So, you've gone wide and international with your ebook distribution, and your print edition is in Ingram's database, making it available to a fair chunk of the world's bookstores, both physical and online. Your dashboards that list your titles with your various distributors all look fine and dandy. You've given them your books, and they're making sure they're getting into the world's bookstores.
Time to sit back, proud of your books' availability in online stores all over the world, right?
If only it were that simple.
How are my distributors doing?
It’s not easy to figure that out.
I've been trying to sort out my various distribution options recently as I retire a couple of distributors and take on new ones. It's a confusing area, and the lists you can get of their channel partners are not always current or complete. I was focused on who had the best reach, or reached unique retailers, with reasonable returns and the ability to turn channels on and off to avoid duplication.
I get to retailers in a variety of ways.
- Direct from my website (ecommerce). Gumroad (in several formats).
- Direct upload. Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble. If I could (no Mac), this would include Apple iBooks.
- Hybrid (storefront & distribution). Smashwords.
- Distributor. PublishDrive, Streetlib (coming soon).
Of these, I use PublishDrive to reach every channel (including Apple iBooks and Google Play) that I don't go to directly. I restrict Smashwords to its storefront and its unique partners only. PublishDrive, Streetlib, and Smashwords all let you select or disable individual partner channels to avoid overlap.
Already there are complications — Kobo is also a distributor, so though I go there directly, it distributes my titles to its own partners. There is no ability to pick and choose among Kobo's partners, so it's up to me to avoid enabling one of Kobo's partners at one of my other distributors. (Perhaps that can be controlled at the manual level, via email requests to Kobo, but I prefer something more automated and reliable.)
Other complications — I have to manually request special retail pricing for Google Play, to keep its automated discounting from creating a problem with Amazon. Hard to find distributors that will let you set per-channel pricing, but I think that must be essential to adjust pricing in different parts of the world (like India).
- Distributor. AuthorsRepublic.
- Direct upload. CD Baby (coming soon).
- Hybrid (storefront & limited distribution). Createspace. (Not expanded distribution.)
- Distributor. Ingram LSI.
Createspace only distributes to Amazon so there are no channels to disable to avoid duplication. Ingram can't provide a list of print partners — much too broad, and much of its reach is through intermediate distributors or aggregators. No telling where your books will end up at online retailers.
Where are your books, really?
I began by taking the lists of known channel partners from PublishDrive, Smashwords, Kobo, and AuthorsRepublic. I then went to each of those sites and tried to find my books there. That alone was an eye-opener.