Self-Published Book Distributors

—Andrew Holoubek

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We have several books about to be self-published. We’re having trouble finding a distribution source that can get these in book stores, Internet retailers, etc., both in the U.S. and internationally. Publishing isn’t the problem. It’s distribution. If anyone has a source for book distribution please let us know.

— Mitchell Goozé

I believe that if you have at least 10 books in print, you can set up a publishing company and Ingram will distribute you if you have 10 titles or more.

— Barbara Morris

I don’t know if this is exactly what you need, but take a look at

— Eli Davidson

I am represented by Midpoint Book Distributors. A key component that many authors leave out is the MARKETING PROPOSAL. That is the most important component to distributors. What are you going to do to get folks buying your book. Please remember that books not sold in the stores are charged back to you. So getting your book into books stores can be VERY expensive.

— Linda S. Thompson

I use Lightning Source as my printer. They are owned by Ingram, one of the world’s largest book distributors. As part of my contract with Lightning Source, as soon as I release a new title, it is automatically placed in Ingram’s catalog, and the book appears on Amazon and other website distribution channels. Thus far, my experience (5 years) with Lightning Source ( has been extremely positive.

— Jason Witt

The best self-publishing company to work with for US distribution is Lightning Source ( which has partnership with a major distribution company. I am not sure how much they can help with international distribution, but it’s a start with the US.

— Cathleen Fillmore

You might check out Lorne Kirsch of Author’s Choice in Canada. He distributes for publishers as well as for self published books. His email is

— Fern Reis

The thorny question of distribution has become the critical question for most self-publishers. Here are some thoughts:

  • If you have an easy-to-find market for your book that you can reach *outside* of bookstores, consider avoiding bookstores entirely. Bookstores, self-publishing experts have been saying for years, are terrible places to sell books, and they’re getting worse and worse; between the low margins and the returns, you’re better off avoiding the whole thing if you can. So consider carefully whether your real goal is to sell books back-of-the-room and via your website, and whether that’s sufficient.
  • If back-of-the-room and personal website sales aren’t sufficient for your goals, consider whether just making the books available on Amazon (and perhaps some of the other online portals) would be good enough. If your book sells on Amazon, you can sell it to anyone in the world, at any time, making whatever price you want (of course, you won’t sell very many if you set an unrealistic price!), with none of the hassle of the bookstores. Amazon pays promptly, monthly, without invoicing, and with few returns. If Amazon sales would meet your needs, you don’t need distribution; just sign up as an Amazon Advantage provider directly on their site.
  • If you’re insistent on bookstore and library sales, make sure you’ve followed the necessary procedures to get the book reviewed by the trade press. A review in Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus, Foreword Magazine, etc, can sell 5 to 10,000 books easily, sometimes many more. But you need to submit advance galleys (that is, a bound copy of the manuscript without a finished cover, and with marketing details) at least four months before the book’s official publication date. (That means that if the book is already being sold on Amazon it is *not* eligible for reviews.) So if you’re going to go the bookstore route, make sure you build in this four-month lead time, or your chances of selling to bookstores and libraries go down significantly. All of my books have been reviewed by one or more of these trade reviewers, and all of the trade reviewers do still review self-published books (though none of them, at this time, review POD/subsidy books) so don’t skip this step!
  • Finally, given both the tremendous competition for book distribution, as well as the humongous part of the proceeds distribution will eat up, consider whether self-distribution via wholesalers and the chains would meet your needs. Self and small publishers can still distribute directly to the major wholesalers (Ingram Book Company and Baker & Taylor) and you can also get into the chains on your own (Barnes and Noble, for example, has a Small Press Department specifically set up for this purpose.) If you sell directly to the wholesalers you part with only 55% of the pie, as opposed to the 68-75% that the distributors demand, and (probably) with fewer returns to worry about.

There are a few articles on this topic on my Web site and several special reports exploring the whole subject in more detail coming to

I thanked Fern and she responded with this message, which I think is worth including here as well:

That whole distribution conversation is a quagmire — and if you think discussing it is bad, try actually doing it :*) There’s a reason why so many people are now advising authors to take a different approach.

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