Thursday, December 2, 2010

Getting Your Self Published Book Into Christian Bookstores

If you thought it was hard getting Borders and Barnes & Noble to carry your book, try getting your self published book into Christian Bookstores. That's the real nightmare.

I explored this a little initially but since The Only Way is Up is not categorized primarily as a Christian book though it has several Christian principles as the backbone of my beliefs, I did not pursue this hard. Nonetheless, I will share with you my experiences, what I can remember of it.

Choice Books. Have you ever walked into your local grocery store like Publix and Kroger and seen these little rotating stands that sell inspirational books? These are mostly owned by Choice Books in my neck of the woods. They rarely do POD books or even books listed by Ingram or Baker and Taylor because they are a distributor themselves. Here is a link to Choice Books so you can see what the process is however. I did send them my book and they didn't feel it was a good fit but who's to say they won't like your book. Laughing. What I also realized by perusing their stands is that they appear to be affiliated with certain publishers and if I were to write a strictly Christian non-fiction or instructional book in the future, I will definitely query these publishers (small presses) and editors that they have provided links to. One thing I can say about them is that they responded within a few weeks and were very courteous. One way around the POD issue is if you are your own publisher and you offer standard industry rates, discounts, returnability, and they deal with you and not the printer, there may still be a way. They are very particular about the book cover and quality of the book. I will suggest that you get professional editing as well to make your product competitive. You will be surprised at how many books I have bought (especially for my little girl) from these stands.

Family Christian Stores. This is the largest chain of any Christian Bookstore that I know, at least in the South East US. Here is a link to their submission guideline, for your product to be considered for their shelves. They have a name for their bookbuyer listed.

CBA, The Association for Christian Retail. Here is their website. They are mentioned by Family Christian Stores as a source of getting to them if you do not have a distributor. Please note the representatives they have mentioned near the end of the page. I have no direct experience with this but it may be worth pursuing. A means to an end, so to speak. A path to the promised land.

Church Bookstores. Each church has their own process and it works in a similar way to small independent bookstores in the area. You basically need to pick up the phone, speak with the manager/book buyer or whoever is in charge and take it from there. Preferably schedule a meeting. Sometimes impromptu face-to-face works better because you can create an impression and get five minutes of their time but it could backfire if you are dealing with a person who is a stickler for appointments. In my church for example, I was given the email address of the deacon that handles such issues and decides what book they carry. I never did follow up but I was interested in the process. It appears to be the same in most churches. It may be quite hard if their pastor writes books as well and you are not a Joyce Meyer or a church elder. But it is always worth the try.

Christian Book Distributors (CBD). They also have a website which I suggest you visit. They have no clearcut information about how to get them to sell your books but you can be a CBD affiliate and the details are available here. If I ever find any direct information, I will add it as an addendum here. They seem more internet based to me.

Regular Bookstores. Of course, there is nothing precluding you from attempting to get your Christian book into Borders or Barnes and Noble. They do have a Christian/Inspirational section as well. You would just have to follow the instructions outlined in a prior post on this blog, Getting Your Self Published Book Into Bookstores: Targeting Createspace Authors.

Internet Based Bookstores. This may be a bigger market for Christian books comparatively, in terms of when other books and the balance between brick and mortar stores and online. is still a winner for any kind of book.

The Christian Writer's Market Guide is said to be invaluable. Once again, don't forget that Google is an amazing tool.

In my opinion, most Indie Published Christian Books are sold to people you know, church members, Christian book clubs, family, friends, through blogs, online and then you call it a day. I will continue to research this and enlighten you guys as I come up with more information. I wish I had more for you but that's it for now.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Getting Your Self Published Book Into Bookstores: Targeting Createspace Authors

I am back. It's been a while, on this blog anyway!

I keep getting asked this question, "How do I get my book into Bookstores?"

