Distribution sales make much less profit than regular sales.

This way distribution creates a competition with myself. This is especially important when advertising my book on radio or TV, as the customers get only book name, not URL, and thus are likely to buy on e.g. Amazon what is bad for me. (However it is not harmful if I advertise in Internet as users get my preferred URL.)

How much this bad effect is really harmful?

Does it make the suggestion not to use distribution at all?

  • If you sell directly, you are doing the distribution. This will cost you time and resources and both take away from the time you could spend earning money, so they cost you money. If you think that self-distribution will leave you with more profit, you are mistaken. There is a reason why most authors focus on writing more books, thus having more products to sell, instead of wasting their time with marketing and distributing less books, especially if they are not marketing and sales experts (like you) and would probably not get the most out of that process. But good luck to you.
    – user5645
    Jan 24 '15 at 9:11

You're assuming that the choice is between "sell a book through a channel where I make $1 per copy" versus "sell a book through a channel where I make $5 per copy" (or whatever the numbers are). But unless you are a very famous author, the choice is almost ALWAYS between, "sell a book for $1 per copy" versus "not sell a book to that potential customer".

Realistically: Say you put an ad on the radio. A customer hears the title of your book and goes to Amazon or a bookstore to find it. You make a sale for a small amount of money. You would have preferred if they had gone to your personal web site where you could make more money. But if you don't put the ad on the radio, will that person hear of your book at all? How many people who hear your radio ad would have found your book in some other advertising?

If you're JK Rowlings or Stephen King, maybe steering people to channels where you make the most unit profit is important. For 99.9% of the world's authors, getting sales at all is struggle. The thing to worry about is really not, Which sales channel gets me the most royalty per book?, but really, Which sales channel gets me any sales at all?

  • You answer is guided by pessimism not logic. How much important for me to sell for $5 or $1 does not depend on whether my sales are big or small. Even if I sell only 10 items, the profit is anyway 5 times different.
    – porton
    Jan 23 '15 at 15:22
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    How is this for optimism: If your book sells enough on Amazon (or some other distributor), it may start to generate more sales by virtue of being a top seller. That could snowball. Unless your web site has 50 million visitors, your chances of making decent money are better with distributors, simply because the pool of buyers is so much larger.
    – dmm
    Jan 23 '15 at 16:26
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    Also, there is the question of trust. People trust the websites of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. People are unlikely to trust small-time operations like your website. Thus they are less likely to buy from it.
    – dmm
    Jan 23 '15 at 16:31
  • You're missing my point. My point is not, How many total copies do you sell? But, are sales on one channel taking away from sales on another channel, or are they sales that you would not have made otherwise? Is the choice you are facing between, say, 1000 sales on your personal site plus 1000 sales on Amazon, versus 2000 sales on your personal site? Or is it 1000 sales on your personal size plus 1000 sales on Amazon versus 1002 sales on your personal site, because most of the people who bought on Amazon would never have bought on your personal site? ...
    – Jay
    Jan 23 '15 at 19:07
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    My point about total sales was just this: Unless you are already famous, no one except a few friends and relatives is going to be saying, "Hey, I heard Porton wrote a book. I wonder where I can find it?", and then your problem is to steer them to the channel that gives you the highest royalties. Your problem is to get people out there to know that you have written a book that they might be interested in, and to get them to buy it ANYWHERE. I quit keeping track, but I think I sold about 700 copies of my last book through Amazon. I sold I think 3 through my personal web site.
    – Jay
    Jan 23 '15 at 19:20

One of the most difficult challenges of being a self-published writer is having to do the self-promoting and the self-distributing that comes along with it. There are so many different options to consider and so many different factors to take into consideration, and I can guarantee these questions have been asked at least a thousand times on a thousand forums by thousands of writers. There is no easy answer, and certainly not one that fits every writer. You just have to look at all your options and decide which ones are worth your time and efforts.

When I hear you asking about distribution, I assume you really mean advertising. When you mention advertising on radio or TV compared to advertising on the internet, I would agree that there is an advantage with the internet in that you can provide your URL. However, I would first wonder why you are spending money on advertising at all? There are so many other ways to promote your work without spending any money at all, and I would recommend exploring those first.

Over the last three years, I have seen my income from my self-published books double each year, and this year I expect it to be enough for me to be able to take early retirement if I choose to do so. I have never spent a single penny on advertising, and except for the first few months after I wrote my first book, I have spent very little time promoting. What I have done instead is keep writing more books across multiple genres until I found something that sells, and then I kept giving the readers what they wanted.

I would recommend spending more time in writer's forums asking for advice from other self-published authors to see what has worked for them. (My personal favorite is the Writer's Cafe at the Kindle Boards forum. They aren't exclusive to just writers on the kindle platform.) Writers in these types of forums will be able to tell you about blog tours and pricing and promos, they will be able to offer advice on writing a series, and you may even be able to find beta readers to help critique your book before you publish. All of these things will help improve your chances of selling your book and won't cost you anything. Just spend more time doing your research up front rather than spending your money.

From what I've seen in this post and some of your others, you seem to have a real aversion to selling through someone like Amazon, and I just don't get it. They pay 70% royalties, which is really pretty darned good. I consider the 30% they take as fair exchange for a sales portal that is always available, not to mention the visibility. You need to look at your total cost of ownership and see if your model is really worth it after you factor in the cost of web hosting, advertising, and the time you spend promoting yourself and/or your book.

Also, keep in mind that even if you do catch someone's attention with a radio or television ad, it is highly unlikely they will stop what they are doing to go to your web site to check out your book. With most advertising, less than 3% of exposures result in sales. With book sales, you'll be fortunate if they remember your name, and doubly so if they remember your book. Then in all likeliness they are going to decide later to go to Amazon to look for you or your book, and now you've alienated them by not being available there. You really can't afford to NOT include them in your business model.

From a business perspective, you need to cast your net as wide as you can, but start out by exploring the shallows first. Do what you can with as little as you can and then decide where it makes sense to spend your money. I honestly believe you will find that there are MUCH better things to do with your time AND money than to go spending it on advertising.

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