How Did I Get That Book On The Shelf?


How did I get my book on that bookstore shelf?

First, I had to identify where my book might be purchased. Third Place Books was ideal because I already knew that they consigned used books. I had done it before through them, so I knew they were all set up to put books on their shelves that weren’t ordered from a proprietary catalog.

  • Places like Barnes and Noble and big chains probably do not take books that are not on their special program. You can, however, look to see if they have an ebook publishing site!
  • Places that are tiny and have limited shelf-space will only sell the type of books you see on their shelves. If they are selling mostly classics or a certain type of book that isn’t like yours, don’t bother. Example: I looked at the independent bookstores at Pike Place Market and they all were tiny and sold mostly easy sellers and a few novelty books. Didn’t even try those.
  • Your best bet is at places that have a variety of books and are not affiliated with a larger parent company. Stores that advertise consigning your used books are ideal. My next endeavor will be Half Price Books because they also consign used books and that is a good indicator they may be receptive to consigning new books. The only reason we may not work out together is my second point.

Second, I had to count the cost of selling your book through a third party. (hehe) If you buy your own books at $5.26 apiece and pay $4.77 shipping and $1.50 in tax, then selling 3 books will cost you $22.05. If your reseller takes 40% of that and sells your book at $9.99 then you make $17.82 back and that means you are paying $4.23 to have your book available on the shelves.

This is actually my rundown of the three books on that shelf right now, and  it’s worth it to me right now. This was an experiment and it was partially successful. I’ll only lose $4.23 if my books all sell, and nothing if they don’t. My plight is not hopeless because there is a “Pro Plan” program through Createspace (where I obtain my print books) that I can pay an extra $39 to upgrade with a $5 annual renewal. Then I would pay only $9.30 for the books, making my cost $15.57(ish) instead and I’d make a $2.25 profit selling them. It’s worth it to leave it right now because I’m not sure my books will sell and the extra $44 for the Pro Plan is only worth it if I can manage to sell more than 22 books this year. Not so sure about that.

There are also other places I can publish my book that would charge me less. But it has to sell. I actually reversed the second and the third steps because I didn’t know how much Third Place would sell them for when I submitted, but it was worth it to pay extra to have them in the store. I had the books already, saved for just such an occasion, so I didn’t have to order them, just drive them over after I dropped the kids off at school.

Third, I had to contact the right people. There was a specific person who was in charge of the Indie Author Consignment program at Third Place. That person wasn’t the first or second person I contacted though. I called up the store and got a name and email of the person to contact. This person forwarded my email to the correct person, who gave me all the terms and such. Then I had to bring in a book to her for her to inspect, which I would not get back afterward.  That was intimidating, but this is the beginning, right? But there my book sits, ON THE SHELF!!!!! YAAAAAYYYY!
Now, I have to wait and scheme. Mwahahaha! Actually I also have to pester everyone I know about my book for sale so that they will know that I have one and where to get it. If the books don’t sell in six months, they are returned to me in shame, never to grace the shelves again (I think).
Remember, a published book is FOREVER. It may go in and out of print, but it is yours and you can sell it, and your children can sell it, and generations thereafter for as long as it isn’t public domain. Oooooh! Coooool!
That is how I did it! I bet you can do that too if you want. Go on!
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Categories: Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “How Did I Get That Book On The Shelf?

  1. quillwielder

    Awesome post! This will come in handy for me and other writers. Well done Kate!

  2. maggiepublishing

    This is a great idea for getting books out there and visible! I haven’t thought at all yet about marketing physical (non-digital) books yet; I’m filing all this info away for future reference!

    A little info before you go to the effort of taking anything to Half Price Books (because that’s one of the bookstores I used to work at): know that they will almost certainly take your book off your hands for you (it’s their policy to turn nothing away.) But (unless their way of doing things has changed dramatically since 2009…and their website doesn’t give any indication of this), you won’t make money through them – nothing that will offset what you’re paying out to have the book produced, at least. (I’m talking, somewhere in the neighborhood of a dollar or two per book, in all likelihood, at most.) The most they are ALLOWED to pay for anything is 40% of their selling price (and that’s reserved for cream-of-the-crop, fly-off-the-shelf bestseller-type of stuff).

    That’s not to say it’s not worth going to them and getting your book on their shelves for marketing purposes…but know also that they don’t have a computerized inventory. So if your book is on the shelf, and then it’s gone, and you’re wanting to know if it sold (or if it was instead removed for clearance or book donation), the only way to find out is to actually talk to the bookseller who handles the section. So you probably want to make sure you’ve met that person.

    Good luck with all of this…and thanks for posting about it!

  3. I can tell you about Barnes and Noble and other big book stores. My book was at Barnes and Noble. Firstly, either the author or the publisher can apply to add the book to the store collection, but the publisher always has more pull. Agents can apply too on behalf of the author. The one thing that I will say is this — If you want your book in a bigger chain, I would not suggest self-publishing. Try to find a traditional publisher (Indie is fine), because the bigger book store chains are always more likely accept a book from a traditional publisher. The submission process to be included in a larger book store can be frustrating, just like submitting your book for publication in the first place.

    Here’s another big one. POD (Print on Demand) is not usually a good option for someone who wants to get their books into a book store, especially a bigger one. (I’m not speaking for all small book stores, of course, I am mostly just talking about the bigger stores, where I have talked to sale reps and managers.) If you want the store to buy copies, they won’t purchase POD because it is more difficult for them. POD has its good points and bad points just like anything else.

    My books were sold to Barnes and Noble, so there was an application and submission process, which really didn’t take that long in retrospect. That’s my two cents! 🙂

  4. Thanks for the elaboration, Rosy and Maggie! This is info I didn’t have, and it completes the idea. Do you mind if I add in your comments when I add this to my blog compilation ebook? I will give credit, of course.

  5. maggiepublishing

    I’m so sorry for the slow reply (I haven’t checked back on the comment thread, apparently. Holiday craziness!!!)
    If it’s still useful to you (a month+ after the fact) by all means, use whatever you like of anything I’ve said. (I have total faith in appropriate attribution coming my way!) Thanks for asking!

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