This is how you get your book onto a bookstore shelf

You walk in and hand it to them. Well, not quite that easy, but close. I’m exhausted from jumping up and down over here – Shizzle, Inc is now available at Readings St Kilda (that’s in Melbourne, Australia).Β How’s this for starting 2016 with a bang:

Book on the shelf

I always wanted to get my book into a brick-and-mortar bookstore, but did not have a plan on how I was going to get this feat accomplished. My general feeling after reading online articles was that it’s very hard for self-published authors to do so. Perhaps it is, if you expect the bookstore buyers to order books from CreateSpace, but NOT if you are willing to be a supplier yourself, and to sell on consignment (this means you don’t get paid until the book is sold, and the store reserves the right to return the stock to you without payment, if it does not sell).

On Saturday, I was catching up with my sister for a coffee on the famous Acland street in St Kilda, when I’d decided to mix in some business and stop by Readings to enquire about selling books on consignment. I was told to come back on Monday to talk to the store manager, and that they “do it all the time”.

I could hardly wait till Monday, and showed up at the store with trepidation and a paperback in hand. The store manager turned out to be this gorgeous creature called Amy. She not only agreed to take the book (after a brief glance through, probably to check the print quality), she asked for three more copies to “give it some shelf presence”. Needless to say, I was back in a couple of hours with more books, an invoice, and signed agreement. Amy suggested that I should price the book “under $29” (all prices stated are in Australian dollars). I almost fainted and said I was thinking about $19.99 at most, and she seconded that motion. Readings take 40% on top of your “wholesale” price, which I set at $14.27 to get the overall $19.99. It costs me just about $8 per book, depending on the conversion rate, so my profit before tax is just over $6, which makes me happy indeed. Also, I just found out today that Lightning Source now prints B&W books in Victoria, so once I get that sorted, my per-copy price will come down to a mere $5.30!

The same process was a bit more difficult with the buyer for the Readings Carlton, who also happens to be the buyer for Readings in the State Library. He happily agreed to take a copy for review, but warned me that it will take him a week to get back to me. Fingers crossed.

I also have in my sights another Readings and two Dymocks buyers, which together cover about half-dozen stores. I’m not too thrilled to have to keep track of multiple venues, but that hardly marrsΒ the excitement of having my actual, physical book in an actual, physical store, where people may discover it just by browsing.

Of course, I can’t do the same in the US stores, or at least I have not yet come up with a strategy. At this point I’m thinking of contacting a few stores, arranging for 4-5 copies at a time to be printed and sent to them directly (if they agree), and just taking the risk that the books will not sell. In the US, without the international shipping, a book will cost me about $6-7 AUD, so I could take that risk, unless anybody has a genius idea for me?

Would love to hear from any self-published authors with books in the US bookstores, and thank you, everyone, again for such beautiful comments and thanks on my previous post. You have no idea how motivational it is for me to continue going – in fact, it was what got me to punch out 2,000 words yesterday and 2,800 words today! Thank you all so very, very much πŸ™‚

145 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

145 responses to “This is how you get your book onto a bookstore shelf

  1. Pingback: This is how you get your book onto a bookstoreΒ shelf | International Book Promotion

  2. Hey Ana, this is Ann. You have inspired me to finish the book I am revising and get it published. To answer your question about selling to book stores in the US, her’s what a book store owner told me when I published a book through authorhouse. He said that the best thing for you to do would be to send the managers a copy of the book for them to look over, and then contact them about whether they would be willing to buy books from you, or oder them through create space and sell them that way. Many of the shop owners that I talked to will sell books on consignment. However, don’t look for stores like books-a-million, barns and Noble, Borders, etc. to get your book and sell it at their locations, because there is no return policy for Indie Books. I think that small mom and pop type book stores will be the better places to sell your books. Good luck on your books, and God bless.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much, Ann! I will try them all, probably πŸ™‚ will let you know how I go…

      Like

      • janeharris(harris-zsovan)

        When I was self-published, I used a very similar tactic- going into the store and getting it on the shelf. I think you’d have an easier time if you focused on other markets than the U.S. Here, in Canada, very few authors – either royalty published or self-published — use agents and the market is quite different than the U.S. market. You may have better luck here than in the U.S., Have you thought about getting your book on to the Chapters/Indigo site in Canada? My publisher takes care of this for me, but you contacts somebody like Friesen Press in Vancouver they may be able to help you. Chapters website is: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/ They own several bookstore chains and are the biggest seller in Canada.

