If they can stock them, then they’ll probably be happy to let you have a signing party.
  3. BE REALISTIC. Don’t ask the store to stock thirty copies. Unless you can guarantee that thirty copies will be sold. Some stores will stock ten-twelve and others will stock five.
  4. TAKE EXTRAS. Take your private stash of ten-twenty copies with you. That way, if they’ve ordered five, and twenty people come to buy the book, you have copies to sell. For this, don’t be realistic be positive. If you have a box of twenty, take it. Anything could happen. Be prepared.
  5. Be Helpful. If you talk to store #3 in your area, mention the posters you can bring or the volume at the last location. And the manager who was very helpful to getting you into the store. Go early to see if you can help with setup. Sometimes, they’ll let you set up to fifteen to thirty minutes before hand.
  6. Be Courteous. This is common sense. But, unless you’re selling a dictionary of current swear words and idioms, keep the foul language and the off-colour comments out of your repertoire.
  7. Expect Nothing. YOU are the marketer. If you go in, and you expect to sell five copies per hour, and don’t, it will be a downer for you. You aren’t there to sell copy. Re-read that. You aren’t there to sell copy. Your job is to introduce yourself and your book to the public. Not everyone will buy right away. Some will get the info and download it from Amazon, or Smashwords, or wherever. But, your job is to connect with them, to give them a chance to meet YOU the author. And then your book.


Here are my stats, and some examples:

  • In one year, my book I, Walter sold 1,000 copies. The ratio of e-books to paperback was roughly 4:1. That means that for every paperback I sold, whether online or in store, I sold four e-copies.
  • My first book signing in Canada was at the store close to my son’s school. I sold twenty-one copies in four hours. It was hot, and I was thrilled with the response.
  • Four months later, and not far away, my total over four hours was four copies. Boy, if we want to talk about depressing returns… But, I got to meet four hours worth of customers. Some bought, others didn’t, but sales online went up.
  • I actually got book signings with B&N in Seattle, and in Maui in December. I got Maui because I CALLED the store. And when they were able to give me a date close to Christmas, I was able to write off the whole vacation as a business expense.
  • I talked to the B&N distributor who’s carrying me. I gave them heads up that book two is coming out in a few months. They have asked me to send them information and samples.
  • I talked to the Indigo/Chapters location close to my son’s school about book two. They’re actually looking forward to it.

Network, network, network. Even if one of the Big Four publishers had picked up your book, chances are that their marketing is going to require a LOT of effort on your part. Go for it. Have fun with it. And keep the expectations low so that everything pleases you, and allows you to enjoy the process.

And while you’re doing this marketing, do the ONLY thing that will help you sell backlist, whether it’s one book or fifteen: write the next book.

I, Walter

Walter Crofter was born into Elizabethan England.

In a country and a time where favor and politics were both deadly, can an honest boy stay true to himself?

Especially given his family background?

Amazon | Goodreads


Mike Hartner

About the Author:
Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He’s traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

Website | Twitter


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  1. Norah on May 26, 2014 at 4:18 am

    Great advice! Thanks! I especially like “expect nothing” then anything is a bonus. It’s interesting that the ratio of sales for your book were 4:1 in favour of ebooks.

    • Rachel Thompson on May 26, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Hi Norah! It IS interesting, isn’t it? Mike has worked harder than anyone I know and his books are great. Always start with a wonderful ‘product’ — then build from there.

  2. Claire on May 26, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Some great tips – and perfect timing for me, I’m just about to approach a local independent bookstore to see if they would consider stocking my book, figuring if they might, a chain might eventually too! Have made notes, thank you very much!

    • Rachel Thompson on May 26, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Excellent! best of of luck to you, Claire 🙂

  3. Nicole on May 28, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Great tips. Love #3 – Be Realistic! My first book signing at B& N I sold 6 books in 3 hrs and was so bummed…Now I know it’s all about the exposure. Thanks for sharing.

  4. HJ Blenkinsop on June 23, 2014 at 5:20 am

    Great article! Like Nora I am both surprised and encouraged by the ratio of ebook to paper book sales. Building relationships and making friends with the folks at local book stores appears key. Thanks.

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