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Guest Post from an Independent Publisher/Bookstore

Are You An Author, Small Publisher, Or Independent Book Seller?  How Can We All Work Together?

The book market is changing rapidly and it is time for the small publishers, authors and independent booksellers to unite to keep a small piece of the pie. No matter if you are an author, small publishing company or independent book- seller, you are generally passionate about what you do and most likely do not do it just for the money.

If you are an author you may have difficulty getting your book noticed by a large publishing house, and if you self publish you will have trouble getting noticed by the bookstore chains. Small publishing companies do not have the marketing budget to promote the authors or give large advances on royalties. Independent book sellers are often reluctant to buy from small publishing houses and self published authors because they cannot offer the standard 40% discount that the booksellers require to make a profit.  We all struggle in our own way and if we are all going to survive we must learn what we can do to help each other.

 So what can we do to work together?

Authors must take on the responsibility of promoting their own books. They have the passion to sell and promote their books.  Since most authors do not have the money to do a big marketing campaign they can develop an online platform.  They could have a blog to promote their book or topics related to the book. They could guest blog on other sites to promote their book, or on a topic related to their book. 

If you are trying to get a bookseller to have your book on the shelf you should be aware that they are also trying to make money. You will have to give them a discount of at least 40-50%. Independent bookstores are in competition with the large bookstore chains. Most of the owners love books and are in the business because it is their passion. Authors with publish-on-demand books can sometimes convince a bookstore to stock their books by offering them on consignment. The authors provide copies of their books and give them to the bookstore to place on their shelves. The bookstore doesn't pay the author for the book until it sells. If it doesn't sell, the book is returned to the author. This can work with an author who has a strong local following.  

Independent publishers are likely not independently wealthy and they typically are not in the business for just the money. Most independent publishers do not have the volume of sales to be able to have large marketing budgets. Publishers can have blogs related to writing, publishing and marketing books. They could also write book reviews and author interviews, with a link to a small bookseller to buy the book. The bookstore could offer a commission on sales from the referrals.

Independent bookstores generally do not have the time to do social networking. They should have a website, but probably do not have time to blog or promote their store on Twitter.  But they could run a promotion on the book at the same time the author and publisher are promoting it with social networking. A book signing could also be set up at the same time. During that time total book sales could increase.

These are just some ideas for cooperation instead of competition. Let’s brainstorm other ways we can work together.


Julia M Lindsey is a published author and a student of personal development. Her love of reading and her mission to inspire others to find their inner passion, led to the co-founding of Our Little Books. Our Little Books is a small independent publishing company dedicated to publishing inspirational, educational and fun little books that fit into a pocket or purse.  A little book is a great way to promote your business and to be seen as an expert in your field. For more information and to request a free publishing consultation, visit http://www.ourlittlebooks.com/contact/.

4 Comment count
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Audio books, too....

I agree about the authors' and publishers' parts.

Unfortunately for independent bookstores, there is also the pricing of books that, in many cases, have turned into commodities. Between Costco and Amazon--each selling at a huge discount--independent bookstores should demand AS A GROUP to get the same volume discount given to the large retailers. In fact, there is a law in the USA about that....

Audio books, too, could use an overhaul and present an opportunity for retailers. Why are audio books priced at $20-$28? In the days when an audio book was delivered in a box of 10-16 cassettes, the production cost might have been high. But today, 1-6 CDs, costing pennies each, deliver the a book. Bookstores may have the muscles to demand a new pricing structure--and open a new venue for themselves.

The browsing experience at a bookstore is something we all cherish. I hope that selling print media will not disappear into the twilight into which music sales have gone.


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Independent Bookstores, Pricing, Authors

Mary Lynn Archibald

You're right, Talia. I wish I knew the answer about audiobooks, but that's a river I've still gotta cross. I think self-published authors need to support independent booksellers however they can, i.e., deeper discounts and other perks. I know they're all struggling. Yet we authors have to advertise wherever we can possibly make a sale.

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I agree

New writers and independent bookstores are getting muscled out of the marketplace by the mega book stores and the mega authors. The additional problem that these mega authors have is that they basically eat up money that can be used for consumers to buy books from new authors. Should smaller bookstores,smaller publishers and newer writers team up and use the media available to us at little to no cost ...100% yes. But as long as we don't team up "Rainbow Six part seven (as indirectly supervised by Tom Clancy)" will be the only thing available and only at a Costco and amazon.com near you...

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Mary Lynn Archibald

I hope you're wrong about that, Joshua.

I just finished a "Tom Clancy" book, as I was, in past years, an ardent fan. It was so badly written (and not, of course, by Clancy), that it put me off his books altogether. What a sham that whole thing is. James Patterson, too (though he at least has better writers).