From the Archives: “The Importance of Distribution in Self Publishing”

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.

Top Four Reasons to Self-Publish: Part 4 – Rights

Last month, I did a series on the most popular questions self-publishing authors ask. The posts were such a hit, I’ve decided to do another series this month. Each week in August, I will discuss one of the top four reasons why you should self-publish your book.

This week, I’ll discuss book rights. (In case you missed the last three reasons, be sure to go back and view those posts: Control, Money, and Trade and Distribution.)

As a self-publishing author, you maintain all rights to your book. This gives authors the freedom to sell or keep the rights as they see fit. However, it is important to note that self-published books will be considered “previously published” if the author later chooses to sell the book to a traditional publisher.

Owning book rights such as translation rights and film rights can have a significant impact on an author’s profitability.

Authors who use traditional publishing firms often give up most of the book rights but are usually entitled to a small percentage of the profit if the firm sells the rights to someone else. Self-publishing authors have the opportunity to choose if and how to sell their book rights to ensure they are getting the best deal possible.

I’d love to know, how has owning the rights to your book influenced your publishing decisions?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Top Four Reasons to Self-Publish: Part 3 – Trade Discounts and Distribution

Last month, I did a series on the most popular questions self-publishing authors ask. The posts were such a hit, I’ve decided to do another series this month. Each week in August, I will discuss one of the top four reasons why you should self-publish your book.

This week, I’ll discuss trade discounts and distribution. Unlike traditional publishing, self-publishing allows authors to choose the type of distribution that is appropriate for their material and marketing goals.

When thinking about distribution, it is important for authors to understand how the process works. For starters, “trade discount” is an industry term for profit margin. This rate impacts who buys and sells your books as well as the profits you will make off of your book.

For instance, shelf space in a brick and mortar chain bookstore has very specific requirements: the books must have a very high trade discount (50% to 55%). Therefore, if you buy a book at one of these bookstores  for $14.95, 55% of the retail price ($8.22) is divided between the store and the wholesale distributor for their profit. When you subtract the $8.22 from the $14.95, you are left with $6.73. This remainder covers the cost of the actual book. The balance that is left after the price of the book is the author royalty. Typically, authors receive very low royalties in these scenarios.

In addition to needing a high trade discount, authors also need to provide the bookstore with a “Retail Returns Program.” This program allows the bookstores to return books to the wholesaler and get their money back if the books do not sell. You must provide this program to the retailers, but having it is no guarantee that they will agree to stock your book.

Conversely, authors that elect to focus on internet sales may select a much lower trade discount as the internet book sites do not require as large of a profit margin. So that same $14.95 retail priced book under a 25% trade discount would look like this mathematically: $14.95 – $3.74 (25% of the retail price) = $11.21 – the actual cost of your book = your royalty. Obviously, $11.21 is a larger number than $6.73. Therefore, your royalty will be greater if sold by an online distributor, assuming the cost of your book remains the same in each equation.

Freedom to choose your trade discount and distribution center is just one of the many perks of self-publishing. To learn more about trade discounts, check out Cheri’s post titled Trade Discounts 101. It provides a great overview of industry standards and questions to ask yourself before setting your discount.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Comparison of Outskirts Press and Trafford’s Self-publishing Packages

Deciding which self-publishing company to go with can be a real challenge. To assist you with this process, I’m writing a series of posts where I do the leg work for you! I’ll prepare a side-by-side comparison of two similar publishing packages from two self-publishing companies. I’ll strive to keep it as simple as possible to help cut through the vast amount of information out there by giving you an easy to read chart and a brief summary of my impressions on the comparison.

This installment of the series is a comparison of two of the most robust self-publishing packages available: The “One Click for Coaches & Speakers” from Outskirts Press (which you can enjoy even if you’re NOT a coach or speaker, by the way) and the “Scroll,” from Trafford. The information shared here is current as of the date I completed the comparison (19 December 2012) and is dependent on what I could located on the websites without contacting representatives.

Outskirts Press One-Click Publishing For Coaches & Speakers
$4,497
Trafford Publishing Scroll Publishing Package
$5,749
Production Options Paperback Format
Custom Cover
Professional Interior Formatting
Copyright registration
Library of Congress Control Number
Interior Elements Up to 20 images Up to 60 images
Copyediting Up to 75,000 Words Up to 250,000 Words
Author Copies (Paperback) 10 Copies 40 Copies
Expedited Service
Cover Scribing
Your ISBN/ Imprint or ours
Hardback Format
Author Copies (Hardback)
Indexing Up to 500 entries
Additional Formats Secure EBook Edition
Amazon Kindle Edition
Espresso Book Machine Edition
Marketing Services Book Video Trailer & Distribution
Custom Press Release
Author Webpage
Barnes & Noble See Inside
60 Second Book Video Trailer 1 of 3 choices
Social Media Marketing Setup PMA
Post-Publication Marketing Assistance Marketing COACH (2 years) Learning Center (1 year)
PR Publicist Campaign
Personal Marketing Assistant (PMA)
Submission to 10 Reviewers
Electronic Clipping Service
Publication Press Release
Streaming Audio
Amazon Cover Enhancement
Amazon See Inside the Book
Bookseller’s Return Program
Marketing Promotional Materials 100 pieces

With Outskirts Press, for $1,252 less you receive expedited service, a private label (optional), the Amazon Kindle edition of your book, the Espresso Book Machine edition, a PR campaign, 10 Book Reviews, a clipping service and 5 hours of personal marketing assistance with a professional book marketing expert, among other benefits.

