Newbie authors often don’t understand that distribution is a part of marketing. If your book isn’t available for purchase, nobody will be able to buy it. There are expanded distribution deals offered by places like Amazon, and Author Solutions but they’re often crap.
The sad reality is that most major book distributors won’t touch a self-published book, because most retail stores won’t touch a self-published book. It’s all due to returns, if you don’t offer a return policy on your book, stores won’t bother. This is where the big publishers have us beat. They can afford to take books back or even pay to have them destroyed, most indies can’t. However, if you’re willing to risk negotiating this sort of deal with a store, understand what you’re getting into. Many indies have been burned and gotten books returned to them that were used and worn out. One author online claimed she got a book back with coffee stains on it!
For those of you who don’t know, IngramSpark, a subsidiary of Ingram Content Group, (one of the biggest book distributors in the world.) is a POD service but unlike Amazon, they offer returns, to their business partners (bookstores). This makes IS a darling to bookstores especially, smaller independent ones who can’t afford to warehouse books on their shelves indefinitely.
You’ll Have to Convince Stores to Buy
If you want to see your books in Barnes & Noble or your local bookstore, then you will have to pitch them. Just because your book is in a retailer’s database and available nationwide, doesn’t mean stores and libraries will buy it. They won’t know that your book is available unless someone tells them and since you are the PR person for your book, that will have to be you.
That means creating a possible script, and practicing your sales pitch until you have it perfected.
Now, if you’re terrified of talking to strangers, then hire a book shepherd or a salesperson to get your books into stores. As a small business, you can offer them a commission or flat fee for every book sold. Here’s a list of people who can help you sell your book to stores.
Despite what you may believe, you’ll have to price your book competitively just to make money. There is a reason why many bestsellers are priced at $20+ and it’s not because some big named author wrote it. It’s because there are so many people taking a cut of the profits and the publisher needs to get the most from the initial marketing push.
It’s quite simple if your book is popular, then more people will want it. This is why it’s called expanded distribution, if you’re lucky enough to become the next literary sensation then, your books may warrant wider distribution but most newbie authors would be better off just sticking to the basic distribution and work up to wider distribution later.
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