Trying to get bookstores to accept your book and give it shelf space is very time-consuming and difficult to achieve. Most bookstores are not anxious to get your book. And to make matters worse, as a small independent publisher, or self-publisher, you would be at the complete mercy of the bookstores. They set all of the terms, whether you like them or not. But even if you do everything they want, and spend lots of time and money in the process to get a bookstore to accept your book, and give it some self-space, there is no guarantee that they will sell your book. Here are ten reasons that a new self-publisher should avoid spending valuable time and money trying to get their book into brick-and-mortar bookstores.
1. Bookstores Only Take Books That They Deem Will Sell In Large Volume
They will almost never believe that a self-published book will sell more than a few copies. They know that a small publisher does not have the power, connections, or budget to execute a large and sophisticated marketing plan.
2. Bookstores Will Typically Order Less Than 10 Copies
Even if they accept your book and agree to give it some shelf space, most bookstores will order less than ten copies at a time. Limited space in the stock-room is one reason. A second reason is that your book will only be given a short time to prove to the bookstore that the book will sell. If it doesn’t, then it will be removed from the shelf.
3. Bookstores Only Accept Books That Can Be Returned
And they might return 50% to 80% of your books to you – and you must pay to get them back. Some big bookstore chains know that small publishers cannot afford to buy back the books. They will then offer to buy your books back for under a dollar, and then put your book on their discount table.
4. Bookstores Expect The Publisher To Pay For Shipping Both Ways
This is a fact of life for the self-publisher that self-distributes. It is also time-consuming to package your books for shipping, and postage is expensive.
5. Bookstores Sell Very Few Books Compared To The Online Retailers
This is especially true for self-publishers. Big-name well-established authors, and the biggest publishers, are the ones that get the best displays and locations in the bookstore.
6. Bookstores Physically Do Not Have Enough Room To Stock All Titles
The small bookstores might stock 5,000 titles. The huge bookstores might stock 140,000 titles. Amazon stocks a few million titles. You will end up spending lots of time and money trying to get your book into bookstores, most of which simply do not have the space to take your book.
7. Bookstores Will Force You To Take Back All Of The Damaged Copies
You book will sit on the bookstore’s shelf, get handled, bent, banged-up, etc., and then the bookstore will force you to take them back, and force you pay for the shipping.
8. Bookstores Have A Bias Against Self-Published Books For Two Big Reasons
a. The reputation of vanity presses and self-publishers producing low-quality and un-marketable books.
b. Self-publishers typically lack the proper relationships with distributors, therefore their books are difficult to obtain.
9. Bookstores Can Order Your Book Even When It Is Not On Their Shelf
Almost every bookstore in America can order a book online through companies such as Ingram or Bertrams. The book will then be shipped to the bookstore, and the customer will pick it up.
10. Bookstores Can Easily Take 90 To 120 Days To Pay You
As a small, independent, publisher, or self-publisher, you would be at the mercy of the bookstores. They set all of the terms, whether you like them or not. And as a small publisher, waiting several months for your money can be devastating.
Avoid all of these hassles when you are first starting out as a self-publisher, and stay away from the bookstores. Wait until your book’s sales are doing great on Amazon, which is when a “big-name” publisher might be interested in picking up your book. They will have the connections and power and money to deal with the bookstores. But if you are still desperate to see your book on the shelf of a bookstore, you can easily contact the hundreds of small independent bookstores all over the country. Good luck.