by Angela B. Chrysler
Published on: Nov 28, 2014
Self-Publishers CAN get their books onto the shelves at Barnes & Noble! Here’s how.
First, I want to state for the record, that I have nothing against a writer who chooses to publish through the traditional publishing houses. I do however, have a lot more respect for the writer who decided to self-publish. Here is why.
Seven years ago, seeing my words printed in a vanity press ignited my dream to see my book on a shelf at Barnes &Noble. I started work on Tales of the Drui and spent the next seven years learning story, grammar, characterization, plot, and a million other things to make Tales of the Drui good enough. It was a long seven years.
As I neared the end of my journey, I took up the gauntlet and began a new one. Publication. But the answers were hard to find. The sources that were there, were scattered without order across the internet. Writing the book was hard. Publication shouldn’t have to be.
I started Brain to Books to make this easier for you, for me, and for the next generation who would rise to the occasion. I wanted to be published through a big publisher. I wanted Tales of the Drui to sit on a shelf next to Tolkien and Jordan, and Sanderson. I wondered if I needed an agent. Agents said I did. So I mastered the query letter. I followed their submission guidelines and bent Kallan’s back to make her fit to their “qualifications”.
But then I wondered if I needed a publisher. Publishers said I did, but they have an invested interest. I decided, this time, to answer my own questions. I examined books by self-publishers who were locked outside of Barnes & Noble, unable to get in because agents and publishers told them that they weren’t good enough. I have a link, this link: http://www.literaryrejections.com/best-sellers-initially-rejected/
that shows how publishers and agents told bestsellers of today that they were wrong.
Meanwhile, writers — good writers — wasted months…years learning to write query letters in hopes to hire someone who may…or may not…sell their book to someone who insists the only way into Barnes & Noble was through them.
More and more writers were thrown aside. Some picked themselves up and self-published. Others didn’t even try to appease the publisher and pursued self-publishing. But at a price: they would never see their books on the shelf of a bookstore.
Publishers are claiming consumers aren’t reading large books anymore and are insisting on smaller word counts. I am an author of epic fantasy! Fat books attract my demographic! By adhering to their guidelines, I will lose my future fans. I needed answers now. Word counts are dropping. Standards are dropping. Writers are turning to Amazon, and Barnes & Noble is losing out to the eBook more than ever because self-publishing authors were either turned down by publishers or simply refused to answer to them. People are now asking, “what will become of the bookstores?” Others are writing articles insisting that the “novel is dead” like this one http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/02/will-self-novel-dead-literary-fiction
In my area, two bookstores, in the past year have closed due to an increase of internet sales caused by self-publishers who couldn’t get their books to the shelves because they were told by publishers that they couldn’t! I don’t blame the self-publisher. As far as I am concerned, they were manipulated as much as I was. I’m not saying that publishers should accept more clients. I am saying that, with an increase of sales turning to eBooks and with self-publishing on the rise, bookstores need the books of the self-publisher who is as good, if not better than the writers who publish traditionally. Should bookstores maintain their high standards? Yes! Should all writers write better? Always! We all need to better ourselves always!
But what if there was a way onto the shelves without the publishers? What if writers didn’t need publishers? Writer conferences wouldn’t be needed. How to write Query letters wouldn’t be needed. How to charm an agent wouldn’t be needed. How to fit your novel to a formula determined by the publisher wouldn’t be needed. Since when is a query letter more valued than a book!?
There is a way to the shelves without the publisher! And I found it. Like a publisher and an agent, Barnes &Noble has a submission process. The requirements?
A quality published book. Self-publishers, this means you need an editor.
A bar code
A business plan
A marketing plan
And the author who knows this option exists
There are a few other requirements and you need to look at the site for THEIR (Barnes & Noble’s)submission guidelines. Here! Have a look! Tell your friends! Tell your friend’s friends! Tell your friend’s friend’s friends! http://www.barnesandnobleinc.com/for_authors/how_to_work_with_bn/how_to_work_with_bn.html
Do you see what the link says? “For Authors! Us! How to work with BN”
And no where does it say “have your publisher contact us”!
Are you an author who has been holding out like me and have been querying agents because your ultimate dream was to see your novel on the shelves of Barnes &Noble? Well, now you can. You don’t need the publishers. You only need an editor! (And a good one!)
Are you an author who gave up that dream and pursued self-publication because someone else “didn’t think you could sell?” Well here you go! Dream big! Dream high! Touch the sky! Tell the moon I said “hello”.
I was told that writers needed publishers and strongly led to believe little else. We were charged for their books, their knowledge, their writing conferences. Don’t get me wrong writing conferences do have many benefits. But this is the information age! Knowledge should be free and Wikipedia agrees with me!
We were forced to cater to submission guidelines to appease someone we don’t even need! They insisted they knew readers better than us! Telling us what readers want as if we don’t know! Writers know what readers want! We are the readers!
While bookstores suffer from an increase in internet sales and close their doors for good, our children risk losing a world without bookstores while we battle to keep the middlemen in business. We don’t need the middlemen! We need the bookstores!
I just spent three months writing up a business plan and marketing plan to appease agents who would give that plan to a publisher who would then give that plan to Barnes & Noble. Now I know why they insisted I have a marketing plan written and ready to go!
Do the math. If bookstores buy their books at oh, say Amazon who cuts out the middlemen, that bookstore can charge you, the consumer, less and get more of a profit than if they had bought that book from the publishers who has to cover their costs to hire a full staff that you don’t even need!
It’s a good time to be an editor. Now, go get your book in the bookstores and save those bookstores!
Now that I’ve calmed down a bit, one final note. There are OTHER benefits to having a traditional publisher, such as passing the managerial side of writing over to someone else. And there ARE benefits to having an agent. I’m just very upset that this information was this hard to find. And I distinctly remember being told 3 blatant lies, yes lies, that put me at a disadvantage for their benefit.
I was told by an agent that a publisher will not purchase your book if it was self-published. Wrong! I know two authors who were offered a deal.
An agent told me that if you post/publish online a.k.a. a blog, you can not sell that book to an agent/publisher. 50 Shades of Grey proved them wrong.
And I was told by an agent that you could NOT get into Barnes & Noble without a publisher. Wrong again.