In Your Corner: Get Thy Book to a Bookstore!

Despite the evolution of ebooks and e-readers, 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.

Salesman at the checkout in a bookstore

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 SeLibraries are a book-lovers paradise.  Unlimited books and resources everywhere.  One of the best resources is the librarian itself.  Your local librarian can provide help with possibly setting up a book reading event to help you market your book, answers to questions on how to have your book stocked in the library and much more.  Librarians are an amazing source of help and information.rvices 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.

ORIGINAL BOOK REVIEW: The Realistic Optimist – A Collection of Essays by Ellie Bushweller

457827 Ellie Bushweller cover


This book was written by a person who has a full and active life as a wife, mother, grandmother, nurse, counselor and freelance writer. She has been a keen observer of many aspects of human interest.

It is a collection of essays that are concerned with a wide variety of topics. The essays are insightful, informative, humorous and hopeful.

This book should appeal to all those who are intrigued by all the joys and concerns that impact people’s daily lives.


There are many essays out there in the world, and books like The Realistic Optimist are the best possible kind of persuasion I need to read more of them. Like many readers, my main exposure to the form came in college–first, as an undergraduate learning the basic definitions and structure, and then as a graduate student experimenting with genre expectations and strengthening my sentences. There were essays on supersonic planes, on oranges, on eclipses, on eating unprocessed foods, on shopping every store in the Mall of America, on sports, on hunting, and the list goes on. What there wasn’t, for the most part, was a collection of essays from a single author that captured my interest and felt like something more than a couple of really good works surrounded by filler.

Until now.

For most of a decade, Ellie Bushweller essayed for her local South Burlington’s The Other Paper. Her columns chronicled the daily lives of not just the people she met and the scenes she witnessed, but also the comings and goings of squirrels. Of seasons. Of one’s fellow bench-mates in the park. Of the tools and technologies that pass through our lives. Of time itself. Each of the roughly one hundred essays in this collection were written with conviction and heart, and while the occasional line indicates an essay’s origin in a newspaper column, the collection does not suffer from the change in delivery method.

It is fitting, I think, that The Other Paper would cover this collection of essays which it helped bring into the world with warmth and affection. There’s simply no reading of this book … and no encountering of Bushweller herself … without feeling touched by sunshine. One can easily see why and how she developed a loyal following among the newspaper subscribers of South Burlington.

Which isn’t to say that Bushweller hasn’t walked through some valleys and shadows and maybe even done dark alleys. After a childhood in Brooklyn, she grew into an adulthood as a nurse working to care for children and adults in a dilapidated city housing project. Still, despite life’s hardships witnessed and experienced daily, she clearly never closed her heart to the possibility of doing some good simply by being … a realistic optimist.


Come for the squirrel stories but stay for the bittersweet authenticity of a life lived with gusto and conviction, gentleness and generosity. The Realistic Optimist is rich with spirit and a balm in tough times. It is also a love letter to a decade of life in a specific time and place–South Burlington–that deserves witness.


You can find The Realistic Optimist wherever good books are sold, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also find out more about Ellie Bushweller’s work on the book’s Outskirts Press author page.


I’ll be going back to one of my wheelhouses, which is to say novel-length works of memoir and nonfiction. (Although frankly, I can fall in love with any genre if the writing is strong.) I’m working on a memoir of combat in Vietnam: God, Me and the Blackhorse by Barry Beaven. I tend to be deeply affected by stories of war, so I’m taking it slow and checking in and out of some other, lighter works … but I think Beaven’s will be the next book to make it into my reviews. You can catch those thoughts on Beaven’s book in two weeks here on Self Publishing Advisor.


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

* Courtesy of Amazon book listing.


ABOUT KENDRA M.: With nine years in library service, six years of working within the self-publishing world, as well as extensive experience in creative writing, freelance online content creation, and podcast editing, Kendra seeks to amplify the voices of those who need and deserve most to be heard.

Self-Publishing News: 2.25.2020

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And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

We love these monthly lists from Publishers Weekly! Not only do they serve as a critical discovery tool for those of us who read self-published books regularly, but they also help authors and the industry, too, by raising awareness of new titles and subjects of interest percolating through the wider cultural consciousness. Those behind the monthly lists make a real effort to represent the fantastic work being done across genres from romance to thriller to nonfiction and poetry, and this same even-handedness is shown in representing titles from big-name self-publishing companies to those offering full-service options like Outskirts Press (this month it’s Asking the Moon to Leave by Johnny Randolph Hunt) to those books which are published under only their authors’ names. As Publishers Weekly puts it,

Booksellers, publishers, librarians, and agents are encouraged to look at the 54 self-published titles below. Each appears with a list of retailers that are selling the book and a description provided by its author. Some of these writers are waiting to be discovered; others have track records and followings and are doing it on their own. If you are a self-published author interested in listing titles in this section, please visit for more information.

This list comes out each month in both print and digital versions of the magazine, and we can’t recommend it highly enough!

We couldn’t resist talking about this article by Erin Grace of the Omaha World-Herald chronicling the further adventures of the inimitable Robin Reed-Poindexter, an Omaha native whose years fighting fire in California in part fuel her work as a writer. Reed-Poindexter has published two semi-autobiographical children’s books based on her experiences, as well as a lengthy 660 page (!) memoir titled Now I See Clearly. Having made history as the first black woman hired onto the Richmond Fire Department in 1987, Reed-Poindexter “scrapped her way” (Grace’s good word choice there) through some tough times and retired in 2019. Writes Grace, “Robin said she wants the stories to remind students who get in trouble that they should never write themselves off. While grateful for the support she said her North Omaha network of friends, family and educators gave her, ultimately she had to prove her worth on her own.” Her children’s books set out to render this ethos accessible to kids. In a year that has already seen much conversation about fire and the power of civic engagement, we can’t think of a better self-publishing story to feature here on our blog today.