There are a few options that come with Trafford’s Scroll package that are not included with the Outskirts Press package such as a hardback format and more author copies.  Although, you could order most if not all of those services a la carte with Outskirts Press and likely still come in at an overall lower cost.

My vote? Outskirts Press! See all the benefits and features of the One-Click Package for Speakers & Coaches by clicking here.

I’d love to know, which option would you choose and why?

Trade Discounts and Distribution: One of the Many Self-Publishing Perks

The self publishing industry is a reaction to the traditional publishing industry. For years, the only option for authors to see their manuscripts published was to hire an agent and/or submit their manuscripts to the traditional houses in hopes of being selected for publication. In most cases, this process took many years, involved substantial changes to the manuscript and most importantly, forced the author into giving up the rights. Retail pricing and the author’s royalties were out of the author’s control as well. Self-publishing allows authors to maintain control over their material and allows them to select the type of distribution that is appropriate to their material and marketing goals.

Speaking of distribution the desire for shelf space is always a popular subject for new authors, and its requirements are very strict. Books that make it onto the shelves of the brick and mortar chain book stores have to carry a very high trade discount (50% to 55%). “Trade discount” is our industry specific term for “profit margin.” For example, when you purchase a book within a Barnes & Noble bookstore for $14.95, 55% of the retail price ($8.22) is divided between the store and the wholesale distributor for their profit. When you subtract the $8.22 from the $14.95, you are left with $6.73. This remainder covers the cost of the actual book. The balance that is left after the price of the book is the author royalty. Typically, authors receive very low royalties in these scenarios.  

In addition to needing a high trade discount, authors also need to provide the bookstore with a “Retail Returns Program.” This program allows the bookstores to return books to the wholesaler and get their money back if the books do not sell. You must provide this program to the retailers, but having it is no guarantee that they will agree to stock your book. 

Conversely, authors that elect to focus on internet sales may select a much lower trade discount as the internet book sites do not require as large of a profit margin. So that same $14.95 retail priced book under a 25% trade discount would look like this mathematically: $14.95 – $3.74 (25% of the retail price) = $11.21 – the actual cost of your book = your royalty. Obviously, $11.21 is a larger number than $6.73. Therefore, your royalty will be greater if sold by an online distributor, assuming the cost of your book remains the same in each equation.

Freedom to choose your trade discount and distribution center is just one of the many perks of self publishing. To learn more about trade discounts, check out Cheri’s post titled Trade Discounts 101. It provides a great overview of industry standards and questions to ask yourself before setting your discount.

ABOUT WENDY STETINA:
Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction, or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

The Importance of Distribution in Self Publishing

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.



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4 Myths about Book Publishing Today

There is a lot of confusion, controversy, and questions surrounding the terms self-publishing, vanity press, print-on-demand, etc. As you decide the best publishing path for you, let’s clarify some misconceptions some may have propagated.

1. MYTH: Whoever owns the ISBN owns the rights.
FACT: This used to be true. Nowadays, it is no longer true. Good self-publishing options assign the ISBN for the authors’ convenience, but still allow authors to keep 100% of the rights to their books. Be sure to check the contract.

2. MYTH: Independent self-publishing is different from publishing with an established organization because that publisher owns the ISBN.
FACT: It is true that the ISBN identifies the publisher of record. With reputable options, authors can supply their own ISBN as an option. Of course, if an author prefers the publisher to assign an ISBN for them, that should be an option too. And that’s what self-publishing is about – author choice and author control.

3. MYTH: New York publishers promote and market all their books.
FACT: New York publishers usually devote the lion’s share of their marketing budget to the top 1% (Harry Potter, for example) of the books they publish. The other books published during that season are victims of the sliced marketing budget. The majority of traditionally published authors are referred to as “mid-listeres” and don’t get much support from their publisher at all.

4.MYTH: Printing a book with an off-set printer is the same as self-publishing it.
FACT: Printing a book is one facet of publication. Before a book can be printed, it needs to be designed. Then it needs to be printed. Then it needs wholesale distribution through Ingram and availability online with retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Then it needs fulfillment of orders and invoicing.

Printing a book with an offset printer accomplishes one of those steps. Publishing a book with a leading self-publishing option accomplishes all of them. Almost anyone can “print” a book, but what about all the other stuff that is required?


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