This is Part Six in my continuing series of posts on the very basics of self-publishing books. This part discusses book distribution. And here’s the link to Part Five.
As a POD published author and a self-published author, the biggest hurdle you will face to getting your product placed in bookstores is the infeasibility of allowing your books to be returned for a complete refund if they aren’t sold. Not to mention the penalty the publisher gets socked with for shipping those books back. Unfortunately, this is what booksellers continue to insist upon and what traditional publishers continue to grant them. Authors continue to suffer financially as a result of this.
At one time, this obstacle seemed almost insurmountable. Authors were doing things like selling books out of the trunks of their cars direct to consumers. Setting up signings at book fairs, festivals and other venues, going to individual bookstores and arranging events where and when they could. These methods, although they can bear fruit with enough time and effort, are a lot of work, time consuming, and not terribly cost-effective. Then, clever authors found ways to use the Internet to sell books of various formats online. A much less labor-intensive and time-saving approach. At one time, the problem was virtually eliminated (no pun intended) with the advent of ebooks.
Ebooks are the cheapest, easiest and most logical way for self-published authors to distribute and sell their work. However, since I first self-published my fiction in 2009, the ebook market has exploded.
More than ever, this means self-published writers need to “up their game” in terms of the quality of their work.
Writing and promoting a badly-written book is like walking around with a “Kick me” sign on your back. You’re also doing nothing to advance your writing career. In fact, you may end up derailing it, if you aren’t careful.
Much of this advice depends on what you wish to achieve as a writer. Always remember that your notion of success may not match that of other “influential” authors.
Remember also never to compare your start with someone else’s middle.
Amazon: To KDP Select or Not. Is that
still a big deal the question? 🙂
PS: You’re damn right they’re NOT your publisher. Unless, of course, they are! 🙂
Olga Núñez Miret says
You’re right, Debby. I know some authors who do quite well through direct selling at book signings and fairs, but it depends on the genre and how much of a personal effort they make (and I’m not sure it is financially very rewarding in most cases). Authors who write something of local interest might do well, especially if they have strong roots and are well-connected, but for most of the rest of writers it’s not a great strategy.
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when it comes to selling books of local interest. I think effective marketing depends to a great extent on what you write, as well as your purpose in writing it.
I suspect we all have to figure out what works for us (individually) and go with that.
Yeah, financially … hitting up every possible signing place can truly vary in terms of ROI and energy expended. And when you’re energy is low, anyway, that’s a big consideration. (Dystonia does play a big factor for me.) 🙂