Updated: Sep 11
Imagine stepping through the doors of your favorite bookstore, the one you’ve been visiting for years.
Breathe in the familiar nostalgic smell as you wander aisles of books you have yet to discover.
Imagine, right there, sandwiched between authors whose books you’ve spent countless late nights with, a book 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 store shelves. But if you're a self-publishing author wondering how to get your book into bookstores, know it may take additional effort.
But you can make it happen!
Let me explain.
How to get your book into bookstores
If you're contemplating how to get your book into bookstores, here are four steps you can take:
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, making the following steps more manageable.
So, what is IngramSpark?
IngramSpark is a distribution and print-on-demand (POD) service that self-publishing authors use to get their books into 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 guidance on using IngramSpark, please contact me (guiding authors to a successful book launch is kind of my thing).
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 shared 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.
Learn more: What to Expect as a First-time Author
3. Support your local bookstore
When you invest in your local bookstore, it increases the likelihood that they will 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
Learn more: What Is Book Marketing? (With 10 Strategies)
4. Show that there is 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 demand 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 can purchase a copy of your book directly from the bookstore.
The higher the demand that a bookstore owner perceives for a book, the more copies they’re likely to purchase to sell to their customers.
Learn more: 5 Qualities an Author Needs to Sell More Books
If you struggle to receive support from local bookstores
First of all, don’t worry!
Having your book in stores is an exciting achievement that can genuinely 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.
Whether you’re in the midst of the writing process or have already finished your book, now is the perfect time to consider a marketing strategy. To help you get started, I’m offering a FREE download of my guide, 10 Things You Need For A Successful Book Launch. This valuable resource is packed with expert tips and strategies to empower you to craft an effective book launch and connect with a larger audience of eager readers.