Publishing Insiders Wrap-Up: How and Where to Sell Your Self-Published Book

by | Nov 16, 2011 | Book Marketing Basics

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We had a great show discussing the ins and outs of selling a self-published book with our guest Amy Collins.

About our guest: Amy Collins is the owner of The Cadence Group, a sales and marketing service provider for the publishing industry. In 2008, The Cadence Group launched New Shelves Distribution, a full-scale book warehousing, sales and fulfillment company selling publisher’s books directly to the national chains and independent bookstores in North America. Learn more at

Here are some of the things self-published authors should know:

* Am I actually a self-published author or am I vanity published?

Make sure you check out all the self-publishing companies before you sign a contract.

Barnes & Noble headquarters, 122 5th Ave, New ...

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Amy says authors must determine if they are truly self-published first; if they are vanity published, it’s a different situation altogether regarding selling and distributing a book. Vanity publishers charge a fee to publish a book yet assume the role of publisher. Self-publishing services offer publishing packages to authors, who retain the rights and profits to their book. (Do an online search of self-publishing and vanity publishing companies to discover if there are any issues, complaints etc. about a particular company).

* Can I get my self-published book into Barnes and Noble?

Your chances for being considered are much better. The combination of digital printing with distribution (think and Lightning Source) makes it possible for stores like Barnes and Noble to consider stocking self-published books.

Barnes and Noble and other stores used to refuse to stock print-on-demand books but now if the book is good enough they will consider it. This is true for Books-A-Million and Hastings bookstores too. (See below for steps on how you can get these stores to consider stocking your book).

* How do I get my book onto Amazon?

Image representing Amazon as depicted in Crunc...

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This is extremely easy, and there are a couple of ways to get your book listed on Amazon:

1. You can use Amazon’s print-on-demand system, CreateSpace.

2. Or you can create an account at Amazon Advantage

Go to and sign up as the author or publisher. Amazon will ask for your bank account so your royalties can be automatically deposited into your account.

You will have to sell them the book at a 55% discount. Make your book available in multiple locations (U.S. and overseas), and let Amazon know you own the book so you become the publisher and distributor of record.

Amy says Amazon is still the best place to sell your book because it has created a democratic, even playing field that puts self-published authors right up there with traditional authors.

* How do I get my book into local bookstores?


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A lot of authors will walk into a local bookstore and convince that store to sell their book. However, it is becoming more difficult for the walk-in approach to succeed. You may find a couple of managers willing to flout the rules. But that number is getting smaller.

What you should do:

For your local stores such as Books-A-Million (based in Birmingham, AL), Hastings (based in Amarillo TX) or Barnes and Noble (based in New York) – before you walk into the store mail two or three copies of your book to the main office along with your marketing plan and sales sheet. Then call to make sure they received your submission and find out if it’s in review. Wait before going to your local store to see if the main office has approved the book and put it in their database.

Local stores cannot order that book – according to their own policies – unless it’s in their system. They can order from Ingram or Baker & Taylor but only if the book is coded as available to their stores.

It takes four to six weeks to get through the corporate office’s system.

Another option is if the local bookstores can buy your book on consignment. Authors need to know the setup; most bookstores won’t accept books on consignment without a 40% discount.

* My book is perfect for Wal-Mart – how do I contact them?

A typical Wal-Mart discount department store i...

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Wal-Mart sells more books than Barnes and Noble but it sells fewer titles because it has a narrower focus.

Books sold at Wal-Mart are geared toward a somewhat conservative, family-oriented readership. Think family appropriate fiction, a lot of New York Times bestsellers in nonfiction such as Suze Orman. Their buyers pick from the best of the best.

Books sold at Wal-Mart have proven themselves elsewhere, or they are brand names already. There is little chance that a self-published book will end up on Wal-Mart’s shelf.

* What about airport stores?

Airport stores are mostly managed by one of two large airport store chains: Hudson News (Georgia) and Paradies Shops (Atlanta).

Authors need a strong marketing campaign to be considered by airport stores. The stores may want a co-op arrangement – Amy had a client who paid $3,000 to sell his book at airport stores and he considered it effective advertising.

The nonfiction book success rate at airports is less than 2%; for fiction it’s about 5%. Romance books have a better chance of getting into an airport store than Young Adult because not as many 16-year-olds fly and purchase books at an airport.

* Where do most published books sell? (hint… online)

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28:  Amazon founder J...

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According to the The Book Industry Survey Group (BISG), Amazon sells more books than any other store, online or offline. Fewer than 4% of Americans have walked into a bookstore in the past year. If there’s one place an author should be, it’s Amazon.

* Do I need a Kindle account?

Getting an Amazon Kindle account is different from opening an Amazon Advantage or personal account but it’s easy. Anyone can upload his or her book to Kindle. Don’t be intimidated by eBooks – take advantage of their popularity. Sales of eBooks continue to rise.

Download the full show at:


Upcoming Episode:

Please join us Nov. 29 – Promote Your Book: 250+ Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques with Patricia Fry


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