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How to Choose a Book Distributor

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

You've done the writing, gotten it illustrated, formatted and it's finally print ready … now where to sell it?! Determining your ambitions and goals for your book will help you make the decision of how to sell and distribute your book.

In order to give you an idea of how your distribution plan can align with your ambitions, I will lay out two different kinds of approaches. One is more locally based and independent, while the other is more international/third-party.

What selling locally/independent could look like

  • Going to local art/craft shows to sell your book

  • Printing your book at a local print shop

  • Selling your book through your own website or someone else's independent selling platform

  • getting your book into small local bookstores

  • Mailing out your own book orders

  • Managing your own inventory

  • Marketing with the goal of community engagement

What selling internationally could look like

  • Spending less money and time on printing, mailing and self promotion

  • Using print on demand to avoid ordering too many books

  • Focusing on large online marketing campaigns

  • Marketing towards a larger audience

  • Being more readily accessible internationally

  • Utilizing book reviews to boost your third party book listings

  • Less in royalties

  • Not having to worry about mailing out your book orders

As you can see there are perks to both approaches. If you don't love to be online a lot, going to local art/craft shows might be the better approach. In contrast, if you hate the idea of mailing out orders and managing your own shop, then perhaps a third party seller would be best. Or maybe your book's target audience is really niche and the only way to reach them is to invest all your time into self-promotion and building a website that targets your audience. You can see how planning where and how to sell your book is a very personal decision.

My Personal Preference

Personally, I like the independent route. I LOVE being a vendor at art shows and meaningfully connecting with my community. Since I want to continue to publish books, it also makes more sense for me to have my own selling platform hosted on my website. I don't like when a book sells on Amazon or Ingram Sparks and I don't get to mail it out myself and send a personalized thank you note to my customer.

Profit will Follow Passion

It's also important to note here that there isn't an option that guarantees more profit. Someone who chooses to sell independently can certainly make more profit than someone who went with Amazon and print on demand. Profit will follow passion. If you're more passionate about selling at markets, then that's where you're going to show up the best. If you're more passionate about print on demand, than there is your gravy!

It's all About Trust

I would recommend choosing a platform you trust. Your book is your baby! You didn't craft this book into existence just for it to fall in the hands of a distributor you don't believe in or trust. Follow your gut feeling on this one, and choose the selling platform that feels right for you.

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