There are bookstores, of course, but we have already talked about the tremendous amount of competition there is for space on a bookstore shelf. That doesn't mean the author and publisher shouldn't try, it just means it shouldn't be the only focus of their marketing plan for a book.
Here are some sales opportunities that may not have occurred to you, and these are all locations which have worked out really well for the authors I assist.
1. Niche Marketing Venues. What is a niche marketing venue? Basically, any place where you would find the audience that would be most interested in your book. One of my authors has a historical fiction book about the Civil War. I told her the best venues for the book would be places like Civil War reenactments, Civil War museums, Civil War groups...any place related to the Civil War. During one of her recent 2-day evens at a Civil War reenactment, she sold $5,000 worth of books. Not bad for a weekend!
2. Coffee shops. Everyone thinks of Starbucks, but there are many other coffee shops across the country, and many of them also happen to sell books. These are good for novels, poetry readings, etc. Some of the most successful "store" book signings I'm aware of have been held at coffee shops.
3. Craft shows/bazaars/expos. Some of these events draw hundreds, if not thousands, of people. The trick here is to realize that people are not there to buy books per se, but they are there to buy. You can't just sit at a table full of books and expect them to sell. Dress up the booth, use a theme related to your book, do anything to draw attention to your booth. Children's books and novels do well at these types of events.
4. Gun shows. Got a book with a military, political or law enforcement theme? These sell really well at gun shows. People don't just go there to buy guns, and it's not just the guys that shop at gun shows. They usually bring their wives, too. Again, they are at these venues to buy.
5. Public service organizations. Groups such as Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary are located in just about every city, and they meet weekly. They are always looking for guest speakers at their meetings. If you can develop a presentation around your book, even if it's about to become an author or what it's like being an author, you can usually get invited as a guest speaker. If you do a great job, word gets around and clubs in surrounding areas may also invite you to speak at their meetings. Of course, you would hold a signing at the end of the meeting and sell your books.
These are just a few ideas, but you get the picture. If you can connect your book with the people that would be most interested in it, even if it's not in a retail setting, it can work out very well in terms of promotion and sales.
Give us your feedback: Which "unusual" locations have been good for your book sales?