Here’s another post in my blog series about How to Self-Publish. It’s the fifth of five on how self-pub writers can distribute their books. So far, I’ve given an overview about distribution, posted about selling eBooks (here and here) and discussed self-pubs selling print copies directly or by consignment. This post is about distributing print copies through resellers.
As I said last post, a self-published writer building a readership needs to make print copies of his book available in addition to eBooks. Many readers prefer the look and feel of hard or softcover books. And between posts, I thought of something else. Quite a few readers ask me to sign copies of my books. Hard to do that with eBooks!
When readers want to buy a print copy of a self-pub’s book, they naturally turn to resellers. They’ll buy the book online for home delivery or have bookstores order it in, assuming consigned copies aren’t on the shelves.
Self-pubs can use print-on-demand (POD) services to supply books online and through bookstores. I described how writers can add their books to these platforms in my last post on distribution. While POD services definitely solve the problem of supplying print copies, self-pub writers should understand that delivery times are longer than for best-selling traditionally published books and that prices can be higher.
I currently use IngramSpark. As a Canadian writer trying to develop a readership, it was important that print copies of The Case for Killing and False Guilt are broadly available, including through Amazon.ca. IngramSpark sells through 38,000 retailers worldwide and local bookstores can order in through Ingram. While it has a partnership with Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, IngramSpark does not guarantee distribution through Amazon.ca. However, customer support helped me maximize the chances of an intermediary picking up my books and both are on Amazon’s Canadian site.
Another POD option is CreateSpace (an Amazon company). I found it less attractive because print copies of books are only distributed through certain Amazon sites, which don’t include Amazon.ca. However, CreateSpace does offer POD services based on a sharing of royalties whenever a book is sold instead of up-front fees. In contrast, IngramSpark charges fees for carrying books on their platform, for market access (though this was waived for me) and for updates to books. Also, in a few examples I read, writers’ royalty shares from CreateSpace seemed relatively attractive.
Finally, writers will find that third-party resellers offer new and used print copies of their books on Amazon, often at lower prices. That can help build readership, but, of course, the writer only earns money from the first sale.
That’s enough about distribution. Next up in How to Self-Publish: promotion.
Copyright © 2015 Peter Fritze
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