Do's and Don'ts

Some DOs and DON'Ts when trying to get your book onto a bookstore shelf


  1. Always be respectful of the bookstore staff’s time - they are generally trying to get more done in a day than they have time for and one author wanting to discuss/learn how to get their book on the shelf or check on sales takes up a relatively huge amount of time, with little return to the store.

  2. The research. Most bookstores have stated policies on their website on how they handle buying/stocking independently-/self-published books or books by local authors, to save time for the author and the bookstore both. There is a lot of information for authors available about how the industry works, how to market, how to find someone to professionally proof and edit and do cover art, etc. We are not free consultants on the publishing industry.

  3. Understand that it is an exceedingly rare independently published book that has the production values to match traditionally published books, and this can make them very hard for bookstores to stock and sell. The biggest complaint? Lack of title and author on the book’s spine. Second biggest? Poor cover art. This is especially true for children’s books.

  4. Be a customer of the store you are asking to stock your book.

  5. Be sure your website links to your local indie bookstore site, and that your social media links there also. If you must mention Amazon on your site, be sure it is not at the top of the list of places to buy your book. If you post a link on social media to help your friends and family buy your book, be sure it is to your local bookstore!

  6. Consider other ways to publish your book besides Createspace. Many bookstores make it a policy simply not to carry anything published by Amazon and we don’t know any bookstore that will order a book from Amazon simply to get it stocked for a local author. Try IngramSpark instead.

  7. Realize that even with a standard 60/40 consignment split or standard 40% wholesale discount, the staff time it takes for a bookstore to specially handle a self-published title, and the value of the shelf space, will probably outweigh their cut, unless the book sells consistently over a long period of time.

  8. Remember that as a self-published author, YOU are the business, and the bookstore is the customer. You are providing customer service to the bookstore, not the other way around.


  1. Try to impress a bookstore owner by mention your Amazon ranking, your Amazon sales, your Amazon reviews, or anything at all about ****ing Amazon. An independent brick and mortar bookstore does NOT want to hear it. At all.

  2. Call the store to ask how your book is selling. See “DO” #1 above.

  3. Expect that your book will be of interest to lots of bookstores, especially bookstores not in your local area. A local connection or story angle is incredibly important for many self-published books to sell well in a bookstore.