Welcome back to our new Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: April 6th, 2010 ]

If a publisher focuses on discounts to an author who buys their own book in bulk, that often communicates two things. 1) That publisher is more concerned with selling to you than to other readers. 2)  The publisher is charging you too much for lower quantities. Do you really want to be forced to buy 100 books at a time just to get a fair price? “Bulk” discounts simply trick the author into buying more books than they need, which defeats the whole advantage of on-demand printing.

I’ve seen many authors go down that road, and then end up with lots of books sitting in their garage or basement that no one knows about, because the distribution piece is missing.  The power of the on-demand printing and EDI distribution offered in custom self-publishing take advantage of wholesale availability via multiple sales channels including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Baker and Taylor, and Ingram—North America’s largest distributor.  Look also to see that your book is available through I-Page, the book ordering system available at over 25,000 bookstores and retail chains world-wide.

Do look also for a publisher that will sell your book to you at a special author discounted price as well.  It’s never a bad idea to have access to an inventory to compliment your virtually endless on-demand inventory.

The power of distribution when paired with flexible pricing creates an advantageous sales combination for the self-publishing author.

distribution

There’s no easy way to sell books, but as this post back in 2010 points out, there’s no point to purchasing in bulk if you can’t actually move the copies into the hands of your readers.  And as the original post expounds, an effective means of distribution remains absolutely essential in order to steer clear of stocking your basement and not those same readers’ bookshelves.

So how do you distribute books?  Word-of-mouth can work, certainly, as is illustrated by the extraordinary case of Christopher Paolini, although one might argue that his case is only extraordinary because it was eventually “discovered” by the traditional publishing industry and afterwards became a massive hit.  Paolini only relied on word-of-mouth and his own ardent self-marketing methods for a short while, when looking at the total “life cycle” of his Inheritance series.

It seems that selling through an online distributer is perhaps the way to go, especially when those distributers (namely, Amazon and Barnes & Noble) come with all of the might and power of a massive international company.  There are certainly some extraordinary benefits to taking advantage of their systems, toward which end many hybrid publishing companies (such as Outskirts Press) provide packages geared specifically to exploit.  And their digital distribution platforms, while perhaps too bulky to be truly “cutting edge,” do have all of the perquisite customer support and technical maintenance that you could wish for.  There’s always an upside to walking down a path that many others are also walking down.  (I’m thinking specifically of user how-to guides and FAQ forums, here––since I take advantage of those, and often.)

The ultimate point is, however, not to rely on making bulk purchases of your own book as an author, even with the possibility of an author discount.  You want readers to be connecting some of the dots themselves, and buying through these (socially networked and easily findable) ecommerce platforms instead of only through you.  If you are the only person who is selling your book, then that creates a kind of bottleneck for sales.  Diversifying who sells your book and where it can be found is a vital component of any effective self-marketing strategy.  ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

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