So, you’ve finished writing your book, had it edited, had it proofread, designed a cover and formatted it. It’s all set to go on sale! However, there’s still one thing left to consider – how is it getting to your readers? In reality, you’ll probably be considering this a lot earlier on in the process, but one thing’s for sure – you need a distribution method decided on and ready to go at the same time as sales start! This will ensure you don’t have to panic trying to sort it all out at the last minute.
If you are having both an ebook and a print book, you will need to have two different methods of distribution, one for each. As a self-publishing author, you will have to decide on and be in charge of strategies for both, so make sure you pick a method that suits you. This blog will focus on some of the ways to distribute a print book, but if you will be publishing an ebook, you can read more about strategies for this in my blog here.
If you are self-publishing a print book, there are two very different methods depending on how you will be having it printed. If you are using a print-on-demand service, the printer may take care of the actual distribution for you by sending them directly to the buyer after printing. A complication of this is that it is much harder to get your book sold in traditional bookstores, so if you want to do this, it is probably better to have a full print run.
If you use the traditional offset method of printing and have a whole print run, you will have all of the copies at once and need to deal with both storage and distribution. A disadvantage of this is that you have to have a certain number of copies at once, so you will need to have a good idea of how many you will sell, otherwise, you can end up with a lot of copies left over or not be able to meet demand.
How to Distribute Print-On-Demand Books
This can be very simple; it will depend on what print-on-demand service you are using. Some of them will handle distribution for you (for a fee!) but this may be limited or unavailable for some places. In the UK, the main book wholesaler is Gardners, so check that your print-on-demand choice distributes to them.
One option for print-on-demand is Amazon KDP which is based in the US. However, any books sold on Amazon’s UK site will be printed in the UK or Europe, but currently, any copies you order for yourself will be printed in the US. As you can imagine, this means there are rather long wait times for delivery! Nevertheless, one major advantage of Amazon KDP is that there are no upfront costs or fees for making changes if you find a mistake in your book. Note that Amazon KDP is the new trading name of CreateSpace, which merged with Amazon in September 2018.
Another option is Ingram Spark, which is again based in the US but, like Amazon KDP, offers UK distribution. Ingram Spark has a UK branch, meaning that it allows pricing in pounds and will print copies you order for yourself in the UK. It also has a UK phone number for support.
Currently, Ingram Spark charges slightly more than Amazon KDP per copy and does not allow free changes; you have to pay a fee to correct any errors. This can be inconvenient if you spot mistakes after the book has been uploaded to their system. There are also some upfront costs with Ingram Spark, so this choice may depend on what your budget is.
You could also consider combining the different methods available, as the companies do not usually require exclusivity. For example, you may decide to use Amazon KDP to distribute your books on Amazon but use Ingram Spark for other places, such as distribution to bookstores. Remember that you will need your own ISBN for this, as free ones supplied by print-on-demand companies will not be transferable to other companies.
How to Distribute Offset Printed Books
Of course, if you have a run of offset printed books, distribution will need to be handled very differently. There are a few options you can consider and what is best for you will obviously depend on your situation.
One option is to handle distribution yourself. This will require you to have a lot of space in your house, garage or similar to store all the copies! You will also need to be happy to despatch all of the books yourself, as often as necessary. If you do choose this method, remember to store your books in a suitable environment where they will stay in good condition.
Something that may help with this is to use Amazon Advantage, for which you have to pay a subscription and offer your book at a discounted price on Amazon. You also still have to pay shipping on the books.
Another method is to pay for a distribution company to do it for you. You simply send them the orders and they will despatch it. You may have to pay for storage separately and this can be quite an expensive option, but it does mean that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Make sure you choose a reputable company though – you could ask for recommendations from other self-published authors.
This concludes my series on book distribution. I hope that it has helped you choose how to deal with your book and that you know more about the options now. In my next self-publishing blog, we will be looking at how to prepare your manuscript for an editor, so do come back in two weeks if you want to read that. Good luck with your book!
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