Category Archives: Book Distribution

What is Vanity Publishing?

What is vanity publishing? Vanity publishing is one of the three options today’s authors have available to help you publish a book. But this option doesn’t have a good reputation. Today’s post discusses why that’s the case and what you can do to improve your book’s image.

What is vanity publishing?

What is vanity publishing?

You have three different book publishing options available to you: traditional trade publishing; vanity (unsupported self-publishing); and hybrid (professionally supported self-publishing). For a clear understanding of the pros and cons of each, I recommend you download this free ebook. It’s a short book. You should be able to read it in under two hours.

What is Vanity Publishing?

The vanity book publishing model was introduced as an alternative for writers who were tired of waiting around to be accepted by traditional book publishers. They had, instead, decided to self-publish their books themselves. As noble as the vanity publishers’ intentions might be, they are the least respected book publishing alternative of them all within publishing circles (i.e., traditional publishers, reviewers, booksellers, and distributors). With good reason.

These companies are more aptly described as book printers than publishers. They’ve earned their notoriety by accepting and printing 100 percent of the manuscripts that are submitted to them. Little consideration is given to the quality of your book—the opposite extreme of trade publishing. A vanity publisher will take what it receives and print it as is, matter what it looks like.

Vanity Publishing is Unsupported Self-Publishing

Some of these companies run a “self-service” type of operation using a selection of generic template builders. This allows self-publishing authors to upload book files online (or via email) and then draft them into ebooks or paperbacks.

Other vanity publishers are simply printers with in-house design staff. They will take your raw materials (e.g., manuscript, graphics) and do all that formatting for you for a fee. Then they’ll print however many copies you want printed.

There is No Editing Included

Both vanity publishing options share one commonality: although their staff might be knowledgeable about printing and electronic file formatting, they are wholly unseasoned when it comes to the essential publishing practices (such as professional editing, graphic design, and proofreading) that ensure the polished result every serious author is after. Vanity publishers never actively encourage their clients to improve the quality of their work in any way. This lack of improvement is truly a disservice to the serious-minded authors who wish to present themselves as professionals.

Best for Personal Gratification (Hence the “Vanity” Reference)

For those who wish to publish your books solely for personal gratification, then the vanity book publishing route is probably the best one to take. This is a great option for family history books, scrapbooks intended as gifts for loved ones, and other non-commercial projects.

If you wish to sell your book commercially, then you’ll need to produce a more professional product. Copy editing is a crucial step in helping you to achieve this. But there are ways to produce your book economically. Click here for details.

Related reading: Sneak a peek inside How to Publish a Bestselling Book for even more details on your publishing options.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Book Distribution Options for Independent Authors

book distribution optionsbook distribution options

book distribution options

Wondering how to distribute your book to your reader base? That all depends on how and where you publish it. In this post, we’ll look at the book distribution options available to independent authors.

Ebook-only Distribution Options

You may not need to produce a paperback version of your book if you plan to distribute it online only. When you publish an .epub through Kobo, or a .mobi through Amazon, your book will only be available through these companies’ online distribution networks.

In Canada, Kobo is partnered with Chapters Indigo. So, when you publish an .epub through Kobo Writing Life, it will show up on both Kobo and Chapters Indigo websites. Books that are published to Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), on the other hand, will only be available for sale through Amazon’s ecommerce site.

Digital Book Distribution Options

The term “digital book” can refer to ebooks, paperbacks, and even hardcovers. Online worldwide book distributors, such as Amazon and Ingram Content Group, utilize print-on-demand (POD) technology to sell physical books online. In other words, they won’t print and store any physical copies of your paperback/hardcover book in a large warehouse anywhere.

Instead, they’ll store only the digital cover and interior files that you’ve uploaded to their sites. And they will print, bind, and ship only as many copies as someone buys from them at any given time. Of course, this saves you from having to print any upfront copies whatsoever. If someone goes to their site to buy ten copies of your book, then ten copies will be printed, bound, and shipped to that buyer. If another person buys only one, then they will print, bind, and ship only one—hence the term “print on demand.” This is a definite pro, isn’t it?

Now here are the cons: digital printers can only handle certain trim sizes and paper weights. This limits you to certain book trim sizes, binding types, and paper stocks/colours.

Traditional Distribution Options

If you want your books sold on traditional booksellers’ bookshelves, you must play by the peculiar rules set by the traditional book supply chain. And, believe me, peculiar is the best word to describe these old rules.

As well, most “bricks and mortar” booksellers and libraries will only purchase their books through established distributors such as Ingram Content Group. They simply won’t deal with individual authors on anything more than a per-event consignment basis.

Related reading: Is Book Printing a Good Idea for Indie Authors?

Related reading: Printers and Publishers: What Their Graphic Designers Will and Won’t Do for You

Related reading: Why Do Authors Need Graphic Designers?

