Welcome to the fourth instalment of our five-part article series on the Principles of Successful Business Publishing.  In the previous article, I introduced you to the principle of Ownership and why it is so important for business authors to maintain end-to-end ownership of their rights and control over the publishing process.

The next principle is Distribution: utilising multiple distribution channels that allow for the widest reach.  As with any business that sells a physical product, having a well-thought-out and optimised distribution strategy is vital to success.  You can have the most revolutionary, life-changing product, but if you can’t get it into the hands of consumers, it is worthless.  Books are no different, which is why this principle is as equally important as Ownership to your success as a business author.

Within the self-publishing industry, you will hear the term ‘wide distribution’ bantered around a lot; people will usually speak of it as the whole grail of self-publishing and the lynchpin to ensuring book success.  But what are they actually talking about?

Wide distribution basically does what it says on the tin, it enables your book to be distributed through as many channels as possible as opposed to through just one.  Most first-time authors deciding to self-publishing without doing much research into the process will assume that they just upload their book onto Amazon via Amazon KDP and they are done.  But wide distribution encourages authors to ‘widen’ their field of view (pardon the pun).

Here’s how it’s done:

Amazon KDP

Yes, you do list your book on Amazon via an Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account.  Love them or hate them, there is no escaping the fact that Amazon is the largest book retailer in the world, and you want to make sure that your book has a prominent presence on the platform.  By publishing your book through a KDP account, you can capitalise on all of the features that make Amazon such a popular retailer such as enabling the ‘Look Inside’ feature so that readers can read the first few pages of your book before purchasing, you have access to Amazon Author Central to use as a shopfront for you as an author, and most importantly you enable your book to be purchased by Amazon Prime customers who can then benefit from next day delivery.

But there is one major flaw in relying solely on Amazon for your book distribution, and that is that your book will not be available to purchase outside of Amazon.  Yes, Amazon does offer extended distribution to KDP clients, but this option is very expensive and has very limited uptake with other retailers.  Think about it, if you are an independent bookstore, would you really go to your largest competitor to buy your stock?  Of course not.  This is why the remaining steps are added to the process to enable your book to go wider than just Amazon.

Ingram Spark

Ingram Spark, which is the direct-to-author platform of Lighting Source, are the granddaddy of print-on-demand book distribution and predates KDP and its predecessor CreateSpace.  They played a key role in refining the technology needed to make single-copy printing of books financially viable which laid the foundation of modern self-publishing.  By using Ingram Spark as a complimentary platform to run alongside KDP, your book will gain access to a distribution catalogue of independent bookstores, online retailers, department stores, libraries, and universities.  At the time of writing, that distribution network numbered over 40,000 worldwide.

The great thing about both Ingram Spark and Amazon KDP is that they are both print-on-demand platforms, meaning that books are only printed when they are needed and not on a bulk consignment basis.  This reduces upfront costs for authors as well as reducing storage and logistics requirements and minimising a book’s carbon footprint.

This system of wide distribution also extended to eBooks as well.  By listing your eBook through both Ingram and Amazon, you enable it to be available for download via all the major digital book platforms such as Kindle, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Google Books, and more.

But there is yet one more element that can extend your distribution even further that I highly recommend for every business author, and that is YOU.  


Another benefit of listing your book through Ingram Spark is the ability for you to place print orders easily and quickly for your book to do with as you wish… specifically for you to sell directly to your own network.  Again, because this is print-on-demand, you can order as many or as few books as you need and take delivery in as little as a few days.  Taking advantage of this option enables you to open a whole new revenue stream for your book and at a much higher royalty rate because you are cutting out the 40% wholesale discount that retailers take for selling your book.

Your first step in optimising self-distribution should be to set up an e-commerce platform on your own website to sell physical and digital copies of your book directly to your network.  This is then backed up by a robust (and ideally automated) marketing campaign on both social media and to your email list to promote the book and boost traffic to your site to buy the book directly from you.  

Ordering author copies of your book also allows you to take advantage of face-to-face events such as book signings, workshops, conferences, and speaking engagements by enabling you to sell books directly to delegates.  You can also take this one step further and reach out to complimentary companies and clients to offer potential distribution partnerships.

And remember, all of this can be done on a global scale.  Amazon itself has 15 territorial websites worldwide that the KDP platform feeds into.  Ingram Spark has print facilities in all four corners of the globe, enabling you to print and distribute books anywhere in the world allowing your book to reach audiences far beyond your home country.   If you follow the advice from Principle 3, you have ultimate control and ownership of this entire process, which allows you to adapt and update your distribution strategies as the publishing industry evolves and technologies advance.

By combining traditional distribution channels with modern, direct-to-reader approaches, you can ensure the widest possible reach for your book; allowing you to make the greatest impact.

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