Stocking Self-published Books

Understanding how distribution works in the current POD publishing model makes a strong case for focusing book sales and marketing exclusively from literally tens of thousands of online exclusive venues from the micro-niche outlets to the whopper marketplace that is Amazon.

Even though this model is over a decade old, the concept has been slow to absorb among authors and retailers alike. Visiting a brick-and-mortar store is an experience after-all, and there is value in reaching real readers in real spaces.

Whether or not to stock a book in a brick-and-mortar store is a decision for each author to make upon careful consideration to the content, market, and return-on-investment, etc., because there are distinct qualifications most books must meet in order for a store buyer to decide whether or not to physically stock a book in their store. Remember, Amazon can stock virtually every book available in the ‘cloud’ or virtual space. Brick-and-mortar stores have very real limitations in terms of space and their own ROI to consider.

So if your goal is to stock your self-published ‘on-demand’ book in physical retail locations, consider these 3 qualifications when preparing your book for publication:

  1. Retail Returns – this is like insurance for the retailer, allowing them to return any unsold books after a set period of time. A handful of full-service on-demand publishers offer this option. It will come at a cost to the author.
  2. Distribution Discount – while online retailers will often stock a book as low as 25%, offline stores will require a steeper discount – 50-55%. Their cost and investment is higher. The downside means lower royalties and/or higher retail prices for the book.
  3. Buzz – sure, books printed and sold on-demand require ‘buzz’ too, but that buzz comes before the book is sold, and sells the book. A brick-and-mortar store is taking a bigger risk, buying books that have yet to actually sell to a reader, so they’ll be looking for a book they feel has a potential to move. Don’t hesitate blowing your own horn. Or, look for a publisher that will help do it for you through options like copywriting, custom design work, personal marketing assistance, and press campaigns.

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