How to get a Small-Press Book into Barnes & Noble

1:04 PM Posted by Amy Allgeyer Cook

--By Scott Heydt
Every author dreams of the day when he/she will sit amid a throng of adoring fans under the soothing lights of a major chain bookseller like Barnes and Noble. You sign your first contract and imagine your book lining the shelves of stores nationwide next to Twilight and Harry Potter. Those of us not (yet) accepted by the New York conglomerate publishers have our dreams put on hold when we learn that we will sit amid adoring fans, but it will be under the soothing lights of an LCD computer screen as we jointly access Barnes and Noble's website.
Let me be up front in saying, I don't blame Barnes and Noble. But, I also don't take no for an answer. That's why I'd like to share a few tips of success that worked for me to help you possibly get your foot in the door of the Barnes and Noble business.

1. Call a local chain store of Barnes and Noble and ask to speak to the Community Relations manager. They will look your book up in the system. If it is Print on Demand or comes from a smaller publisher, you'll likely have a problem and they'll tell you their hands are tied in having an in store signing.

2. Barnes and Noble has a corporate small press division that considers titles published by smaller, independent houses for purchase by their buyers. I wrote a formal letter, accompanied by a Barnes and Noble New Title "sell sheet" to the Small Press Division. The "sell sheet" has you outline how your book will stand out among the others and how you will assist with marketing. I received a letter a few weeks later saying my book was being purchased by the buyers, therefore I had a green light for in store signings.

3. In the meantime, when you have the Community Relations manager on the phone, inquire about any "New Author Nights" they may have upcoming. A branch near my home held an evening with 12 different authors (in 2 shifts) that were from self-published or small press houses. We were given the chance to speak for 5 minutes and sign for an hour. Not the same as an individual signing, but a great exposure opportunity nevertheless.

4. Speak with local middle and high schools who hold book fairs. Some book fairs are sponsored by Barnes and Noble. You may not have a title that's on the shelves in a store, but if they can access it from their database, they may be able to include your title among the selection when the time comes.

5. Finally, check back with your local chains every few months. Corporate policies change, and maybe you'll catch a lucky break.

Best of luck. I hope to see your name and picture spattered on a promotional poster in the near future!
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