Pitching Your Book to Store Managers

In my last installment, I told you how to approach Costco and other local specialty stores to feature your book. A key element of that process is convincing the store manager that your book is exactly what their business needs right now. How to do that? I will show you.

You probably heard the expression, which is popular amongst start-uppers, that your business needs to identify a problem, and offer help, a solution. Thinking along the same lines, you need to think through, how can your book help these dealers. When you pitch your book, you will use these arguments as the cornerstones of your presentation.

First argument: Why is your book a good fit in that given store?

You need to think through the target audience of the store and identify any matches with the target audience of your book. You can start plain and simple, just check out the books on sale there, thoroughly. It is even better if you check what is on offer regularly, so you can see the tendencies. What goes in big quantities or has great turnovers? What titles seem to stick there without anyone touching them? Some innocent questions to the store clerks about ‘popular’ books can’t hurt.

Analyze the situation at hand and come with a good, well-phrased argument: “My book is a great fit into your store because it fits perfectly with the Element X of your target group. I see you sell a lot of Category B themed books, and my book is exactly about that.”

Second argument: Why now? If not now, when?

It is always a season of something! Seasons follow each other so quickly that they actually bite into each other. Every single weekend is the weekend of at least one season! Identify the special times of the year what your book can be tied to. Romance, workout, cars, fishing, everything can get tied to several seasons, so be creative! After you know when is the perfect time to sell your book (when every other sale is geared towards that same timely marketing message), include that into your pitch.

Third argument: What is on sale?

Many stores have sales that have nothing to do with the current season. If there is a tie-in with your book, go for it! It is important to have a clear understanding what the store has to offer, and include in your pitch that what kind of products are good tie-ins with your book! Novelists are on the back foot here, since books about home decor and cooking are easier to tie in, but a little creativity can do wonders for your pitch.

You don’t have to overdo this part if it feels forced, just casually mention something about possible tie-ins: the manager will know that you actually know the store you are talking about, and that makes a good impression about your professionality.

So, there you have it, these are the main lines you need to think through, before approaching a store manager.

Next, I’ll go through all the remaining tweaks that will make your pitch rock solid and bulletproof.

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