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How to Distribute Your Self-Published Book Offline (Part 1)

by Judy Collins
© 2001

Where is your book now? With a distributor? In a bookstore? On your website? Or, did it already die an early death after a few months?

New self-published authors often believe they need a distributor to sell a lot of books. They want to use Ingram or Baker & Taylor because they think they need to get their book into the "brick and mortar" bookstores like Barnes and Noble. They go through many hoops and snags to accomplish this-- what I call the "traditional publishing nightmares" of inefficiency and lack of care for authors with so many hoops, some give up.

So many authors I speak with who have gone this route still have thousands of unsold copies littering up storage space. Talk about discouragement.

Distributors Can be Dangerous to Your Book's Health and Your Wallet

One author wrote, illustrated and marketed six beautiful children's books. Her books were well reviewed and received. For some time, the profits rolled in until her distributor went bankrupt, owing her $160,000. After she stopped crying, she decided to take her books on the road—to local fairs and talks where she could KEEP all the profits.

Distributors take quite a chunk of money from the author's profits too. They charge the author for storage, and when books are returned, the author loses those sales, and has to pay the distributor too. Authors lose from the bookstores because payment is late or unreliable. Some authors wait for funds way beyond 90 days. In fact, many just don't get paid. Writers are not always good at collections either. You see, middlemen not only take most of the author's profits, they cause much stress too.

How Can Self-Published Authors Distribute Offline?

For print books (perfect bound, comb bound or stapled) or eBooks (sent over Email through Word or Portable Document Files)

One. Local Distribution.

For each venue, make sure to include ordering information such as your Web site URL, your company address, your toll-free 800 number, and your local phone number.

1.Distribute Through the Press:

-Create a "Power Press Release" (include tips and how-to's)
-Get a Feature Story from the Media
-Write a how-to article and submit

2. Distribute Through Flyers:

-Carry 25 flyers with you. Give everyone you meet a flyer with your book cover on it.
-Include excerpts and testimonials.
-Make it easy to buy. Offer to accept credit cards or checks.
-Include your toll-free number, local number, web site, and email.

3. Distribute through a local Talk Show-Radio and TV:

-Your audience wants "how-to" information, not other details about your book. Don't sell, inform.
-Offer a free report to audience to capture email addresses

4. Distribute at local talks to groups. Sell your print books at the back of the room. Take a clipboard and capture everyone's email at the talk. These people become your dedicated sales force and tell others. Word of mouth takes up to two or three years, so be patient for results. Check your library for Clubs to offer your talk.

You don't need a traditional distributor to get your books out. Follow the above advice and note your increased sales.

Judy Cullins: 20-year author, publisher, book coach
Helps entrepreneurs manifest their book and web dreams
eBk: _Ten Non-techie Ways to Market Your Book Online_
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