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Self Publishing and Bookstores

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by danr62, Jun 6, 2013.

  1. danr62

    danr62 Sage

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    One of the biggest problems for self publishers is the fact that it has been difficult to get their books into bookstores. In fact, I believe that until recently this has been one of the biggest reasons for chosing to go trad rather than indie. I just read a blog post by Kristyne Kathryn Rusch (KKR) on how this is all changing:

    The Business Rusch: Shifting Sands « Kristine Kathryn Rusch

    This is a pretty long article, so I'll break down the essential points:

    Last year:

    • Bookstores could order traditionally published books at up to a 45% discount could return those books for full credit (contingent on the bookstore having a high rating with the distributor)
    • Print On Demand (POD) books could only be ordered at a 5% and no returns.

    Obviously, this puts a huge risk on bookstores that order POD books. But earlier this year the two biggest distributors, B&T and Ingrams, changed their policies on POD books and now offer the same terms for these as they do for trad published books.

    Please note, with CreateSpace, your book needs to be in the extended distribution program. LightningSource has a similar program, but Rusch doesn't know what it's called and I don't want to look it up. :D

    Basically, what this means is that bookstores no longer carry any additional risk for ordering self published books than for trad published books.

    In another article KKR argues that the best way to actually get your books into these stores is to build a fan base by publishing well written, professionally packaged books. This will gain you the word of mouth that can help you convince stores to order your books. I think KKR isn't a fan of marketing or approaching bookstores until you have several titles under your belt.
     
    BWFoster78 likes this.
  2. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    You can also go the old-school route of negotiating with printers and distributors yourself and selling to bookstores on your own. Requires a bigger up-front investment though.
     
  3. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    This situation represents incredibly positive news for the self publisher. If your dream in life is to walk into a bookstore and see your baby in print, that dream just got a lot more attainable without the need to go through agents and publishers.

    It also makes it beneficial for you to implore your fans to order your book through their local bookstores, supporting you and the bookstore at the same time.
     
  4. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    On the face of it, it looks good, but in reality you have to have some volume happening. My first book in the book stores actually did alright, but I would have made a lot more money if I'd listened to my publisher and agreed to a publisher-run launch. Instead, I insisted on letting the local major book store run it, which was basically just giving them money. I was hoping it would help get sales up towards critical mass, but it just gave the local bookstore the cream that my publisher should have had.
     
    Devor likes this.
  5. danr62

    danr62 Sage

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    Also, it seems from discussions I've seen elsewhere that the POD authors may have to pay for the returns, which can backfire if yor earnings don't cover the cost of returns. If your not making good money from your ebooks you might not want to use the extended distribution option.
     
  6. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    Hit second-hand bookstores and small, local businesses. Remember they often sell at cheaper prices, but some may have space for a book signing. Don't forget the little guys; sometimes you can form a fan base there, and support the small business at the same time.

    I'll also note that I've read some -awful- self-published books, both online versions and print. Absolutely horrendous. The editor must be bloody blind. I've been selling books for years on the side and I've had some given to me for consideration that I would throw onto the fire.

    On the other hand, I've seen some great stuff come through, and they've all sold, plus they've acted as added advertising. An attached business card, a blog or website address, a mailing list - good options. In return the writer may advertise the small business on their site or Facebook page or blog.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013
    Jessquoi likes this.
  7. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    It's not just "risk" that is the issue. The bigger problem is shelf space and sell through. Bookstores don't want to send back books - they want them to sell. So books that sell...get shelved. Newer authors, and especially self-published authors...will be hard pressed to get bookstores to give up their limited shelf space.
     
  8. adriandiglio

    adriandiglio Scribe

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    As an unpublished author, I can't reference personal experience, but I can agree on the basic business principles that are at stake here. I would have to agree with Jess A. about the second-hand bookstores and small business approach since often times, they can be negotiated with directly. Similarly to ANY new product someone may bring to market, you'll find it difficult to get into stores without a history of proven sales or a marketing plan.

    Once you have some proven success, or you've been making steady progress with the grass-roots/self-publishing route, then you check out this link. You can see everything that Barnes & Noble requires of a book in order to make it into their stores. Barnes & Noble Booksellers
     
    Jess A likes this.
  9. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    Interesting link (Barnes & Noble).

    On small businesses - I personally will recommend new authors to customers who are fans of the genre, if I've reviewed it myself and liked it enough to sell it. That's another little pro about approaching small shops first, then looking into bigger stores.
     
  10. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

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    But getting into the Bookstore could spell potential disaster for those doing POD. I know someone who nearly bankrupted the small press publisher he was with because he went through the process of getting the book approved. At first it looked great. They had like 1,200 orders (2 from 600 of the stores) but shortly later all of those came back as returns so the publisher ended up with like $100 in revenue and $5,400 in costs.
     
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