Bookstores for Self Published Authors

Bookstores for Self-Published Authors

Bookstores. We love to browse them. We love the services they provide. But do they serve the needs of a Self-Published Author?

Are bookstores worth it for self-published authors?

Are Bookstores Worth It for Self-Published Authors?

I love Indie Bookstores, I do! I’m a Shop Small Girl, I promise! I buy books from bookstores ALL THE TIME! I wanted to say that first and foremost because today’s article might otherwise be viewed as controversial.

I’ve seen a number of articles and even a campaign sponsored by Bookshop (the leading online ordering service for Indie Bookstores) out this week encouraging readers to NOT shop Amazon for Prime Day and instead get your books from your local bookstore. In theory, I support and understand this. We NEED indie bookstores to survive and have been fighting this fight for them for years. Remember the Meg Ryan/ Tom Hanks movie- You’ve Got Mail?

BUT, as a Self-Published Author, there’s a reason I prioritize Amazon for my own books. Unfortunately, I’ve found bookstores just might not be worth it for self-published authors.

When The Girl in the Triangle launched last year, I was all about getting it into bookstores. One, there was the romantic idea of seeing it on shelves. And two, I thought it would really be to my benefit. Exposure, free marketing right? Most of you even know I’ve done plenty of bookstore signings. However, although I met some awesome bookstore owners and people, the shine quickly wore off.

The unfortunate reality is bookstores DO NOT benefit the Self-Published Author. Some will not even consider self-published books, others make you pay to rent your shelf space and then there’s the royalty/return issue.

I did an event a few months ago and was excited they got a bunch of my books in for it. Well, in the few hours I was there- I made less than I would in one hour at a festival. (35% per sale vs 100% – printing cost per sale).

Then I learned the hard way what happens when the bookstore decides they’re not going to move the stock. They gave my books less than eight weeks before returning. Although they bought them at a 55% discount from my supplier- I had to eat the entire full price cost of the return! And I didn’t even get the books back- they were destroyed at the warehouse!

I honestly can’t even blame the bookstore for this. I get it. They are a small space and need to stock what moves the fastest. But when traditional publishers can pay for highlighted tables and window space- my book on a back shelf didn’t stand a chance.

In contrast, the Amazon beast is set up for self-publishing success. I get a 70% royalty off a sale there. The item is only printed when ordered- so no worries about unmoved stock. And Amazon eats the cost of any returns.

The world of publishing is changing. I honestly don’t know what it will look like in the future. I already know I need to prioritize getting my books into audio book form for the upcoming year. And even on Amazon the bulk of my sales comes from e-books.

Will I find in the future that paperback format isn’t worth carrying at all? I hope not! I’d hate to never again hold a book in my hands and have that magic of turning a page. For now, I’ll stick to Print on Demand.And hopefully, one day, there will be a better system for partnering with the bookstores I love.

In the meantime, I’ll say- you can still support both me AND your favorite bookstore by ordering my books off their websites and getting them sent to your house! You just won’t see me pushing for them to stock my books in store again. 🙁


Read More of Joyana’s Posts About the World of Publishing and Books Here!

Is Self Publishing Worth It?

Is Self Publishing Worth It?

Why Self Publishing was Worth It for Me-

In December of 2020, I officially submitted my completed manuscript to an editor. One MFA, ten years, two kids and I finally turned my manuscript baby into my first published novel! I knew the next six months would be rough, going through rounds of edits, formatting, publishing, marketing, learning the ropes of everything myself as I went. All while still balancing real life with a day job and family and in the midst of a pandemic. But I knew it was going to happen, I was getting published! This knowledge and certainty is why self publishing is worth it. I have autonomy.

Understanding you HAVE a Choice-

As I begin my author blog, I’ve been thinking about what I want that to look like. One of the things I want is for this to be a place where I’m transparent about the indie author journey and what goes on behind the scenes. The reason for that is I’m publishing this way as a conscious choice and I want others to understand that choice. Both as readers and also as other writers contemplating self publishing for themselves. I’m aware there is still a stigma attached to self publishing. But, I’m hoping by lifting this curtain, I can help alleviate some of those negative associations and help others understand why self publishing is worth it.

Like most other English majors and MFA grads, I always assumed traditional publishing was the only route worthy of considering. Self published authors were sell outs who couldn’t hack it with the publishing industry, right? So, I put in my dues. I joined the Writer’s Guilds and attended conferences. I listened to the agent/editor panels and furiously took notes about what they were looking for, what it would take to get past the gatekeepers. I even paid to have my manuscript reviewed by agents and editors. But after awhile, I started to question why.

I knew plenty of writers. Extremely talented writers, sitting on amazing manuscripts, waiting for their chance to come. They sent out endless pitch letters just praying to be accepted. I even knew writers who HAD been picked up by agents only to have the process take years till publication. And then they were still responsible for all the marketing themselves and only claiming about 30% of each sale. I heard repeated over and over that writers don’t go in it for the money, it’s for the love of the art, right? But in this digital age where anyone with a voice and an internet connection can build a following should that really still be the case?

Making the Choice to Self Publish-

Yes, there are still self published authors who give credence to the hack stigmas. But there are also extremely talented, big name authors out there who either began their careers by self publishing or who are now leaving their traditional publishing houses to voluntarily self publish moving forward. Some examples include Andy Weir, Margaret Atwood, Kwame Alexander and even Stephen King. Why? Because it makes more financial sense! And gives an author complete independence and authority over their work.

As a society we applaud entrepreneurs and small business owners. So, I think it’s time that we encourage and support authorpreneurs as well. I look forward to sharing this journey with you and I hope I encourage others to share their own work as well!