How to Market Your Self-Published Book to Independent Bookstores

by | Apr 17, 2019 | Bestseller Essentials

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Not everyone may say it, but it’s in everybody’s dreams to see their published books on a shelf in a independent bookstores.

This desire is justified: obviously, every one of us wants to go down in history as a person who wrote a bestseller or even a masterpiece that future generations will gladly read.

This seems like a wonderful dream that just comes true when you finish writing your book. Yet, in reality, not everything is as easy as it may seem. It’s likely that a publishing house will refuse to work with you or the editor won’t like your book. Besides, the added expense of working with a publishing house can strip you of the money that you can put into really smart book promotion strategies.

Because if you’re an author and have decided to self-publish your book, the job to market and promote your work falls completely on your shoulders. All marketing efforts that are usually performed by the publishing house, will be your job.

Despite the difficulties that self-publishing a book and selling books to independent bookstores may bring, the number of authors who are ready to go through that effort by themselves has increased dramatically over the past years. According to Cision, self-publishing of print-books has increased by 38% in 2017. And this statistic keeps improving.

Yet, self-publishing distribution of a book is a specific task, and many authors, especially beginners, have no clue where to start. As an author, who went through it myself, I want to share my experience and give you some helpful advice.

Why should you choose independent bookstores?

In the publishing world, there an old misconception that a self-published book is likely to have poor content and quality. However, with the rising interest to the authors, that are not mainstream, has increased of the past years.

Independent bookstores have become the best supporters of the beginning authors, ready to help them self-publish their books. Besides, they have the right audience of people, who come to these bookstores specifically in search of non-mainstream literature.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some tips to help you learn how to market your self-published book to independent bookstores and beyond!

  1. Start Marketing While Still Writing

Many beginning authors often wonder “How to get my book in bookstores?” or “When is the right time to start marketing my book?”

The answer is: right now!

The earlier you start, the more you’ll be secure that your book will definitely end up on the shelf of an independent bookstore.

What should you do to get a bookstore manager interested? Barbara Steinem, a chief editor at HotEssayService, recommends the following:

  • Write a good description of your book. Even if your book is currently in the works, or you just have an outline or a small gist, you can already start marketing your book.
  • Prepare your marketing plan. Before you contact the bookstore, you should already have an idea, how the marketing campaign of your self-published book should look like. Note this: whatever you want it to be, it should reflect your originality as the author of this book.
  • Cooperate closely with the bookstore manager. The relationship between a self-publishing author and a bookstore manager should be established as early as possible. The stronger this relationship becomes, the better and more effective will be your future collaborations.
  1. Study the Store’s Demographics

One of the most important steps of preparing the marketing campaign of your self-published book is studying the demographics of an independent bookstore. If you plan to work with multiple stores, you should be aware of who’s the average customer in each of them.

What should you take into account when studying the bookstore’s audience? The authors at The Book Professor say that it’s the same as defining the audience for your book. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s the average age of the bookstore’s audience?
  • What’s their gender?
  • What geographic area do they live in?
  • What are their interests?

For instance, if you’re writing a comic book for children and you live in San Francisco, look for independent bookstores that are frequently visited by kids and teens, who are interested in comic books and superhero books, around this area or even within your and neighboring states.

  1. Work on the Presentable Look of Your Work

When you’re already halfway through to finishing your book, you can start on the cover of your book. This may require hiring a designer or a photographer to make a creative cover.

But what makes a book cover attractive? The Book Designer explains the factors that influence the success of a book cover:

  • A good book cover is in tone with the book’s genre.
  • A successful book cover gives readers a hint of what’s the book about to generate excitement.
  • A creative book cover is always in tone with what the book is about.

So, if you take a look at the traditional book cover of “The Great Gatsby”, you’ll see the eyes of Dr. Eckleburg looking over the highway, alluding to the eyes of God. This book cover creates a sense of mystery that only a person who’s read the book can decipher.

A good book cover will guarantee that an independent bookstore will accept your book. Moreover, a creative book cover will is a prerequisite of a successful marketing campaign of a self-published book.

  1. Send Out Requests for Reviews

One more step to get into independent bookstores is working on getting your book reviewed. Which shouldn’t come as a shock because this is really a cornerstone to your book promotion no matter what your goals are. Normally, a publishing house would find a critic who will review a book for marketing purposes. But since you’re doing it independently, you’ll have to look for someone to review your book yourself.

Here are some legit ways I used to get reviews for my book:

  • Use your blog. When I had my book ready, I asked the most active readers of my blog to review it. The most honest and creative reviews you’ll only get from your loyal followers, who know your works well.
  • Ask a bookstore manager for assistance. They often cooperate with many book critics and have a lot of contacts.
  • Collaborate with an influencer. To review my book, I worked with an influencer on YouTube, who often does book reviews. They often have loyal followers who trust their opinion, so this is a good way of maximizing the number of people who will be interested to come and buy your book.
  1. Help Them Reach You

Lastly, once your book promotion campaign has launched, make sure that everyone can reach you and check out your activities. Here’s what I’ve done to help everyone interested in my book to reach out to me:

  • Creating a professional email. Share an email that you’ve created specifically for the purpose of marketing your self-published book.
  • Create a public profile on social media. Make sure that you’re active on different social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. You’ll be using them for marketing needs as well.
  • Make your blog a platform for book promotion. The more platforms you use for marketing, the better.

The independent bookstores you’ll reach out to can only do so much to market your book, so it’s mostly your job to create as many ways as possible to make this marketing campaign successful.

Self-publishing your book and working with independent bookstores as part of your book promotion may seem overwhelming. However, no one knows your creation better than you, so be sure that you’ll do a good job. There’s a learning curve to everything, and hopefully this “How to sell self-published books” guide will help you market your book successful!

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Our guest post contributor Bridgette Hernandez is a professional writer, who does editing for Supreme Dissertations and GrabMyEssay. She has a Master in Anthropology, who’s interested in writing and is about to publish her own book. As a self-publishing author, she loves to share her experience to help other authors do the same and fulfill their dreams.


  1. Roy Gardner

    Very helpful info, straight and to the point!
    Roy G.


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