Self-publishing in the book trade

Self-publishing in the book trade - How to get your own book in the shop window

Your own book is available in the bookstore around the corner or even at a large chain store - this is not only a dream come true, but also increases the sales opportunities enormously. However, many self-publishing services do not allow you to achieve this goal. How does your book get a chance to be included in booksellers' assortments?

How do books get into bookstores?

The bookstores create their assortment from the publishers' offerings. Many have a broad range, some specialise in specialist books or topics such as children's books. As a rule, bookshops reassemble their range of titles every six months in spring and autumn. The basis for this is formed by the publisher previews published twice a year and the visits of the publishers' representatives, who present new titles.

Where do the booksellers order from?

Booksellers purchase the majority of their product range, around 77 per cent, directly from publishers. The remaining 23 per cent is supplied by the bar assortments, i.e. book wholesalers. These are individual books that bookstores order specifically at the request and order of customers. Titles from self-publishing also reach the book trade in this way.

What does a bookseller earn from book sales?

Bookshops cannot set the prices of their products themselves, because in Germany the Book price fixing. As independent entrepreneurs, they buy books on their own account from publishers and sell them at fixed retail prices. Publishers grant a discount of usually 42 percent of the retail price. The bookseller finances his business, staff costs and rent from this margin. Large chain stores or book communities and book clubs also demand advertising subsidies in the form of money or free goods for advertising purposes. If the required trade margin together with the advertising allowance is not granted, the publisher in question has no chance of being included in the range.

Why do self-publishing titles have a hard time getting into bookstores?

Unlike publishers' titles, self-publishing titles are in the vast majority of cases not presented by publishers' representatives in bookshops. Most self-publishing service providers do not afford representatives - the main focus is rather on offering book publishing at a low price for authors and providing an attractive author fee per copy sold. Being represented in the book trade via self-publishing requires choosing the right self-publishing service provider.

Self-publishing in the book trade: no title order without a publisher's agent

If booksellers want to include a self-publishing title in their range, they would have to specifically search for it in the wholesalers' directories. Not only is there no time for that, there is also no good reason. To stock their crime fiction range, for example, booksellers can call on numerous fiction publishers with countless Thrillers fall back on. Additionally searching for self-publishing titles is not necessary. Booksellers don't find out about new releases - unless a representative presents them there.

Self-publishing in the book trade: important right of return

Most Self-publishing service provider do not grant booksellers the right of return as publishers do. The right of return allows booksellers to return unsold copies. This means there is no risk of being stuck with the books. Nor do most self-publishing providers give the discounts they receive from publishers. Among the major German-language service providers, they are only 25 to 30 percent. This is because self-publishing providers want to offer their authors the prospect of a high fee. However, this is of little use if the book is not included in a bookshop's range. Because as before most books in Germany are sold through traditional bookstores (and not through online shops).

While a paperback of 12.99 euros at a discount of 45 percent finally yields a total of 5.85 euros, the earnings for the bookseller at 30 percent are only 3.64 euros - from which the shipping costs still have to be deducted. So it is relatively unlikely that a bookseller will decide to buy a self-publishing title under these conditions. The conditions are decisive for being represented in the book trade with a self-publishing title.

Exploiting the full potential for self-publishing in the book trade

With discounts of between 40 and 50 percent and a right of return on all books, tredition offers attractive conditions for booksellers. This increases the chance that bookshops will include self-publishing titles in their range. Although this reduces the commission per unit, it does increase the likelihood of selling more copies.

Marketing and distribution services for authors and the book trade

The fact that bookstores take notice of a new release are targeted Marketing measures and press relations are necessary. Many self-publishing service providers do not offer such services at all or at an additional cost. At tredition there are many services, which are included with the publication. Among other things, authors receive a digital press kit for their own book promotion. Authors can also post regular publicity and updates about their books on their own author page.

With a publication via tredition, you can be represented in the book trade with self-publishing. Nevertheless, you should be active yourself. For example, you can gain readers via social media or your own website.

Example calculation: Sale of a title from self-publishing in bookstores

Attractive conditions can give self-publishing titles the same opportunities in the book trade as publishing titles. Booksellers purchase 77 percent of their assortment directly from publishers with corresponding discounts. If a self-publishing service provider offers no or only a small discount and the titles are therefore only ordered via the cash ranges, they only exploit 23 per cent of the potential. If a self-publishing title were to exploit its full potential thanks to attractive trade margins, the book could sell more than four times as many copies. Instead of 100 copies, 435 copies could be sold.



Other self-publishing service provider

Selling price

12,99 Euro

12,99 Euro

Author's fee

1,94 Euro

2,66 Euro

Potential to be sold in bookstores

100 %

23 %

Author's fee taking into account the sales opportunity in the book trade

1,94 Euro

0,61 Euro (2,66 * 0,23)

-> almost 70 % less than at tredition

Number of copies sold, taking into account the sales opportunity in the book trade



Turnover for the author

844 Euro

266 Euro


A high author fee, with which many self-publishing service providers advertise, does not automatically mean high earnings. It is important to compare the corresponding providers and not just rely on a high unit commission. Besides an appealing covertargeted marketing measures and a good book findability in the book trade is decisive for sales.


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