Once you have written your book, had it edited and proofread, designed a cover and interior and gone through all the other requirements to self-publish, you have nearly done all that you need to! There are still a few things to consider before you actually release it for sale though, one of which is how you will handle distribution of your book to your readers. For obvious reasons, this is definitely something to think about and organise fairly early on in the self-publishing process!
There are two separate parts of distribution – the method for ebooks and the method for print books, unless you are only publishing as one or the other. These two formats, ebook and print, are handled in quite different ways as a self-publishing author, so you will need to consider your strategy for each.
In addition, distribution for print books will be very different if you are using print-on-demand services rather than having a traditional print run of a number of copies which are all stored by you. Print-on-demand services will take care of at least some of the distribution for you, whereas you will have to deal with it all if you have a full print run.
However, this blog will be focusing on distribution options and methods for ebooks. Before you start, you should already have your ebook files ready in either EPUB or MOBI format. These should be suitable for publication, meaning that you are happy with the formatting and how it appears on the page for the reader. If you aren’t confident doing this yourself, you can hire a professional formatter to do this part for you, which should ensure your book looks professional and polished for publication.
Once your files are ready, there are two basic options to consider with ebooks – dealing directly with each individual online retailer or working through an ebook distribution service to reach the individual retailers on your behalf. There are pros and cons to each of these options, which we will now look at in more detail.
Dealing Directly with Online Retailers
One of the advantages of dealing with each online retailer is that you retain more control over the process. You can decide exactly who you want to sell your book with, even vendors that may not be listed with the distribution services. This can give a better range, although most of the major vendors will be available with a distribution service.
However, dealing directly with online retailers means that you can vary the price of your book across platforms if you would like to. If you use a distribution service, you can usually only set one price which will then be applied to all vendors. This could affect your profits and give you less opportunity to experiment and find the optimum selling price on each individual platform.
You should also see higher profits per book if you are dealing directly with vendors. If you use a distribution service, they will take a percentage of the price each book is sold for, as well the retailer itself taking a cut. Obviously, this means that there is less left over for you!
Using an Ebook Distribution Service
An advantage of using a distribution service is that all of your sales can be managed from one place, making it much easier for you to deal with. You simply upload your book, description, title, any search terms you want to apply and the sales categories. From there, you are pretty much ready to go! You probably won’t even need a cover image, although you may decide to have one anyway, which can then be resized as necessary.
There is also no need to worry too much about formatting your book, as long as you have left it clear when new chapters begin (for example, with bold or underlined text) and kept this method consistent throughout the document. Distributors like Draft2Digital will then use this to create chapter breaks and a table of contents. They can also make a title and copyright page, so this is a good option if you don’t have much time or money to spend on formatting.
Another advantage of using an ebook distribution service is that there is rarely any upfront fee. Instead, distributors take a percentage of your sales to cover their costs. Of course, this will reduce your profits, but you may decide that this is worth it to you. It also means that you only pay according to sales, reducing the risk if you don’t sell many copies.
In addition, using an ebook distribution service gives you access to markets you might not have had otherwise, for example, libraries. This gives you more publicity and increases the chance that readers may decide to buy your book, especially if you have written others that they may be encouraged to read.
There is no reason not to try both of the methods discussed above, as distributors very rarely require exclusivity. Therefore, you may choose to work directly with platforms where you are expecting the most sales but use a distribution service to work with other platforms. This means that you maximise profits from the online retailers with higher sales while making it easier to deal with retailers where you aren’t expecting sales to be as high. Ebook distribution services may also offer marketing tools and tips, so you would still have access to these.
What method you choose is entirely up to you and will depend on what suits you and your book. Whatever you decide on, good luck and do stop by in two weeks to read about how to distribute your print book!
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