Submission Guidelines for Local Authors at Sandman Books
Congratulations, you've written a book!
Now, for the hard part: getting it to the readers. We are a bookstore (not a publisher or a printer): this means that by the time you talk to us, you have in your hand a finished copy of your work. Our job is to deliver physical copies of the printed book to the end user (the readers). We collect and remit sales tax on each sale, and handle all the other "paperwork" aspects of bookselling. We do not provide marketing, editing, or publicity services (you'll need to obtain those services elsewhere). So, if you already have a handle on publishing, editing, printing and advertising: then it's time to talk about getting the book in the hands of the readers.
The good news about 2021 is that we really had the opportunity to expand our online sales! What that means for you is that it is MUCH easier to have your book for sale with Sandman. If you've done all your paperwork correctly, it may already be listed in our inventory. To check, search for your ISBN in our online shop (follow the link and then enter the ISBN-13 in the box labeled "Find Your Next Book"). As long as your book is listed / stocked with the big distributors, then it should be available through us as well. If you do NOT see your book there, check and make sure its ISBN is listed correctly with Bowker's; we've seen a couple of titles where they needed to be updated or something like that. (If you don't have an ISBN, then unfortunately we cannot list your book.) Once you've confirmed that your book is listed in our inventory, please add a link to our store from your own site.
Why do backlinks matter? We are an independent, family owned bookstore, and (just like you) we are swimming upstream in a world of big box dealers. Each time another site links to us, it helps us out in terms of SEO and other important ratings that drive traffic to our website (which results in more book sales - a good thing for you). So please, link to your book in our store, and encourage your fans to shop small, from locally owned stores, avoiding the big box places whenever they can. We appreciate it!
If you need help figuring out how to create the link, please feel free to email us - we're happy to help you out with creating good backlinks.
We receive hundreds of inquiries each quarter from authors who hope to see their books on the shelves in our physical brick-and-mortar store.
Due to space constraints, we have a limited number of brick-and-mortar spots available for independently published (self published) works. At this time, those spots are full, but you may apply to be on the waitlist for when a spot becomes available. (Please note: there is a non-refundable application fee.) Before you submit your waitlist application, read the rest of this page completely. If you have a question which we did not answer here, then you may email us with your inquiry.
At a bare minimum, books must:
- have an ISBN
- be listed in our online store AND show a backlink from your site to ours (see above)
- be professionally bound and printed
- display the title on the spine
- have an attractive cover, designed by a professional
- be free of typos and errors
- have been edited professionally (by someone who is not the author, or related to the author)
- have a marketing plan
- have a website
- have a demonstrable online footprint (if we Google you, what will we find?)
We strongly reccommend that you also:
- hire a publicist or a professional marketing firm to promote your book
- create a presentation or talk you can give which is relevant to your book
- read this excellent article about how self publishing works: https://blog.reedsy.com/cost-to-self-publish-a-book/
- Sales Record. Books which demonstrate successful sales in our online store (see above) are much more likely to be given a place on the shelf in the retail shop.
- Quality. If the book itself meets all the guidelines we listed above, you have a much better chance of being added to the waitlist.
- Local Interest. As long as the quality requirements are met, books about the Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor area usually skip straight to the front of the line.
- Genre. The most popular books are local mysteries. At this time, we are not looking for memoirs / autobiographies, self-help, children's books, or poetry.
- Price. The list price of the book must be competitive with traditionally published titles in the same genre. In most cases, this means $18.95 or less.
2021 Update. At this time, our event schedule is mostly paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For information on the way the process normally works, please keep reading:
Before we can schedule an event with a self published author, the book must go through our selection process (see above). If the book is selected to be carried at Sandman Books, then we can discuss event booking. (Yes, we do charge a fee to host an event.)
Each year we get hundreds of inquires from authors for all sorts of events. Most of these writers are hoping Sandman will carry their books, and host book signings for them. Because most authors do not have experience as event planners, there is a lot they don’t know about organizing and hosting a successful event. Successful events have a few things in common: good content, thorough promotion, and hard working authors. What do I mean by these things?
- Good Content. People won’t show up just because an author is here. On any given night, there are dozens of things happening in Punta Gorda. Dozens of other events are competing for their attention. If you want people to show up at an author event, you have to be interesting. Local readers tend to be drawn in by history talks, lectures on subjects they want to learn about (such as how to photograph local wildlife), and things that are unusual. If you want your event to succeed, be prepared with a rehearsed, well written presentation that has a catchy name.
- Thorough Promotion. People won’t show up unless they know something’s happening. This is your event – it’s your job to promote it (or to hire a PR person). Submit the event to local media, look for interview opportunities, be active on Facebook, twitter, and instagram… there are dozens of free promotion opportunities, but you have to be willing to do the work.
- Hard Working Authors. You may have spent years of your life writing the book, but the real work has just begun. Now you have to promote yourself (or, if you’ve already hired a publicist, you have to be sure they do it). Many other people, far more knowledgeable than I am, can tell you how best to do this. If you haven’t already sought them out, do so now.
If you are willing to put the time and money into promotion, you can succeed as a local author.
Questions we didn't answer here? Contact us and we'll do our best to answer.