The Questions

Getting Your Book Into Bookstores

How do I get a book I’ve written published and sold in stores such as Barnes & Noble?

First, congratulations on your book, and welcome to the headache of publishing. It is not an easy feat to write something coherent and engaging enough for people to find interesting.

I’ll assume all the great things are done like editing, rewriting, critiquing, artwork, and layout design. All you’re interested in is getting your book into bookstores and generating sales. This is the highlight of an author’s career, getting into bookstores. It is also the hardest thing to do unless you get traditionally published, and even then it is difficult.

A publisher will, with your help, promote your book and make it available for bookstores. This is the first step in getting you known. Some steps YOU need to do are self-promotion. A website, social media accounts, and public speaking will help put your name out there. If you have a good following on social media, and your followers start to ask for your book through bookstores, then the ball starts to roll. The more books ordered through a bookstore the more other bookstores will start to think about carrying it as well.

Let’s consider that you are not traditionally published, but did the self-publishing route. You still need to have that presence in the online world and do the talks. Start small and work your way up. Be ready for rejection, not everyone wants to hear about a “self-published” author wanting to sell their book. In fact, with more and more people self-publishing, it is getting harder for those who take the time to polish their work to be noticed.

Some tips, get listed on Goodreads and have book bloggers review your work. If you get positive reviews, people will notice you. The more followers the book reviewer has, the more you are noticed. Once that happens, try to engage with your followers. Hopefully, they will see value in your work and order it. Try to direct them into bookstores to order.

From there, you need to keep the social media machine running. It does take a little time, maybe one posting a week if not more, and you’ll find people getting attracted, especially if your writing has some meaning to them. Since you are looking at a recipe book, post part or all of a few of the recipes. Using video will help (see the “Tasty” videos on Facebook and other media for examples of well-done videos).


This will depend on how you are published. Most publishers either pay you a flat royalty per book (boo!) or a percentage of the profit the work creates (yeah!). I remember presenting a contract to a writer with a 30% royalty on all funds generated by their manuscript and they said they wanted $1.25 per copy sold. My response was, “You want less than what I offer?” In fact, her figures would have delivered $0.60 less for books sold through bookstores and $3.65 if sold through our shows (we actively participate in multiple sales events including Cons and such).

If you self-publish, the sale price of the work is set by you. There are a number of distribution networks available to you, but most use the same calculations. Here is the breakdown for you:

Book Income = Sale Price – (Bookstore Discount) – (Distributor Fee) – (Production Cost)

Bookstore Income = Sale Price – 40%

Distributor Fee = Sale Price * 15%

Production Cost = Price to print the book

You’ll notice right away the cost of distribution leave only 45% of the book price for you to pay for printing. This does not cover returns (books not sold and returned through your distributor).

Say a bookstore orders 100 books, sells 50, and returns 50. You get the income from 50 books, but pay for the printing of 100. This can become costly if you don’t have a good printer. POD (print on demand) usually costs $2.00 + $0.03/page on non-colour pages (depending on the company, but that is a good guideline). The distribution company will also charge you a small fee per book returned (usually around $2/book). Still want to self-publish?

Remember, if you self-publish all the costs are born on your shoulders for all of these costs.

Bookstores have three months to sell the book before they must either pay for it or return. And your distributor will then pay you one month after they receive the funds. If your book sells well, you have to wait four months before seeing any money.

You can opt to have the books destroyed rather than returned, but that will only save you the return costs of the book through the distributor, you will still need to pay for the printing of the books.

In conclusion, you can tell the cost of getting your book into a bookstore is better born by the publisher. They will have all the skills and knowledge in getting it distributed with less cost to you.

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