When You’re Asked to Take a Title on Consignment
The theory is simple.
Consignment titles require no investment on your part. The author is taking all the risk. So how can you refuse?
Even if you don’t pay upfront, consignment titles consume valuable shelf space. Unless you’ve clearly got a winner, the space used to feature such titles means another title in which you have made an investment is not going to be seen in that spot. And if their title is that good, then why not offer to simply buy the books upfront?
What you have to ask the author is, “What mechanism is in place that will direct people to this store to purchase this book?” Related, “How will people interested in this topic or this story come to seek out this title here?”
Often, the author has not thought that through. Authors operate by the mantra, “If you display it, they will buy.” But no matter how strong the titles on its left or its right, if it doesn’t have a compelling cover, people probably won’t give it a second look. What’s needed is the extra push from public appearances, TV/Radio interviews, newspaper publicity or social media.
There’s nothing wrong with telling an author, “When you’ve got a plan, give us another call.”
On the other hand, we have had a few offers where we’ve said, “We think this is a concept we can, at the very least, hand-sell to our customers, so rather than do all the consignment paperwork, what discount will you give us to buy ten copies upfront?”