Should I sell my book independently or through a POD distribution service?
It doesn’t have to be one or the other
There are basically two ways to publish your book; you can print and sell your book independently (with an offset printer like MCRL) or use a POD distribution service like Kindle Direct Press (KDP) or IngramSpark.
What’s the difference between Offset and POD Printing?
POD stands for Print-On-Demand digital printing. POD services literally print books as they are purchased so there’s no inventory. This form of printing transfers data from a computer file to a large-format inkjet or laser printer. It’s a popular choice for paperbacks and authors looking for short-run book printing.
Offset Printing uses a specialized printing press, offering higher quality ink, any trim size and custom features, such as spot finishes, foils, glitter, embossing, library binding and more. For authors who plan to actively sell their books as a business, offset printing offers a higher profit margin.
Each printing option has benefits and drawbacks – which is why many authors use a combination of approaches to maximize their book’s exposure and profitability.
In this blog we outline the benefits of:
- offset printing & selling your book directly
- distributing with Amazon, KDP and IngramSpark POD
- deploying a combination of approaches
Benefits of Selling Your Book Directly
Many indie authors choose to independently print their books using MCRL’s offset printing services and sell directly. Here’s why…
|Higher Profit Margins:
The unit price/book is less due to bulk printing (minimum order quantity 300+)
When you print and sell your books directly, you retain a larger portion of the sales revenue since there are no fees or commissions paid to a third-party platform like KDP or IngramSpark.
|Direct Relationship with Customers:
Selling directly allows you to build a direct relationship with readers. This can lead to valuable feedback, word-of-mouth marketing, and the potential for building your own customer base.
You have more control over the pricing of your book and can run promotions without being restricted by platform rules.
|More Creative License:
Selling directly through your own website allows you to create your own brand personality and you have inventory for events and creative marketing ideas.
You typically receive payments more quickly when selling direct, as there is no intermediary handling transactions.
With offset, there’s more to do yourself vs. POD that bundles printing, distribution and fulfillment.
Benefits of POD Distribution Services
Amazon’s KDP is for self-publishers who want to print and sell their books to the public but don’t have a publishing deal or don’t want to offset print their book. The reasons you might choose this route include…
|No Upfront Payment:
Since KDP is a print-on-demand vendor, your books are printed as the orders come in.
Drawback: You pay a higher cost/book than with offset printing.
|No Inventory Storage:
Since your books are printed on demand, you don’t have to store inventory
Drawback: You don’t have books available for direct sales, book signings or events.
|Payment & Fulfillment Services:
Amazon manages the online payments and fulfillment – may be easier to reach international customers without having to handle international shipping logistics.
Drawback: Lower profit margins. KDP Printing sets your book’s list price and subtracts the print cost and its cut of the profit from this list price. The balance is sent to you, the author, as a (often small) royalty.
Your book may be eligible for Amazon Prime, which can attract more potential readers.
|Trust and Credibility:
Selling through KDP/Amazon can lend credibility to your book.
IngramSpark is a just-in-time print, fulfillment AND distribution service.
The POD costs of publishing a book through KDP Printing and IngramSpark are pretty similar. However, unlike KDP, IngramSpark’s distribution network reaches beyond the internet into physical bookstores, academic institutions and libraries.
Drawback: Being listed on IngramSpark does not actually drive sales.
While IngramSpark distributes to online marketplaces like Amazon, BN.com, and Walmart.com. and allows bookstores/ libraries to order your book, authors have to directly market their books and inspire readers to buy them.
Just having the distribution channel is not a slam dunk (plus Ingram takes a generous cut on any book orders placed).
Benefits of a Combo Approach Good news: It doesn’t have to be one approach or the other
Many authors use a combo approach to print and sell their books to maximize their book’s exposure and profitability.
Two approaches to consider:
- You can print your books with an offset printer (like MCRL to take advantage of the best pricing) THEN list your book on Amazon/ Amazon Advantage to reach a larger audience. When you list on Amazon Advantage as a publisher, you set the list price and Amazon can put the book on sale whenever they want. Click here for more info on Fulfillment By Amazon or Fulfillment By Merchant distribution options.
- Prefer POD? You can print with IngramSpark and have them push your book to online retailers, including Amazon, so your book is accessible in more places than if you just publish with KDP.
Here are a few points to keep in mind.
- Offset printing is best for bookstore-quality children’s hardcover books.
- KDP only prints hardcover books with 75+ pages
- POD’s paper quality, cover board and ink are inferior
- No headband or tailband options with POD
- Most POD printers cannot print on the spine of a thin hardcover book where the title, author name, etc. appears. This is a huge downside for children’s books as not having a title on the spine makes the book practically invisible on bookshelves.
- IngramSpark’s Digital Cloth™ option allows for text to be printed on the spine of a dust jacket
- Neither IngramSpark nor KDP offers custom features like glitter, textures, mirrors, flaps and folds that engage young readers
- Neither IngramSpark nor KDP offer affordable bookstore quality board books
- If you sell IngramSpark printed books through Amazon or a bookstore, it will be subject to IngramSpark’s compulsory trade discount, further reducing your dwindling royalty
To sum it up…
If you never want to sell books at events and don’t expect to sell hundreds of copies then going the KDP or IngramSpark route is a great option.
IF you prioritize higher profit margins, direct customer relationships, having books for local events and control over your brand and retail pricing, independently printing your book with MCRL and listing it on AMAZON might be the best choice.
New to self-publishing? Check out Sheri Fink’s children’s book printing resources for ideas to generate awareness and sales for your printed books. Sheri Fink is a best-selling author of 16 children’s books (we’ve printed them all), including The Little Rose – a #1 Amazon Best-Seller for over 60 weeks and a #1 Top-Rated Children’s eBook on Amazon./p>
POD vs Offset Printing Your Children’s Book – the pros and cons of offset and POD printing your children’s book
ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) does the math – See how your POD royalties are calculated by IngramSpark and KDP
Get a Quote for Your Book – Request a quote from MCRL so you can compare the unit price and profits of offset printing to POD