September 3, 2015

Self Publishing? What’s Your Distribution Plan?

Stick figure at a chalkboard with text: Fiction University Day! What's Your Distribution Plan?

It’s time once again for my monthly guest post over at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. That’s a good thing for me because it makes my post today easier…which I need because I’m brain dead. *smile*

Recently, I had to take hours and hours out of my schedule to fight with email. My email inbox is always a disaster because I receive between 100-150 writing-world emails on a normal day, but I valiantly try to stay on top of the important stuff. (I don’t always succeed, however.)

On top of that deluge, as I mentioned on Facebook yesterday, I also discovered that my email program had decided to move almost every message from my inbox into a different folder. (That doesn’t help with finding emails.) And then the program duplicated every message. (That doesn’t help either.)

The final count in one folder was over 23,000 emails. Grr. To clean that up, I had to manually find and delete duplicates and then move the messages back where they belonged. I got it “down” to 4000 emails. Yay! *sigh*

So if you’re waiting for an email from me, let me know. I might have gotten a bit frustrated and punched that delete button one too many times. *grin*

Janice Hardy's Fiction University banner

Anyway, let’s talk self-publishing. Indie publishing isn’t made up of just one decision to put us on one path. The choice to self-publish is just the first of dozens, maybe hundreds, of decisions we’re going to have to make as part of our indie career.

My series about Indie Publishing Paths at Fiction University is working to highlight some of those choices and give us a few guidelines for figuring out how to make the best decisions for us. We don’t want to follow a mentor or advice that isn’t a good match for what we want.

To that end, last month my kickoff of the series started with the topic of knowing our goals. Depending on our goals, we might want to make different choices about pricing, release schedules…or distribution.

This month we’re going to start with a closer look at two distribution options and discuss when one might make more sense for us than another—or when a combination might work even better. (Next month we’ll look at two other options.) There’s no right or wrong answers—only what works best for us.

For example, there are many opinions out there about whether we should go exclusive with Amazon or distribute “wide” (with multiple vendors). And then if we aren’t exclusive with the Kindle Select program at Amazon, there’s no end to the opinions about where else we should sell our books and how we should list them at the retailers.

Authors have succeeded with any and all of the choices. So again, this isn’t a question of one option being “right” and the others being “wrong.”

However, depending on our goals, we might find one (or more than one) option a better fit for us. Once we know which way we want to go, we’ll know which tips to listen to for best practices and the like.

I hope you’ll join me at Fiction University for this month’s post!

Join Jami in her upcoming workshop:
Get ready for NaNo by learning how to do just enough story development to write faster with “Lost Your Pants? The Impatient Writers Guide to Plotting a Story.”

Have you seen authors succeed with different distribution paths (some with Kindle Select and some not, etc.)? If you’re self-publishing (or planning to) have you struggled with knowing where and how to distribute your stories? What pros or cons to any distribution option have you experienced or heard of?

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Comments — What do you think?

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I’ve seen folks succeed with all sorts of methods.

In my own situation, it’s been less of a struggle due to the distribution methods themselves and more because I know I’ll sabotage myself. I’m getting better on that, but it’s still a factor I have to consider when determining where I’ll put something.

But the even bigger factor that I have to consider is my health—I may want to release a story on all vendors simultaneously, but if I only have the health/energy to put it on 3, I might just put it in Select for 90 days to make things easier on myself. I have sites and distributors where I want to have all my work posted, but I’ve only managed to get a few items up so far. I’m gradually making progress on that front, but it’s mentally and physically draining, so it’s taking far longer than I’d prefer.

Even so, I’m still getting a lot more done than some others I know, so it’s a matter of keeping things in perspective. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m headed that way.

That’s really what matters, methinks.

Jennifer M.

Jami, I’m glad you’ve started a discussion on this topic! My current plan is to distribute my ebook version through Kindle Direct, since as it’s been pointed out, it’s easy and you only have to commit for 90 days. I don’t know much about any other options at the moment, so I’m really interested to see what you and others have to say.

Another path I’m looking into is publishing audio books through ACX. I’ve read that readers can purchase both, and simultaneously read and listen to the book on their Kindle. Several people I’ve told about my book have asked if it’ll be available on audio because that’s their preference or due to their circumstances like poor eyesight, they’re truck drivers and don’t have time to read, etc. And since traditionally audio books have been more expensive to produce, there aren’t enough titles to meet the demands of the market. ACX has several options for authors, like CreateSpace and Kindle. So in theory, Indie publishers have a better chance to compete with the best sellers in audio books now.

It’s like you said, the job isn’t over once you publish the book! 🙂

Mark R Hunter

I ran into that e-mail problem back when I used Mail on my Mac — the exact same thing happened. I thought I’d done something wrong, but maybe it was just another case of technology showing us who’s in charge.

Distribution, publicity, promotion … the bane of my life. I’ve been doing this long enough that I remember the old days: When, if you got published at all, someone else did a lot of that work. But on the other hand, a lot more people get published now.

Tamara LeBlanc
Tamara LeBlanc

I have a good friend who has done very well on Amazon, and now I’m on my way to self-publishing on Amazon as well. I’m looking forward to reading your info on Fiction University. It’s very daunting all of this…It’s hard to know if I’m following the right road.

Have a great weekend!!!


[…] My inbox is a disaster, and my day job shifted two months ago to muck up my schedule. I’m now getting about 5-6 hours of sleep a night, and I’m burnt. […]

Kristen Steele

Distribution can get tricky when you’re self-publishing. There are great services that can handle the process for you. But if you have the ambition and the reach, whether it be through a blog, social media, email list, etc., then you can handle the heavy lifting yourself!

Click to grab Ironclad Devotion now!