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Selling Books Online Has Never Been Easier

Selling books online has never been easier—even for those of you storing boxes of paperbacks/hardcovers in your garages. You can move those books out once and for all. Order fulfillment and shipping is also easier now thanks to Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA).

Selling books online is made easier with Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA).

Selling books online is made easier with Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA).

On this blog, I often discuss ways you can sell more books through strategic blogging and digital publishing. But where does that leave those of you who have already printed a few hundred books that are collecting dust in boxes in your garage?

Selling Books Online is Not Limited to Digital Books

I had coffee with an aspiring author just last week. We were discussing the most effective ways for him to sell his non-fiction idea when he mentioned his father is a poet. Years ago, his father had self-published a poetry collection the old-fashioned way—by printing a few hundred copies of it at a local print shop. He’d held one or two bookstore signings after that and sold 40 or 50 copies to local supporters.

But he was surprised to learn that “bricks and mortar” booksellers and libraries will only purchase books through established distributors. They simply won’t deal with individual authors on anything more than a per-event consignment basis. So, like many others, he found himself stuck with several boxes of books, unable to sell them. Nobody had told him it would be this difficult using the traditional book distribution system.

Today’s Book Distribution System Makes Life Easier for Indies

Today, all you need is a website address to direct traffic to and people everywhere can find you. An Amazon ecommerce webpage like this one is perfect. Here, you can write an enticing book description and upload a cover image to promote your title. Then you can simply drive traffic to that webpage from all over your province/country—never mind your local community. And you can rely on Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) to house and ship those books for you.

But, like anything else, it’s not a simple “set it and forget it” type of system. You can’t just list the book and walk away. You still have to actively drive traffic to that webpage, and strategic blogging is the easiest and most cost-effective way to do it.

Related reading: Is Book Printing a Good Idea for Indie Authors?

Related reading: [Guest Blogging and Content Syndication] T-Shaped Marketing for Authors

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



How to Price a Paperback Book

There are two main things you must consider regarding how to price a paperback book: who is printing the book; who is buying the book. These are your hard costs.

How to Price a Paperback Book

How to Price a Paperback Book

Who is Printing Your Paperback Book?

Any books that are printed using print-on-demand (POD) technology will cost more per unit than books that are printed in large quantities on traditional offset presses. As a result, you’ll have a smaller profit margin on POD books.

Still, it’s important to take advantage of POD in this day and age. It allows your customers to buy your books one at a time on ecommerce sites like Amazon. It also allows independent authors to print small quantities of your books at reasonable prices, as selling opportunities arise. For example, one paperback book may cost around $6 per unit to print on demand digitally.

Traditional offset presses are designed to print larger quantities of books at a lower cost per unit. In fact, they can’t print small quantities economically. It may only cost around $2 per unit to produce 1,000 copies of that same book on an offset press. The downside to printing this many copies is that it requires a large upfront investment. You will also have the added cost/hassle of warehousing all your books.

How to Price a Paperback Book: Printing Options

There’s a time and a place to use each type of printer, which is why PPG returns all working files and finished files to our authors. This allows you to choose if/where you’re going to print your book based on who you’re selling it to:

  • Traditional offset printing: best price for 1000+ copies
  • Standard digital printing: best price for 100 to 999 copies
  • Print-on-demand (POD) digital printing: best price for one to 99 copies

It’s always wise to contact a few printers to obtain quotes for 50, 250, 500, and 1000 books. Make your decision from there.

Who is Buying Your Paperback Book?

On that note, authors who wish to sell copies of your books through local retailers, such as book stores, will also have to factor each retailer’s profit share into your final retail price. Retailers/wholesalers buy publishers’ books at steep discounts in order to turn their own profits. They also expect your title to be marked as “returnable” (for a full refund) in case it doesn’t sell. Here are the industry standards for such discounts:

  • Book Wholesalers (i.e. Ingram, Baker & Taylor, libraries): 50-55% discount
  • Book Retailers (i.e. Chapters, McNally Robinson): 40-45% discount

Once your book has been designed and the final trim size, page count, picture count, and interior (black and white/colour) has been determined, a printer will be able to provide you with the cost per unit to print your book. It is best to factor in the highest possible printing cost (POD) along with the highest possible discount (wholesaler) when determining your book’s retail price. For example, if your POD cost per copy is $4.50, then your retail price should be set at $11.99 minimum as shown here:

How to Price a Paperback Book

How to Price a Paperback Book

Again, these costs are only a small part of the equation when determining the price of a paperback book and should only be used to calculate the lowest possible retail price. You should also do a thorough examination of your audience and what they value most.

Related reading: How to Price an Ebook: A Guide for Independent Authors

Related reading: Is Book Printing a Good Idea for Indie Authors?

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Is Book Printing a Good Idea for Indie Authors?

Is book printing a good idea for indie authors? That’s a loaded question. There are many things to consider regarding cost, inventory, distribution, and even colour reproduction.

