One of the biggest challenges for self-published authors is getting a book into bookstores, libraries, and in the hands of top reviewers. Traditional publishers certainly have the leg up in this area, and they’re using a service called Edelweiss. Here’s a good overview at Book Riot about what Edelweiss does. Basically, it sorts books out via buzz (reviews, professional interest), which makes it easier for booksellers and/or librarians to know which books to stock. Reviewers can request a galley. Edelweiss has a partnership with LibraryReads to get books into libraries.
Sounds great for self-publishers, doesn’t it? Alas, it’s not available for self-publishers, only traditional presses. However, IndieReader.com has a new service that will add books to the Edelweiss database. As Edelweiss only lists publishers, the workaround is for IndieReader to become your publisher of record.
Edelweiss has agreed to let IndieReader, via a new program we’re calling IndieReader In-Store (IRIS), include your books in their catalog. Basically, IR will act as your book’s publisher and distributor. Titles are posted with their IR reviews—along with the book’s genre and author’s proximity to their stores—so that bookstores can decide which books they want to stock.
The costs is $399. Not everyone is sold on this idea, however.
My first comment is about the headline on their blog announcing the service. This is how it reads: Want Your Book Sold In Independent Bookstores Nationwide? That shrieks hype! “Nationwide” is a huge—and probably ridiculous—claim. More important, it sounds like they’re going to actually sell your book to retail stores for you. Not even close. They’re offering a listing in a catalogue….
For $399, you can buy a promo on BookBub and sell a ton of ebooks instead. Or for that price you could also run a full-page ad in Suspense Magazine for four months and sell ebooks and print books. Except for on a local level, I just don’t believe bookstores will stock indie authors who haven’t already caught their attention through media coverage.
IR’s Amy Edelman answers the concerns in a comment:
First, BookBub only deals in ebooks. IRIS is about getting self-pubbed paper books into stores.
Second, the nationwide claim is correct. In fact, Edelweiss is used by booksellers internationally.
Third, Edelweiss is not just a listing. It has replaced paper catalogs, formerly used by booksellers to order books from traditional publishers.
This is one of the last frontiers of self-publishing: bookstore/library distribution of a hardback. As time goes on, hardback publishing may be less necessary, but bound books are never going to go away completely, and neither are bookstores (hopefully). At some point, a service like Edelweiss will have to consider self-publishers as actual publishers, and perhaps offer inclusion based on reviews, awards or sales.