Self Publishers Need A Book Distributor
Every year there are more and more authors choosing self publishing and trying to get their new book into bookstores. You have to understand that bookstores don't want to have an account with every single one of them, so they are rarely willing to deal directly with a self publisher.
However, bookstores will have certain book distribution companies that they will deal with on a regular basis. So they'll have an account with all the big publishers and perhaps three or four specialist book distributors.
It's simple. Bookstores don't have the time to deal with self publishers with possibly a one-off book; nor do they want to send out thousands of individual invoices. Bookstores find it more efficient to maintain relationships with a small number of distributors (including major publishers), so if you're an author who has chosen the self publishing model and you want to get your work onto bookshelves, you're going to have to go through a book distributor.
Exception to the rule
For example: if you wrote a book about the history of the Blue Mountains and approached a bookstore in the Blue Mountains, there is a chance they'll sell your book without going through a distributor. However, a bookstore in other town or city would almost certainly not want to deal with you. Hence it is possible to sell your books into stores without a distributor, but only if you have a book that has content specific to a particular geographical location.
Representation by a distributor
If you are a first time author, distributors will normally request a finished product before they agree to represent you. Just like a major publisher, distributors will reject books that are of a poor quality or standard. Distributors are putting their brand to your book when they take you on and they don't want to be seen as selling cheap and poorly-produced books - this would only hurt their reputation.
Bookstores want a quality front cover with professional typesetting. They want to know that you are clear about who your market is and you know how to reach them to drive book sales. Remember if you are self publishing a distributor will get your book on the selves, but it is your job to get the books off the shelf - in other words you are the promoter and publicist of your own book.
Beware that book distributors typically work three or four months in advance. So in August they're preparing for the Christmas sales. So never approach a distributor and expect it to be in bookstores in two weeks. It's not going to happen!
Information about how books distributors really work is not always to find, so hopefully this article has now given you a better idea about what you can expect. The next step is to find a distributor that sells books similar to yours and ask questions, but that is a whole other story itself.
Dale Beaumont is the author of this article. He is an internationally renowned book publishing expert, the author of 16 best-selling books and the creator of the Get Published Secrets Program.
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