And then there’s the marketing. But self-published writers often note that traditional publishers don’t offer the marketing help they used to, especially if you’re a new and untested author, so no matter how you’re published, marketing is mostly up to you. (Another argument in favor of self-publishing is the royalty rates are higher. But you have to sell enough books to make that mean anything.)
And this brings me to the discussion of distribution. I’ve always felt that this is the key to getting your book into the hands of readers. Social media—Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc.—is important, but without a distributor (IMO), it’s a huge struggle to sell a decent amount of books. This is why I’ve continued seeking a traditional publisher.
But I wonder now what distribution options are available for self-published authors. I did a little bit of research, and found the following:
Some companies that offer self-publishing services (editing, cover design, print and eBook production, etc.) also offer distribution as part of their package. For instance, BookBaby.com distributes your eBook to a long list of online bookstores.
Here’s a good article that discusses ways for self-published authors to distribute print books. (A list of distributors is included in the article.) One thing they suggest is offering your book to local independent bookstores on a consignment basis—you’re paid when the book is sold. To work with most print book distributors—or to go the bookstore consignment route–you’ll have to do a short print run instead of POD (Print On Demand). However, one of the distributors on the list, Ingram, offers POD distribution, and they specifically say they work with self-published authors. Unfortunately, none of the distributor websites I checked out publish their prices, but they say in the article it can be an expensive proposition.
So, distribution does seem to be a big advantage of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. But if I ever decide to self-publish, working with a distributor is something I’ll investigate doing.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience with self-publishing and distribution.