In today’s show I interview Debbie Young, the blog editor of the Alliance of Independent Authors blog (Alli), fiction author and currently writing a book for the Alli about getting your book into book stores.
How should an indie author approach a bookstore to see if they will stock their book? Where should they start?
Debbie says that the first thing to do is to get used to going into your local book stores, how they work, get to know the people who run them and then building up a relationship with them so that when you do have a book to sell things will be much easier.
One point she makes is that many customers are now going to local book stores, researching books and then blatantly buying the book online instead. This has contributed to some of the hostility local book sellers have to Amazon.
An indie author should try to understand how booksellers work if they hope to get them to stock their books. She makes the point that many indie authors are unaware of how Book Sellers make money. They typically take a 40% cut of the price of a book to pay for all the huge costs of running a book store (e.g staff, rent, heating etc). Some authors end up making a loss if their margins are too low to support this, unless they take it into account.
I ask about whether to use Createspace or Ingram Spark for selling to book sellers. For some booksellers, because of the Amazon connection, they won’t even stock Createspace-provided books. Even for those who will stock them, it is hard to actually order Createspace books. With Ingram Spark or Lightening Source (the old heavy-duty version of Ingram Spark), you can access the normal book ordering services the bookshops already use. Another thing Ingram Spark allows is the ability to specify “Sale or Return”, which will allow a bookseller to return to Ingram Spark unsold books. It is a hard choice for Indie Authors whether to select this, however, as it can eat into their profits considerably – some small publishing houses have got into trouble due to this. But this is what booksellers are used to from the major publishers.
What is the biggest mistake you see Indie Authors make when trying to get their books stocked by book stores?
The biggest mistake Debbie has seen is authors going into bookshops with a sense of entitlement – there is no reason why a local bookshop should automatically stock your book. She makes the point that normally booksellers deal with publishers selling them possibly 100s of books to stock at a time – which is a lot easier for them to do with than hundreds of individual indie authors.
What do you think is the number one reason there aren’t more self-published books available in major book stores?
Debbie describes that many successful indie authors aren’t that bothered about getting their books into bookshops – the profit margins aren’t generally that high compared to eBooks or paperbacks sales directly from Amazon. There are a lot of rumours about book stores where a change supposedly does not stock indie authors, but in reality does – just starting on a local level.
In terms of getting books into libraries, are there any differences to getting them into book stores?
According to Debbie it is very similar, though probably more bureaucratic – approach a local branch and ask how the process works. Debbie references the Alli Guidebook – Opening Up to Indie Authors (which is available on Amazon or is free to members of Alli)
We also discover about Debbie’s own fiction works at http://authordebbieyoung.com/ – where you can find out about her exciting short fiction and what she is up to!
If you liked this interview, you might also like these interviews:
(Note: I’ve uploaded a new version of the audio on 6th November as there were some static sounds on the first version I missed – now removed).