Just the other day, I got this email:

Hi, Can you share any info. with me on how I can get my book in stores like-Books-A-Million, Barnes-N-Noble or Christian Stores, etc? I am searching through Createspace trying to get some info. on how to in the above area.... Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

So I decided to do a post on it. I realized that because I always refer people to Author K L Brady's blog for help with this, I have never written about my own personal experience. I will today.

I published the first edition of The Only Way is Up with no knowledge of the industry essentially. I knew enough to choose the most inexpensive Print-On-Demand (POD) Publisher out there with total control of every step of the way apparently, which I later found out was a good thing. Because Createspace (CS) is owned by amazon, that earned an automatic and fast listing as well. But the part I missed was with the ISBN. When I started to do book signings, I realized bookstores did not want to order my book from Createspace/Amazon who they considered a competitor. They wanted to order my book from Ingram or Baker and Taylor. Therein was my first problem. Thankfully, after a difficult time for the first store, the others did let me come with my books. Then, I couldn't get my book listed with a Createspace ISBN starting with 978144---. Even though CS has this affiliation with Ingram and they have the Expanded Distribution Program (EDP), it still always came up in the computers at these stores as a POD book. That was a brick wall.

1) In interacting with other POD authors, I realized I had to get my own ISBN. Please click here for my post on the ISBN and Bowker process, links, how much it costs, etc. You do not have to buy a block of ten ISBNs but for me, since I intended to also have my book in ebook formats and some of them need a separate ISBN, paying for ten ISBNs was the same as paying for 2! With your own ISBN, it is now 978???---, in my case, it was 978098---, replacing the 144 which appears to be a POD tag. You become your own publisher instead of CS. I am now Arrabon Publishing.

2) I had to get my print ready files (interior and exterior) over to Lightning Source, a subsidiary of Ingram and publish a second edition of my book through them with some upgrades. I did this in April of 2010. For those who do not have their own full Adobe creator, there is a wonderful pdf creation service by for only $15. LSI does not have the same a la carte services that CS has like the editing, etc. But they will serve your purpose.

3) I sent my kit over to Barnes and Noble, Borders and Booksamillion according to the instructions on K L Brady's blog, Indie Publishing on the Cheap. I found all to be accurate except for the information for Baker and Taylor. I believe there might be an updated link in the comments section if you read all the way down.

4) Because of a hitch on LSI's part in which my book was not showing up on their iPage, I had to follow up with Barnes and Noble with a phone call. That is a good rule of thumb in any situation, except when agents or other such people say expressly, do not contact them! Remember to be sweet and unassuming when you call.

5) Barnes and Noble accepted my book and ordered a trial 25 copies to start with. They also have it listed online, probably related more to the Ingram listing. The ebook listing on Nook is through Smashwords distribution.

With Borders, it was a little tricky because I had done my signings of the first edition with another ISBN. I did send them the info but there is not a contact that I could find to follow up. However, I was involved with a Book Expo America project in which I got an interested party from a Borders stores in FL. A follow up of that contact has my book in at least that one store. I probably could work the Borders link more and set up signings with the new edition. We'll see. Busy, busy. I have realized that Borders and Barnes and Noble in different parts of the country operate differently. As of when I was actively working on this, Barnes and Noble in the Atlanta area were not doing events for Indie authors but I was able to get into many Borders stores all over town. However, it was easier to get Barnes and Noble corporate to accept my book than Borders corporate who I never heard back from. I realized in the MD or DC area, it was easier to get signings at Barnes and Noble stores.

With regards to the smaller bookstores, call each one, make an appointment and follow their lead!

Booksamillion has my book listed even though I never heard back from them. And of course, good old  always has my back for both paperback and Kindle versions of The Only Way is Up.

I still use CS to provide my books ordered from or directly from me because it is the cheapest per unit cost and very convenient. But Barnes and Noble orders from Ingram. So, everybody is happy.

This information is by no means exhaustive authors and do remember that Google is your best friend. There is nothing you cannot find somewhere online if you search hard enough. When I had no author friends or acquaintances, the internet was my sole source.

For more information, please visit the writer resource section of my website. Of course, you can always contact me with any questions.