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018 - Book Distribution - How Does It Work?

amazon distribution sales Feb 13, 2020

Have you written a book or considering writing one? If so, have you given distribution any thought? Most people don’t think about distribution until after they have done their book release party and already sold a few books, but…you really should have distribution set up well before you start selling any books! Unless you’ve already written a book you have no idea that there is an entire process surrounding the words of your manuscript. Being a self-published author means stepping up and knowing all of these processes. This is where hiring a coach that knows what they are doing will help you seamlessly manage all the stages of making your book a successful reality. Its about far more than the content and distributing your book awakens you to the idea that writing a successful book requires a smart business plan well before the words hit the page.

So you’ve perhaps already written a book and now you’re looking into the proper distribution channels to get your legacy out there. But, in the sea of confusion surrounding the topic you’ve realized it’s not for the faint of heart…perhaps you’ve just concluded that selling your book without involving a third party is fine for you and you don’t care to have big sales. To be honest, I don’t know many authors that just want to share with a few friends. I believe we all think we’ve written something very special and it needs to be shared.

But, did you know that book sales are NOT tracked with books sold outside of the distribution channels? If you want sales to count towards your climb to best-seller, books cannot be sold off the back of a truck, in a warehouse, or off a pallet. You must set up distribution!

So, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s talk about what distribution really is in the first place. Distribution gives you the ability to reach a larger audience. It also gives your book legs and credibility. Amazon is the most common distribution channel and most books are either sold here or from your events or your website. Since bookstores are nearly obsolete now it is important to find the distribution channel that works right for you. But, there are a ton of things to look out for and I hope I can help you choose what works the best for you.

So let’s start with the most obvious—Amazon. There are a few snags with Amazon as a distribution channel and most authors are just so excited to have a book and to see it pop up on their web browser once they get listed here. It often times serves as a kind of right of passage to be seen here and trust me I get that! I was elated the first time I saw my book in that little thumbnail image when I did a search. I have to admit it’s still pretty cool to see my books there. But, the ego loves to fool us with this kind of exposure! So, lets move out of that ole ego and into a place of pure business. After all, having a book on Amazon does mean it comes with distribution fees each time one of your books is sold. 

There are several ways to get your book on Amazon: 

  1. List it there yourself with one of the Amazon tools (Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon Seller Central, Amazon Advantage, or Fulfillment by Amazon)
  2. List it with a Distributor outside of Amazon - your books get shipped off to a warehouse then shipped out when an online retailer or wholesaler orders copies. These online retailers sell direct to readers and wholesalers sell to brick and mortar bookstores.

If you’ve looked into Amazon you would have likely come upon digital publishing. Digital publishing and distribution is something I will talk about specifically in another show as it can be quite another animal. But, where you will run into major challenges is with how your digitally produced and distributed book will never look professional in the eyes of a proper institution. In other words, if you were to walk into a bookstore or a library you will be told they will not accept self-published books. They know it’s self-published by the quality of the book and the ISBN Number. 

You will have to go to a proper distribution channel to get sold in these institutional environments, but this will mean backing up and moving into a different environment for proper printing and getting an ISBN outside of the digital publishing environment. See what I mean? Confusing! 

If you want to be the most professional in the distribution of your book you will need to go with a professional printer and get a proper ISBN Number. Most authors don’t understand any of this when they are starting off and then find out later when they embarrassingly cannot sell and distribute their book like a pro. 

When you move outside of the print on demand digital publishing arena you have far more reach and flexibility with your book. A proper wholesale distribution network will have you ship professional books to them so they can send them out to specific markets and add them to their supply chain. This means the book is professionally designed, edited, and printed. These distributors will make sure you are able to find your books in retail locations, libraries, with all distribution networks (like Amazon), and with educational institutions. But, they will only be successful distributing them if there is a demand…right time and right place. 

When you are self-publishing you have to think about all the steps after the book, but if you’ve never done any of this before you have no idea what you don’t know. The print on demand environment is great if you don’t need a professional book, but to do the most proper and professional distribution with your book it starts with the proper printing channels and even before that you have to write the proper book…the one with 40,000 plus words and with content that is leverage-able…it’s a process of knowing what you are doing from the beginning…are you starting to see that now? 

If you don’t care to have a professional book or professional distribution and just want to share a few stories or some research and a book is your best tool then really maybe none of this does matter, but it’s my opinion that it does matter because there is just no sense doing the work without addressing the proper channels and writing out the business plan for a proper and purposeful launch.

There's so much here to be discovered yet, but let me leave you with this…yeah, I’m a broken record I know! Sit down and define your why…why you are writing the book and what you hope to do with it as it is published will help further blow out what your distribution plan looks like. You’ve got to understand the entire publishing process to write a proper business plan that stretches well beyond the book itself.

As a publishing coach and using my online book publishing coaching system, I can help you with all phases of the project when you’re ready. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! I think it’s important to see that this is a big topic worth learning… far before you are ready to launch your book. We will discuss it again in the future I’m sure.

Keep going and keep up! Get clear on your vision and in no time you’ll work yourself into becoming an author.

Let me know what topics you're interested in and we can add those to a show for you to keep you going. 

Eyes on the prize!

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