Publishing your book? It’s time to decide on your book distribution strategy. With Amazon’s high royalties and perks, it may be tempting to agree to distribute your book exclusively through Amazon. Let this article convince you otherwise. Keep reading to find out the five reasons you should use a broad (aka wide) book distribution strategy for your next book.
What Is A Broad Book Distribution Strategy?
“Publishing wide” or “going wide” in the publishing world means that part of your book distribution strategy includes retailers other than Amazon. AKA, you are not exclusively publishing your book through Amazon.
With a wide or broad book distribution strategy, you can sell your book on your website, on other online retailers like Barnes & Noble, and in independent brick-and-mortar bookstores.
Why Authors Choose To Be Amazon Exclusive
Why would anyone agree to only sell their book through Amazon? It’s a good question.
Amazon wants to do everything it can to incentivize authors to solely work with the Amazon platform. In order to do this, they have created benefits to publishing exclusively through their channels that increase their monopoly on the publishing world. These benefits include higher royalties and inclusion in Kindle Unlimited subscriptions. But, these incentives actually hinder an author’s exposure in the long game.
5 Reasons To Use a Broad Book Distribution Strategy
While publishing exclusively with Amazon might be tempting (who doesn’t want higher royalties) there are ultimately more reasons to “go wide.”
1. Reach a Broader Audience
When you publish widely, your book has a greater chance of reaching a broader audience. This is because Amazon won’t have control over the channels you distribute your book to. There are over 40,000 online book retailers that you will be allowed to sell from. That doesn’t include the countless brick-and-mortar bookstores, libraries, and academic institutions that can sell or offer your book.
Plus, you can sell your ebook directly from your own website. An exclusive Amazon distribution strategy prohibits you from doing this!
2. Support Independent Bookstores
Amazon does not explicitly prohibit authors from selling their books through independent bookstores, but their wholesale pricing almost guarantees that no bookstores will want to buy your book.
In order for a bookstore to make a profit on a book, they require a wholesale discount of at least 53%. (As a hybrid publisher, we always round up to 55% because we believe in supporting small businesses, but that’s just us.) Amazon does not allow you to have control over your wholesale prices. Amazon’s automatic wholesale discount is only 40%, meaning that bookstores will not be able to make any profit from your book and thus will not sell it.
Not only does this crush any dreams you might have had of seeing your book for sale at a local bookstore, but it means you can’t support local bookstores with your book sales.
3. Take an Inclusive Approach
With Amazon directly putting independent bookstores (and countless other small shops) out of business, you have to decide if you are comfortable enabling Amazon’s dominance of the book publishing industry.
Take a moment to reflect. What are your publishing values? What do you care about and believe in? Amazon has made it clear that they want to control every aspect of the publishing industry. Can they buy you out?
Amazon might be dominating the market, but they do not have the majority of book lovers on their side. Buying a book from Amazon instead of a small bookstore can be seen as blasphemous in many author communities. Being Amazon-exclusive can ostracize any readers who are morally opposed to the domination of Amazon over the publishing scene.
If your readers don’t want to support Amazon and you’re only available on Amazon, they won’t be able to support you. Are you okay with that?
4. Better Access to Libraries and Academic Institutions
Because of the wholesale price issue we just discussed, Amazon’s pricing disincentivizes libraries and academic institutions from purchasing your physical book. This can reduce your book’s overall reach.
It also means that people who cannot afford to buy new books may not be able to borrow your book from a library. This is another moment where you have to ask yourself: Does being Amazon exclusive align with my morals? Is it important to me that people with lower socio-economic backgrounds have access to my book?
5. Increased Control Over Your Book
When you publish your book exclusively through Amazon, you give up control over many aspects of your book. For example, you cannot sell your ebook on your website. If Amazon finds out, they will take your book down. By choosing a broad book distribution strategy, you maintain control over your book and where it’s sold. You can sell your book on your website, whether that’s through packing and shipping DIY-style or by linking to retailers like Books-A-Million or BookShop.org!
Want to know how to publish your book? Read Jenn T. Grace’s book—Publish Your Purpose: A Step-By-Step Guide To Write, Publish, and Grow Your Big Idea.
Your Book, Your Rules
When it comes to publishing your book, it’s our opinion that the author should maintain the majority of control. Becoming Amazon exclusive takes away some of the agency that we spend our days building for our authors. But at the end of the day, it’s your book distribution strategy! We understand why authors choose to become Amazon exclusive and don’t judge your decision either way. At the end of the day, we just want our authors to understand the decisions they are making and the impact they will have on their book sales and careers. Happy publishing!