I was hanging out on Facebook when I saw this status update from my friend William, “I have a burning desire to make my book go worldwide when it comes out. I want to change mindsets and people’s lives with my story.” Of course any status with the word “book” in it – my not-so secret addiction – grabs my interest like a triple chocolate sundae smothered in hot fudge.

In other words, I had to comment. Wanting to keep this future author from falling into an easy button trap, I replied with, “Make sure your distribution options are open, then… Nothing like choosing the wrong company & finding out a year down the road you can’t make any international sales! (BTW, I regularly sell books in the UK & other parts of the world.)”

This quick interaction prompted a private discussion where William asked me to expand on that comment. He found my response so helpful, he thought I should also share it with you…

There are a lot of companies that will “self-publish”  your book for you and claim they get you into distribution (make your book available to order through online retailers and any bookstore). But what they don’t tell you is that bookstores have specific requirements to host you for a book signing and stock your book on their shelves, and not a single one of those companies can meet all of those requirements.  The biggest requirements are price point, wholesale discount and returnability. Some companies require the purchase of a $5,000 “Pro” publishing plan plus an $800/year fee just to list the book as returnable. This only meets one of the bookstore’s requirements, and honestly if someone’s going to pay $5,000 to get a book done they can do way better than a vanity “self-publishing” company.

There are other publishers called “custom” publishers that create beautiful books and can meet bookstore requirements, but they usually require hefty setup fees for the book’s production, as well as a minimum order of 3,000+ copies of the book. Since most authors don’t have a few spare rooms to house books, they conveniently offer their warehouses for $100/month to stock and ship books. Usually these options cost in the $40,000-50,000 range to get a book produced and printed. They are a good option if you’re a major international speaker and can move thousands of books in a matter of a few months, as the price-per-book is lower than a print-on-demand style book.

Then there’s your average book printer that will print a nice book for you, but it’s up to you to register the book with Amazon Advantage ($99/year) to get it listed online, and that only gets it to one retailer, not in the distribution channel for bookstores.

Basically there’s currently one back door to get access to bookstores without a lot of red tape – and that’s an industry trade secret. Then again, if you don’t need access to bookstores one of the above options might work well for you – if you’re willing to give up your distribution rights, the single rights that will enable you to get a traditional publishing contract someday. (If your goal is not a traditional contract and your funds are limited, vanity publishing might be a good option for you.)

I personally am an entrepreneur used to being in control of my business, so I prefer to have my books registered 100% in my name, all rights controlled by me (including distribution), and 100% of profits from book sales in my pocket… plus access to major distribution channels that typically are only open to big traditional publishers.

If you’re interested in learning how to self-publish a book that will rival those on the traditional bookstore shelf, and actually get on the bookstore shelf, check out the Book Publishing Ninja Signature Series of courses inside The Book Ninja Academy!

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy Laidig is the founder of The Book Ninja. She has authored over 40 books, started over 50 publishing companies, trained over 10,000 authors worldwide, has her black belt in karate, and eats way too much chocolate. She currently changes lives through her students… one published message at a time, manages her two retail stores Toy Box Gifts & Wonder® and Nerdvana Outpost in the heart of her newfound hometown, Chambersburg, PA, is in the start-up phase of at least three new businesses at any given time, and generally causes anyone reading this bio to be out of breath. On her “off” time (what’s that?) she brainstorms business ideas with her awesome husband, the great Public Domain Expert himself, Tony Laidig, and hangs out with her two ragdoll kitties. She’s even been known to sleep... occasionally.

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