Get the TRUTH about Distribution
Distribution does not sell books. There was a time when Blitzprint did distribute books. But an analysis of our sales data revealed that 99 percent of listed titles sold less than one copy per month. The fact is that distribution does not sell books. The myth is that it does—a myth on which a great many vanity publishers are founded: Give them your money, they stock your book, and it becomes a bestseller. Like we said, it’s a myth.
Yes, the availability of your work is important. But the only way your book will sell is if people ask for it. And they won’t ask for it unless they know about it. So when it comes to sales, marketing trumps distribution.
We’ve seen it time and again. First-time self-publishers are far more likely to succeed through sweat equity, unless they can afford the astronomical charges some publishers levy to advertise books in places like The New York Times Book Review. Successful self-publishing authors are tireless promoters. They put countless hours into raising awareness of their books—and differentiating them from the dozens, or hundreds, of other titles on their publishers’ distribution lists. These authors work the phones, emails, book agents, bookstore chains, talk shows. Generating sales, if that’s your goal, means leaping at every opportunity to tell people about your book.
Distribution options for self-publishing authors
We recommend these options to self-publishers who are looking for distribution support:
Amazon Advantage is Amazon’s consignment program. In this consignment model, you register and pay a fee, then supply Advantage with finished hard copies of your book. You will be listed on Amazon.com. As your books sell, the company will request more inventory. Royalties are disbursed on a quarterly basis.
This is a great way to create an online sales presence, while maintaining quality control of your book. This model also aligns well with Blitzprint, in that we can print and warehouse your book, and oversee shipping to Advantage when their stocks run low. The downside: if you decide that you no longer want to list with Advantage, you must have an American address to which the books can be returned.
Lightning Source is primarily a POD (print-on-demand) printer. A subsidiary of Ingram, the largest book wholesale distributor in the world, Lightning Source is geared more towards professional authors. They can help get your book into the Ingram catalogues, making you available to more than 71,000 retail and library customers globally. A distribution arrangement with Lightning Source will also get you on several Ingram partner sites.
Once you register your book through them, you’ll be asked to prepare your files according to stringent specifications prior to uploading. When orders for your book come in, LS will print the quantity ordered, usually within 12 to 24 hours, and send them direct to the purchaser. Sales royalties are disbursed quarterly.
If you’re familiar with POD, you know the downside: Your book is printed with numerous others to reduce the cost per unit. This compromise in quality control is most often manifested in colour variances (from your proof or previous prints) exceeding the five percent that’s typical in all printing equipment and print jobs.
CreateSpace is a subsidiary of Amazon.com, where your book would be listed if you sign up. This is another POD operation, entirely web-based. Contact is by email only, which may frustrate some authors, particularly if problems arise.
As with Lightning Source, CreateSpace is very particular about file set-up. When orders are received for your book, they’re printed—usually within 12 to 24 hours—and sent direct to the purchaser. Royalties are disbursed on a quarterly basis. See the Lightning Source notes for more on our concerns with POD.