Author Topic: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores  (Read 1635 times)

Online James Bruno

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Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« on: July 02, 2013, 02:04:22 PM »
    Recently, Kris Rusch wrote that the playing field for indie writers to get their print books into brick and mortar stores is evening out. I scratched my head wondering exactly how this was happening, even after re-reading her article.

    I stopped pursuing brick and mortar store appearances and consignment sales several years ago. Sales were few, exposure was little and consignment sales were a pain in the neck. Furthermore, only a handful of surviving indie stores would bother to deal with self-published authors. The ebook revolution made all this bother with print editions and stores virtually moot.

    At the urging of friends, I agreed to include bookstore signings in a specific state for my latest release as part of an overall publicity strategy. Here are my results:

    --a small regional chain wants to charge $750 for an array of b.s. services
    --a neighborhood indie doesn't even respond to queries by self-pubbed authors
    --a national chain (not B&N) throws me into the bureaucratic briar patch of submitting my book for consideration to be stocked with all the standard deep discounts and returns policies that traditional publishers must agree to.

    Bottom line: no bookstores on my itinerary. And, frankly, so what? The real publicity push will come from media appearances and presentations before academic and civic groups.

    If anyone has different experiences or useful insights on brick and mortars, please chime in.

Offline SBJones

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Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2013, 02:24:40 PM »
My trilogy that you see in my sig is currently sitting on the shelf at Barnes and Noble.  I do not allow returns.  I only offer a 20% wholesaler discount through LSI.

First, these books are not in every B&N in the country.  Only in the Rocky Mountain sales region. 
It was not hard to get them stocked.  I started with the B&N in my home town and simply asked for them to stock.  I also offered to do book signings for them.  I have done this twice now and each time sold out every copy they ordered in, as well as a good portion of my private stock.  (B&N simply reorders and gives me the books when I sell my own copies through their store.)

No paperwork. No hassle.  It might not be the Hugh Howey book signing tour you are looking for, but it was as easy as walking in and saying "Hi, my name is SB Jones and I would like to do a book signing at this store."

I even got some local tv coverage.
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Offline Ashy

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Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2013, 02:31:23 PM »
My trilogy that you see in my sig is currently sitting on the shelf at Barnes and Noble.  I do not allow returns.  I only offer a 20% wholesaler discount through LSI.

First, these books are not in every B&N in the country.  Only in the Rocky Mountain sales region. 
It was not hard to get them stocked.  I started with the B&N in my home town and simply asked for them to stock.  I also offered to do book signings for them.  I have done this twice now and each time sold out every copy they ordered in, as well as a good portion of my private stock.  (B&N simply reorders and gives me the books when I sell my own copies through their store.)

No paperwork. No hassle.  It might not be the Hugh Howey book signing tour you are looking for, but it was as easy as walking in and saying "Hi, my name is SB Jones and I would like to do a book signing at this store."

I even got some local tv coverage.
http://www.kmvt.com/news/local/Local-author-releases-final-novel-in-sci-fifantasy-trilogy-201776831.html


Congrats to you, SBJones, but I would imagine that what you are experiencing is the exception rather than the rule. My experience has been more akin to what James is talking about.

H20 was traditionally published and my co-author and I worked our TAILS off to get a local SE B&N to even allow us to do a booksigning - while another B&N across town refuses to this day to even stock our book! We sent out 20,000 mailouts and 10,000 email/facebook/twitter invites. We were on the local morning news, were on the local radio and teamed with the local chapter of the United Way and gave a percentage of every book sale to the charity and we STILL had a tough time getting folks in the door. All of the promotional efforts were on us, the authors, the publishers did nothing.

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2013, 02:38:57 PM »
I also had trouble this year for the first time ever, getting an author a book signing.

Up until this last one (April 2013), I was always able to book our authors. Once I had to ship books direct to the store, and once I agreed to pay co-op (which was never billed to me, I think because they sold out all the books and were happy). But all the other times, the author showed up, books were there, sign sign sign, clap clap clap and call it a day.

