When I started my adventure in self-publishing the entire concept of distribution was a foreign one to me. I had a vague idea of selling my books to a couple of specialty retailers and had learned Amazon would allow self-published books to be sold through it's site. Needless to say I have learned a great deal since I got started.
I have yet, as far as I know, to sell a book to a book store. If I never do, that's fine with me. Since all of my print books are printed using print-on-demand via CreateSpace of Lightning Source, I have access to Amazon, Ingram, Baker and Taylor and through CreateSpace's Expanded Distribution Channel, Barnes and Noble.
Ebook sales have been improving each month so far thanks to Amazon's Kindle Book Store. I have yet to sell a single copy of an ebook for the Barnes and Noble Nook which is disappointing. I have to blame myself I suppose as I have done nothing to promote the fact the book in question is available for the Nook.
I have been investigating Smashwords as a means to further expand distribution but the thought of dealing with another conversion process is a bit daunting at the moment. Still, it would make my books available to more customers.
Distribution, or at least access to distribution, is an important aspect of publishing oft overlooked by self-publishing authors. I also wonder if I am hurting my overall sales by making my books available to through so many different channels. The overwhelming bulk of my sales come from Amazon. For each sale that does not take place on Amazon, that is one sale not driving the long tail effect for me on Amazon. The other side of the coin is the idea I would not have made that individual sale unless it was available through the distribution mode and retailer who made the sale for me.
If I only had one or two books, this really would not be that big an issue for me. As the number of books I have in print grows, it becomes an issue of time keeping track of distribution and working to make my books available to more avenues of distribution. As a result, less time for writing.
I am not complaining, really, as self-publishers have more access to distribution to readers and customers than ever before. This is just one more example of how self-publishing is a business, not just the simple matter of writing a book and getting it into print.