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.



  1. Thanks. This is really helpful. I just did my second book through Create Space and haven't even attempted to get the books into stores. I really appreciate you sharing this info. Now to follow up and "do it". Need to overcome the "heebie jeebies".


  2. I am glad you found this helpful Vicki. I just realised I did not address Christian Book Stores directly. I do know something about the process but my book is not classified as Christian non-fiction though it kind of borders on it. I will have to refresh my memory about what I found out in my research months ago and do another post specifically for that.

  3. For Christian Books/ Bookstores, please visit this link for some tips: