Get Those Books OFF the Shelf!

As an indie author, I know you're probably dreaming of seeing your book(s) on bookshelves I know that was all I could think about when I made the leap and decided to self-publish. It's every author's goal! Perusing the aisles at your favorite bookstore, grocery store, or library and ... "OMG, there it is!" There's nothing like it. And you can make it happen. Plenty of self-published authors achieve the dream; it just takes a little footwork. Ask the store manager about their submission policy or, often, the guidelines are online. But before you make that move, I want to make sure you know the real deal!

Get Into Indie Bookstores:

  • Indie stores often reject Amazon KDP books because Amazon is their biggest competitor

  • Create relationships with the store

  • Know the store's demographics

  • Offer a wholesale discount and make your book returnable

  • Don't make your book so unique that it's difficult to shelve

  • Have appropriate retail pricing within market range

  • Provide marketing support to drive traffic to the store

An author/editor friend of mine, Barbara Joe Williams, made a post on Facebook one day that made me realize that a lot of indie authors may not be up on game. So let me school you: Having a paperback in a bookstore is great, but if those books aren't sold within 30 to 60 days, they will be returned, and you will be responsible for the shipping and any add-on costs. So while you're planning to get your books into book Barnes & Noble, you better have a plan to get them out!

Remember the goal is to not only get the books on the shelves but also get them off the shelves. Shelf space is limited, and bookstores are for-profit companies, so they're more interested in making money than letting you use their store as a museum for your book's exhibit. Don't bite off more than you can chew. If you can get a few books on the shelf, great! But make sure you have the local traffic to sell them with either a book signing, media attention, or word of mouth. If you don't, you can end up spending more on returns than you've made in sales. And that's just bad for business.