Public Relations Blog

Book Publishing 101: 5 Ideas for Getting Your Book Sold on Shelves

books sold

Getting your indie or self-published book sold in stores isn’t easy. Even if you have an account with a well-known distributor like Ingram or Baker & Taylor, these wholesalers aren’t going to proactively market your book to libraries and bookstores. They may add your book to a catalog or newsletter (for a fee), but you’ll have to do much, if not all, of the work yourself.

See our detailed blog post about the subject in “Book Publishing 101: Why Your Distribution is Disappointing.”

Here are a few ideas we recommend you try to get your book sold in stores:

  1. Ask friends to request the book. Ask your friends and family from anywhere and everywhere in the country to request or ask about the book in their local bookstore. Also have them try to take the book out at the local library, so that the library can become aware that it exists. This is a small thing, but it’s a great word of mouth tactic.
  2. Visit individual stores. Go to, or call, bookstores and libraries individually and “sell” your book to them. Ask for the manager or book buyer (or, for libraries, to speak to a librarian) and explain who you are and what your book is. Offer to send them some of the reviews, press materials, and a copy for them to check out.
  3. Offer books on consignment. Most booksellers will consider taking the book on consignment, and you may need to fill out an agreement. Make it as easy as possible for the store to say “yes”.
  4. Small press programs. For a chain like Barnes & Noble, check out their small press submission programs, located here on their website.
  5. Book clubs. If you know anyone in a book club, ask them to consider using your book for their club (which may meet in a local bookstore or may least be connected to one). To jump start your research, Where Writers Win has a database of book clubs in each state.

We have worked with many indie authors who have had success hand-selling their book to stores. A few of them have their books carried in regional Barnes & Nobles, or have their book sold by their local indie bookstore. It is a labor intensive process, but if you take it one step at a time you will see results.

Thanks to Sharon Noble, who asked about getting books into stores on the comment section of our Where Writers Win article!