I tried three stores for this last author. I offered to pay pretty much any co-op or put the books on consignment by the time I got to the third, as I was feeling terrible for this author.

No dice. She ended up doing her launch at a community center.

I don't know if it was her area, but I'm feeling antsy now about future bookings.

Offline H.M. Ward

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Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2013, 02:45:28 PM »
Typically, who is the best person to talk to when trying to get a store to stock your book? Local manager? Regional dude? Or the way up highs?

I honestly haven't tried, but it's on my short list of stuff to do.

Offline Ashy

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Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2013, 02:48:41 PM »
Typically, who is the best person to talk to when trying to get a store to stock your book? Local manager? Regional dude? Or the way up highs?

I honestly haven't tried, but it's on my short list of stuff to do.

In my experience, it depends on the chain and then depends on the store. B&N, for instance, has different classifications of stores: some are corporate and others are franchise (I THINK that's what they're called) and they operate under different rules, to a degree. The non-corporate stores have a bit more leeway. If you can talk to a local manager in that case, then that's the best way to go. Alternatively, if you have a friend that works at the store, they can talk to the manager for you - that works sometimes too...

Again, all IMHO.

Offline zandermarks

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Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2013, 03:03:20 PM »
I also had trouble this year for the first time ever, getting an author a book signing.

Up until this last one (April 2013), I was always able to book our authors. Once I had to ship books direct to the store, and once I agreed to pay co-op (which was never billed to me, I think because they sold out all the books and were happy). But all the other times, the author showed up, books were there, sign sign sign, clap clap clap and call it a day.

I tried three stores for this last author. I offered to pay pretty much any co-op or put the books on consignment by the time I got to the third, as I was feeling terrible for this author.

No dice. She ended up doing her launch at a community center.

I don't know if it was her area, but I'm feeling antsy now about future bookings.

Interesting change...I'm guessing the result of (1) growth in self-publishing without a corresponding growth in bookstores, and (2) the rhetoric heating up in the industry.

All of which is probably academic to my own situation--I would expect that getting into bookstores in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex would be tough under the best of circumstances. Too many writers, not enough bookstores, and not much of the "local flavor" thing going on here.
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Offline Scott William Carter

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Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2013, 03:03:46 PM »
    Recently, Kris Rusch wrote that the playing field for indie writers to get their print books into brick and mortar stores is evening out. I scratched my head wondering exactly how this was happening, even after re-reading her article.

    I stopped pursuing brick and mortar store appearances and consignment sales several years ago. Sales were few, exposure was little and consignment sales were a pain in the neck. Furthermore, only a handful of surviving indie stores would bother to deal with self-published authors. The ebook revolution made all this bother with print editions and stores virtually moot.

    At the urging of friends, I agreed to include bookstore signings in a specific state for my latest release as part of an overall publicity strategy. Here are my results:

    --a small regional chain wants to charge $750 for an array of b.s. services
    --a neighborhood indie doesn't even respond to queries by self-pubbed authors
    --a national chain (not B&N) throws me into the bureaucratic briar patch of submitting my book for consideration to be stocked with all the standard deep discounts and returns policies that traditional publishers must agree to.

    Bottom line: no bookstores on my itinerary. And, frankly, so what? The real publicity push will come from media appearances and presentations before academic and civic groups.

    If anyone has different experiences or useful insights on brick and mortars, please chime in.

I think Kris's point was that if you price your book appropriately so that the bookstore gets a significant margin (a 20% discount is the absolute minimum, but many stores will only stock it if it's 40% or better), then your book is in the same Baker and Taylor or Ingram catalog (depending on which way you go) that bookstores order their books from.  It will be no different than a traditional pulibhser.  And that's the key:  you do not want to come off as an "indie" or "self-published" author.  It's critical that a different publishing company name is on the books as well, so that you look just like a reputable small press.

