Bookstores Are In Trouble and What this Means to Your Self-Publishing Marketing Plan

Borders is headed toward Chapter 11 Bankruptcy THIS MONTH.

Barnes&Noble has laid off several employees — including someone very important to self-publishing authors — the Small Press Director, Marcella Smith.

Whether this comes as a shock to you or it’s old news, traditional bookstores are in a bit of trouble right now. With the rising popularity of online book buying and affordability of e-readers, buyers are “turning their backs” on the big players in the bookstore game. As a self-publishing author, this is important for you to know as you will want to know whether to include brick and mortar bookstores in your marketing plan.

I’ve talked to several authors who were initially under the impression that once their book publishes, it is automatically available in traditional bookstores. That is not at all the case. If I’m speaking with an author who wants to explore the possibility of getting their book onto the shelves of their local bookstore, I typically advise that that the following “guidelines” must be met in order to have a chance of success with that goal:

  • You must set your pricing with an offline-friendly trade discount. This is usually between 50-55%.
  • Your book must be fully-returnable. The “insurance” plan for this can cost you $500+ per year.
  • You must have an on-target marketing plan with an already proven sales system.

The reality of it is, many self-publishing authors books never make it onto the shelves of a traditional bookstore. Trying to reach this goal can cost  you a great deal of money (less royalty and yearly cost) and time (you may have to re-submit your book multiple times to be considered).

What can you do if you aren’t able to meet the receiving bookstore’s rigid requirements? Well, the good news is – not all is lost. You can still be very successful at online sales. Plus, with both Borders and Barnes&Noble falling upon hard times, there are much better ways to use your marketing skills and/or dollars — including planning things like a Virtual Book Tour or Global Book Tour (to name a few).