Can Self-Published Books Be Sold in Stores

Can Self-Published Books Be Sold in Stores?

Can self-published books find their way onto bookstore shelves? This is a question that many aspiring authors have pondered. In years past, self-published books were often viewed as subpar, lacking the polish and credibility associated with traditional publishing. However, times have changed.

Nowadays, self-published authors have more opportunities than ever before to sell their books in physical stores. Retailers are becoming more receptive to self-published authors, recognizing the quality and commercial potential of their work. With the rise of online marketplaces and print-on-demand services, authors can easily make their books available for purchase in brick-and-mortar stores.

The Traditional Publishing Model

In the traditional publishing model, authors would submit their manuscripts to publishing houses, hoping to secure a book deal. If accepted, the publisher would handle all aspects of the book’s production, from editing and cover design to distribution and marketing. Once published, the book would be sold in bookstores, with the publisher taking a significant portion of the profits.

This model has long been the standard in the publishing industry, with traditional publishers holding the power to decide which books make it onto store shelves. However, this model also came with limitations. Many talented authors found it difficult to break into the industry, facing rejection after rejection from publishers who deemed their work unsuitable for mass consumption. 

The Rise of Self-Publishing

The rise of self-publishing has revolutionized the way authors bring their books to market. With the advent of platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Smashwords, authors can now bypass traditional publishers altogether and take control of their publishing journey.

Self-publishing offers authors the freedom to publish their books on their terms. They can choose their cover design, set their pricing, and retain a larger percentage of the royalties. Additionally, self-published authors can publish in various formats, including e-books, print-on-demand paperbacks, and even audiobooks. 

Challenges Faced by Self-Published Authors

While self-publishing offers numerous advantages, it’s not without its challenges. One of the biggest hurdles self-published authors face is the perception that their work lacks the quality and credibility associated with traditionally published books. Many readers still view self-published books as amateurish and poorly edited.

Another challenge is the difficulty of getting self-published books onto physical store shelves. Bookstores have limited space and are often hesitant to take a chance on unknown authors. Additionally, self-published authors may struggle with marketing and promoting their books effectively, as they don’t have the backing of a traditional publishing house’s marketing team.

Advantages of Self-Publishing

Despite the challenges, self-publishing offers several advantages that make it an attractive option for authors. Firstly, self-publishing allows authors to maintain creative control over their work. They have the final say in all aspects of the book’s production, ensuring their vision is fully realized.

Self-publishing also offers authors the potential for higher royalties. With traditional publishing, authors typically receive a royalty rate of around 10% of the book’s cover price. In contrast, self-published authors can earn royalties of up to 70% on e-books and a significant percentage on print-on-demand sales.

Additionally, self-publishing allows authors to publish on their timeline. Traditional publishing can be a lengthy process, often taking years from manuscript submission to book release. With self-publishing, authors can publish their books as soon as they’re ready, without having to wait for approval from publishing houses. 

Can Self-Published Books Be Sold in Stores?

The answer to the question, “Can self-published books be sold in stores?” is a resounding yes. While it may be more challenging for self-published authors to secure shelf space in physical stores, it is not impossible. As the publishing landscape evolves, retailers are becoming more open to working with self-published authors.

To successfully sell self-published books in stores, authors need to approach the process strategically. Building a strong author brand and reputation is crucial, as bookstores are more likely to take a chance on authors with a proven track record. Authors can do this by consistently producing high-quality content, engaging with readers through social media, and actively seeking reviews and endorsements.

Developing a solid relationship with bookstore managers is also key. Authors should reach out to local bookstores and introduce themselves, offering to participate in book signings, author talks, or other events. By establishing a personal connection, authors can increase their chances of getting their books on store shelves. 

Pros and Cons of Selling Self-Published Books in Stores

Selling self-published books in stores has both advantages and disadvantages. One of the main benefits is increased visibility. Bookstores provide a physical presence for authors, allowing them to reach readers who may not be aware of their work online. Additionally, having a physical book on store shelves adds credibility and can attract attention from traditional publishers, literary agents, and media outlets.

However, there are also drawbacks to selling self-published books in stores. For one, the competition is fierce. Bookstores have limited shelf space and self-published authors are vying for the same spots as traditionally published authors. Additionally, authors need to be prepared to invest time and effort into marketing and promoting their books in-store, as bookstores may not provide extensive marketing support.

Strategies for Getting Self-Published Books into Stores

While getting self-published books on store shelves may be challenging, it is not impossible with the right strategies. Here are some tips for authors looking to expand their reach and sell their books in physical stores:

  1. Build a strong author platform: Develop a professional website, engage with readers through social media, and create valuable content that showcases your expertise and writing style.
  2. Create a compelling book cover: Invest in a professional cover design that catches the eye and conveys the genre and tone of your book.
  3. Seek book reviews and endorsements: Reach out to book bloggers, reviewers, and fellow authors in your genre to request reviews and endorsements that can add credibility to your book.
  4. Participate in local events: Approach local bookstores, libraries, and community centers to organize book signings, author talks, or panel discussions. These events can help you connect with potential readers and bookstore managers.
  5. Research and target independent bookstores: Independent bookstores are often more open to working with self-published authors. Research stores in your area or target niche stores that cater to your book’s genre or topic.
  6. Offer attractive terms to bookstores: Provide bookstores with appealing terms, such as a higher wholesale discount or the option for consignment. This can make it more enticing for them to stock your book.

Alternative Distribution Channels for Self-Published Authors

While physical bookstores are a desirable outlet for self-published authors, they are not the only option. There are several alternative distribution channels that authors can explore to reach a wider audience:

  1. Online marketplaces: Platforms like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo offer self-publishing options that allow authors to reach a global audience. E-books and print-on-demand paperbacks can be made available for purchase worldwide.
  2. Libraries: Self-published authors can make their books available through library distribution services like OverDrive and Smashwords. This allows libraries to purchase and lend e-books to their patrons.
  3. Direct sales: Authors can sell their books directly through their website or at events, cutting out the middleman and maximizing their profits.
  4. Book fairs and festivals: Participating in book fairs and festivals allows authors to showcase their work to a wide audience of book lovers and industry professionals. 


In conclusion, self-published books can indeed be sold in stores, but it requires persistence, determination, and a strategic approach. Authors must overcome the challenges of competition, perception, and limited shelf space. By building a strong author brand, developing relationships with bookstore managers, and exploring alternative distribution channels, self-published authors can increase their chances of getting their books onto physical store shelves. The publishing landscape is evolving, and self-published authors are carving out their place in the industry, proving that quality and commercial success can go hand in hand, regardless of the publishing path chosen.

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