The point isn't that you will automtically get into bookstores if you do these things.  The point is that your chances are the same as a traditionally published book -- most of which, by the way, don't get into most bookstores either.  

Write a bestseller on the ebook side and believe me, as long as your book is priced appropriately and offers a deep enough discount, you will eventually start getting into bookstores.  It will be PULLED there rather than PUSHED.

I had a bookstore for three years.  I had local authors coming in all the time asking me to stock their books.  If they could prove to me that it was worth dedicating shelf space to it over another title I knew would sell, then I'd go for it.  Most of the time they couldn't. This may sound heartless, but it's just business.  You have to create a product with demand.  Create the demand, and you will have no trouble getting your books into bookstores.

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Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2013, 03:13:21 PM »
It had a lot to do with the way the distributors had stopped segregating indie published books from traditionally published books -- there is no "ghetto" any more. Price the book appropriately, be in the same league quality-wise as traditional books, and you have as good a chance as they do.

At least, that's how I recall the article. :)
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Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2013, 03:36:02 PM »
I inquired with my local BN a few years ago and was given the name and email of some person regionally to contact, but she wanted a marketing plan, a sample of the book, etc. etc. and then it was no guarantee of being stocked. I decided it was too much work and focused on the ebooks.

 
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Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2013, 03:43:27 PM »
    Recently, Kris Rusch wrote that the playing field for indie writers to get their print books into brick and mortar stores is evening out. I scratched my head wondering exactly how this was happening, even after re-reading her article.
I've been as confused as you have about Kris and Dean's assertion that there is money to be had in bookstore sales with indies. With shelf space at such a premium these days, I just don't see it.  Plus dealing with returns, and deep discounts, and low volumes - it seems like a lot of work for little income.[/list]
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Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2013, 03:52:41 PM »
I did a book signing at my local Waterstones last year (UK) and it was a buzzing brilliant day, but I sold exactly the same amount of copies I sell online each day and yet the work involved in the signing was major. The upside is that they now stock all 5 of my books (in that one branch only) and they keep re-ordering them as they sell out (no returns & 20% discount). If I could replicate that in every branch it would be fantastic, but at the time of my signing Waterstones were introducing a new policy which says that you have to live within a 1 mile radius of the branch where you wish to do a signing. So, short of moving around the country in a mobile home, it's not going to happen.

A couple of independent bookstores I approached looked at me in horror and suggested I get a publisher.

Offline Michael J. Scott

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Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2013, 04:09:07 PM »

Write a bestseller on the ebook side and believe me, as long as your book is priced appropriately and offers a deep enough discount, you will eventually start getting into bookstores.  It will be PULLED there rather than PUSHED... You have to create a product with demand.  Create the demand, and you will have no trouble getting your books into bookstores.

This.


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Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2013, 04:10:35 PM »
    I've been as confused as you have about Kris and Dean's assertion that there is money to be had in bookstore sales with indies. With shelf space at such a premium these days, I just don't see it.  Plus dealing with returns, and deep discounts, and low volumes - it seems like a lot of work for little income.[/list]

    What work?  As I wrote above, if you use Createspace or LSI, and you price your book appropriately (the number one mistake most indies make) so that the bookstore gets a good discount (20% is minimum; 40% is much better), they can now order your book through Ingram or Baker and Taylor just like they can any other book.  Yes, if you have enough titles, you can send them a publisher's catalog just like any good imprint will do, and there's work in that, but my point is that if you've created demand, readers will ask for your books and they'll end up in stores.  It happens all the time.  Pulled (by readers) rather than pushed (by authors).  Always better.

    Ecommerce (both ebooks and print books ordered online) make up between 40-60% of most genre books sold, based on the numbers I've seen lately, so store sales are still at least half the market. And with independent bookstores on the rise again, you're not dealing with just one buyer any more, but many:  good news for writers.