Is book printing a good idea for indie authors?

Is book printing a good idea for indie authors?

Book Printing Lessons Learned the Hard Way

If I knew eight years ago what I know today, I would have given very different advice to a high-profile author regarding her book printing options. At the time, I figured she was a certain best seller in Canada. Not only was she a prominent Canadian athlete, but she was regularly hosted by our national media to speak about her sport.

With guaranteed publicity exposure like that, I was confident she could easily print and sell 2,000 copies of her book. I even assumed she would sell them out so fast that she’d have to print another 2,000 within a few months. We mutually (naively) agreed to this large offset book printing option so she would pay a lower cost per unit. We figured she would save money in the long run. And she would ultimately earn a higher profit per unit on all the books she sold.

In hindsight, we should have had a more in-depth conversation—the discussion I now have with all my authors. Never again will I ever make book printing recommendations based on one’s professional status, popularity, media exposure, or assumed readership. Why? Because this author still has a garage full of books that she never did sell … a fact that bothers me every day. I wish I had done things differently for her. Below is a list of the questions I wish we had clearly answered before printing any books.

How will people know where to buy the books you’ve printed?

3 Book Printing Tips for Indie Authors

3 Book Printing Tips for Indie Authors

During my book publishing career, I’ve worked with two sports icons and other prominent business professionals on their book projects. I’ve learned that, many times, the most successful people are also the most humble people. They don’t boast about their accomplishments. In fact, they don’t enjoy talking about themselves at all. This makes selling books a real challenge. Because the only way to sell your books is to talk about them. And you cannot just mention, “Hey, I’ve written a new book,” and leave it at that. You must come right out and say, “I’ve written a new book, and here’s where you can buy a copy.”

You must ask for the sale in order to make the sale. Over and over and over again. Until all the books you’ve printed are sold.

This author rarely ever mentioned her book during all the media interviews she gave, never mind informing people they could buy copies directly from her. She had the book listed on her website, but she seldom mentioned her website address to the media. Perhaps she thought her website had a strong enough SEO that it would easily attract relevant traffic to her book. And perhaps she also thought, once that traffic arrived, book sales would automatically result.

Rarely does it ever work that way. No matter who you are, you must ask for the sale in order to make the sale. Or hire someone to do that for you.

Here’s the irony in all this: her book is a best seller on Amazon several times over. People went there to buy the digital print-on-demand paperback version of her book, but very few visited her website to buy it direct. So, this bestselling author still has several hundred printed books collecting dust in her garage.

How are you going to distribute the books you’re storing at your home?

When we decided to print her books, we knew she could easily store them in her garage for free. Storage was no problem for her at all. But we never discussed the logistics of actually distributing those books to the buyers who would later purchase them from her website, and this is a critical detail to think through.

Sure, you can expect to pay a lower cost per unit when you print books in bulk. But what is your cost for packaging and delivering each book down the road? Are your buyers able to pick up their books in person? Or can you deliver en masse in person (e.g., selling direct at the back of a conference room at speaking events)? If not, you’ll have to pay for packaging, delivery costs, and possibly even customs fees for buyers who are located outside your country. All these costs can add up and take a huge chunk out of your profits.

On the other hand, if you’re passing those costs onto your buyers, it may prevent them from purchasing from you at all. It might be easier for them to just order your book from ecommerce sites like Amazon that can offer them a much lower shipping rate than you can.

Will local bookstores inventory and sell your printed books for you?

Book Distribution Truths

Book Distribution Truths

No. They won’t.

For the authors who believe you’ll be able to print and sell direct to popular “bricks and mortar” book retailers, I highly recommend you download and read this additional FREE ebookWhy Traditional Bookstores Won’t Carry Your Book on Their Shelves … and Why That’s Okay. The truth is, if you want your book placed in a local bookstore’s inventory, you must play by the peculiar rules set by the traditional book supply chain. And, believe me, peculiar is the best word to describe these old rules … as I’m sure you’ll agree once you read the book.

As well, most “bricks and mortar” booksellers (e.g., Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and Blackwell’s, et cetera) and libraries will only purchase their books through established distributors such as Ingram Content Group. They simply won’t deal with individual authors on anything more than a per-event consignment basis.

3 Book Printing Tips for Indie Authors

The above questions are far from the only considerations you must make when deciding on your book printing options. In 3 Book Printing Tips for Indie Authors, I discuss many more.

There is much to think about, much to consider when it comes to book printing. For example, printers can be finicky machines at times. Have you ever wondered why, sometimes, a colour image looks different on your computer screen than it does in a printed document? This has much to do with the way the colour file was created by the designer as well as the type of paper it is being printed on and the type of printer being used. If colour precision is important to you, then you need a professional designer to help you design your book before you print it.

Before you engage in any type of book printing at all, be sure to read the above books and answer all these questions for yourself. It could save you a lot of time and money.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.