        Liked by 2 people

      • That’s awesome advice- thank you, Jane! I plan to try it all – if nothing else, it will give me great blog material πŸ™‚

        Like

  3. I’ll have to try this tactic with my own book here in the UK. I’ll let you know how I get on.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Very interesting. I intend to have 100 copies of my book printed. Most for promotional purposes, e,g, bloggers, friends, school teachers, but the rest I’ll tout around to bookstores in Montreal to be sold on consignment. We have several independent book stores here so I think Ill get a few on their shelves.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You go girl!! I have never been in your talented shoes, but I wish you the best!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    If you don’t ask, you don’t find out – The worst they can say is “No (thank you)” – Well done Ana πŸ‘πŸ˜ƒ

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Good luck, hope you sell a ton!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Well done! I’m thinking of trying this too….

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Angie

    Way to go! Great picture. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Annette Rochelle Aben

    So happy for you! While my books are in the local library, I do not have them, as yet in a bookstore. I don’t believe we have any in the city where I live. Still, I have other thoughts on this… ❀

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I once approached an employee at a major bookstore and asked if they had any poetry readings scheduled. He asked, “Why?” I told him that I liked and wrote poetry and so wanted to attend some poetry readings. His eyes got wide and he asked, nearly begged me, to schedule a poetry reading of my own work at their book store. At the time, with 5 young children, I politely declined. But yes, I think often they are as eager to receive our work as we are to give it.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Congratulations πŸ™‚ And well done!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. My dad used to own a book shop. They did this kind of thing all the time – that is sell a book on consignment from a local author. πŸ™‚ Good luck with all your other selling endeavors.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Thanks for motivating me to get going on POD copies of my ebooks (republished after I regained my rights). We have so few independent booksellers in my area (Louisville, KY, area), but the ones we do have are well-patronized. I, too, would love to hear from others who have worked on doing this, especially in the U.S.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: This is how you get your book onto a bookstore shelf | Just Can't Help Writing

  16. I’d be curious to see if people have had success in US stores. You could blog about what you discover πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  17. There are lots of ways to get your book into bookstores in other countries, but the best way is by building a personal relationship with the owners (if you can)…I have done that with one independently owned bookstore, Southcart Books, in the UK, and they have agreed to stock any/all Meizius Publishing books I want to send them, even though I have never met them face-to-face, and have never been to Walsall (where they are located). You can certainly look them up (https://www.facebook.com/southcartbooks/?fref=ts) and tell Scott that I sent you. He’s very approachable.
    As for the US, I would recommend doing the same…try reaching out to as many bookstore owners/acquisition directors as you think you can handle. You don’t necessarily have to have a pitch. You can just explain to them what you’re trying to do and see if they are interested in building a “business friendship.” If you come across any US bookstores in my neck of the woods (either Washington, D.C. or Tampa, FL areas) and need a copy of your book hand-delivered, just let me know. I’d be glad to help!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Well done. Nothing like the direct approach. And you’ve inspired me to try the same here in the UK.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Reblogged this on TheKingsKidChronicles and commented:
    This is a great post, very helpful. Reblogged from anaspoke.com

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Thank you so much for sharing this. It encourages me, and I’m sure other authors.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Congrats! It looks fantastic sitting on the shelf. Selling on consignment has always seemed scary to me, but now that I can see how it works I’m inspired as well. Can’t wait to get my print book and give this a try.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Hi Ana. I had no problem getting my local bookstore to stock my book on similar terms. I plan to spend Friday in our capital city (Dublin) where there are several independent book stores attempting to get them to stock it.
    As it’s set in England, I need to get English shops interested. Maybe I could star with southcart! The problem I foresee is the cot of postage. I have already sent copies to relatives in England and it costs €5.00 on top of the €5.00 each copy costs me from CreateSpace. What I need is someone in England who is willing to order from CreateSpace where they can take advantage of the free delivery offered by Amazon.co.uk.
    Perhaps we can set up some kind of exchange whereby you sell your follower’s books in Australia and we sell yours in our neighbourhoods!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Frank – what about having your book printed in England? I’m in Australia, but I print in the US – and hey, I’ve been ordering one copy at a time and sending it to celebrities, haha! Joel Coen should have his copy shortly πŸ™‚

      To be honest, I’d rather not get involved in selling others’ books – I want to write, and my time is very limited as is. It’s “first things first” principle – first write, then blog, then market and sell, if I have time. Hope you understand…

      Like

  23. Cool. I wonder how things are like in my home country.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. So exciting and a great start to 2016! Fingers crossed that they fly off the shelves and they’re onto you for more copies soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Congratulations and thank you for sharing the story. You dispelled my reservations about self-publishing entirely. I’m very happy for you here!

