Beyond Kindle—Build Your Own Distribution Network

I had a good conversation with a friend of mine about this issue of Amazon vs the rest of the publishing world. He has some very good arguments for why KDP Select is not a good thing and how its purpose is actually to kill the competition. He’s probably right.

What I realized, however, is that this is a very similar issue as those people who rely on third-party sites such as Facebook to be their home base for their online presence. What happens when Facebook disappears? You lose your home base and you lose your followers.

Many people, especially musicians, did this very same thing with MySpace—they made their MySpace page their home page, and when MySpace disappeared, they lost their momentum. (MySpace is still around, but because most of those people are now on Facebook, the end result is the same.)

What you have to realize is that you and your business (as an author or publisher) are much bigger than Amazon, Smashwords or any other distributor. These places are merely tools for you to use. Remember that Amazon is your tool, not the other way around. They exist to serve you, not the other way around.

When you use these tools to publish your books and build your readership, you should put even more effort into building your own system of distribution. At the very least, have your own website and build your own mailing list.

Let’s say that Amazon kills off the competition, and then reduces your royalties from 70% to 35%. Great! Now you can put your own distribution network into play. If you build a mailing list of 2,000 people and only 10% of them buy your book, you still sell 200 books. The difference is that you sell them at a royalty rate of 100% vs. 35%, which is the equivalent of selling 571 books. How many of you sell 571 copies of your book? (That’s a very simple and incomplete example, but it gives you the rough idea.)

By the way, this works for print books as well as ebooks. Print-on-demand copies of books range from $2 to $5 each. Print 50 copies and ship them directly to those people who buy from your own distribution networks. When you do the shipping, you can add all sorts of bonuses and surprises. Again, this is only a simple and rough idea of what can be done with your own distribution network.

Whether your goal is to make as much money as you can selling your books or your goal is to fight for your rights as an indie author, you can reach both goals by building your own distribution network. Have a website; build a mailing list. Yup, about that simple.

The great thing about building your own distribution network is that you have all of the control and no one can change terms on you. If you want to double your sales, just double the size of your list.