How to get your self-published book stocked at Jarrold


Information for self-published authors

How do you get your independently published book onto the shelves of the Jarrolds book department? To make the process as straightforward as possible here’s a summary from our perspective of what, ideally, you need to do.

Contacting Jarrolds

  • Please email us details of the book (see below for a summary of the information to include). This gives us a chance to think about your proposal and, if necessary, discuss it with colleagues.
  • Please try not to visit unannounced to show us a copy of the book (it’s a bit like someone knocking on your front door trying to sell you a product: you might be doing something else, perhaps urgent or important and so have little inclination to want to stop and focus on someone’s sales pitch). It’s beneficial instead to email ahead so that, if a meeting is appropriate, we can arrange an appointment around the departmental diary.
  • Please try to avoid contacting us during the two busiest months of the year, November and December, as we’re definitely not looking to add titles to the range then. At those times we stop seeing publishers and concentrate entirely on selling books to customers in the pre-Christmas rush.
  • Please bear in mind that we are approached virtually every day of the week by authors with self-published books. We can’t stock them all. The stronger and more complete your submission, the likelier it is we will take notice of the book
  • Signing sessions tend not to work unless the author is already well-known. Rather than proposing one it’s much better to put your efforts into promoting the book via local media
  • Think about how you will market and promote your book via local and regional media to persuade people to buy it from Jarrolds. Tell us your plans   
  • Books with a local connection – by which we mean subject matter, rather than simply that you live in the region – tend to have stronger commercial potential than those that don’t
  • In terms of commercial potential, no hard and fast rules, of course, but experience suggests:
    • Books about the region – local history and heritage subjects – are likely to have the strongest commercial potential
    • Memoirs tend to sell less strongly, but there is strong potential for the right book
    • Fiction is a very difficult area, because of the huge number of titles published
    • Short stories are even harder to sell than novels
    • Poetry has almost no commercial potential  
  • Be competitive regarding the retail pricing of your book. For instance, if you’re publishing fiction a standard paperback novel tends to be priced at £7.99 or £8.99. Your novel should therefore probably be the same or less
  • If we were going down the self-publishing route we might well use Amazon ourselves. However, it’s not a particularly good idea to tell an independent bookseller in excessive detail that this is what you’ve done, or send a link to the Amazon page of the book when introducing it. Most independent booksellers see Amazon as their most significant competitor and, with the benefit of paying virtually no taxes helping to underpin its commercial offer, as being responsible for the demise of hundreds of high street retailers over the past few years. If you’ve used Amazon to publish your book it doesn’t mean we won’t stock it, but frankly we’d rather you supported alternative channels to market
  • Ideally, tell us about your book before it’s published. If you tell us months, or even years later, when it has already been selling through other channels, we’re likely to conclude that wanting to have your book stocked in a bookshop is an afterthought rather than part of your publishing plan
  • Ideally, get your book stocked by Gardners or Bertrams, the two main book trade wholesalers, at a standard trade discount. This simplifies our ordering of your book and increases significantly your chance of being stocked by us

There are about seven million books in print in the UK. We stock about 30,000 of them. We therefore have to be very selective. The kind of thought process we go through includes:

  • Our market: we try to understand what our customers like to read, what genres sell well and we tailor our stock around that. If a book is on a topic we feel will be of interest to our customers we are much more likely to want to stock it
  • Our personal tastes: we stock books we love, so we can be genuinely enthusiastic about them with our customers 
  • 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
  • Marketing and promotional activity: we look at what sort of promotion the book will be getting and whether that’s likely to drive customers into Jarrolds to buy it
  • Format and design: does it look and feel right?
  • The retail price of the book: is it competitive, or at least appropriate?
  • The publisher: if you’re self-published you need to be responsible for a lot of elements of the publishing process a conventional publisher picks up. These may include editorial and proofing, typesetting, cover design, warehousing and distribution, marketing and promotion. The more you can convince us you’re on top of those processes the more likely we are to want to stock the book
  • If Jarrolds agrees to stock the book you will send us the agreed number of copies of the book, along with a delivery note confirming the quantity, terms of supply, etc. 
  • If Jarrolds agrees to stock the book it will be on a sale-or-return basis. In other words, we will display the book and, if it sells, you then begin to invoice us for stock sold and we may order more copies as appropriate
  • When we confirm that sales have taken place and that you can invoice us you should then send an invoice (which can be an electronic document attached to an email) invoicing us, at the discount terms already agreed, for copies sold 
  • When you invoice us our payment terms are ‘thirty days from nearest month end to date of invoice’. In other words, our finance department undertakes a payment ‘run’ just after each financial month end, paying invoices received in the period before the month just ended
  • There’s no formality about the process of telling you whether books have sold: we stock so many different books it would be impossible to do this for all of them. Rest assured, if a book is selling we are likely to be in touch with you quickly to order more. You’re welcome to contact us to check sales, but please resist the temptation to do this every day 
  • There is also no formality about deciding how long we will keep a sale-or-return book on the shelf, but we will give it a minimum of three months to see what happens

Ready to send us your submission?



Back to top