Many new authors are mystified about how in the world to get their a course in miracles into a bookstore.
While is it fairly easy to list your book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com, getting your book into a physical bookstore is very difficult for a new, self-published author.
According to Eric Kampmann, principal of MidPoint Trade Books, large bookstore chains are not interested in dealing with self-publishers or even small independent publishers. They are reluctant because they are not sure that the books will be of high quality with a professional cover and great editing, and it is too time consuming for them to deal with small orders.
That’s when a book distributor comes in.
A book distributor is the intermediary between the publisher and store buyers. Distributors put books in catalogs and send sales staff to pitch books to buyers. They are experts in wholesale book marketing and moving books into stores from warehouses. They also negotiate contacts with stores for special sales, front of store displays, and any type of special promotion for books.
There are different kinds of distributors. If you print your book with Lightning Source, as I do, Ingram Distribution will automatically distribute your book. This is good. However, Ingram has a very large catalog so your book will probably not get too much attention from their sales staff unless you are appearing on Oprah.
Other distributors are smaller and take a more personal approach. MidPoint Trade Books, for example, only agrees to distribute a book after a very rigorous screening process. If a book passes muster, the sales staff will enthusiastically represent it.
Most distributors start working with a publisher 6-12 months before the book is printed. However, distributors will also evaluate books that have been launched if they have sold 300-400 copies on Amazon in the first three months after release. Those Amazon sales figures show that the book can generate sales so a distributor would be interested in pitching it to bookstores.
If you want to sell your books in bookstores, take these steps:
- Make sure you invest in a very professional cover, great editing, and professional layout. Your book has to look first rate and be first rate.
- Start to research distributors before you publish your book. The dates of publication are very important to bookstores sales and you will need a distributor to help you time the launch of your book in the most advantageous way.
- Be willing to pay. Book distributors do a lot of work on your behalf and deserve to be compensated well. Anticipate paying a distribution fee of at least 30% and maybe more.
- Listen and learn. You hire a book distributor for expertise in selling books. They are your partners in the success of your book so if your distributor makes a suggestion for a revised cover, additional editing, or other changes, you would be wise to accept those suggestions.
If this whole idea scares you, give up on the idea of having your book in bookstores and concentrate your efforts on selling it on your own website and on Amazon/Barnes and Nobles.com.