What’s the best book distribution strategy and what are the best tools and sites to use to distribute my book?
Hmmm…unfortunately there’s no such thing as a one-size fits all book distribution strategy and why I needed to devote a whole section to it in ‘Look-It’s Your Book!‘. That’s because the best book distribution strategy will depend on your particular book/s and genre, your circumstances, your tech and marketing skills, your goals, your budget/required royalties, and you and your readers’ locations.
That said, think about things including:
- Who you’re trying to reach, where they are based, and the format (paperback/ebook/audiobook etc) they like.
- How much time you have (or don’t have) to manage initial upload processes + manage the various dashboards and reports (potentially over a number of years).
- Whether you would benefit from being able to access various promotional and reporting tools on the different sites (i.e. by uploading direct to certain sites you may benefit from access to extra marketing opportunities).
- How you plan to market your book.
- The quality you are seeking in print books.
- The impact of shipping costs for print books (i.e. for most authors and readers, the freight costs won’t make sense to ship a book from Toowoomba to Tokyo, Tottingham or Toronto…but it may make sense to have it printed on demand in those countries for direct shipping.
- Your ability to attract and sell ebooks direct from your website or your ability to increase book sales by distributing from online sites where readers are accustomed to buying their books.
The optimal outcome is most likely achieved by using a combination of services rather than settling for just one.
For example, here’s what I do:
- A print run with an offset printer (minimum 500-1000 copies at a time to make it economical) for direct sales within Australia.
- IngramSpark – print on demand (to enjoy the benefits of Australian and global distribution to real world and online booksellers, plus so I can drop ship orders as needed around the world).
- Amazon KDP – print on demand via Amazon so my book always shows as ‘Available’ i.e.: not on backorder or out of print (which can happen if you only have your book uploaded only with IngramSpark). It’s likely also going to rank higher in Amazon when you’re book is printed by them too as they make more profit (than if they need to buy it in from Ingram).
- If you’re selling books in the UK and US at events or needing to ship multiple books in those countries, you might also want to check out BookVault. It doesn’t currently have the distribution/reach of IngramSpark though, but it is useful for some authors to have this as an option for in-country POD printing.
- NB: I don’t use a physical book distributor to get my books into bookstores as the cost is just not worth it (though bookstores can order my books in via IngramSpark’s distribution service).
- List my books directly with the key library distributors and supply them directly from my stock. For information on how to get your books into Australian libraries here’s a great short course.
- Run workshops where I can sell my books direct as well as by attracting people to my online store.
- Distribute books to booksellers via IngramSpark, as well supplying other stores direct if I have developed a relationship with them.
Though I do use IngramSpark for print books, I don’t use them for my ebook distribution, I prefer to:
- Upload direct to Amazon (to ensure the I retain the full royalty and so I can access marketing opportunities and stats).
- And, depending on the book, perhaps also enrolling it in KDP Select for various time periods. Why? Because I use a ‘wide’ strategy for most of my books, so they are available across multiple sites rather than only exclusive to Amazon, but it does make sense for the ebook of my memoir (though not the paperback) to be exclusive to KDP so I can increase visibility with a global readership.
- I also upload direct to other key ebook sites (e.g. Kobo) OR use Draft2Digital to do this as they can distribute ebooks wide without all the hassle of signing up to every site (it does cut into your royalties though – so it’s a trade-off between time/headspace and cold hard cash).
- You can also sell and deliver ebooks direct from your website using BookFunnel.
This can be a little tricky for Australian and New Zealand authors as currently Amazon’s ACX does not allow Australians to upload audiobooks directly to their platform (which feeds Audible). You can though use services such as Findaway Voices to distribute your book for you, as well as Author’s Republic and other services. There’s a really great course by Rebecca Hefner that explains all things audiobook distribution here.
So – you can keep your book distribution strategy as simple or complex as you like. Whatever your decision, take into account where your readers are – for example, Amazon is not the leading book seller in all countries, so you can do yourself a disservice sometimes if you go exclusive (or it may work perfectly for your strategy!). Also, a service like Draft2Digital can really help you get your ebook across multiple platforms fast and relatively painlessly, but it will reduce your share of royalties and potentially your ability to access marketing promotions as enjoyed by authors who upload their book direct.
Hopefully that’s food for thought as you work out the optimal way to share your book far and wide. If you’d like me to help discuss your specific circumstances and what might be the best way to distribute your book, I’m available for 30 minute consults to discuss this and any other book, book marketing and publishing-related questions you may have. Let’s get your book project on track and fast!