Want Your Indie Book in Bookstores? Think Again

Besides offering Compromise With Sin on Amazon, I wanted to see it in bookstores and libraries (more on libraries later). That meant the book would have to be available from a major distributor, such as Ingram Content Group, Inc., and Baker and Taylor. Ingram makes that possible for indie authors via IngramSpark.

I did my research and got Compromise With Sin into the IngramSpark system. It required some special formatting as well as understanding what bookstores require. Independent bookstores buy at a discount, typically 55 percent. And they require that the book must be returnable.

My first shock came when I discovered that on the sale of my book at $14.99, my take would be 51 cents. The second shock was that I would have to bear the cost of any book returned. Ouch.

The third shock was that when I approached BookPeople, my big, local independent bookstore in Austin, I was told that even though Compromise With Sin was in the Ingram catalog, they would not buy it because it was a print-on-demand book. They would, however, be glad to carry it on a consignment basis. (I’ve learned that this is the policy of many independent bookstores.) I would provide six copies of the book, which they would display for three months. I would make up to 55 percent of the purchase price. They charge a $25 handling fee.

Here’s how the numbers would work for me: I pay $7.58 for each book I order from IngramSpark. That’s based on an order of 18 books and includes shipping and handling costs. So if BookPeople paid me the maximum 55 percent on $14.99, my take would be $8.24. But, there’s the matter of a $25 handling fee, which amounts to $4.17 per book. Now the store pays me $4.07. Bottom line? The sale of a single book would cost me $3.51. I passed up the deal.

While I wish that BookPeople had a friendlier policy toward local authors, I understand that bookstores need to make money. And while I never expected to make big money on my book, I won’t be paying people to read it. Bookstores can still buy it from IngramSpark but probably won’t because I no longer make it returnable.

Your thoughts? Leave a comment.


One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.

–Jennette Walls








6 thoughts on “Want Your Indie Book in Bookstores? Think Again

  1. The system is biased against new authors. Many, like you, have a compelling voice and important message. I have a friend who was published by a small regional house. She got ten cents for each book purchased.

    1. Yes. I think one thing I’ve taken away from this experience is that, as an indie, it would be a good idea to write a shorter book because is costs less to produce. My book is 98,000 words. I had hoped to charge $12.99, but Amazon set the minimum at $14.99. In reality, I’d have to charge a lot more to make any money selling to bookstores and libraries.

      For print books purchased on Amazon, I make $3.18, and for Kindle books, priced at $3.99, I make $2.79.

  2. Wow, how sad. That is so disappointing to hear. It doesn’t really encourage anyone to write books anymore, does it? I’m still so glad you wrote Compromise with Sin, Leanna. It was such a wonderful book. And I’m looking forward to your next book!

  3. Thanks, Susan and Lolita, for your kind words about Compromise With Sin. It’s all OK, really.

    I’m in this for the long haul, and I have some plans for future promotion (free). Meanwhile, I’m happily writing another novel.

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