WNBA Boston Blog

Indie Books in the Bricks-and-Mortar Channel —
How Can We Do Better?

Indie (self-published) authors confront many obstacles when they seek distribution through independent bookstores. For one thing, indie books don't fit well in the traditional publisher/distributor/bookstore business model. And, let's face it, indie authors do not have great credibility among booksellers.

Booksellers ask several critical questions: Is there pull-through demand for this book; e.g. Is my clientèle likely to buy it? Is it priced right to sell yet allow sufficient profit margin? Can I order it through my usual distributors? Can it be returned?

These are challenging questions for the indie author.

  • How DO you create pull-through demand?
  • How DO you orchestrate content, title, type-setting, positioning, cover copy and art, and overall production quality to produce a marketable book?
  • How DO you price it competitively yet preserve enough margin to justify your hard work?
  • How DO you make it easy for the bookseller to stock and return?

Now a small group of indie authors and booksellers have created an invitation-only e-mail list to discuss these very issues. The assumption is that indie authors and booksellers share several compelling common interests. Our goal is to develop concrete, workable proposals to achieve greater access and success for self-published works through independent bookstores and mutual profit for both author and bookseller.

Among ideas under discussion:

  • An Independent Booksellers Seal of Approval to increase credibility of a work
  • A pre-publication review process involving booksellers to increase retail marketability
  • Templates for cooperative marketing of indie books
  • Issues and possible solutions related to distribution and returns

If you'd like to contribute your energies, ideas, and experience to this group, please send your name, title of your most recent published book, and your e-mail address to lloyd@writersglen.com.

Note that this is a WORKING group. We'd like to keep it small enough to achieve real results, but large enough to generate great ideas. If you want to make a difference and are willing to roll up your sleeves, please join.

Lloyd R. Prentice
Writers Glen Publications

February 2012