24 Quick Tips for Effective Book Distribution
How does your book get to retailers—including bookstores? There are several critical distribution factors that cannot be missed. Your choice of distribution channels and partners can be the critical difference in your success. Discover how you can avoid the top 24 mistakes most untrained authors make.
1. Know your options. Plan your distribution network and know when to use a distributor, wholesaler, or fulfillment company. A distributor serves the client/publisher and a wholesaler serves the market. A fulfillment company fills demand.
2. You may not need a supply channel. If your strategy is to sell only through your website, Amazon.com, and/or to non-retail buyers you may not need a distributor.
3. Sell through or to. Sell through retailers and to end users and non-bookstore buyers.
4. Every book has competition. What about the other books nearby on the shelf? The other books on the best-seller list? Create distribution that will eliminate competition.
5. Ask yourself questions. Ask, “Who else could use the information in my book? Where do they purchase books?” A great question to get your thought process started is, “What if we…”
6. Think beyond the bookstore. There are many opportunities for sales through other retailers and to non-retail buyers.
7. Contact potential distribution partners early. Do not wait until your book is completed before contacting prospective distributors. Get their input on content and cover design early in the process.
8. Charges for distribution services should be transparent and predictable. Transparent means hidden charges should be minimized. Predictable means that the contract should have a single percentage somewhere between 20%-30% of net sales.
9. Customize your proposal. Your proposal should address five major areas: people, problem, promise, your plan to make it work, and your platform.
10. Have a series. Companies in your distribution network are more interested in working with you if you can bring multiple titles to them.
11. Consider returns. Returns for new titles could be 30% or more when selling through retailers.
12. Choose your distributor partners wisely. Not all distributors are equally capable of distributing your book. Investigate them carefully and compare their capabilities before deciding.
13. Do not quickly blame distribution partners if sales are down. Retailers do not sell books, they display books. The author does the promotion to bring people to the stores, and distributors fill the pipeline.
14. Consider seasonal fluctuations. Know when your content is of value to your target buyers. If your book sells through gift shops in the fourth-quarter-holiday-shopping period, do not be dismayed if it does not sell at other times.
15. Use “push” and “pull” marketing. Some marketing actions are directed at helping channel members keep the pipeline filled (push marketing), and others at bringing consumers to the retailer (pull marketing).
16. Distribute through your website. Have a shopping cart on your website and sell directly to consumers.
17. Distribute through other websites. There are many niche websites and retail outlets online through which you can market your books.
18. Work with your distributor. Communicate regularly to find out what else you can do to help each other.
19. Segment your prospects. Organize your most-likely readers into groups according to where they could use or purchase your content. That could be in supermarkets, schools, gift shops or libraries. Each type of reader buys in different ways and for different reasons.
20. Subdivide your segments. There are many different kinds of libraries and not all may need your content. For example, there are public, academic, religious, law, prison, hospital, etc. libraries.
21. Prioritize your segments. Not every prospect is equally likely to buy your books. Rank them in the order in which you will contact them for sales.
22. Define the benefits of your content in each segment. Retailers seek to make a profit, libraries to help their patrons, and the media to provide a good show for their viewers or listeners.
23. Distribution begins with your buyers. When considering the way you will distribute your books, first think about the people who will be buying them.
24. Think outside the U.S. You may have sales opportunities in every country in the world. Sell in English-speaking countries, or sell the translation rights to your content.
Brian Jud is the author of “How to Make Real Money Selling Books” and now offers commission-based sales of nonfiction, fiction, and children’s titles to buyers in special markets. For more information contact Brian at P. O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001-0715; Phone: (860) 675-1344; Fax: (860) 673-7650; firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.premiumbookcompany.com; and twitter.com/bookmarketing.
Brian Jud is an author, book-marketing consultant, seminar leader, television host and president of Premium Book Company, which sells books to non-bookstore buyers on a non-returnable, commission-only basis and conducts on-site training for publishers' sales forces.
Brian is the author of "How to Make Real Money Selling Books (Without Worrying About Returns)," a do-it-yourself guide to selling books to non-bookstore buyers in large quantities, with no returns. He has written many articles about book publishing and marketing, is the author of the eight e-booklets with "Proven Tips for Publishing Success," and creator of the series of "Book Marketing Wizards." He is also the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter, "Book Marketing Matters."
Brian is the host of the television series "The Book Authority" and has aired over 650 shows. In addition, he is the author, narrator and producer of the media-training video program "You're On The Air."