    But again, just because you CAN get into bookstores doesn't mean you will.  This is true for both tradionally published books and indie books.  My last book with Simon and Schsuter, despite being picked up the the Juinor Library Guild and having an award-winning cover, still wasn't stocked by Barnes and Noble.  It happens.   So there's no work in pricing appropriately, if you want to leave the bookstore option open.  Whether you do catalogs, etc, well, that's another matter.

    I used to own a bookstore, and I will tell you when local authors came in, the size of the discount made a big difference.  I laughed out of the store more than few who said I would make 10%.  When I tried to explain to them the cost-per-square-inch formula I use for shelf space, based on monthly expenses, they always looked at me like I was speaking another language.  Which I guess I was . . .

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    Offline SBJones

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    Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
    « Reply #14 on: July 02, 2013, 04:28:45 PM »
    Maybe it's your town, I don't know, but each B&N store I have ever visited has a manager that also is the community relations person.  This is the manager that gets with local schools to do fund raisers and book awareness parties as well as the big blockbuster midnight book sales that happen a few times a year.  This is also the person who deals with all of the book signings and readings that authors do.  Every store I have signed in was corporate.  I have not heard of a locally owned franchise of B&N.

    The only trick is that your book has to be available through a distribution channel they can order from.  Ingram gives you this through Lightning Source as does Createspace.

    All I have ever done is walk in with a smile on my face and introduced myself and asked if I could do a book signing.  They all get booked about 45-60 days out from when I ask so it's not a "can I come in next week" deal.

    Don't let reading a blog post about how hard or easy it is; make the decision for you.  You won't know unless you try yourself.


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    Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
    « Reply #15 on: July 02, 2013, 04:46:19 PM »

    Don't let reading a blog post about how hard or easy it is; make the decision for you.  You won't know unless you try yourself.

    I agree completely with this. Here in Austin, Texas, I have zero problems (now that the only surly BN manager got his store shut down.) The last city I totally failed in was Boston.

    But I do disagree completely with Kris that being in Ingram/B&T means the stores don't know that you are indie, even if you do the 55% discount. As soon as they look it up, they can tell by the ordering codes that it is print on demand rather than warehoused print runs. I do 55% discounts on everything, and still every single person (even just the employee at the computer) comments -- oh, this is POD. Or, oh, you must be a micropress.

    Some managers/event coordinators don't care. Enough medium sized publishers are doing POD, plus some bigger ones with their backlists, that they don't have policies against it anymore.

    But others flat won't do it. I've had two managers laugh at my company's publicist when they call, as soon as they see the codes. They can be brutal, which is why I tell my authors not to call bookstores themselves, but to let us shield them by handling it for them.

    Online James Bruno

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    Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
    « Reply #16 on: July 02, 2013, 09:47:17 PM »
    Quote
    I think Kris's point was that if you price your book appropriately so that the bookstore gets a significant margin (a 20% discount is the absolute minimum, but many stores will only stock it if it's 40% or better), then your book is in the same Baker and Taylor or Ingram catalog (depending on which way you go) that bookstores order their books from.  It will be no different than a traditional publisher.  And that's the key:  you do not want to come off as an "indie" or "self-published" author.  It's critical that a different publishing company name is on the books as well, so that you look just like a reputable small press.

    The clincher, however, is to agree to returns. This is a gamble which potentially can financially sink an indie author.

    I have all of my books with LSI at 20% discount, but with no returns. The few print editions I sell are either bought online or ordered at a brick and mortar store for delivery.

    Offline Michael_J_Sullivan

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    Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
    « Reply #17 on: July 03, 2013, 01:59:59 AM »
      What work?  As I wrote above, if you use Createspace or LSI, and you price your book appropriately (the number one mistake most indies make) so that the bookstore gets a good discount (20% is minimum; 40% is much better), they can now order your book through Ingram or Baker and Taylor just like they can any other book.  Yes, if you have enough titles, you can send them a publisher's catalog just like any good imprint will do, and there's work in that, but my point is that if you've created demand, readers will ask for your books and they'll end up in stores.  It happens all the time.  Pulled (by readers) rather than pushed (by authors).  Always better.

      Ecommerce (both ebooks and print books ordered online) make up between 40-60% of most genre books sold, based on the numbers I've seen lately, so store sales are still at least half the market. And with independent bookstores on the rise again, you're not dealing with just one buyer any more, but many:  good news for writers.

      But again, just because you CAN get into bookstores doesn't mean you will.  This is true for both tradionally published books and indie books.  My last book with Simon and Schsuter, despite being picked up the the Juinor Library Guild and having an award-winning cover, still wasn't stocked by Barnes and Noble.  It happens.   So there's no work in pricing appropriately, if you want to leave the bookstore option open.  Whether you do catalogs, etc, well, that's another matter.

      I used to own a bookstore, and I will tell you when local authors came in, the size of the discount made a big difference.  I laughed out of the store more than few who said I would make 10%.  When I tried to explain to them the cost-per-square-inch formula I use for shelf space, based on monthly expenses, they always looked at me like I was speaking another language.  Which I guess I was . . .
    Being in LSI or Createspace distribution is not the same as "being in a bookstore."  Yes it allows your book to be "special ordered" by walking up to the customer service but that's not even true - Back when I had books self-published (both through LSI and CS) I did a test and ran across many stores that even though they were "in the system" they couldn't be bought.  When I asked why they just said that it was policy not to order print-on-demand titles (which they could tell by the fact that there was exactly xx titles showing as "available for sale."

    Bookstores don't want a 20% discount.  They expect 55% minimum and they want it marked as "returnable."  Let's break it down.  A 300 page book selling for $12.95.  LSI printing cost = 0.13 * 300 + .95 (It's been awhile since I've done LSI not sure if this is the right cost but it is what it used to be).  $4.85  discount at 55% = $7.13  So profit per book sold in store = $0.97.  Now factor in just a few returns where you will lose the $4.85 price to print and you are in the red.

    But you are right - that takes no effort - so why not do it...but again this is not what KR and DWS are talking about. They are talking about doing a  print run, having books with a distributor, and on the shelves.  Checkout what it takes to get a distributor to represent your book. I have - and it's a big process.  And guess what...if you distribute through them - they won't do "print-only" they want their cut of ebooks so you 70% royalty is gone.

    A friend of mine was all excited because he submitted his title to the official B&N program and it got a stamp of approval.  He thought he had it made.  When the book got listed 700 copies were sold.  60 days later 685 came back - his cost: $3,000.  How much did he make?  $14.50. 

    So yes - by all means have a POD through CS or LSI...and let people buy it online through Amazon & B&N just don't take the extra effort to try and get them "on shelves" either by walking in and doing a consignment or going through a distribution house.  If you are going to be "in the store" then you need to be through a traditional publisher that already has print-run capabilities (to get the per piece price down), warehousing, and already have a track record of getting books ON SHELVES not just "orderable."[/list]
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    Offline Bethany B.

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    Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
    « Reply #18 on: July 03, 2013, 02:28:41 AM »
      Being in LSI or Createspace distribution is not the same as "being in a bookstore."  Yes it allows your book to be "special ordered" by walking up to the customer service but that's not even true - Back when I had books self-published (both through LSI and CS) I did a test and ran across many stores that even though they were "in the system" they couldn't be bought.  When I asked why they just said that it was policy not to order print-on-demand titles (which they could tell by the fact that there was exactly xx titles showing as "available for sale."

      Bookstores don't want a 20% discount.  They expect 55% minimum and they want it marked as "returnable."  Let's break it down.  A 300 page book selling for $12.95.  LSI printing cost = 0.13 * 300 + .95 (It's been awhile since I've done LSI not sure if this is the right cost but it is what it used to be).  $4.85  discount at 55% = $7.13  So profit per book sold in store = $0.97.  Now factor in just a few returns where you will lose the $4.85 price to print and you are in the red.

