Sell your book to bookstore chains
A writer who's been there offers a primer of useful tips
Published: May 12, 2010
|Who wouldn’t want her self-published book distributed to the bookstore chains? Funny thing is, when I first got started in self-publishing, I had no idea about the many avenues that awaited self-published titles, including the chains. With the help of my distributor, I was able to sell my book to Borders Books, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.|
The chains see self-published authors as small publishing companies, so some of the same opportunities afforded the major houses are offered to the small presses as well. If you have published a book as your own company—meaning you are the publisher of record—and have not published through a print-on-demand publisher, then you’ll find the following information useful.
Wholesalers and distributors. These are companies that supply books to bookstore chains and independent bookstores. Bookstore chains prefer to deal with wholesalers and distributors as opposed to publishers. To have one of the chains shelve your book, your title must first be listed with at least one of the major wholesalers or distributors. The latter receive a hefty discount, sometimes as much as 60 percent off the retail price, and all titles must be 100 percent returnable to publishers.
What’s the advantage of being listed with a wholesaler and/or distributor? It means any bookstore or library in the world can find your title and order it.
The two major wholesalers:
• Baker & Taylor. B&T does not discriminate against small publishing companies. Simply fill out a few forms, mail them back, and you are in its central database. If you are interested in listing your title with B&T, e-mail email@example.com (at the time of this writing) requesting information about title submissions. B&T requires a 55 percent discount on titles it lists. There is no charge for the standard service. For more information, visit www.btol.com.
• Ingram Book Group. Ingram prefers to deal with publishers who publish more than 10 titles yearly. If you do not, you’ll need to submit your title to its distributor Book Clearing House (at 46 Purdy St., Harrison House, NY 10528. Phone: 800-431-1579. Web: www.bookch.com.) BCH has a set-up charge of $100, and $75 for each added title. Visit its Web site for more information.
The chains. Now that your title’s listed with two of the largest wholesalers, you can begin submitting to the chains:
• Barnes & Noble, Small Press Department, 122 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011. Phone: 212-633-3300. Web: www.barnesandnobleinc.com.
• Books-A-Million, Attention: New Acquisitions, American Wholesale Book Co., 131 25th St. South, Birmingham, AL 35210. Phone: 205-956-4151. Web: www.booksamillion.com.
• Indigo Books & Music Inc. is the largest book retailer in Canada, operating under Indigo, Chapters and other store names. It also runs an online retail site, www.chapters.indigo.ca. The company says its POD technology can make a self-published book available to 25,000 booksellers and e-retailers worldwide and its online site in as little as 90 days. For more information, find the self-publishing link on the home page.
• As of this writing, Borders Books no longer accepts submissions from small presses and will only accept titles submitted directly from distributors.
For more help, check out 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer.
Submitting to independent bookstores. Now it’s time to let all the independents know about your book. You can buy a mailing list from www.newpages.com ($105) and submit your title directly. Or you can use the Advance Access Program, from the American Booksellers Association (www.bookweb.org). It blasts a bulk e-mail to independent bookstores. The cost is $150.
Receiving payment. Your distributor is the one responsible for paying you. Some wholesalers/distributors will automatically pay you after 90 days (in the unlikely event a bookstore should return your title within that period, you won’t be compensated for it).
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Jessie Coleman is an author, screenwriter, freelance writer and researcher. She lives in Illinois and is currently working on a series of nonfiction books. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(This article appeared in the June 2010 issue of The Writer.)