I get asked this question all the time. Unfortunately many authors who ask me this question have already published their books and if they weren’t published correctly I must tell them to cross Barnes & Noble off their list and focus on online sales. If you haven’t published your book yet, make sure you set it up right to meet the following Barnes & Noble guidelines:
1. Comply with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
If your book is distributed by Ingram Book Group, you already comply with this Act. If your book is printed through a vanity publisher (aka: self-publishing services company) or traditionally published, you do not need to worry about this step. If you offset printed your books yourself (especially in China) and store them in a spare bedroom in your house, you do need to worry about complying with the CPSIA.
2. Get an ISBN
The International Standard Book Number is the way any retailer tracks sales for your title. Without it, your book will not be accepted. ISBNs are furnished by the ISBN Agency. Note that if another publisher assigns an ISBN to your book, you may not have any control over the other requirements to get into Barnes and Noble.
3. Get a Barcode
The ISBN is only the number. You must also have a scannable barcode that embeds the number for point-of-sale systems. Most professional book designers who would handle your book’s cover design would have access to these barcodes at no cost to you.
4. Choose Perfect Binding
“Perfect binding” is the term used for a standard paperback book with printing on the spine. Barnes and Noble likes this type of book because it doesn’t disappear so easily on the shelf, thus increasing the chances of it being sold.
5. List Your Book with a Wholesaler
A wholesaler like Ingram Book Group is the only way to get your book stocked in large retailers like Barnes and Noble.
6. Give the Right Discount
Wholesalers (the only gate in to Barnes and Noble) expect a 55% discount. Make sure your book meets those guidelines.
7. Make Your Book Returnable
Bookstores refuse to carry books that are non-returnable. I recommend you allow the books to be returned to you, the author, so you can resell them at a later date. Most vanity publishers do not accept returns and many will charge a hefty fee to the author who wishes their books to be returnable.
8. Choose Competitive Pricing
Know what books are selling for in your genre and specialty. Price your book competitively. Note also many vanity publishers may say you have the final say in the pricing of your book, but they expect a large cut of the profits (at least $4-6 per book). Due to their markup, most “self-published” books are not competitively priced.
9. Have a Marketing Plan
That’s right, if you’re expecting Barnes and Noble to stock your book in every single one of its stores, you’d better have a killer marketing and publicity plan to show them. Which, no matter what way you publish, you should have anyway.
10. Get Trade Reviews
The more “big” names you can get to positively review your book, the better. And don’t forget to get those reviews placed on your website and Amazon listing.
11. Send Your Book!
Barnes and Noble’s buying representatives are interested if your book meets all the above guidelines. If you feel your book is a good candidate for distribution throughout their stores, send a copy along with your marketing plan, a note about what makes your book unique and any positive reviews to:
The Small Press Department
Barnes & Noble, Inc.
122 Fifth Ave
New York, NY 10011
Have you gotten your book in a major bookstore? Share a success tip below!