Next time you are outside a bookshop take a wander in.
Enjoy the atmosphere, soak up that wonderful, new book aroma and then mosey over to the business section.
Look at the size of the bookshop, then look at the size of the business section, then look at the shelf space dedicated to your particular topic of interest.
It will be an illuminating experience.
When we first start to work with business authors one of their first concerns is that their book will be available at bookstores. We reassure them that yes, all books published by us can be ordered and purchased from Waterstones, et al.
Then we tell them that Waterstones, or the other bricks-and-mortar stores, are probably the last places they need to worry about.
Think back to that shelf space at the back of the bookstore containing the behemoths of business books The One-Minute Manager, The 7 Habits, etc.
The reality is that, for most business authors writing for specific niche audiences, prospective readers are not prowling the shelves of Waterstones desperately seeking their title.
This is not a bad thing.
In fact, it is liberating.
There will always be a role for the physical bookstores for particular kinds of books and for highly popular authors in mass market areas. But for the rest of us, for those with expertise, services and products in niche arenas, our hungry audience is elsewhere.
Thankfully we can reach them more easily than ever before.
Fighting for shelf space in Waterstones reduces your title to a mere commodity and also massively reduces the profitability of your book project.
When you are visible to your target audience where they gather your book is not a commodity… it is a solution, a way out of their predicament, a welcome relief from their pain, a map to the future and a toolkit for their success.
Oh, and when they buy directly from you the return is so much more rewarding!
If you focus on Waterstones you are probably thinking more from ego than from a calculated business strategy. Much better to reach your audience where they are gathering in numbers, connect with them, demonstrate your unique perspective and value and offer them ways to learn more from you through your book(s).
Develop your online (and offline) content marketing strategy long before you publish your book, or even write it. Don’t just focus on the launch period. Think about supporting the growth of your ideal clients for the long term.
Your potential readers are online, don’t fight for shelf space—build connections, grow an audience and nurture your tribe…
If you must fight… Don’t fight to get your book on Waterstones’ shelves, fight to get it in your audience’s awareness, then you’ll find it makes its way to your tribe’s shelves!