Seeing your work in a bookshop is fulfilling for any author. Knowing how to get them onto shelves of local, independent shops is much easier than the more well-known high street stores.
Independents are vital for indies and should never be discounted, but deep down, all authors have a Holy Grail.
Stores such as Waterstones are much harder to crack. It is time-consuming but possible and after my recent success, I have written a two-part 'How To' guide for all those of you out there who are unsure where to start.
It's not easy, and it takes patience and time, and sometimes you will feel like you're on a never-ending roller coaster, but your wonderful book can make it into a major store, so read on.
How to get YOUR book into Waterstones
You've got your paperback in your hands. CreateSpace has done an excellent job. The layout and cover look fantastic. You've had great feedback, and you're ready to pop along to your local Waterstones to negotiate them stocking it. That's fair, and it's certainly what you have to do.
There's only one problem.
In the UK, CreateSpace ISBN's are not recognised as it is an American company. You can ask Waterstones to stock it, but unless you're fortunate, they will reject it.
It's enough to make you scream because you've poured over your book for weeks and months making sure everything is right.
Amazon sales have been high, and you've probably told everybody your book will be in Waterstones once you've dropped by the store. Now you feel like sticking a bag over your head to try to keep the questions in as to what else you could have done to get them to stock it.
This is where your road on how to get your book stocked starts.
BUY ISBN NUMBERS FROM NIELSEN
To sell your book in any major bookstore in the UK, you will need to have a UK ISBN, and you can buy these from the Nielsen ISBN Store. There are four buying options:
- 1 ISBN for £89
- 10 ISBNs for £149
- 100 ISBNs for £349
- 1000 ISBNs for £949
I don't know about you, but the last two are out of my price range, so I opted for option 2. Yes, it was a big hit in the pocket for a month, but it got me a few books worth to be getting on with.
Note. You cannot use the same ISBN for your paperback and eBook versions. You have to assign different ones. You must assign a UK ISBN to an eBook if you don't want to.
This is where things start to get frustrating. You will not receive the ISBN's straight away. You may have to wait up to two weeks to receive them. They will ask you for the names of any books you would like to assign them to, so when you do receive them, the first few will already be set to your chosen books.
However, in the meantime, make sure you sign up to Nielsen Title Editor. This can take up to six weeks to become active, so at this point, there will be a lot of waiting around. However, Title Editor makes your book visible to outlets and libraries in over one hundred countries.
RECREATE YOUR BOOK IN CREATESPACE
You've received your ISBNs, so how to assign them?
Here lies a new problem. You cannot assign it to your current book on CreateSpace. You have to recreate your book again. Luckily, you should have your book content and cover saved, so just upload everything and assign your ISBN in the setup screen marked below.
It will ask for a 13 Digit and a 10 Digit ISBN. You'll have them both so input these where suggested. You can assign one to your eBook version on Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing. I would recommend you do as this makes it easier to sell your eBook through stores that support eBook purchases.
Once you have done this, you will have two books on Amazon. It's up to you at this point if you keep both. I decided that I wanted only my UK ISBN copy available.
Your book has a Unique ID, which you can find next to your book on CreateSpace. Make sure you give them this so that they can put a stop on the correct one. The only way that your new UK ISBN book will show up first on Amazon searches is when it overtakes the old one in sales, which is impossible as your new one will always fall on a secondary page.
Once retired it will take a few days for it to disappear, and on CreateSpace, it should show up like mine below:
You're finished with CreateSpace now. Phew.
I hope you've not been put off because there is still much to do.
Note: Technically you don't have to recreate your book for Amazon. I did because I wanted my books and the ISBN to match across the board. Personally, I would, but it is entirely up to the individual.
CREATE YOUR BOOK IN NIELSEN TITLE EDITOR
Yep, more recreating. Steps Three and Four can be done together, to save time, so remember to read them both thoroughly before submitting your book to Nielsen. Once they have approved you, which, as mentioned earlier, can take up to six weeks, you can start to recreate your book.
Nielsen Title Editor has a plethora of options, and you can drill down into getting your book listed where you want it. You can use the 'Easy Add Book' option, but I opted for the 'Detailed.' This, of course, is entirely up to you.
If you need to make changes then you have to e-mail them, but they provide constant e-mail links throughout the website, so don't worry. You have to wait for them to make any amendments you ask for so there can be delays of a day or two.
To save time ensure that you have everything exactly how you want it before submitting it to them and remember to include Step Four when submitting your UK Distributor.
SET UP A UK BASED PRINTER & RECREATE YOUR BOOK AGAIN!
You're not far off contacting Waterstones now. Hang in there!
However, they still won't accept your book for consideration unless they can print your book from a UK-based print site. There are a lot of them out there. I use IngramSpark, but have a look around online and see if there are others better suited to you.
And as you will see from the headline, you have to recreate your book a third time!
Yes, just like with CreateSpace and Nielsen Title Editor, you have to do everything all over again, but this is the last time, so there is light at the end of the recreation tunnel!
Luckily you still have everything saved, so it's just a matter of uploading and making sure you choose all the same margin and book sizes. The only issues you may find are cover sizes. Each site may ask for something slightly different, but it's just a case of saving multiple covers and amending the dimensions.
I can only vouch for Ingram, who were magnificent, but other sites may be easier, or trickier.
This can be included when submitting your book to Nielsen Title Editor.
It's almost time to contact Waterstones, but not yet. So near, but yet so far.