Get Your Books On The Shelf

Get Your Books On The Shelf


If you Self-Publish or go through an Independent Publisher, you may have the challenge of trying to get your books on bookshelves. Many big chain bookstores will only order your book if they can find it on their database. Bookstores don’t like small publishers because they don’t often offer returns if the book doesn’t sell.  Sometimes bookstores will let you bring copies of your own book to sign and hand sell at a table.

FYI Createspace from Amazon will not only list your book on Amazon’s website, but will also list it in bookstore databases.

Libraries won’t often buy books that are self-published or published by a small publisher. Some libraries will purchase your book if you are a local author or if they won’t purchase it, they may accept donation copies of your book.


Publisher: Creates Product and Promotes It.

The Distributor: A Middleman with Sales Force and Marketing. Example: Ingram or Amazon

The Wholesaler: Consolidate Titles from Publishing Houses to Bookstore: Ingram or Amazon

Database: Industry wide databases contain title and ordering information. Most databases are online these days.  Ingram and Books in Print have online databases. Barnes and Noble has their own online database, which will tell the bookseller how many copies that have on hand and how many are available to order from their warehouses.

Bookstore: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, etc.

Discounts: Standard Discount on Trade Books is 40% of List Price.  Libraries get a 20% discount because they usually order in smaller quantities.

Consignment: Buying on Consignment means the Publisher is not paid until after the books are shipped to the store. Standard payment terms are usually between 90 and 120 days.

Returns: Publishers usually offer wholesalers and bookstores offer the option of returning a book at any time and in any condition—if it doesn’t sell.

FOB: Freight on Board or Free on Board. Essentially you own the book and bear the cost of returns even if it comes to you at a loss of profit.

Co-Op Payments: Large Publishers often make cooperative payments to stores, which is why their books get put on end caps and display tables.  Stores may expect co-op payments to help market your signing or reading.

Reasons Books Fail

From Writer’s Digest

Muddled Title. Check to see if Title is well liked. Take an informal poll. If it isn’t liked, then focus on content of book instead of title.

Poor Content and Poor Writing. Not editing the book or paying to have the book professionally edited can turn away customers.

Poor Covert Art. Art should reflect content. It should be random or irrelevant. Hand drawn art is not always a good idea unless it is exceptionally well done. You can use personal photos, clip art or stock pictures. Choose something that is eye catching and interests the potential readers.

Poor Back Cover Copy. This is a place where you can really sell your book. If you don’t provide an interesting summary to catch the reader’s interest on the back, try writing a flyer to include with the book.

No ISBN (International Standard Book Number). If you don’t print the ISBN on the book or inside the book, it will be difficult for book sellers to get onto shelves and sell. ISBNs are a key factor in sales.

Poor Distribution: Make sure you book is listed in important databases. If you don’t have a big distributor, perhaps you can get noticed with a large amount of hand sells. Make sure there is a phone number or email address included in flyers so people know where they can order the book from.

Wrong Price. Too High of Prices Will Turn Away Customers. For example, Kindle recommends that ebooks go for $2.99. Trying to sell your ebook for $20 will be a harder sell.

No Market For The Book. Research your audience. Who might be interested in your content. How can you reach this audience?  If your book doesn’t fit into any particular genre, find one that is the closest fit and try to market it there.



About carilynn27

Reading and writing and writing about reading are my passion. I've been keeping a journal since I was 14. I also write fiction and poetry. I published my first collection of short stories, "Radiant Darkness" in 2000. I followed that up with my first collection of poetry in 2001 called "Journey without a Map." In 2008, I published "Persephone's Echo" another collection of poetry. Since then I've also published Emotional Espionage, The Way The Story Ended, My Perfect Drug and Out There. I have my BA in English from The Ohio State University at Mansfield and my MA in English Lit from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I also have my Post BA Certificate in Women's Studies. I am the mother of two beautiful children. :-)
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