Distribution Tips for Self Published Authors 2023

Spreading the Word 101

Before the internet graced the hallowed halls of book publishing, the options for distribution of a self written or published work was few and far between. From ebooks to print books, the process is different and can often be complicated, nuanced, and confusing. Undoubtedly one of the most important parts of successfully publishing your first novel, distribution is key to building an audience, making connections in the publishing circles, and ensuring your book is accessible to audiences from every demographic. There are different book distribution services available to help you along, from your own self fulfillment system to distribution teams and promotions abroad. There are also particular platforms and methods you can utilize to make the process easier- don’t forget to choose the best option for you! There is no right or wrong. Without further ado, let’s jump into it. 

5 Importance things to consider when setting up book distribution 

You may think that distribution is the lighter end of the journey toward being a happily self published author, but realistically it is one of the most important aspects! Different distribution platforms align with different aspects of books and publishing, and its important to find the best on for you. Keep in mind the following important points when choosing a distribution platform: 

1. Target Audience:

You want to make sure that a good distribution platform doesn’t just get your book out in the world, but gets it to the right audience. This applies to both eBooks and print books. You’ll experience more sales and interest in your book this way!! 

2. Cost

A benefit to using a formal platform or service for distribution is that it can be far more cost effective when it comes to the time and energy you spend making sure your book gets to the right corners of the world. Always do research to make sure it aligns with your goals and budget. Royalty cut varies widely for each distribution channel. Read the fine print to make sure you understand the economics, and how much you get as an author from each book sale (print + digital).

3. Plan ahead

If you have the support and strategy necessary to successful sell and distribute it to readers, your stress levels will lower significantly! Planning your distribution strategy in advance of printing ensures you order enough copies in your first print run to meet demand. Make sure to read our blog post on Barcoding (ISBN) and Pricing to ensure you understand your options before printing.

4. Statistics and Metrics

Statistics are crucial when releasing a book, as they tells you just how successful your book is doing. Using a good distribution company will provide you a detailed analysis of all the numbers, and help you to know whether your book is performing successfully, and to which audiences. This invaluable data allows you to make decisions based on facts to further increase the sales of your book.

5. No Gatekeeper

This goes hand in hand with the philosophy of self publishing, but as opposed to traditional publishing, there are no limits on the decisions you make for where and how you want your book distributed! After all, it’s up to you! 

The Ins and Outs of Book Distribution

Okay, so you’ve published your book- now what? How do you make sure that it hits the shelves of bookstores, graces the online catalogs of Amazon, or is displayed on its own listing site? There are a few key ins and outs to be aware of, such as that major book retailers (think Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, and the like) will allow self published authors to directly upload and manage their books! This is called direct distribution, which we’ll dive into below. A second option is to use a particular distribution service that provide one place to upload your book and book details, and they take it from there in allocating it to different retailers and platforms. The pros of using aggregation services include: 

-Manage your data: be able to control your books metadata including price, description, and categorization at multiple retailers at once

-Access a variety of retailers, library services, or subscription platforms: these small platforms, easily accessible through distributors, allow you to reach many more readers 

-Track sales: with one place that this information will bounce back to and be stored, track your sales and earning patterns seamlessly 

Where exactly to distribute your book can feel overwhelming, with an endless amount of readers and outlets to take advantage of. The first and most obvious accessway is the internet! Particularly for ebooks, online sites such as Amazon (which generates the majority of global ebook sales), Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Google Play, and Kobo are popular choices. Depending on what you choose, some authors prefer to invest in one platform and stick to it loyally, such as Kindle Unlimited. It’s important to keep costs of each distribution service in mind. There are three aspects that play a role: sign up or set up fees, printing fees, and distribution fees. Sometimes if there is no upfront fee to publish your book, you will pay your distributor only when you sell a copy of your book. Printing cost is the cost of physically creating a book, and a distribution cost is the cut that a service will take for getting your book to retailers. 

