Don’t be fooled by the sweet nothings your POD service or vanity publisher has whispered in your ear. 

Yes, expanded distribution will get you on the (lengthy) catalogue that is distributed to book retailers. 
No, the chances of your book actually making it into bookstores remains very, very, slim. Approaching zero.

First of all, bookstores only order books that:

  1. have ISBNs
  2. are returnable, and
  3. are sold at 55% wholesale discount.

And even if you tick all these boxes, your book will only be LISTED on the distribution catalogue. This does not mean that your book will actually end up on shelves. 

Bookstores will not order your book unless you convince them that it’s worth it; the old-fashioned way. You can do this yourself if you are on a budget, or hire a marketing and distribution professional who has an existing relationship with bookstores. But for them to take on your book, you will have to, again, convince them that your book will sell.

Some things you can do:

1. Visit your local bookstore/s and cozy up to the manager/s.

2. Tell them about your book and show them your projected sales. Convince them it will sell with tangible data.

3. Arrange book signings at these stores, and get them to special order your book for it.

4. Repeat this process at other stores in your region. The goal is that the chain’s book buyer will notice the sales stats on their system, and start ordering the book if it makes financial sense for them.

Publishing is a business. You’re not done once you click ‘Publish’.

Get to it!