Championing indie bookshops
Three ways indie authors can self-promote and champion indie bookshops.
The musty-smelling indie bookshop that featured high on the Saturday shopping list of book lovers has faced more than a decade of relentless competition – and survived. That must be a testament to the power of books and our need for the written word.
The challenges bookshops face began with the erosion of readers' disposable income followed by the rise of the large discount outlets who slashed book prices. Unable to compete, indie bookstores began to fold in ever-increasing numbers. Worse was to come. The digital revolution saw the rise of the e-Reader led by B&N backed Rocketbook in 1997. In 2007 came the game changer; the first Kindle was released and the indie bookshop very quickly became an endangered species.
Twelve years on, the indie bookshop still exists although vastly reduced in numbers. Indie authors, me included, have done these resolute establishments no favours. I began self-publishing my titles in 2012 and listing them on KDP with no real thought to making the titles available anywhere else or as paperbacks. Scrolling through hundreds of indie and trad authors profiles on Twitter today, it is rare to see any who promote a link other than to Amazon.
As an author member of the Alliance for Independent Authors (Alli) , I have learned the value of ‘going wide’ with distribution. This means making your titles available on various platforms rather than exclusively on one. I also learned that while ebooks offered an alternative to paperbacks, they were no substitute. Readers still value paperbacks and even hardcovers, and this demand has helped sustain indie bookshops.
In an effort to broaden my sales and wary of the absolute power indie authors are granting Amazon through KDP and Kindle Unlimited, I cast around for ways to reach readers that prefer paperbacks. I was delighted to discover that there are sites that make it easy for indie authors like myself to promote both their titles and local indie bookshops.
In the UK, the Booksellers Association work to promote indie bookshops to readers with campaigns like indie book of the month and indie bookshop week. A smart way for indie authors to promote their books and indie bookstores is to download the Find Your Local Bookshop button and include it on their websites.
Another, more direct, way for indie authors to promote their titles is to promote their book/s through Hive.co.uk. The title will need to have an ISBN number and be listed with a distributor (such as Ingram) to be included on this website. Indie authors can then promote the link to their title and readers can buy through Hive which then allocates a portion of the sales price to the bookshop the reader nominates.
A US site, Bookshop.org, went live in January 2020. At the time of writing, it is still undergoing beta testing, but their mission is to support independent bookshops financially, and contribute to the reading community. They plan to harness the power of referral marketing to generate support for independent booksellers who opt into their network. Anyone can become an affiliate and promote individual titles as well as create lists of titles. A percentage of all sales goes back to the bookstores that have opted in.
Alliance of Independent Authors(I receive an affiliate fee for any member who joins using this link.)
Booksellers Association: https://www.booksellers.org.uk