Thursday, 9 August 2018

How To Get Your Indie Book Into A Book Shop

I shall be talking of the hallowed territory of Waterstones for this blog post.
It is one of the largest book chains in the UK.
WH Smith is another huge goal, but I cannot find an application process for them at all, which is a shame, because I'd love to also get the chance of being in the Richard & Judy Bookclub. Hey ho.

So, you want to get your indie book into a bricks & mortar store?
Great ambition, and not entirely futile.
But I would like to point out: this is just outlining the process. It does NOT guarantee success, and is a LOT of work to set up. So, are you really really sure you want to do this? It might make you cry!

OK. Brace yourself, let's go...

First and foremost, make sure you have an excellent paperback product. And I mean excellent.
The editing must be spot on. The cover must be of a highly professional standard. 
Great book

Tip: make the print a little smaller (not stupidly so; be sensible, it must be readable), but try to keep your page count minimal. 
I like to start each of my chapters on the right hand page, so pay attention to that when you're formatting. 
Try to keep your costs down.

I was lucky; my first paperback was created via Createspace (doh!), but this means I have a handy interior template, which works on IngramSpark. Sadly, IngramSpark do not have such a facility at the moment, but give you guidelines instead.

OK, next step. Grab an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). 
This will need to go on your book cover and pdf file name, so you need this prior to uploading to your printer people (IngramSpark).
tbh, getting your own ISBN just seems sensible anyway, if you ask me. That way, you own the rights, and can publish it where you choose.
In the UK, you will need to obtain this from Nielsen
You will need to create your account as a publisher on here. 
 Get an ISBN

Well done. Next, make sure you print via IngramSpark, or a similar company who has the right access.
KDP & Createspace DO NOT have the correct distribution channels in the UK for the likes of Waterstones (at time of writing this post)! 
The top two preferred distributors incidentally are Gardners and Bertrams for major stores. 
✓ Correct printers & distributors

There are many steps and considerations when putting your book into IngramSpark, such as trim size (I like 5x8), cream paper (better than white for fiction books), matt or gloss cover etc. 
Follow their guidelines closely. Ensure your fonts are embedded when you convert to pdf (there's an ISO_19005-1 compliance option under save options, and yes, my Word to pdf file works just fine). 

Once you upload your interior file, you'll be able to generate a cover template to send to your cover designer, with the correct dimensions. 
Once you get the cover file back, upload this too.
You will then get an e-proof in due course, once it's been through the verifying process. 
And once you approve that, you can order a hard copy proof (at your expense).

Phew! Formatting and uploading a paperback can be tough. But if you've got this far, well done. 

Now tell Nielsen Title Editor about your book.
This is a different site from the one where you purchased your ISBN/s.
You will need to know at least:
  • ISBN
  • Author
  • Title
  • Subject classification (there is a link to BIC codes on the site to help you choose)
  • Publisher & imprint
  • UK availability
  • UK price (when you set up on IngramSpark all territory prices will need to be worked out, but they have a tool for this - allow a 55% wholesale discount)
  • Format
  • Territory rights
  • UK publication date
  • UK distributor (e.g. Gardners and Bertrams)
  • Book dimensions (produced on IngramSpark when you go through their process)
  • Cover file

✓ Update info on Nielsen Title Editor

Incidentally, Gardners also have the additional requirement of this form.

Hoorah! Very well done on getting this far. It's been a lot of work, but now you're ready to ask the nice people at Waterstones if they would possibly maybe consider stocking your book, pretty please. They accept requests from indie publishers, don't forget.
✓ Apply to Waterstones

Each step takes a while. 
Patience is your friend. 
And don't be afraid of asking Nielsen for assistance; their customer service is very good.

Now, Waterstones demand a 55% wholesale discount. Plus printing costs. This means your RRP will be fairly high. The store probably won't like it. So, don't get your hopes up. These are just instructions to give you an outside chance. 
They will be more likely to bung your book on their website, which is a helpful start.

Waterstones say not to approach individual stores, but you know what? If you have a lovely hard copy and you're passing, I reckon it's worth a cheeky question to the manager. Some of them want to support local authors, and will be able to stock if your book is on the system (after this process). But don't be hurt or surprised if they tell you to go away.

Good luck! 

Always in love & light,

3rd November 2018 - TODAY I went into a Waterstones book shop and my book Self Love was on the shelf for sale! Actually!!! 
This CAN work! 
Self Love in Waterstones, on a real shelf!


  1. Replies
    1. Glad you like it xx I do try to be helpful :)

  2. Thanks, I'm an editor and shared this on our Facebook page. Very useful!

    1. Oh, how fab. I'm glad you found it useful. It's a long hard process!