How To Get Your Book Stocked in Waterstones

How To Get Your Book Stocked in Waterstones

In this video I will teach you the fastest and most efficient way for any UK-based author or self-publisher to get their book stocked and on sale in Waterstones High Street stores.

Follow the advice within the video and also use the following notes as a guide:

STEP 1 – Get yourself and your book registered as a publisher with Nielsen

Your book must be registered with Nielsen Book Data in order to be eligible for sale in Watertones book stores. If it is not, Waterstones will not entertain your or your book.

Get your book stocked with NielsenYou can register as a publisher with Nielse, and also get your ISBN’s at the same time, by following the link in STEP 2:

STEP 2 – Purchase an ISBN for your book(s)

An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number which is a 13-digit unique number for your book(s). Basically, the ISBN and the bar code will go on the rear cover of the book, usually in the bottom right hand corner.

You can get registered as a publisher with Nielsen, and get your ISBN’s at the same time, by going to the following website:

You need to buy a minimum of 10 ISBN’s from Nielsen as they will not sell them as individual items. The current prices for you to buy ISBN’s can be found in the following table:

ISBN Numbers from Nielsen

Once you have purchased your ISBN numbers make sure you only allocate one per book. Never use an ISBN more than once.

You will also need to create a BAR CODE for your book. As I said in the video, there are companies out there who will charge you for this service, but there really is no need. SImply download the free bar code generator tool at the following page:

Free Bar Code Generator Software

Once you have created your bar code using your allocated 13 digit ISBN you will need to attached it to the rear cover of your book. You can get your book cover designer to do this for you.

STEP 3 – Apply for an account with Gardners books in Eastbourne

In order to get your book stocked with Waterstones stores you will need to have a UK-based distributor. The best one to use, in my opinion, is Gardners books. I have always found them to be very helpful and efficient. In addition to meeting their criteria for being registered with Nielsen and also having your own ISBN, you will need to also have a UK source for your books and also have them pre-printed, ready for sending off to Gardners.

UK Source

For stock titles, you must have a UK sales and marketing activity, with stock available from a UK location. As I mentioned in my video, I started out from my back-bedroom and sent Gardners the books myself using my preferred courier,


If your title/s do meet the above criteria you now need to send a sample copy direct to Gardners for review, together with a catalogue (for multiple titles, if applicable), to the following address, ensuring that they are clearly labelled as SAMPLES.

Please note: Gardners cannot return samples or acknowledge receipt.

FAO Buyers New Publishers, Buying Office, Gardners Books, 1 Whittle Drive, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN23 6QH.

As I state in the training video, make sure you send any back-up information that will help you to sell the books to Gardners. For example, when I sent away my books I included details of previous sales to date.

What happens next?

You, the publisher, will be contacted if Gardners decide to stock the books.

Where it is agreed to stock books, Gardners will then discuss commercial terms with the publisher.

Almost without exception, books from new publisher relationships will be taken into stock on a consignment basis (i.e. we hold stock and pay monthly on sales achieved).

Other commercial terms (e.g. discount levels) will also be agreed. My advice is to offer them 60% discount as this will allow them to sell the books more effectively to Waterstones.



To do this please contact the Independent Publisher Coordinator by email [email protected] and ask for a Waterstones Trade Application form.

If you click the link below it will download the form for you in PDF format. If the link is not working please contact me to let me know.

Waterstones Trading Application form

Finally, you will need to promote your book direct to Waterstones yourself. Do not automatically assume that Gardners will promote your book to Waterstones. It is up to you as a publisher to promote it. My advice is to create Advanced Trade Information sheets for your book(s) and then send them off to your chosen Waterstones stores along with an accompanying copy of your book.

You can learn more about how I can help you further get your book(s) into Waterstones by watching my training videos and guide HERE



19 thoughts on “How To Get Your Book Stocked in Waterstones

  1. The link to the Waterstones Trading Application form is broken as the page no longer exists. Do you have an alternative link or somewhere that I can obtain the form?

  2. I have just come across your site. I have done everything that you say but I only get an order from Gardners for one book at a time! I suppose I should be grateful because it is one every other day and though the book is selling well on Amazon and Kindle I can’t get Waterstones to put it on their shelves as they say it has to go through Gardners!

  3. My books are printed through Createspace. As they are printed in the US what are my options to progress to Waterstones?

    many thanks

  4. I have managed all the way to step 4 without help
    Rather hoped there might be something about filling in the actual form.
    Most of it is obvious, but the “Returns Agreement” question leaves me stumped.
    What do they want to know? Surely new publishers like me would accept a standard form of policy?

  5. Well what a thoroughly decent, helpful, site. Thank you.
    I am self publishing my book via Troubador. They have allocated an ISBN number and are going to hold stock and distribute for me, though I have direct marketing and sales from my own website. Please could you advise.. Do I still need to have stock held at Gardners for Waterstones to find my book viable?
    I am finding the self publishing thing a bit of a challenge, but I find site like this and the efforts that you have made, of great use and inspiring, so thank you very much for doing that which you have,

  6. Hi Richard

    Are you able to advise on typical commission tariff costs from bookstore (such as Waterstones) to take an independently published book? It would sit under the gift / children / adult humour / poetry headings

  7. HI, I have tried to download the link to get the waterstone application form and it doesn’t seem to be working.

  8. I have self published my true life story through author house I now have to promote to book stores it has all isbn number’s and copyright it’s called reenactment of a killer and serial rapist by Helen stockford if you Google helen stockford you will see my campaign which has been very popular as I am a voice for victims and have made one law change and through my book I’m hoping to make more changes and awareness please can you advise me on how to promote through Waterstone

  9. How very kind of you to provide this information. Waterstones are interested in my self-published books, and I must now try to set up an account with Gardners. I appear to have an account with them, only because independent bookshops are asking for copies of my books, but they have never stocked them. Fingers crossed.
    Kind regards, Carole

  10. Does it have to be an isbn number purchased from Nielson, my publisher has offered a free isbn suitable for both online and shops?

  11. Hi I have recently self published with Authorhouse. I would very much like to stock my book in waterstones. there has been some marketing, google, amazon etc. how do I get a distributor?

  12. That’s great information, thank you!
    It’s really interesting information about that 60% commission. My book sells for £9.99 and costs £3.53 to print.
    If I gave 60% I’d only make 47p a book. Is this realistic?
    Really interested in learning more!
    Thank you again!

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