How to get a self-published book in stores?
January 27, 2021 10:42 AM   Subscribe

I work for a legit author and I am looking to get their self-published book listed in brick & mortar locations, not just Amazon. What distribution networks are there for self-published books to get into bookstores, libraries, etc? Details inside.

I work for an established author (has sold hundreds of thousands of copies of their books worldwide with a Big Five publisher for over a decade—i.e., not a hobbyist or dilettante). We are self-publishing certain books—one is like a super fancy leather book, another is a children's book. We have handled all the printing ourselves.

I would like to figure out a quick way to start offering the physical books, as well as ebooks if possible, to bookstores to sell. I was thinking Ingram Spark, but it looks like they have to print the books themselves. I don't want to talk to individual bookstores or anything like that. I can pay money for this service.

Given all that, what options do I have to pursue this?
posted by miltthetank to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It's my understanding that you're GOING to have to go through Ingram or Baker & Taylor. They distribute pretty much every book you see in stores. Indies can buy self-pub if they want to, but they usually do it on a consignment basis.

You could possibly work up a distribution deal with an existing publisher, but that's probably going to require publishing in-kind as well, or a profit-sharing partnership. I know S&S does it-- the rest of them probably do, too.

If your author is THIS big of a deal-- they should have a relationship with a publisher already. JK Terfling does all of her self-pub through the publishers she already worked with. Is that not an option?
posted by headspace at 12:31 PM on January 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Start here on The Creative Penn site, you'll see her recommendation for in-bookstore partway down the page. She is a VERY good resource for ebook, print, audiobook, and digital and print library info.
posted by stormyteal at 1:14 PM on January 27, 2021

Baker & Taylor got out of the retail business in 2019; Ingram is the only national distributor for bookstores now. There are some distributors who will work with self-published authors but not many. Legitimate ones will take a cut of the sale but not charge you upfront. Most print distribution for self-publishing does assume POD as part of the program, but they might be flexible about taking stock that you already have.

Jane Friedman is another good resource.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 1:30 PM on January 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

Oh shit, Peanut is right. I forgot that B&T doesn't do retail anymore!
posted by headspace at 1:54 PM on January 27, 2021

Best answer: I'm a freelance book editor and about 50% of my clients are like yours -- self-pubbers who already have a publishing track record and may even be continuing their New York contracts while also self-bubbing.

Aside from what people have said above, I think your options for physical books are:
-- Hire someone to pitch indie bookstores and then deal with the fulfillment.
-- Leverage your author's current fan base and sell it yourselves. Hopefully your author has a robust social media presence already + a website + an e-newsletter. This can be remarkably successful, but it does take work.

For ebooks just go through Amazon. It is by far the biggest market. My authors who are selling thousands of books and using every possible platform are selling like 90% or more via Amazon.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:26 PM on January 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

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