In Your Corner: How do you get your books in bookstores?

Despite the evolution of ebooks and ereaders, as well as other changes within the book publishing industry, a “traditional” bookstore presence should still be a goal for authors who want this. Why? Well, with this brick-and-mortar presence, authors are able to reach readers that are passionate about books. Think about it—people have to leave behind the comforts of their own home to visit a physical bookstore. Most likely, they are there to purchase a book. If your book is on the shelf, yours may just have a chance of going home with them.

Campus Bookstore at University of Pennsylvania

But … how can self-publishing authors work toward getting their books into bookstores like Barnes & Noble and local independent bookstores? Is it a matter of luck? Can we make the cut? What does that even mean?! Well, the good news is that even if you’re not necessarily on a lucky streak, it’s still possible to place your book on the shelves of bookstores. You must, however, have a solid plan in place to do so. You must, for example:

  • … make sure your book is fully returnable. If your book cannot be returned, you are requiring the bookstore to assume a great deal of risk—and many of them simply won’t be interested for that very reason. If they stock 10 copies of your book and only 4 sell over the course of a year and they cannot return the extra copies to you, they lose money. If the books are returnable, though, the store can simply send the books back that don’t sell for you to find better and more successful placements. Think of this return-ability as a type of “insurance” for your book … and as a necessary component of setting up a healthy long-term relationship with the bookstores which will sell not just this one book, but all of your books, present and future.
  • … offer a sufficient trade discount. What’s a sufficient discount? Typically, I recommend discounting your books around 50-55% (or higher) for brick-and-mortar booksellers. Of course this does cut significantly into your profits per book, but a higher retail margin gives the bookstore more incentive to stock your book on their shelves … and sell more books in total. No incentive? No sales.
  • … prove that your book is desirable, and has legs. This is probably the most difficult—though not insurmountable—part of brick-and-mortar sales, as authors often have a biased view of their books. The best indicator of a desirable book isn’t opinion … it’s exponential sales figures! If the amount of books you sell doubles, triples, or quadruples month-after-month, that is something that can work in your favor. If you aren’t a professional marketer, you may want to seek the services of a book marketing consultant. Make sure they are able to help you draft a marketing plan and go forth on planning your publicity.

After you’ve done all of the above, you must put together a proposal to submit to bookstore contacts. But we’ll tackle that in a separate blog post, since it’s a whole other animal unto itself. Stick around next week for my musings on how best to reach out to reach out to the stores, once you have published your book and are on the path towards wrapping up your publicity campaign!

You are not alone. ♣︎


ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

5 Ways to Promote Your Book in September

It is back to school time!  Now that summer is over, it’s time to get back the business of promoting your book.  Here are five easy ways to promote your book this month:

  1. I’m a little late this month, but Labor Day was on Monday. What better to do on Labor Day than sit back with a cup of coffee and a nice book to read? Remember that next year.  😉 Labor Day weekend is a great time to ask friends, colleagues and other potential book reviewers to read your book and write a review for you.
  2. Make a list of local independent bookstores you will visit to pitch your book or author event.  To find your local independent bookstores, visit
  3. Create a CD Media Kit to send out to the media and book buyers.  Be sure to include a high resolution image of your cover, an author bio, synopsis, any recent press and your contact information.
  4. The Beijing Book Fair takes place September 29th through October 2nd. Even if you’re not travelling to Beijing this month, pay attention to the buzz in the publishing industry and keep yourself informed about what’s going on throughout the event.
  5. Use to record your own teleseminar. You can do this to promote your current book – present on a topic related to your subject matter – or record yourself discussing a different topic and have the recording transcribed into your next book!

DISCUSSION: How are you planning to promote YOUR book this month?

Kelly Schuknecht works as the Vice President of Outskirts Press.  In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at

New Pages for Self-Published Authors

 As if our current economy wasn’t bad enough for small businesses, independent bookstores may be struggling, due to competing with the chains and online retailers like  Nevertheless, when it comes to appearing in person for an event or book signing, or arranging consignment deals for in-stock carriage, the independent bookstore is the independently published author’s best friend.

Let’s make it easy for you to find them. Go to for a list of states in the United States and click on your state for the major independent bookstores in your area.  Feel like traveling out of state, this resource will supply you with all the independent bookstores you want to find.  You can even purchase mailing lists to these stores pretty inexpensively if you want to send a promotional mailing.

In fact, other resources are on the New Pages website, too, including information about every literary magazine published in the US, and more. The Main page is at

Good luck and have fun!
Kelly Schuknecht

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