So you've penned your masterpiece, published it, and have a solid marketing campaign in place, but how do you plan to distribute your book? Navigating the choppy waters of distribution can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools, finding a means to distribute your book is a lot easier than it sounds. Here are some popular ways to circulate your work.
Work with a Bookstore
If you plan to sell your book in local bookstores, or if your book is in a niche category, it may be beneficial to work directly with retailers. If you're in a small town and know the local bookstore well, or if your book of cooking recipes would do well in the mom-and-pop grocery specialty food store down the street, they may be willing to sell your book directly. Small bookstores are beneficial because if your book doesn't sell, they'll usually give you the extra copies back. Some bookstores will buy a small amount of copies on consignment, while others would prefer to buy your books through a large print distributor.
Traditional Book Distribution (Offset Printing)
Print book distributors are a traditional way to get your book out there. If you expect to sell large quantities of your book in printed format, offset printing may be the way to go. A traditional book distributor will sell your book in mass quantities, to both wholesalers and retailers. Keep in mind that not all print distributors work with self-published authors, so you'll have to do your research. Also, print distribution may be inefficient. If you don't sell large quantities of your book, the remaining copies will be returned to you, meaning you have to find the space to house those piles of books that you may or may not sell.
Print On Demand
Print-on-demand (POD) services are one of the most affordable and efficient ways to distribute your book. These services keep your book in an online database. When a customer orders your book through a brick-and-mortar store, the distributor will print it and send it to the store where the reader ordered it, saving time and money. When a customer buys your book through an online store, the distributor ships it directly to them, giving a percentage of profit to the reseller (and to you).
When you use a POD service, your book is formatted across multiple platforms, so you can easily sell it on your own website, through other online retailers, and on physical shelves in local bookstores. POD services give you the freedom to print only the books you need. Whether you want to sell print copies to bookstores, or you simply want an e-book with the possibility of making a print version in the future, POD services offer you the most flexibility in your book distribution.