Authors, there are a couple ways to get your books onto our shelves. See the tips below. And please take note: we're happy to have it on the shelf if it sells, and the best way for sales to happen here is if YOU let your friends and family and followers on social media know that WE have your book.
Consignment. We sometimes make room on the shelf for books that are sold on consignment. This works well for self-published books from local authors. Books must meet certain production standards. Please click here to find out details about our consignment program.
Through our usual distributor. If your book is carried by Ingram, the national book wholesaler, we might order it directly from them if the book catches our interest and we believe it will be of interest to our customers. You may send or deliver a finished copy of the book to the store along with relevant information about yourself, where it can be ordered (note: we won't order a book on spec from Amazon), and what the book is about. We will place the book on the shelf for sale as a test run to see how quickly it sells, or if it sells at all. If it sells quickly we will re-order it. If it doesn't sell at all we will donate it to a good cause. A sale is good for you even if we don't reorder the book, as we are a New York Times and NPD Bookscan reporting store. Please be sure to include your full contact information with the book that you drop off, including name, address, email, and phone number.
Please note that we receive multiple author inquiries each week. In comparison with our buying from the traditional publishers, individual author inquiries require a very large amount of time for a very limited amount of potential sales, so handling individual author inquiries is necessarily fairly low down on our priority list. This isn't because we don't appreciate you, it's just the nature of the business.
If you are a self-published author, please keep in mind that as the publisher, you are the entity with something to sell, and we at the bookstore are your customers, to whom you are providing customer service. Although we might choose to work with you, purchase your product, and have a long and happy relationship with you, we are not obligated to do business with you. If you visit the store to drop off your book(s) for our perusal, please do not try to discuss your book with the staff person working behind the counter. This person is busy helping our customers, answering the phone, and handling other pressing store business. They are not able to assist with author inquiries. For the same reasons, please DO NOT CALL the store on the phone to pitch your book. Please also be aware that if you drop your book off for us to consider, it may take up to a month or more for it to be looked at depending on the season. Please be patient and do not hassle the store staff about it; only the head buyer makes decisions of this nature and it is out of front counter staff control. Also, unsolicited copies of books that we decide not to purchase, and are not picked up within 14 days after we notify you, will be considered donations, and could eventually be donated elsewhere. Thank you for being respectful of our limited amount of space, staff, and time.
A note about what we sell online.
Books that are in an industry-wide searchable book database such as maintained by Bowker or Ingram will show up on our website when people search for them. Books that are published by traditional publishing houses or self-published through Ingram Spark will automatically appear in these databases. Self-published books do not necessarily go onto these databases automatically; however, we are not a source of information about getting your book onto books in print databases as that is outside our area of knowledge and expertise.
Are you looking for information about self-publishing?
Please visit Ingram Spark for a solution to self-publishing needs that do not involve Lulu or CreateSpace. We can not advise you about self-publishing nor offer manuscript assistance, nor do we really recommend self-publishing at all over the traditional publishing model. However, there are many successful writers who take the self-publishing route and there are many great books that have been self-published. If you'd like help with self-publishing your book, we have a lot of respect for folks at Ingram, who are supporters of independent bookstores and are a pleasure to do business with, instead of CreateSpace, which is part of Amazon, which is trying to put us and all independent brick and mortar retailers out of business. For more information about why we prefer you not support Amazon, please see this link: http://www.civiceconomics.com/empty-storefronts.html.
Village Books in Bellingham, Washington offers consulting and assistance for self-publishing authors, with printing services available right in Bellingham. http://www.villagebooks.com/writers-corner
Some DOs and DON'Ts when trying to get your book onto a bookstore shelf
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.
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.
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.
Be a customer of the store you are asking to stock your book.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Try to impress a bookstore owner by mention your Amazon ranking, your Amazon sales, your Amazon reviews, or anything at all about Amazon. An independent brick and mortar bookstore does NOT want to hear it. At all.
Call the store to ask how your book is selling. See “DO” #1 above.
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.