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Beyond the Behemoth: Self-Publishing Success Outside of Amazon

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Hey there, fellow authors! As someone who’s been working in the book design industry for years, I’ve helped countless writers achieve their self-publishing dreams. And during that time, I’ve noticed one common thread—Amazon has become the go-to platform for self-publishing. But, while there’s no denying the enormous impact Amazon has had on the market, it’s not the only option out there for selling paperback and hardcover books.

In this blog post, I want to shed light on some fantastic alternatives to Amazon for self-publishing your book. Trust me; it’s worth taking the time to explore other avenues that could help you reach a wider audience, gain more control over your pricing and royalties, and stand out in niche markets. So, buckle up and join me as we dive into the world of self-publishing beyond Amazon. I’ll be sharing some great alternatives to Amazon KDP, tips for ordering author copies, setting up your own online store, wholesaling to bookstores, and exploring other unique distribution channels. Let’s get started!

Benefits of Selling Your Book Outside of Amazon

Now that we’ve established there’s a whole world beyond Amazon waiting for you, let’s talk about the benefits of selling your book on alternative platforms. I’m sure you’re eager to learn what makes these options so appealing, so let’s jump right in!

Wider Distribution Channels

By choosing to sell your book outside of Amazon, you open the doors to a myriad of distribution channels. Each platform has its unique reach and distribution network, which means your book will have the chance to be discovered by different audiences. It’s like casting a wider net to catch more fish—by diversifying your distribution, you’re increasing the likelihood of reaching new readers who might not have found you on Amazon alone.

More Control Over Pricing and Royalties

When you sell your book on other platforms, you often have more control over your pricing and royalty rates. Amazon KDP has specific royalty structures that may not always suit your preferences, but alternative platforms offer a range of options, allowing you to tailor your pricing strategy to your unique goals. Plus, more control over pricing means you can experiment with discounts, promotions, and other marketing strategies to boost your sales and reach.

Increased Visibility in Niche Markets

While Amazon is a giant marketplace with a vast customer base, it can be challenging to stand out among the millions of books available. By selling your book on alternative platforms, you can target niche markets more effectively. Smaller, specialized retailers or genre-specific platforms often have dedicated and passionate audiences who are more likely to be interested in your book. So, if you’ve got a book on, say, underwater basket weaving, you’ll be able to find that niche audience that’s genuinely excited about your work!

Alternative Print-on-Demand (POD) Options

Now, let’s discuss some of the popular Print-on-Demand (POD) options that can help you achieve self-publishing success outside of Amazon. Each of these platforms has its unique advantages and distribution networks, so let’s take a closer look.

  • IngramSpark

IngramSpark is an excellent choice for authors who want to reach a global audience. With a vast distribution network that includes over 40,000 retailers, libraries, and schools, your book will have access to a wide range of potential customers. They offer competitive royalty rates and various trim sizes, binding types, and paper options to make your book stand out. Plus, IngramSpark has a fantastic reputation for high-quality printing, so you know your book will look its best. They also just announced (as of late April 2023) that they are removing their fees for uploading books, which is huge news for self-publishers.

  • Lulu

Lulu is another fantastic POD option for authors who want more control over their book’s production and sales. They offer a user-friendly publishing platform, a wide range of book formats, and global distribution through their network of retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ingram. Lulu also allows you to set your own retail price and offers a transparent royalty structure, giving you full control over your earnings. I’ve created some hardcover books with dust jackets from Lulu and been very happy with the end result.

  • BookBaby

If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for all your self-publishing needs, look no further than BookBaby. They offer a comprehensive suite of services, including book printing, eBook conversion, cover design, and editing, making it easy for authors to create and sell their books. With BookBaby, you can distribute your book to over 60 retailers, including Amazon, Apple Books, and Barnes & Noble. They also offer competitive pricing and a 100% royalty payout, so you keep all of your profits.

Now that you know the benefits of selling your book outside of Amazon, as well as some fantastic alternative POD platforms, let’s take a moment to compare and contrast these options with Amazon KDP.

Amazon KDP offers the convenience of a large and established marketplace, but it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of relying solely on their platform. While Amazon KDP has an extensive reach and user-friendly publishing process, it may not offer the same level of control and flexibility as some of the alternative options we’ve discussed.

For instance, IngramSpark, Lulu, and BookBaby all provide more control over pricing and royalties, as well as a wider range of distribution channels. This means that you can reach readers who may not primarily shop on Amazon, increasing your book’s visibility and sales potential.

Additionally, by focusing solely on Amazon KDP, you may miss out on the opportunity to target niche markets more effectively. Platforms like Lulu and BookBaby allow you to sell your book on a variety of retailers, which can help you tap into specialized audiences that are more likely to be interested in your book.

In summary, while Amazon KDP is undoubtedly a powerful self-publishing platform, it’s essential to consider the benefits of selling your book outside of Amazon. By exploring alternative POD options and distribution channels, you can diversify your reach, gain more control over your pricing and royalties, and increase your visibility in niche markets.

So now that you’re convinced of the benefits of selling your book beyond Amazon, it’s time to explore some other exciting avenues for self-publishing success. In the upcoming sections of this blog post, we’ll dive into topics like ordering author copies for direct sales, setting up your own online store, wholesaling to physical bookstores and retailers, and exploring alternative distribution channels like subscription boxes, libraries, and literary events.

Stay tuned as we continue to navigate the exciting world of self-publishing beyond the behemoth that is Amazon. With a little bit of research, creativity, and persistence, you can create a unique and successful self-publishing strategy that helps your book reach its full potential.

assorted title books collection
Photo by Marta Dzedyshko on

Ordering Author Copies for Direct Sales

Alright, let’s move on to another exciting aspect of self-publishing: ordering author copies for direct sales! If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, author copies are books that you, the author, purchase at a discounted rate to sell directly to readers. By selling author copies, you can reap several benefits, so let’s dive into the details and some tips for managing your inventory and shipping.

