Independent Authors? Top Tips from David Faulds

How to Get Your Book onto Our Shelves: A Quick Guide for Independent Authors  by David Faulds  @fauldsd

So you’ve written your novel. After weeks, months, years, of writing it’s finally finished, you have your novel printed and you’re ready to share it with readers. But how do you get your independently published novel onto the shelves of Dulwich Books? Or any bookshop for that matter?

Well, to make this process easier we have created a quick guide to help you on your way…

How to contact our Booksellers

  • Ideally we would like to be emailed, it gives us time to think about your proposal, it gives us time to chat to our colleagues, and it gives the opportunity to deal with the request within our normal day.
  • Please don’t visit unannounced, it’s beneficial instead to emMark Thomas talkingail ahead so we can arrange an appointment with the appropriate buyer at a time that works with the shop diary.

What Booksellers need to know

To help us make our decision you should include the following information on your proposal:

  • A quick synopsis of the book, two or three sentences is perfect.
  • A couple of lines about who you are.
  • The sales details:
    • How much your book retails for.
    • How much you are selling it to bookshops for. A discount no less than 40% should be offered.
    • The format (Paperback/ Hardback) however always with a spine & a 13 digit ISBN.
    • Returns information (all stock should sale or return as standard).
    • Think about payment terms and the length of time the bookshop should have the stock for sale.
  • A few sample pages for us to have a read of.
  • Tell us why did you wrote the book. underground storyteller
  • Who are the competitor authors in your eyes, in which section should we display the book.
  • A jpg of the jacket.
  • If the book has any local ties, is it set in our area? Did you go to school round the corner?


  • Be competitive regarding the pricing of your book, a standard paperback is around £8.99 yours should aim to be the same or less.
  • Look at the production quality, a well presented finished product speaks volumes, below are examples of a plain paperback that will disappear in the shelves and a well finished product that is more likely to catch the eye. Self Published Book Jacket
  • Pick your time of year carefully, the majority of new writers are launched in the beginning of year, if you release too close to Christmas your book will get lost on the shelves, if you come in February or March time we have the space to display your book where it has a better chance of selling.
  • Never ever send an Amazon link in your proposal to a high street bookshop.
  • Think about how you might promote your book and direct people to the bookshop for sales. We send our sales information to Nielsen/Book Scan so if we sell a lot of copies your book will get noticed around the book industry.
  • What will be your marketing & publicity plan for the book if we take stock to generate interest.
  • Supply: get your book stocked by Gardners or Bertrams, at a standard trade discount, with returns. This simplifies our ordering/reordering of your book and increases your chance of being stocked by us tenfold

How Dulwich Books picks books to stock  

Dulwich Books Interior 1Our small bookshop holds a maximum of 6000 books including multiple copies of bestsellers and event stock. We pick most of our stock through meeting with publisher sales reps, the ones we see cover around 130-150 different publishers (this figure doesn’t include imprints of bigger publishing houses such as Harper Collins). We also work from catalogues and on average are sent 100 proof copies for review a month.

Our thought process before deciding to stock a book:

  • Our market: we understand what our customers like to read and what genres sell well, we tailor our stock around that (we also try and find the books they didn’t know they liked).
  • Our tastes: if we read and love a book you can be sure we’re going to be telling our customers about it.
  • The subject: if a book is on a topic that we feel will be of interest to our customers then that is a huge swaying factor for us.
  • The author: if we know their work and their track record we can make a judgement on how well we think the book will sell for us.
  • Marketing: we look at what sort of promotion the book will be getting (is there already a buzz around it?).
  • Format and price: this is a major selling point for us; it’s not unusual for us to wait for a paperback to come out before taking a chance on a title.
  • Design: as with the format we look at the jacket, sometimes a stunning cover can be the swaying point between us taking a book or not.

One thing to remember is please don’t be disheartened if we say ‘no’ to your book. What works for some bookshops doesn’t work for others, what sells huge numbers in say the Edinburgh Bookshop might not sell here and vice versa. That’s the beauty of high street bookshops they’re all different.

By David Faulds

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