What is Book Distribution & How Is It Done?

Ahhhhh…Where do I start?

It is easy for those of you that have secured that illusive Big Traditional Publishing contract. Those publishers have decades old systems that release press releases to newspapers and trade mags, publicity departments that will (for the big name authors) send out copies to book stores on a sell and pay option with posters for the store windows. The store will get a box of the books without spending a penny until they are sold. They will distribute through the online retails sites as well.

So how does the rest of us get that distribution without those contacts and systems in place? (or the bankroll to fund it?)

Self publishers or small independent publishers have access to online publishing platforms. Some of the major ones are Createspace, Ingram (Lightening Source or Spark), Smashwords, iBooks,  Nook Press, Google Books, Kobo and Amazon.

Each of these has their advantages, depending on your skill level as an self publisher and what formats you want your book offered for purchasing. It also depends on how much you want to pay for the specific options they offer. Each will take a cut of your royalties. Some will distribute to some of the others for you. There are print edition and ebook edition options. Let’s get a bit more specific.

Print distributors: Createspace, Ingram, Nook Press. Nook has two divisions, and is specific to Barnes and Noble. They do not distribute to other retailers. Both Createspace and Ingram have distribution programs that make your print book AVAILABLE to bookstores, libraries, academic institutions, and online resellers. Your book MAY be included in a catalog that is sent to stores or buyers. At the least they should be available or purchase through bookstores or libraries in their respective online catalogs IF they get a customer request to purchase or find your book among the many millions available. Ingram platforms are more expensive to use than Createspace but they do offer some options that Createspace does not, including bookstore discounts and a return policy.

eBook distributors: Smashwords. Smashwords will place your book for sale in a variety of online ebook retail sites as part of their publishing platform. You choose which ones and if your ebook meets the requirements of each, it will be distributed to them. Createspace has an option to convert your print book to an ebook on Amazon. Ingram gives you ACCESS, note that word, to a host of online ebook retailers. Beware the special note if you have previously published to the Kindle store (Amazon) or Apple iBooks. Ingram wants exclusive ebook distribution rights. It doesn’t restrict you to a particular store like the Kindle Direct Publishing (kdp) option of enrolling in KDP Select which restricts publication of an ebook to ONLY Amazon. However, you cannot publish directly to KDP or iBooks when using Ingram’s ebook platform for publishing.

All distribution schemes come at a cost. Royalties. Each time your book passes through another set of hands or through a set of hands that gets a discount, your royalty decreases. For example: You publish your print book through the Createspace platform. If a reader buys it at Createspace, you receive the highest royalty. If a reader purchases your book through Amazon, you get a reduced royalty because Amazon takes a cut.  If it is purchased by someone on Barnes and Noble’s online store or it is purchased by a bookstore for a client, an online reseller who has their own affiliate store, linking to some online retailer’s sale page or it is purchased by a library or academic institution, your royalty will be even further decreased either by another person getting a cut of the royalties or a discount on the purchase price.

There are numerous marketing and distribution plans offered by author service businesses online. But if you read the details, they are the same outlets that are listed by the main distributors. It is unlikely in most cases that these author service businesses have direct access to putting books on the shelves in Barnes and Noble. It is unlikely they have direct access to any of the distribution outlets. It is much more likely that they are using one of the major publishing platforms and simply listing the distribution outlets provided by that specific platform.

Another thing to note is that many of the online retail outlets are simply affiliates of the major outlets like Amazon. They have a large website or Amazon store that links each book back to their affiliate connection with Amazon who then fills the order. The author then gets less royalty.

So, in conclusion, as a publisher or self publisher you want to place your books on sale directly with as many retail sites as possible. You can do this with Nook (Barnes and Noble) for print and ebooks, Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon) for ebooks and Kobo through their publishing platform. Createspace is a Print on Demand print book platform. Each other site you choose to distribute to from there costs you royalties. Smashwords is an ebook only distributor although they do have their own store as well.

Is it really necessary to have your books in every single online retail outlet that exists? Most readers choose an ereading platform and buy books at that outlet. All the small resellers and obsure outlets will generally not get you many sales.

