Once your book is complete, it’s time to get it out into the world.
There are two main types of distribution for your print version: bricks-and-mortar bookshops and print on demand. If you have a publisher then they should handle bookshop distribution for you; if you are a self-publisher you will have to do this yourself or have your self-publishing company help you. There are book distribution businesses you can approach, however it can be difficult for a self-publisher with just one book to be picked up.
So can you approach individual bookstores? The quick answer is no, most stores won’t deal with individual self-publishers as it becomes too much for them to have a lot of single-book accounts. However, you may be able to get your book into your local store just by approaching them and letting them know you are a local author, so that might be worth a try.
Remember too that bookshop distribution is based on ‘sale or return’, which means that even if your book is distributed out to stores, it isn’t considered sold until someone picks it off the shelf and pays for it. If your book does not sell, in about six to nine months the stores can return it to your publisher or distributor and you will not be paid for that copy.
And finally, keep in mind you will need to print extra copies for your distributor, so make sure you find out how many copies they want before you finalise your print quantity, and factor that into your print quantity.
The other distribution avenue for your print book is via print on demand, and unlike bookshops it’s very easy to set up and manage this yourself, or you can have your self-publishing company do this for you. If you just want your book on Amazon, you can do everything via their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. However, if you are wanting to also make your book available on sites such as Book Depository, Booktopia, Barnes & Noble and other online stores, you will need to use a service such as IngramSpark (who we work with and highly recommend). Print on demand will give you worldwide distribution without having the responsibility of printing and shipping the book yourself; KDP or IngramSpark take care of everything for you. After their fees are deducted, your payment goes into your account. This is a great ‘set and forget’ way to have your book available worldwide.
You may also want to have an ebook version of your book. Again, if you only want your book on Amazon, you can use KDP, but if you want more retailers to list your book, the quickest and easiest way is to again use a service like IngramSpark. Ebooks will require specialised formatting, and you will usually need a file type such as an ePub. To do this properly, we highly recommend using a professional ebook conversion company, as things can move around and the layout can change if this is not done carefully.
Like anything as a self-publisher, take the time to consider what types of distribution are right for you and to understand all of the options.