Take the time to find a book distributor before your self published book hits the press. Distributors, unlike wholesalers (such as Baker & Taylor and Ingram) will actively try to sell your title. This means more people are working to sell your book.
Don't make the mistake that most first time self published authors
make by believing that somehow, your book will sell itself. Books don't
sell themselves, people do. The more people you have behind you, the
better your book sales will be.
Look for a distributor
that markets to your particular niche. If your book is accepted and you
are offered a contract, be sure to read it carefully. Determine the
discount rate, payment schedule, return policy and if there is an
exclusivity clause. The company may require copies of your book cover
(covers are much easier to bring on sales calls than heavy books). They
may also require you to provide them with fliers (with their contact
information, not yours) or suggest you advertise in their catalog,
magazine or pay for display space at national trade shows. Participate
in at least one or two of their programs to help them sell more copies
of your book.
If your book is turned down by a distributor, take heart. Know that rather than rejecting you or your work, they are telling you that your book is not appropriate for their market. See this as an opportunity to find a company that targets the same niche as your book.
Once you have a contract under your belt, you can approach other
companies (as long as your contract doesn't have an exclusivity clause).
Know that certain book distributors may not be interested in
representing your work if they know you are represented by one of their
Try to get at least one book distributor for the book stores and another for the libraries. There are also companies that sell to the large discount stores (like Sam's Club, Walmart and Costco) and companies that sell to niche gift stores, grocery stores and airport bookstores. Do your research before sending out your book to make sure that it will be a good fit. Don't waste your time and money sending out copies of your book to companies that do not target your niche.
Make sure to find out if there are inventory fees (which the company charges you to stock your book) or if you have to advertise in their catalog. The company that distributes my books has recently started charging a variety of fees. Still their ability to get my books into stores and specialty markets where I cannot not, has definitely been worth it.
Remember, books don't sell themselves. Do the work to find a book distributor and you will have a sales staff for your book.
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About the author:
Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting and its companion, Keepers of the Children: Companion Workbook/Journal. She is also the creator of a DVD-series and various ebooks.