One of the common misconceptions about self-publishing is that you can’t get a self-published book into bookstores. False!
It is absolutely possible to get a self-published book into a bookstore. That said, there are a few things you need to do as an entrepreneur to make sure your book is available to sell in bookstores:
- Produce a professional product.
- Make it easy for bookstores to purchase your book.
- Build relationships with bookstore owners.
"It is absolutely possible to get a self-published book into a bookstore." - @jodibrandon
Let’s take a look at each of these in a bit more detail.
Produce a professional product.
Book buyers and book readers shouldn't be able to tell a difference between your self-published book and a traditionally published book. Invest in a professional editor and book designer. Purchase your own ISBN (instead of using one from your publishing platform, which may or may not be free). Bookstore owners are used to working with professional booksellers so you have to be able to play that game. Starting with a professionally produced product is the strongest first step you can take as an author-entrepreneur.
Make it easy for bookstores to purchase.
As an author-entrepreneur, you must accept book returns.If you don’t, a bookstore likely won't want to risk selling your book. That sounds bananas if you aren’t familiar with the book publishing industry, I know. Here’s a dirty little secret of the publishing world: Bookstores can return books they buy from publishers. So when you hear that a new book by a celebrity sold a million copies, that’s true. But you (we) don’t hear the next part: Bookstores weren’t able to sell three-quarters of those books and returned them to the publisher.
If you use IngramSpark as a your book distributor, book buyers will breathe a sigh of relief when you reach out to them. Traditional publishers also use Ingram, so book buyers and bookstore owners are familiar with them and the process already. This makes it easier for them to say yes to carrying your book.
"As an author-entrepreneur, you must accept book returns." - @jodibrandon
Build relationships with bookstore owners.
Be someone that they recognize. Attend events there. Open your wallet and buy books. As with any other part in book publishing, business, and life, relationships matter here. This is especially important with smaller and independent bookstores. (They have such limited shelf space!) If you are a part of the store community, bookstore owners know they can count on you for an event or a book signing, for example.
Do you have to do a little more legwork to get a self-published book onto bookstore shelves? Sure. But it’s far from impossible, so get started today!