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A Guide to Getting Your Book in Bookstores: Tips for Indie Authors

For indie authors, the dream of seeing your book on the shelves of a traditional bookstore is a significant milestone. While it can be a challenging endeavor, it's not impossible. In this blog, we will guide you through the steps to approach bookstores and increase your chances of getting your book on their shelves.

1. Research the Right Bookstores

Start by researching bookstores that align with your book's genre and target audience. Consider both large chain bookstores and independent, locally-owned shops. Visit these bookstores in person or explore their websites to learn about their submission guidelines and preferences.

2. Professional Presentation

Before you approach bookstores, ensure that your book is professionally published. It should have a well-designed cover, be properly edited, and formatted to industry standards. A polished book is more likely to catch the attention of bookstore owners.

3. Craft a Compelling Pitch

Your pitch to bookstores should be professional and concise. It should include:

  • A brief introduction to yourself and your book.

  • A compelling synopsis of your book.

  • An explanation of why your book is a good fit for their store and customers.

  • Information about the book's availability, distribution, and returnability.

Having a sell sheet to give the bookstore manager or owner would be the most beneficial! Check out this blog to learn more about developing your own sell sheet!

4. Distribution Channels

Bookstores often prefer working with books that are available through established distribution channels. Ensure your book is distributed through a distributor or wholesaler, making it easier for bookstores to order and stock your book. Examples of these: IngramSparks, Amazon, Bookbaby, Lulus, etc.

Be sure that your book can be accessed in their database for purchase. This means, if you are self publishing with Ingram or Amazon, you will need to toggle the settings ON for distribution, set your wholesale price to 55% discount, AND turn on returns. If you do not have these settings, bookstores will likely pass up your book unless they have developed a personal relationship with you as an author and show an interest in your book.

5. ISBN and Barcodes

Make sure your book has an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and a scannable barcode. These are essential for bookstores to track and sell your book. Amazon offers them for free, but it is much better for you to buy your own! You can get them at Bowker's for a reasonable fee. (They offer discounts when you buy multiple ones!)

6. Consignment or Wholesale

Bookstores may agree to stock your book through a consignment or wholesale arrangement. In a consignment model, you provide the store with copies, and they only pay you for books sold. In a wholesale model, bookstores buy copies from you at a discount and sell them at retail prices. Neither is better or worse than the other, just be sure to ask them what their model is so you know what to expect. If they do wholesale, ask what percentage discount they're looking for. Most are looking for a 55% discount, as that is standard.

7. Offer Marketing Support

Show your commitment to promoting your book by offering marketing support. This could include author events, book signings, social media promotion, or collaborations with local book clubs or reading groups. Small towns eat this stuff up! Mainly because it's a generous way to benefit both you, a small indie author, and another small business!

8. Be Patient and Persistent

Getting your book in bookstores can be a slow process. Many stores receive numerous requests, so don't be discouraged by initial rejections. Follow up, build relationships with store owners, and remain persistent.

9. Local Bookstores and Author Events

Local bookstores are often more open to working with indie authors. Attend author events, book fairs, or community events hosted by bookstores to network with owners and establish connections.

10. Engage a Literary Agent

If getting your book into bookstores becomes a significant part of your author career, consider engaging a literary agent or distributor experienced in working with bookstores. They can help you navigate the complex world of book distribution.

Getting your book into bookstores as an indie author requires persistence, professionalism, and a strategic approach. By researching the right bookstores, presenting your book professionally, and offering marketing support, you can increase your chances of seeing your book on the shelves. Remember that the journey may be slow, but with determination and a great book, it's possible to achieve your goal of sharing your work with a wider audience through traditional bookstores. Who knows, you may stumble into a wonderful long-term relationship with local business owners that may surprise you!

Need help bringing your book to life? Meraki Press exists to serve first-time authors as they grow and launch their passion projects!

We offer complete packages or a la carte services for every step of drafting to publishing!

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