The biggest catch of all in this self publishing saga is that many publishing platforms are at this time restricted to U.S. Citizens or foreign individuals that have complied with the IRS by filing the proper out of country tax forms for identification. On top of that is that many of these publishing options will only make direct payment (EFT) to U.S. banks. Other payments are made by check and are only made when your royalties reach a specified amount (often $100). Then you are burdened with conversion fees and international deposit fees from your bank when you deposit. Add on top of that paying U.S. Taxes. They can be deducted from your royalties before payment and can be up to 30%.

This is by no means meant to discourage you in your quest to become a published author. You need to know the steps, the stumbles and the small print. You need to know the realities that authors on the whole do not get rich from a book. Most self publishers never recover the money spent getting published until years later if ever. This will not stop the dedicated. But hopefully it will help minimize every author’s chance of being swindled by some unscrupulous business or fast talking salesperson playing on your author ego. It will inform you so you know what to look for in a proposal and what questions you can ask. Authors wanting to be published find a way.

 

“Informing the uninformed is much easier than enlightening the ignorant.”

Robin-WoolysWagon ePublishing

If you love following blogs about books and bookish finds, check out www.bitcheslovebooks.com

Advertisements

I Need Help with My Baby-Where to find Service Providers

Google it. That is the quick solution to leads. You will get thousands of possibilities. How do you know which are legitimate and qualified?

You can have a look on sites that specialize in listing providers and rating them as to legitimacy.

Preditors and Editors: http://pred-ed.com

Although this site has become the most referred when someone asks about a business being legitimate, it is not one that can be without possible faults.

I am not that impressed with their definitions, personally. I have touched on those industry definitions in a previous post. there is a difference between a company offering author services, a small publisher and the antiquated term of vanity publisher. When the only options were to get a publisher or publish yourself, the term vanity publishing was coined. It designated someone that thought their work was worth publishing and could not or did not chose to secure a publishing contract so they prepared their book and sought out a printer who they then paid to print off their own copies. Now there are companies that call themselves publishers, self publishing companies and the like that offer author services bundled into packages. Some host your book for sale on their site, post the book for sale on other sites and also claim a percentage of the royalties. Some provide the files you need so you can self publish. Some claim to promote your book using social media and other means. Small publishers will function much like the big publishers, but with smaller staff numbers. Sometimes the author can maintain some creative control providing input and the publisher will retain a portion of your royalties. Some may pay advances, depending on their size. Many do not. However, you will not pay for the services needed to prepare your book for publishing or to publish it. If there is a restriction to this policy it should be clearly stated.

So, a resource, but do your own due diligence as well. I’m not sure how current things are, but the last book promoted at the bottom of one of the pages was published in September 2016, so at least that part is current.

Various blogs: I came across this one that also has a Facebook page that seems useful. I did not check their resources, however, so again, due diligence on your part.

http://accrispin.blogspot.com.au/                                                                                                         also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterBeware/

If you want a professional editor, there are editor associations you can find by doing an online search.  Here you can also find prevailing rates for services. Joining LinkedIn can also expose you to a number of groups that can give you everything from self publishing tips and information, connections to editors (vet them, please) and other various service providers. Please, don’t just join up and start shooting off questions. Read back discussions first. Most of your questions have already been answered numerous times. If you don’t want to put in the time to learn or you are someone that approaches life wearing rose-colored glasses, that should tell you that hiring someone to handle it for you is the way to go. In that case look for a small publisher that offers services or a book doctor and seek advice.

Facebook: Although there are numerous writer groups on Facebook, most have turned into promotional avenues. And as most will tell you, your market (unless you have written a book for authors) is not other authors. You may be able to find a review or beta reader group if you have time to search.

This is undoubtedly the most daunting period in the life of your baby, your book. As I have said before, except for at least one good editing by another person, most of the tasks to publishing can be learned. It all really depends on where you set your priorities.

