Self-Publishing - Books on store shelves?


One of the things we authors dream of is seeing our book on store shelves. This can be done with both Lightning and Createspace, but let me give you some honest facts about the cost effectiveness of this dream.
With Lightning, you are given a print cost based on your book size and page count. You then have to set the discount for the distribution channel. Your royalties back are based on the remainder.

Originally I had tried to get onto store shelves. This was a costly mistake. Here's why.

Let’s say, for arguments sake, you want to charge 10.00 per book. The book is roughly 350 pages. Let’s say the print cost is $4.5 for a 5x8 book, standard cream color paper, and color cover.
Each of these books will cost $4.5 to print.
To get into the distribution channels you are required to set a discount. Minimum 25%. $2.50
10.00-4.5-2.5 =  3
You'll make 3 on every book sold.

Now to get onto store shelves at Barnes & Noble you have to set the industry standard which is 55%. On a 10 book that 5.5
10-4.5-5.5 = 0
That means I need to increase the price of the book in order to make even the smallest profit.
Let’s try $15.00 (8.25 =55% discount)
15-4.5-8.25= 2.25
With the average price of paperback books ranging from 7.99 (pocket size in bookstores) to 9.99 (indie books average), 15.00 sticks out like a sore thumb. Remember, you are trying to be competitive here. For a fiction novel, $15.00 price point is not going to look very attractive to buyers.
Also, there is no guarantee Barnes & Noble will stock your books. Just to be approved by their sales department, you have to set the discount to B&N standards (55%), then query them (like an agent) and provide a complete marketing plan for the books.
Then, when they finally approved your book, they only ordered a few to test the market. You have to prove your book will sell, to keep them buying it.
Independent book stores on the other hand, are generally more than willing to stock your book on a consignment basis. If you purchase your own stock of books and bring them to the bookstore, they will generally work out some kind of an arrangement with you. If you really want to see your books on store shelves, set your discount as low as it will go and then do the legwork to find independent stores willing to shelve you. It will be more cost effective and you will still live the dream of being in a bookstore.
Read more tips and tricks in my handy dandy little guide.

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Comments

Genevieve Ching said…
Very interesting post, Katie. It seems like, unless you are going to hire a publicist to do it for you, this is a lot of work for meager returns. Plus you have potential damage/loss/theft in the physical world that you don't have to worry about with eBooks.
Katie Salidas said…
Being on book store shelves does add a new layer of frustration to things but it is very important. There are many readers out there who will not buy ebooks. Knowing that, indie's should always look for the best alternative. Sometimes B&N just isn't it due to cost concerns.