How to Get Your Book on Bookstore Shelves
Updated: Feb 9, 2022
Imagine stepping through the doors of your favorite bookstore, the one you’ve been visiting for years.
Breath in the familiar nostalgic smell as you wander aisles of books that you’re yet to discover.
Imagine, right there, sandwiched between authors whose books you’ve spent countless late nights with, a book that you know better than any reader ever will.
A book that you’ve written.
While many authors find success selling their books and eBooks exclusively online, many authors have told me that they dream of having their books available in brick-and-mortar bookstores.
Major publishers can usually get their author’s books onto bookstore shelves. However, for self-publishing authors, it often takes additional effort.
But you can make it happen!
Let me explain how.
How do I get my book on bookstore shelves?
Here are the four steps that you can take to get your self-published book into stores:
1. Upload your book to IngramSpark
The first step towards getting your book into stores is uploading it to IngramSpark. This is the most crucial step and it will make the following steps much easier.
So, what is IngramSpark?
IngramSpark is a distribution and print-on-demand (POD) service that self-publishing authors use to get their books in the hands of readers. All retailers order their books through Ingram - the parent company of IngramSpark - even when ordering from major publishers. Once you upload your book, it’s available to over 40,000 retailers, including local bookstores.
Many authors take advantage of this service and find it easy to use. IngramSpark provides detailed instructions explaining how to upload your book to the platform.
Please remember, if you have any questions about self-publishing or need some guidance on using IngramSpark, please contact me (guiding authors to a successful book launch is kind of my thing).
Learn more about the benefits of publishing with IngramSpark: Which Distribution Platform Is Right for You: IngramSpark vs. Kindle Direct Publishing
2. Get to know your local bookstore
If you want your local bookstore(s) to carry your book on their shelves, it helps to form relationships with owners and employees.
While many people dread networking, don’t let it be something you fear. Remember, these professionals are likely fellow bibliophiles, so consider establishing a bond over your common interest in books.
Some of my suggestions for initiating conversation with bookstore professionals include:
asking for book recommendations
suggesting titles they don’t carry
inquiring about the store’s history
expressing your appreciation for providing a positive environment for book lovers
When you establish a relationship with bookstore professionals, you become more than just an author’s name on a book. Strive to become someone they want to help succeed.
3. Support your local bookstore
Aside from getting to know the owners and employees, it’s important that you also support your local bookstore. When you invest in them, it increases the likelihood that they invest in you as well.
Some ways that you can support your local bookstore include:
purchasing books from them instead of from online retailers or large bookstore chains
bringing friends and family members along with you to make purchases
attending their events, such as author readings and book signings
following and interacting with them on social media
4. Show that there is a demand for your book
It’s important to show bookstore owners that there’s a demand for your book.
Remember, bookstores are businesses that make their money by selling books. If you can convince bookstore owners that they can make a profit by selling your book, they’re more likely to carry it.
The best way to show owners that there is a demand for your book is by asking your friends and family to request copies of it. When they make a request, and the bookstore employees realize it’s not currently in stock, they may order copies to sell in their store.
You may also suggest throwing a book launch event onsite, where participants would purchase a copy of your book directly from the bookstore.
The higher the demand that a bookstore owner perceives there is for a book, the more copies they’re likely to purchase to sell to their customers.
What if I struggle to receive support from local bookstores?
First of all, don’t worry!
Having your book in stores is an exciting achievement that can truly make you feel like a rockstar. But if you’re a self-published author, it can take a lot of hard work, time, and some luck to turn this dream into a reality.
If you struggle to receive support from your local bookstore(s), know that you can still find success selling your book at online retailers. As most readers today purchase books online, I suggest focusing most of your efforts on maximizing online sale opportunities.
If you’re an author who is hoping to get your book on store shelves and in the hands of more readers, you can download my FREE guide, 10 Things You Need For A Successful Book Launch.