Self-publishing 8: distributors v direct


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OK, so you want to publish wide, but how do you go about doing that?

You have two options: you can set up an account with a distributor, who will then send all your book details to the retailers you select; or you can go direct to each retailer and upload your books directly with each and every one.

Some distributors are Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, Bookbaby, & Smashwords. [NB The only one of these services I have used is Draft2Digital, the others I have no experience of. The D2D link is an affiliate link which doesn’t cost you anything but would give me a bonus if you were to sign up through it.]

Benefits of using a distributor

The main benefit of using a distributor is that it is quicker as you only need to upload your book in one place and they send it out to however many retailers. You then also have only one place where you need to update any files in the future. Another benefit is that you see more of your sales in one place, rather than needing to go to each retailer and update your sales figures.

Using a distributor also means you can reach retailers it’s difficult to reach direct like many of the library vendors and more international stores. Finally, many retailers have a threshold before they will pay you royalties, so until you earn that amount you won’t be receiving anything from them. Going through a distributor often means that you will be paid however little you have sold through each retailer.

Benefits of going direct

On the other hand, if you go direct to each retailer then you’re in control of how your book is presented in each one. Also, you don’t have to pay to use the distributor and so will earn all of your royalties.

Overall

Before making a decision you should research the costs of different distributors as they have different payment models (% royalties, or monthly fee) and they distribute to different retailers. Then weigh up the different options to see which best suits your position.

You can also choose a hybrid – go direct to the bigger retailers and then use one (or more) distributors to reach the smaller retailers. Personally I go direct to Amazon and Kobo, and use Draft2Digital to reach Apple, Barnes & Noble and a list of smaller services. And as your sales develop you can reassess whether you go direct with each retailer based on your sales there. And whatever you choose to do with other retailers I would advise going direct with Amazon.

 

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