      But you are right - that takes no effort - so why not do it...but again this is not what KR and DWS are talking about. They are talking about doing a  print run, having books with a distributor, and on the shelves.  Checkout what it takes to get a distributor to represent your book. I have - and it's a big process.  And guess what...if you distribute through them - they won't do "print-only" they want their cut of ebooks so you 70% royalty is gone.

      A friend of mine was all excited because he submitted his title to the official B&N program and it got a stamp of approval.  He thought he had it made.  When the book got listed 700 copies were sold.  60 days later 685 came back - his cost: $3,000.  How much did he make?  $14.50. 

      So yes - by all means have a POD through CS or LSI...and let people buy it online through Amazon & B&N just don't take the extra effort to try and get them "on shelves" either by walking in and doing a consignment or going through a distribution house.  If you are going to be "in the store" then you need to be through a traditional publisher that already has print-run capabilities (to get the per piece price down), warehousing, and already have a track record of getting books ON SHELVES not just "orderable."[/list]

      You've answered everything I've been wondering about all this while reading. I have a number of author friends that seem obsessed with getting on the B&N shelves. Like getting up there is going to magically make them super successful and wealthy. Maybe I'm just too bottom line for all of this.

      Online Patty Jansen

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      Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
      « Reply #19 on: July 03, 2013, 03:17:33 AM »
      I'm not even sure why I should care about getting into bookstores. As a non-name author, it certainly shouldn't be your first priority. Your main market is where people buy ebooks.

      It's something you can try to do if you want, but it's a lot of work, most bookstores deal with processes that are so archaic and entrenched that they won't have you, and the benefits are dubious.

      I've worked in bookselling, and apart from personal contact between author and individual store, it's not a place for small publishers.

      That said, if you know a local store that has a good range in your genre and a willing manager, you can set up a book signing. Most won't object to that. They may ask you to bring your own books and sell them to them at 40% discount.
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      Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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      Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
      « Reply #20 on: July 03, 2013, 07:01:53 AM »
      I had a bookstore for three years.  I had local authors coming in all the time asking me to stock their books.  If they could prove to me that it was worth dedicating shelf space to it over another title I knew would sell, then I'd go for it.  Most of the time they couldn't. This may sound heartless, but it's just business.  You have to create a product with demand.  Create the demand, and you will have no trouble getting your books into bookstores.

      This is the same thing I have always said. Shelf space is finite. An author has to prove that they can drive traffic TO THE STORE. You can't go into this thinking of it as "something other than Amazon" and just expect a business to give you free shelf space while you drive all your traffic to Amazon. You have to have a real marketing plan that will give a store confidence that your book will add actual value to their inventory and not just collect dust.

      This is still the advantage that big publishers have. They have entire departments of sales staff who's sole purpose is to sell to bookstores. Where I work, we're building these awesome displays right now for a publisher for a September launch. They are buying floor space in stores to put these displays. They are eye-catching and will drive traffic. Obviously, the average indie can't drop thousands of dollars on POP displays. But the point is indies need to adopt a "what can I do for the store" mentality when trying to convince a bookstore to stock a book.


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      Offline Ashy

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      Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
      « Reply #21 on: July 03, 2013, 07:58:58 AM »
      Being in LSI or Createspace distribution is not the same as "being in a bookstore."  Yes it allows your book to be "special ordered" by walking up to the customer service but that's not even true - Back when I had books self-published (both through LSI and CS) I did a test and ran across many stores that even though they were "in the system" they couldn't be bought.  When I asked why they just said that it was policy not to order print-on-demand titles (which they could tell by the fact that there was exactly xx titles showing as "available for sale."

      I had the same problems.

      Listen to this man, folks - he knows of what he types. ;)

      Offline Scott William Carter

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      Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
      « Reply #22 on: July 03, 2013, 09:52:31 AM »
        Being in LSI or Createspace distribution is not the same as "being in a bookstore."  Yes it allows your book to be "special ordered" by walking up to the customer service but that's not even true - Back when I had books self-published (both through LSI and CS) I did a test and ran across many stores that even though they were "in the system" they couldn't be bought.  When I asked why they just said that it was policy not to order print-on-demand titles (which they could tell by the fact that there was exactly xx titles showing as "available for sale."

        Bookstores don't want a 20% discount.  They expect 55% minimum and they want it marked as "returnable."  Let's break it down.  A 300 page book selling for $12.95.  LSI printing cost = 0.13 * 300 + .95 (It's been awhile since I've done LSI not sure if this is the right cost but it is what it used to be).  $4.85  discount at 55% = $7.13  So profit per book sold in store = $0.97.  Now factor in just a few returns where you will lose the $4.85 price to print and you are in the red.

        But you are right - that takes no effort - so why not do it...but again this is not what KR and DWS are talking about. They are talking about doing a  print run, having books with a distributor, and on the shelves.  Checkout what it takes to get a distributor to represent your book. I have - and it's a big process.  And guess what...if you distribute through them - they won't do "print-only" they want their cut of ebooks so you 70% royalty is gone.

        A friend of mine was all excited because he submitted his title to the official B&N program and it got a stamp of approval.  He thought he had it made.  When the book got listed 700 copies were sold.  60 days later 685 came back - his cost: $3,000.  How much did he make?  $14.50. 

        So yes - by all means have a POD through CS or LSI...and let people buy it online through Amazon & B&N just don't take the extra effort to try and get them "on shelves" either by walking in and doing a consignment or going through a distribution house.  If you are going to be "in the store" then you need to be through a traditional publisher that already has print-run capabilities (to get the per piece price down), warehousing, and already have a track record of getting books ON SHELVES not just "orderable."[/list]

        Uh, no, you've completely misread what Kris and Dean (and others) have been saying.  (Full disclosure, I'm good friends with Kris and Dean, so I think I can at least reiterate what was pretty clear in their blog posts, but I'm also speaking from my experience as a former bookseller).  Kris and Dean are NOT talking about doing a print run.  You need to go back and read them again.  It's all POD.  What they're saying is that if you price your book so that stores get a decent discount, bookstores can and will order you just like any other book -- either for general stock or customer request, no difference.  I had a bookstore.  I can't say anything about the chains, that's a whole other ball of wax, but with indie booksellers, almost all orders came from Ingram or Baker and Taylor (again, for general stock as well).  So yes, if your book is available through those distributors, it has the same chance as a book from a traditional publisher.  You can send them a publisher's catalog just as Random House or S&S does.  And you're conflating distributor with publisher.  Not the same thing.  Ebooks have nothing to do with print distributors. 

        Your hypothetical trade paperback price is pretty low.  It's tough to make any money through distribution with POD if you're below $15/book.  Honestly, if you go lower, it's probably not worth it.  But yes, I completely agree that the warehouse model (big print runs to get the unit price down) has big advantages.

        Other than that, you kind of made the same point, didn't you? Just because you can be ordered, doesn't mean you will be.  It's always better when your books is pulled (by readers) rather than pushed (by authors). 

        And yes, bookstores can tell that you used POD, but many trad publishers are moving to POD for backlist as well, and small presses have been using it for years.  That plus other changes that Ingram and Baker and Taylor have made recently have brought the walls down even more.    This information is coming directly from booksellers, by the way, so if people don't believe me, go talk to some independent booksellers.  Ask how they do business, how they get their books, etc.  There's a lot of misinformation out there now, especially because things are changing.  Get it from the horse's mouth and don't trust what some writer tells you on a listserv.  Including me.   :)
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        Offline DebBennett

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        Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
        « Reply #23 on: July 03, 2013, 10:51:56 AM »
        I sell from my local pub in the UK. Much easier! They keep stock behind the bar and put postcards up for me. They've even offered to have a launch party for my next book!









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        Offline Danni

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        Re: Indies Mostly Locked Out of Brick and Mortar Stores
        « Reply #24 on: July 03, 2013, 11:04:55 AM »
        Just walk in the store and slide your books on the shelf. See what happens.