Distribute Books to a Bookstore

Q: Can I Distribute My Books to a Bookstore if I’m Self Published?

A: The short answer is yes.


But as with most things in self publishing, it is not always easy. It will take some money, some hard work, and a strong dose of persistence. But if you don’t mind the hard work, it is not impossible.

Here are the steps you can follow:

  • Make sure your bar code is a the book-industry standard size of at least 1’’ x 1.83” and the placement of your bar code is on the back cover lower right hand side.
  • Set up an account with a national book distributor—these are the companies that are recognized by bookstores as reputable. The distributor publishes a magazine that book buyers buy from. Ingram is the main book distributor, but Ingram itself doesn’t take self published authors. But don’t despair! There is still hope! Ingram has a distributor subsidiary called LightningSource who will act as a distributor for indie publishers. There is also a distributor called AnchorDistributors that will distribute indie Christian books. Each of these distributors require a set up fee of around $300 and a yearly “warehousing fee” of at least $99. Start an account, and upload your files.
  • You may think that is all there is to getting national representation in bookstores. That, my friend, is just the beginning. The rest is marketing and networking. You must now contact the bookstores that you would like to carry your book and help them understand why your book will make a great addition to their inventory (start locally but think nationally). Present them with a slick press kit. Wow them with your professional presence. Promise them that you will constantly promote their store in your marketing (and then follow up on that). Woo them with your thousands of blog and social media followers. [If your following is a little slim, think about taking my Book Marketing Simplified program to help you reach your readers and turn them into loyal fans. Pay special attention to the module on book distribution because you will learn how to get bookstores to carry your book!]
  • Be persistent. Sometimes it’s about timing. Sometimes it’s about talking to the right person. Always be professional, always be kind, and always think about how you can help them as much as they are helping you.