November 03, 2021 (Last Updated November 10, 2021)Marcy G.
You finally did it; After months or even years of writing and polishing your book, you are ready to take the next leap within your self-publishing journey. And if you haven't guessed what that is yet, it is none other than book distribution. Now, on the surface, book distribution might seem like a pretty straightforward process. However, much more goes on in-between those lines, especially when it comes to distributing your book in such a way where people will actually see it. So, to help you get started on this next exciting self-publishing phase, below is a breakdown of the intricacies of book distribution and how you can get your book on the shelf (and seen!) in no time.
How Book Distribution Works
In short, book distribution involves you or a hired distributor to become an advocate for your book, convincing bookstores and other retailers to sell your title on their shelves. If the store or e-commerce chooses to sell your book, then they will place an order for the number that you both agreed on. You pack up the supply and send it to the appropriate location.
There is a key thing here to also keep in mind, which is if you hire a distributor, they do not market your book for you to the public – drumming up interest for your book is usually placed on your lap as the author. Distributors simply make sure that the book gets to respected retail stores so people can buy it. Intertwine both efforts together and your book has the best possible chance to succeed.
Remember, a book distributor is not the same as a wholesaler. Distributors tend to seek wholesalers/retailers for resale, and a wholesaler works closely with retailers to match their needs by buying products in bulk as well as at a discount.
How to Contact Booksellers to Stock Your Book in Stores
If you are doing your book distribution yourself, then there are a few pitching fundamentals that you will want to adopt to give your book the promotion push it needs to get accepted. Overall, the first thing you will want to do is make a list of all the retailers you are interested in working with. Using Barnes & Noble again as an example, read about their policies and the process of getting your book on its shelves for resale. If you haven't already, research their demographics, trends, and community they draw in and use that to tie in how your book can contribute to that. Once you have your information and your book aligned with what each retailer looks for, the best thing you can do is email, call, or show up in person to deliver your pitch. With that being said, some other helpful support for this aspect includes:
ü If sending an email, be sure to include your book title, ISBN, and retail price in the subject line.
ü Make your book title/cover unique but not so different that it makes it hard for a retailer to place you next to others in the same genre.
ü Be clear, concise, and to the point on why your book can help their business.
ü Tailor your pitch based on who you are pitching your book to.
How To Add Your Book To Retail Sites
In this dominating digital world, it would be silly not to publish your book online as well. After all, the more places you distribute your book (both in-person and online), the better your odds are of more people finding you and having your book thrive on the market. Because of that, be sure to add your book on retail sites too, such as Amazon, Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble, etc.
Getting your book added to Bookshop might be a bit more of a challenge as not all of the control is in your hands like other retailers allow, but it is very straightforward to connect and potentially gain new partnerships, advertising, and promotional opportunities to get your book seen on their platform. Some other online retail sites you can opt for include:
You can also contact local bookstores to see if they will stock copies of your book. Local bookstores and small businesses are especially known for helping out indie, self-published authors.
Summary – Bringing Visions to Life
Book distribution, though hard at first, is one of the most invigorating self-publishing experiences that you can have. This is that moment when you get to showcase all your hard work and enrich the lives of others using your words. Sure, you can create your own website or store to sell your book independently, but also getting your product in front of millions right from the start is a sure-fire way to jumpstart success.
In the end, it is important to be mindful that not all retailers may want to resell your book, and that is perfectly okay. Remember, Harry Potter got rejected 12 times before it boomed. So, just keep pushing and keep pitching, because there will be that moment when retailers start taking you on, and when that starts happening, have the peace of mind knowing that 48 Hour Books can help you get your self-publishing journey started.
Are you ready to partner with 48 Hour Books? If so, click here to get started.
Sign up to receive emails from 48 Hour Books
with some of our best advice.
Sign up to receive emails
from 48 Hour Books
with some of
our best advice.
Subscribe to the 48 Hour Books Newsletter for more self-publishing tricks and tips, author spotlights, notices about upcoming deals, and more!