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A wholesale book distributor is different from a distributor because a wholesaler buys your book, while a distributor has it on consignment. With a distributor, unsold books can be returned and you may have to wait three months to be paid for any copies sold. Wholesalers will expect a substantial discount off the cover price of your book and will want to be convinced that you have a sound marketing plan to help promote the book. Some of the major wholesale book distributors are: Baker and Taylor, Ingram, Quality Books and Bookpeople.
Book distribution is not the same as marketing. Even if you have arranged to get your book into bookstores, you still need to promote it so that people will actually buy the book. Many people buy the author rather than the book, so it is important to build up a profile through such tools as:
Book distribution services are ideal for self-publishers who are publishing large quantities of books but do not have storage facilities. Book distributors will store the books for you and will distribute them when orders are made. This also means that you do not have to concentrate on filling orders but can concentrate on marketing and promotion instead. It is also useful to use book distribution services if you live in a different country from the area where you plan to make your sales. Distribution services are also useful to get your books into the hands of retailers, many of whom will not deal with individuals.
Self publishers have several options for book distribution. They can use printing companies with a fulfillment service, who will send out your books as orders are made. Other options are stand-alone fulfillment companies to do the same thing or using a large distributor's warehouse. Many large distributors have requirements about the number of titles a publisher must have before dealing with them.
You should choose a book distribution service the same way you would choose any other service - based on reputation, testimonials and recommendations. This means checking around with printers to see which services they have found to be efficient, effective and economical.
If you want to distribute your book locally, it is best to approach local groups that fit within your target market. For example, you could make your self-published novel available to local reading groups at a discount. This will help with building book sales through word of mouth. You can also consider offering to speak at local events related to the subject of your book. This will create a word of mouth campaign that will help you to sell and distribute your book locally.
Getting listed on Amazon is a key part of book distribution. In order to get your book listed on Amazon, you will need an ISBN and a bar code. You'll also need to sign up for one of their publisher programs, such as Advantage. Amazon usually requires two copies (or an electronic copy) and a digital photograph of the cover. Another way of getting your book onto Amazon is to make use of the 'search inside' program. This will allow people to see excerpts of your book based on the search keywords they use. You can also consider registering as an Amazon Associate to increase your share of the cover price of any of your books sold by this method.
Self publishing companies offer a wide variety of distribution services. These can include:
Distributing your books through airports allows you to reach both local and national markets. Many airports stock books by local authors and books about particular countries and regions that are destinations for flights leaving the airport. In order to be sold in an airport your book needs an ISBN and barcode. To start the process of getting your book into airport bookstores, send a copy of your book, with reviews and sales history to the book distributors. You should also include a marketing plan and your terms of sale.
If you want a great book marketing tip, try fundraising sales. Not all non-profit groups require free donations. Many will have special events where they ask local vendors to participate and give a percentage of their sales to the non-profit or charity.
*Fundraising sales events are often very popular with buyers because they know their money is going to a good cause.
Have you tried using a book wholesaler? Maybe you should. Ingram is one of the largest book wholesalers in the country. There are only two ways to get your book into Ingram:
Want a great book marketing tip? Seek out gift stores in hospitals, colleges and universities, small card outlets, mom and pop stores, theme parks, restaurants, museums, and other tourist attractions. Your self published book may be sold through the book trade and through the gift trade.
*Most of the 150,000 gift stores in the US are mom-and-pop independents. The challenge is to get your book into these unrelated outlets.
What's another good marketing tip for today's book sales? Borders will not buy your POD book from Ingram. If a person asks for your Ingram POD title, Borders will more than likely tell customers your self published book does not even exist. In reality, they don't want to buy POD or non-returnable books.
* It's a good idea to consider other book marketing strategies as well.
One book marketing idea to think about: Most self publishers dream of getting a book order for a carton of books at every Barnes & Noble store. Be careful what you wish for. A 10,000 copy book order from B&N (or any chain for that matter) could easily end up as an 8,000 return three months later. You'll still have the second mortgage you used to have, but now you'll have a garage full of books, too.
* A better idea is to market through wholesalers or distributors, rather than directly to a large chain bookseller
Distribution is important. Biblio.com is one of a few traditional book distributors who specialize in small, independent and self publishers. A traditional book distributor is perfect as long as your marketing plan and budget will result in bookstore sales of over several thousand copies per year. Traditional book distribution is normally something that independent publishers grow into, not start off with.
*Any self publisher with a limited promotion and marketing budget should start off with one of the helpful book marketing services like Biblio.com or Thor Distribution.
Not all books are sold in bookstores! When self-publishing, make sure to explore other places to sell your books, besides bookstores. If you need some help, try looking at a book like Beyond the Bookstore by Brian Jud. It contains information on the multi-billion dollar non-bookstore market, including a CD-Rom with extra information you can use to promote and market your book to a wide variety of alternative sources.
* There are more markets than you probably realize so don't sanction your book to one! Get books on different markets and surf the Internet for ideas.
Many books can be successfully marketed at local art & craft fairs, or fairs specializing in your specific topic. If you have a travel guide, for instance, you can sell it at special events that draw visitors and locals, like art fairs, Cinco de Mayo celebrations, holiday craft fairs, and more.
*Writing a book is a creative endeavor, and so is marketing a book—look for any opportunity to get your book in front of the public.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|