In a previous article, I showed you how to get your self-published book stocked in mainstream bookstores. Getting into independent bookstores can be easier, depending on the quality of your book. Indie stores are usually more open to hosting local authors for book signings than mainstream stores because they don’t have tight ties to big corporations that set rules against supporting local authors. And at the heart of indie bookstores is the indie author. After all, we all need to support each other in this business, right?

3 Easy Ways to Get Stocked in an Independent Bookstore

  1. List with Ingram. Ingram Book Group is the largest wholesaler/distributor of books in the world. Almost all indie bookstores have an account with Ingram, so the easiest, most sure-fire way to get stocked on their shelves is to have your book listed with Ingram. Depending on how you set up your book, there can be a lot of red tape to get listed with Ingram, and a listing alone doesn’t mean indie stores will stock your book. You still have to meet their criteria (much like mainstream bookstores’ criteria) for them to be willing to order your book.
  2. Consignment. Unlike mainstream bookstores, indie bookstores love local authors. Putting your books on consignment means you have to keep track of how many books you have stocked at each bookstore and get paid when they sell, not upfront. Check up on each store regularly to get reports on how many books have sold—at least once per month. Once you have a record of sales you send an invoice to the bookstore and collect your payment.
  3. Terms. Let the indie bookstore set the terms on how much percentage they will take on sales. If you walk in and give them 50% off, which you may think is a good offer since mainstream bookstores require 55% off, you actually may be missing out on additional income. Let them set the terms. I’ve heard many stories of authors who received an offer of only 30% discount, keeping 20% more than they planned. Whatever you negotiate, don’t go above 50% off. Any indie bookstore that asks for more than that may end up throwing you into the sticky situation of you paying them to stock your book.

Independent bookstores are a great place for local self-published authors to stock their books, primarily because they’re usually interested in helping local authors. As with mainstream bookstores, your approach is simple. Contact your local indie stores first to set up a book signing. Nail down your terms and get a date set on the calendar. Then make sure you show up and “wow” them with a crowd. Don’t expect the bookstore to do all your publicity for you. Get your friends, neighbors, family, and your plumber to come to your book signing. A successful book signing at one store will give you the credibility you need to open doors at future stores.

Have you had success getting into an indie bookstore? Share your story in the comments below!

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy Laidig is the founder of The Book Ninja. She has authored over 40 books, started over 50 publishing companies, trained over 10,000 authors worldwide, has her black belt in karate, and eats way too much chocolate. She currently changes lives through her students… one published message at a time, manages her two retail stores Toy Box Gifts & Wonder® and Nerdvana Outpost in the heart of her newfound hometown, Chambersburg, PA, is in the start-up phase of at least three new businesses at any given time, and generally causes anyone reading this bio to be out of breath. On her “off” time (what’s that?) she brainstorms business ideas with her awesome husband, the great Public Domain Expert himself, Tony Laidig, and hangs out with her two ragdoll kitties. She’s even been known to sleep... occasionally.


  • Karen says:

    So, am I listed with Ingram and how do I find the Indie stores?

    Thanks, Kristen. Another way to sell books!

    •  An indie store is any bookstore that isn’t a corporate entity like Barnes & Noble or Books a Million. So in our area, I know of Edward McKay’s, which may carry some new books in addition to used ones. Do a Google search for “bookstores, PLACE” (PLACE is towns near where you live) and listings will come up. Then it’s a matter of visiting them or calling them to introduce yourself as a local author!

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