Many indie authors are discouraged by rumours that big bookstore chains won't carry self-published books – yet if you persevere, refuse to be defeated, and go about approaching them the right way, they often will. Scottish novelist Chris Longmuir adds her story to our #Authors4Bookstores series of success stories by indie authors who have built strong relationships with bricks-and-mortar bookshops.
I’m afraid I’m not as proactive as either Wendy or Darcy, and I envy them their energetic approach to the task in hand, however I have had my successes. Like Wendy I approached the then manager of my local branch of the UK bookstore chain Waterstones, also Dundee, but a different manager because this was way back in 2013. I travelled to Dundee with two copies of each of my books, and muttering under my breath that the worst that could happen would be a refusal. Quaking in my shoes I delivered my spiel to the manager, showed him the books, and was amazed when he ordered twenty copies of each book. Needless to say I delivered them the next day.
Successful In-store Launch
Later that same year Waterstone’s launched my new book in the Dundee Crime Series, Missing Believed Dead, with an order of sixty copies of the book. The launch was a great success, and Waterstones ran out of chairs for those attending, so it was standing room only at the back. They continue to give me regular orders, and also launched my historical crime mystery, The Death Game, in 2014.
Apart from Waterstones, my books are stocked by my local book shop, Hoggs of Montrose, and I receive regular orders from Gardners and Bertrams the major distributors of books in the UK.
How to Avoid the Sales or Return Issue
One thing I have learned to look out for is the sale or return policy expected by booksellers. I was caught once when Foyles wanted to return books they had ordered for Crimefest, however I was able to bodyswerve that one because I had given no such agreement. It did alert me to the problem though, because the markup on paperback books is minimal after the discount and postage is applied, and if returns require to be financed I would be seriously out of pocket. All my invoices now have a statement at the bottom saying ‘All sales final: No sale or return policy’, and so far it has worked.
One last comment: Amazon is disliked by many members of the retail book trade, which may be one reason why Createspace books are knocked back, and I think the bookstores are more amenable to stocking indie books when they have an ISBN bought and paid for by the author.
OVER TO YOU Please feel free to share your bookstore success story via the comments box.Inspiring indie #author success story in bricks-and-mortar #bookstores by @ChrisLongmuir #Authors4Bookstores Click To Tweet
COMING SOON Our new #Authors4Bookstores campaign Guidebook, How to Get Your Self-published Book into Bookstores, will provide a comprehensive advice on all aspects of selling your indie books through bookshops. As with all our guidebooks, the ebook will be free for all ALLi members to download, and on sale to non-members.