Now, we’ll run you through a few distribution services and platforms you can explore to decide which road is best for you! And remember, your choices may evolve and change over time as you gain publication experience as an author. 

Draft2Digital 

Draft 2 Digital Book publishing

D2D provides software and a distribution network for your book if its not quite print ready, but almost there. They can help distribute both eBook and paperback books to major retailers online via direct relationships and partnerships. You can even access a personal storefront that can include your blog, website, or Facebook page. 

Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon)

Kindle Direct Publishing by Amazon

KDP is the direct publishing platform of Amazon, and this option entails getting print books distributed via all Amazon online stores, and eBooks for Kindle. Your book can be available as a product via most Amazon marketplaces, and as an eBook. Set the list price and get profit after taking into account printing costs and Amazon’s share. This varies by marketplace! 

How it works

Booksellers and libraries purchase paperbacks from large distributors. If you enroll your paperback in Expanded Distribution, Amazon make your book available to distributors so booksellers and libraries can find your book and order it.

Amazon currently work with distributors in the United States, and the United Kingdom, but booksellers and libraries around the world may purchase books from these distributors. It’s free to enroll your paperback in Expanded Distribution, and it allows your book to be made broadly available outside of Amazon.

Enrolling your paperback in Expanded Distribution doesn’t guarantee it will be accepted by distributors or ordered by a particular bookseller or library. The decision to list your book lies with distributors and the decision to order your book lies solely with the individual booksellers and libraries. Amazon doesn’t provide details on which booksellers and libraries purchased your book

Royalties

If you enroll your paperback in Expanded Distribution, the royalty rate is 40% of the book’s list price effective in the distribution channel at the time of purchase, minus printing costs, applicable taxes, and withholding


KDP Expanded Distribution:

After your book is accepted in KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Expanded Distribution, it can take up to eight weeks for the book to become available for booksellers and libraries to order. Enrolling your paperback in Expanded Distribution doesn’t guarantee it will be accepted by distributors or ordered by a particular bookseller and library.

If you change your book details, content, or pricing, it can take up to eight weeks for the information to update through Expanded Distribution. Your book will still be available, but it will have the previous information until the information is updated.

Expanded Distribution doesn’t reflect changes in real time. This is because distributors, booksellers, and libraries update their information at different times. You may see differences in your book details, content, and pricing on other websites until they update the information.

Barnes & Noble Press

Barnes & Noble Press

How it works

Readers interested in your book’s genre and subject matter will be able to find it easily on BN.com and their NOOK devices. They feature select B&N Press books in our emails, online sales & promotions, and other exclusive marketing programs.

Seasoned authors and hobbyist content creators alike spend hundreds, even thousands, of hours writing a great book. However, sales performance doesn’t always correspond to the efforts and resources poured into writing the book. Book marketing and book promotion is an important aspect when considering self-publishing. Unlike traditional publishing, where an established publisher works with different buyers, influencers, and agencies to get the new publications known, the authors are responsible for marketing their self-published books. B&N Press leverages the NOOK app, B&N stores across the country, email newsletters, and more to market your books.

Here are some quick tips and methods when promoting your book:

  • Create an author website
  • Build your social network and spread the word using the most optimal social media platform
  • Build an email mailing list and send out newsletters
  • Reach out to book bloggers and offer free copies of your books
  • Get reviews from book bloggers and readers
  • Make an illustrated book trailer to publish on your social media channels

Royalties

They track orders for your eBooks & print books in one, easy-to-navigate place, and provide daily at-a-glance and in-depth sales reports. Royalties are typically 30% for use of the service, and payouts happen ever month if your royalties are $10 and over.

Summary

Other than the qualified and diverse services listed above, there are a plethora of other options to help you distribute your book in the right way for you, both in terms of price and ease. Make sure to do your research before committing to any one method, as different pathways work for different people and books. Distribution platforms are great for getting your book in front of new audiences, but ultimately as a self published author, it’s down to you to effectively share the news of your book and let readers know where they can purchase it from.