Why Should Retailers Carry Books by Independent Authors?
Traditional publishing houses have been around for hundreds of years. Still, what used to be the Big 20 became the Big 10, then the Big 5, and rumors of the Big 4 abound in the publishing world. Why is that?
Because of their size and bureaucracy, the time required to publish a book from signing the contract to launch day often takes 12–18 months. In 2020, many publishing houses shut down, or at the very least released employees to work from home on a relaxed schedule, slowing the process even further.
So what is an author to do? We have readers eagerly awaiting books, whether we’re in the middle of a pandemic or a snowstorm. Nothing keeps our readers from devouring new books. In the US in 2019, almost 1 million books were published—and of those, 800,000 or more were from independent authors.
Many who are venturing into the indie publishing world have already published traditionally. With the shortage of larger traditional publishing houses, a plethora of smaller presses and publishers has erupted, along with vanity presses and self-publishing companies.
Unfortunately for indie authors, a certain air of snobbishness has crept into publishing. Beginning with the New York City publishers and filtering down through houses of all sizes has been the assumption that any book independently published isn’t good enough for a traditional publishing house.
However, that attitude is changing, because excellent books are being written and released every day. Readers love the breadth of choice in their reading material. They appreciate they don’t have to wait a year or more to read another book by a favorite author. And they like learning about new authors and new series.
The quality of stories has improved too, as readers demand well-written and edited stories. Gone are the days of accepting any old fluff to fill a page. Feedback, social media, and book reviews equip our readers to choose wisely.
Benefits of Indie Publishing
Another benefit of indie publishing is that there are more sub-genres than ever before. While a traditional publisher may offer only one or two sub-genres, Indie authors can dig deep and wide to categorize their books so readers will know what to expect. Classifications such as women sleuths, strong female protagonists, clean and sweet romance, Christian historical romance, inspirational suspense, and many more now exist.
So why don’t more retailers and bookstores carry indie titles? In the past, their rationale lay almost entirely because they couldn’t return unsold books if the author didn’t have a contract with a book distributor. However, many indie authors maintain such a relationship.
In addition, books fulfilled through Amazon are returnable, even e-books. Books placed on consignment by authors are returnable merely because if they aren’t sold, the bookstore can call for the author to come get them.
Other reasons to carry books by indie authors include the fact that often the story has a local or regional connection to the retailer’s location, making it interesting to residents and folks visiting from afar. Autographed books attract interest, as does an end-cap filled with a single author’s books. Covers are more attractive, drawing buyer interest because authors are employing cover designers skilled in using colors, fonts, and designs for their particular genre.
Keeping readers happy with plenty of books is an excellent reason why retailers should carry indie-published books. And when authors keep a greater percentage of the sales price, that translates into an author having a vested interest in ensuring the steady flow of outstanding books.
So there you have it: a win-win-win situation. Retailers win by having more books with higher margins. Authors win by being able to publish more books quicker than a traditional publisher. And readers win because they have a steady supply of marvelous stories to read.
About the Author
A hybrid author, Donna Schlachter writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has published over 50 books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both. You can find Donna at www.DonnaSchlachter.com where you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!