This may not be the post you were expecting with lists and lists of possible service providers. I’m not one for reinventing the wheel. There are ebooks and groups and websites and blog dedicated to promoting or dissuading use of service providers. I am more interested in you not experiencing the disappointment of someone reaching deep into your ego pocket and robbing you of your book publishing budget, without providing quality service.

Protecting yourself means putting in effort to prevent being taken advantage of. It means looking at getting your book published realistically. It means understanding the difficulty of getting your book seen among the millions available and thousands of new books arriving daily. It means realistic expectations of return on your investment.

Anyone with quality work can get published. Whether that means for you that you will make an investment in time and money, pitching and submitting, or seeking the less expensive or no expense way, depends solely on you.

Now an advertisement:  WoolysWagon ePublishing offers author services and no fee publishing contracts. All services are independently quoted based on the package of services you need to self publish. They will always come in under the majority of professional pricing. They will never beat fiverr. 😉 Quality service at non ego prices.

Baby Steps-What Do I Need To Know To Plan My Book’s Future?

So now you have a baby, you have finished your new book. And you thought the hard part was over, did you? Your worries and sleepless nights have just begun.

In my last blog I suggested you begin researching what you will need to set your baby up for the best chance of success in a world full of babies. If you indeed started doing that you should be pulling your hair out just about now. Information, misinformation, suggestions, opinions – you name it – should be giving you the biggest brain ache you could have never imagined.

In this post I will attempt to make some sense of the terminology that has been tossed around, best we start out on the same page as we take baby steps through the process of bringing your book, your beloved baby, out to meet the world. I will tackle ‘the critique’ in this baby step.

Your book is your creation. You have become close over the past months or years and no one knows it like you. That is good. And that is bad. Sometimes the closer and more involved we are, the less objective we become and what we think is obvious, really isn’t. It is time to get another opinion.

Your first visit with your baby will likely be to people you trust. People that may have been waiting for the arrival. You want to share your book with them and celebrate its birth. These visits can take a variety of paths.

Friends

Family

Teachers or mentors

Fellow writers-critique group

Groups

Associations

Professional Appraisals

Each has pros and cons. Friends are your friends because you like each other and you take care to maintain a certain interaction code. That varies with every friendship but each has an element of caretaker-ship. Family is always a mixed bag of support, from the “You did what!” to the “It must be perfect because you are!” Teachers and mentors have investment in you but they also have their own ideas of what that baby’s path should be. Fellow writers are basically in the same boat as you are. They come with their own skills, flaws, perspectives, rules. Groups can be people with similar interests, goals, aspirations. Associations, likewise, but perhaps on a professional level. Those offering professional appraisals will vary in skill just as every single author service provider you will encounter in the publishing process.

But your goal in your first series of outings is to get those second opinions of your book. Biased or unbiased, it will get you looking at your baby in a different light and hopefully bring your feet back down to earth after the exhilarating experience you have just been through. It will be rough at first, realizing you are not the first, nor will you be the last emerging author. But it is a necessary journey learning to let others hold your baby and to listen to what they say. Really listen. Without prejudice or taking the opinions and suggestions as a personal affront to you.

Your access to the various outlets to get these second opinions will vary, but you must find someone or preferably someones to get an objective view. They will alert you to problem areas. Character flaws, gaps in the story line, anything that is not clear or just not plausible. They may even point out writing habits you may not know you have.

So step one is get other opinions on your book. This will give you the information to determine your next baby step.

Next: But I thought…Making edits in your book and your perception for your baby’s best chance in life.

Note: Just want to add there is a way to get feedback on your book idea with Write On by Kindle through Amazon. You can post your story here and get reviews and comments here from readers. You can post and remove stories at your will. You cannot post anything published and once published you must remove it. However, it could be a good way to get some constructive criticism on that idea or some interest for readers to follow your progress. I would caution that if you post an entire book, once read it is unlikely to be purchased, so be careful. I have not joined as yet so don’t know the ins and outs but it is a possibility. Just get familiar with it before you go too far.  Amazon has laid out review criteria and offered some advice on reviewing so hopefully you will get constructive advice and comment.