    Liked by 2 people

  26. That’s so exciting! I’m glad I found you. You are inspiring!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Fantastic news, Ana! Well done in taking the bull by the proverbials.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Reblogged this on authorkdrose and commented:
    The scary brick and mortar presence possibility

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Here’s to going for it and taking a chance! Congrats!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Really cool! Can’t wait to hear the results! Now you’ve got me wanting to try one of my local bookshops!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Fantastic! I’m publishing a non fiction business book this month through partnership publishing. Hoping to get it into a couple of stores. Wish me luck x

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Btw, how much did self publishing cost you in total?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I spent the most on editing – 3 rounds, at a cost of almost $3k AUD. I designed the cover myself, and actual publishing with Kindle and CreateSpace cost nothing. I did spend $150 or so on layout for paperback, but can do it myself in the future, I have a simple book, no pictures.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Brilliant, Ana, that’s a bold approach and it’s worked. So far this year, I’ve approached an independant bookshop in Norfolk, where my Redington stories are set. They want to see a copy, and have asked me to go to the local paper there to promote it. Now I’ve been in touch with Waterstones in my local town, and if they’re happy to take a few on consignement, then I’ll contact our local paper as well, to say….Local author has published book, a bit of blurb and then say, available in Waterstones. Fantastic start to the new year. Well done. Keep up the good work. I plan to go to the local library as well to ask if I can do a book signing. I’ll be a bit nervous, but we have to promote every way we can. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  34. What a great start to 2016! Congrats. Let me know when it’s available in book shops on the peninsula so I can grab one & give you the profit you deserve!

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Thanks for the encouraging post, Ana! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Reblogged this on Tracy Campbell and commented:
    Thank you for sharing your positive experience, Ana. I wish you much success. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Pingback: This is how you get your book onto a bookstoreΒ shelf | Rebecca Chaney

  38. Best of luck, Ana. Would be especially interested to see how you go with the US as that’s the market my WIP is targeted towards.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Tamara Kulish

    Wow! You’re an inspiration! I’m looking at where I can start placing my book too… I didn’t know it could be as easy as you did it… I think it’s easy to believe that it’s not possible and not risk rejection! Kudos to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  40. I simply walked in to my local indie store and had a conversation, but I have an edge being local.

    If you get into b&n in the states, great, but I recommend you target getting into the BookPeople in Austin, TX. There is a large indie scene there and they do a great promoting the books that aren’t necessarily from NYC.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Congratulations Ana! Amazing what a little pluck will do, right? Get up a little more pluck and write these people.

    Anderson’s Bookshops
    123 W Jefferson Ave
    Naperville, IL 60540
    (630) 355-2665
    http://www.andersonsbookshop.com/

    It’s a family owned bookshop, seems to have grown from when I used to visit them, but they used to do all manner of promotion for new and rising writers. It’s worth a shot, right?

    rudyblues

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Congrats Ana! That’s a huge achievement πŸ™‚ It must’ve been so surreal to see your book on a self in a book store! Good luck with getting your book to here in the US πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  43. olivia barrington

    I’m so excited and happy for you!! It looks great sitting on that shelf. Just think how great it will be when the sequels are next to it. There’s no stopping you now! I live near St.Louis,Mo. I know there are a ton of independent bookstores, indie bookstores around where I live. I just googled them and if you want their info let me know and I’ll get it to you. Lots of them. Again congrats!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That would be awesome, thank you, Olivia! Which 2-3 would you recommend as busiest and largest or maybe ones you have heard of as popular? I’d like to be targeted, as this is likely to take a lot of effort. Thanks again, you’re the best πŸ™‚

      Like

  44. This is fascinating! I managed to get copies of some of my books into an independent shop in Australia because I know the owner on Facebook, but the same isn’t true for the chain stores in the UK who will only order books from a distributor. Maybe I should try and independent store here too!

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Hi! I know the Center for Fiction in NYC has a featured section for overseas writers. Not sure of their policies, but might be worth contacting them? They are very author friendly.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Big congratulations. It’s one thing to see your book online, but to see it in store ! πŸ™‚ Again, big congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

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