I’ve done more happy dances on the Walmart book aisle than most customers, I’m sure.
Why is that?
When I see a book make an appearance at my local Walmart, I know my author friend is well on the way to earning out the book’s advance.
I did one of my jubilant jigs this past weekend when I visited Walmart and beheld the January release in Barbour Publishing’s new Destination Romances line, A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana by Murray Pura. And yes, the dance was accompanied by my customary tears of joy as well, causing the three men on the aisle at the time to give me some strange looks. Not that I cared overmuch. As I writer, I know I’m a bit strange. 🙂
The Destination Romances line from Barbour is also known as the Bride/Wedding line. In the odd months of 2012, a historical Bride book will be released. A contemporary Wedding book will be released in even months. I spotlighted the first six books of 2012 in my post, “Barbour’s Bride/Wedding Line: The Fun Begins!”
As I stood in the book aisle of my local Walmart rejoicing over seeing the first Bride book of 2012 on the shelves, I imagined myself standing in the same spot six months from now when my debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, could very well occupy that position. Let me tell you, that was a rather heady experience, one that had me hyperventilating and reaching for my cell phone. I had to tell someone the news.
Because it was Saturday afternoon, people were busy. I woke my daughter from a much-needed nap (oops!), couldn’t reach my hubby who was on a bike ride, and caught a writer friend in the middle of another conversation. I pried myself away from Walmart and took my walk, but I wanted to spread my news. Thankfully I reached my mom, who let me share my excitement with her. Let me tell you, my walk had never seemed as short.
When I reached home, I attempted to convey to my husband why the possibility of seeing my book in Walmart had sent me into the ionosphere. (Gwynly, a science teacher, tells me that’s beyond the stratosphere, which pretty much describes where I was hovering. :-))
Since Gwynly is a logical kinda guy and is more impressed with a list of concrete reasons than with my emotional outpourings, I spent some time gathering information to explain my state of giddiness. Here’s the list I created:
Why I Got So Excited About The Possibility of Seeing My Book in Walmart
1. Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, with over 6,000 outlets. This means a book in Walmart will be seen by millions of potential readers.
2. Very few books actually make it into Walmart. Of the over three million books assigned ISBNs each year, only a small percentage make it into Walmart. They aren’t a bookseller. They are a retailer that sells some books.
3. Getting a book into Walmart is difficult. According to the Walmart website, each vendor of any product sold in Walmart must go through an extensive proposal process. Those selling books must contact Anderson Merchandisers, the company that stocks the book sections in Walmart stores.
4. Walmart works with established traditional publishers only, such as Barbour. Walmart clearly states on their website that “Walmart does not pursue self-published books.”
5. Of the few books that make it into Walmart, most were written by big-name, best-selling authors with a tremendous track record of sales. The noted exception is a series of books from a traditional publisher that has already gone through the process of getting approval from Anderson Merchandising. This is the only way a debut novelist can expect to see his or her book stocked in Walmart.
6. The placement of a book on the shelves at Walmart is important, too, and Murray’s book is at eye level, where it’s easy to see. I spoke with the local representative of Anderson Merchandising. She stocks the Placerville, California Walmart and a number of other Walmart stores in the area. The rep showed me the planogram she uses, which is a diagram showing the placement of each book in the section. I had no idea shelf position was dictated like that and am delighted to see Murray’s book get some prime real estate.
Once I shared this information with Gwynly, his excitement grew. Not that his level of enthusiasm matched mine, but he was suitably impressed and is quite happy for me.
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Here are three posts I found that give more information about the process involved in and benefits of getting books in Walmart:
“And Now, A Word About Walmart” by Terry Cordingley, Associate Director of Marketing at Tate Publishing
“Publishing Insiders Wrap-up: Selling Your Book in Bulk and Special Sales,” a guest post at Authors Marketing Experts, Inc. by Amy Collins, owner of The Cadence Group, a sales and marketing service provider for the publishing industry
“Wal Mart, Friend to Authors: Why Writers Should Love WalMart Stores” by Barbara Doyen, Literary Agent
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Do you ever purchase books from major retailers? Why or why not?
How do you react when you see a friend’s book on the shelves at a major retailer?
Did you know how difficult it can be for an “unknown” author to get a book in Walmart?