As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.


Ask the Book Doctor: Are There Special Rules When Using a Pen Name?

Question: I am simply a hobby writer. I do get the occasional “how-to article” published in magazines; however, I want to write some western fiction novels. One problem, as I see it, is my surname. It is of eastern European origin and sounds strange to most Americans. If I write under an alias, are there any special rules that might apply to using a nom de plume, like getting paid under the assumed name, copyrights under that name, et cetera?

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Answer: I’m not an attorney, but as I understand it, pseudonyms are not a problem in the publishing business. Your publisher will know your real name and send your checks to your legal name. Once you produce a written piece of work, the copyright automatically belongs to you (under your real name) until and unless you sell those rights, and the rights will belong to you no matter what pseudonym you choose to use when publishing your book.

What would you like to ask a book doctor? Send your questions to Bobbie Christmas at This article republished from the Self Publishing Advisor archives.

Ask the Book Doctor: Self-Publishing and Editing?

Question: I plan to self publish my book. My book was written and designed and ready to go to a printer, but somebody warned me that it needed editing.  I sent it to an editor, but he said he can’t edit it when it’s already designed. Why not?

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Answer: A manuscript should always be edited before it is designed into book format, and the reasons are simple. If you plan to have the editor work on the hard-copy (i.e., printed-out version) of your manuscript, it has to be in standard manuscript format; that is, twelve-point Courier or Times New Roman type, double-spaced, with margins of at least an inch on all sides. This format is standard in the industry and gives the editor room to make the edits and suggestions. If the book is already designed, it won’t be in standard manuscript format; it will be in book format.

If you plan to have your editor work on your electronic file, the format won’t matter, but it must be in a word-processing document, not a design program or a PDF. Most editors are not designers and won’t possess the prowess to redesign your book after they’ve edited it. (What if they end up removing an entire paragraph, or an entire page? There goes your editing).  If it is in a PDF file, most editors cannot change those files electronically. Worst of all, even if the editor has the capability of opening the design program or manipulating a PDF (which some do), editing a book after it is designed will surely interfere with the design. After the file is edited you’ll have to return it to your designer to get it redesigned, anyway, and there will certainly be an additional charge for that service.

As you can see, it’s cheaper and easier to follow convention. After you have made all the revisions to your manuscript that you can make, get it professionally edited. After it is edited, reread the manuscript for a final proof before submitting it for publication.

Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at This article republished from the Self Publishing Advisor archives.

Self-Publishing News: 11.19.2019


And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

The news we first covered last week about the continued rise of self-publishing is still making waves around the Internet. This week, the science fiction and fantasy site Locus uploaded their own coverage of Bowker’s exciting report, an exciting development since science fiction and fantasy make up one of the top genres in respect to both publishing and reading. We look forward to seeing what current and future authors of SFF do with this information!

This week, Jonathan Giammaria of the McGill Tribune covered the happenings at Expozine 2019 in Montreal, Canada–an event which drew over 15,000 visitors this year. Writes Giammaria, “Zines have often been associated with fringe issues, speaking for and about marginalized people and providing a platform for countercultural ideas and movements. Since zines have often had small circulations due to their DIY nature, their distribution has generally remained within the communities that produced them.” There, are, understandably, many connections between zine culture and the world of independent and self-publishing industries. And at Expozine, “In contrast to mainstream conventions like the upcoming Salon du livre de Montréal, […] value comes from showcasing a variety of artists whose eclectic niches might otherwise be overlooked.” This is a sentiment most self-published authors know very well indeed, and we’ll be keeping our eye(s) on Expozine in the future as another place to showcase our niche stories.

Are we, or are we not, living in the end times of traditionally published media? Dave Winterlich, chief strategy officer with Dentsu Aegis Ireland, thinks we just might be … at least, we might be if traditional media doesn’t take a long and hard look at its underlying principles. This week, Winterlich wrote for the Irish Times website that the combination of free content and the migration of advertising revenue into a digital space dovetailed with a loss of purpose within the industry itself to create a kind of crisis. (At least, it’s a crisis if you don’t buy into self-publishing.) But it doesn’t have to end there, writes Winterlich: “Traditional publishers can continue to run quality paid newsrooms while still providing a platform extension for self-publishing.” We’ve already seen how fluid the boundary between traditional media and independent publishing can be, with authors creating their own individualized approaches based on services available and their personal needs. Radio and the gaming industry have begun to experiment with self-publishing, and comics have been working in this liminal space for decades. We hope that Winterlich revisits the idea in future articles, and delves a bit deeper into what this new both/and modality might look like.


As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Ask the Book Doctor: Are Book Titles Protected by Copyright?

Q: I’m considering a title for my novel that is already being used on another book. Can titles by copyrighted?

A: Titles are not eligible for protection under current copyright law (a search on Amazon will often reveal many different books all sharing the same title).  However, titles can be trademarked if used to cover more than one item in a series, such as a cluster of seminars based on a book of the same name. Or try self-publishing a book with “Harry Potter” in the title and get ready to hear from some lawyers.

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While you can legally use a  book title that has been used by someone else, a better idea is to change the title and make it different, so people who search for your title will find only your book, and not others.  This is your chance to come up with something memorable and unique, and you’d be a muggle if you didn’t take advantage of that opportunity.

Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at This article republished from the Self Publishing Advisor Archives.