The Appeal of Author Copies

One of the main reasons to consider selling author copies is the personal touch you can add to each sale. For instance, you can offer signed or personalized copies, which can be a great incentive for readers to buy directly from you. Plus, selling author copies at events, like book signings or conventions, allows you to connect with readers face-to-face, building a loyal fan base and spreading the word about your book.

Higher Profit Margins

Since you’re purchasing author copies at a discounted rate and selling them directly to readers, you can potentially enjoy higher profit margins. By cutting out the middleman, you can retain a more significant portion of each sale, which can be especially beneficial for authors who have invested heavily in the production and marketing of their books.

Inventory Management

When you decide to sell author copies, it’s crucial to manage your inventory effectively. You don’t want to order too many copies and have them collecting dust in your garage, nor do you want to run out when you have eager buyers waiting. To help strike a balance, track your sales, keep an eye on trends, and adjust your inventory accordingly. Ordering smaller quantities initially can also be a smart move, as it allows you to test the waters and gauge demand.

Shipping Tips

Shipping can be one of the more challenging aspects of selling author copies, but with a little planning and organization, you can make it a smooth process. Here are some tips for managing shipping:

  • Choose the right packaging: Invest in sturdy packaging materials, like book mailers or bubble wrap envelopes, to ensure your books arrive in excellent condition.
  • Calculate shipping costs: Research shipping rates and options with various carriers to find the best deal for you and your customers. Be sure to factor in shipping costs when pricing your books.
  • Offer multiple shipping options: Give your customers the choice of standard or expedited shipping to suit their needs and budget.
  • Stay organized: Keep a record of all orders, tracking numbers, and shipping dates to streamline your shipping process and provide excellent customer service.

By selling author copies, you can create a more personal connection with your readers, enjoy higher profit margins, and take control of your inventory and sales. With a little planning and organization, selling author copies can be a rewarding and profitable aspect of your self-publishing journey.

So, now that we’ve covered the benefits of selling your book outside of Amazon and how to manage author copies, let’s move on to setting up your own online store, wholesaling to physical bookstores and retailers, and exploring other alternative distribution channels. The world of self-publishing is vast and full of opportunities, so let’s continue discovering the best ways to make your book a success!

Setting Up Your Own Online Store

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of selling your book outside of Amazon and how to manage author copies, let’s explore another exciting option: setting up your own online store. Having your own online store comes with numerous advantages, such as enhanced branding, a direct relationship with customers, and full control over your sales. In this section, we’ll discuss popular platforms for creating an online store and share some tips for setting up, promoting, and managing your store effectively.

Benefits of Having Your Own Online Store

Creating your own online store offers several advantages over selling exclusively on third-party platforms like Amazon. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Enhanced branding: An online store allows you to create a cohesive brand experience for your customers, complete with your unique visual identity, author bio, and promotional materials.
  • Direct relationship with customers: By selling directly to your readers, you can establish a closer relationship, gather valuable feedback, and grow your fan base.
  • Full control over sales and promotions: When you sell through your own online store, you have complete control over pricing, discounts, and promotions, allowing you to experiment with different strategies to boost sales.

Popular Platforms

There are several popular platforms that make it easy to set up your own online store, even if you’re not particularly tech-savvy. Some of the top options include:

  • Shopify: A user-friendly, all-in-one platform that offers a wide range of customizable templates, payment processing, and helpful features to help you manage your store.
  • WooCommerce: A powerful, flexible e-commerce plugin for WordPress that allows you to create a fully customizable online store on your existing website.
  • Squarespace: A popular website building platform that charges a subscription fee, but comes with many aesthetically appealing templates and allows you to easily run an online shop.

Both platforms have their own unique features and pricing plans, so take the time to research and choose the one that best suits your needs and budget.

Tips for Setting Up, Promoting, and Managing Your Store

Once you’ve chosen a platform, it’s time to set up your online store. Here are some tips to help you create an engaging, user-friendly shopping experience:

  • Choose a visually appealing, easy-to-navigate design: Your online store should be visually appealing and easy for customers to navigate. Use high-quality images of your book and clear, concise descriptions to make it easy for customers to make a purchase.
  • Offer a seamless checkout process: Make sure your checkout process is straightforward and secure, with multiple payment options to suit your customers’ preferences.
  • Provide excellent customer service: Offer prompt, friendly support to your customers, whether it’s answering questions, addressing concerns, or providing updates on their order status.
  • Promote your store: Use your social media channels, email list, and other marketing strategies to drive traffic to your online store and generate interest in your book.

By setting up your own online store, you can create a unique, branded shopping experience for your readers, foster a direct relationship with your customers, and maintain full control over your sales and promotions. With some research, planning, and marketing savvy, you can turn your online store into a thriving hub for your self-publishing endeavors.

So, we’ve covered selling your book outside of Amazon, managing author copies, and setting up your own online store. Next up, we’ll dive into wholesaling to physical bookstores and retailers, as well as exploring other alternative distribution channels like subscription boxes, libraries, and literary events. The self-publishing journey is full of opportunities, so let’s keep discovering new ways to make your book a success!

Wholesaling to Physical Bookstores and Retailers

As we continue to explore the many avenues of self-publishing, let’s turn our attention to wholesaling your book to physical bookstores and retailers. While it may seem like a daunting prospect, selling your book through brick-and-mortar stores can offer several advantages, including increased visibility and the opportunity to connect with local communities. In this section, we’ll explain the concept of wholesaling, share tips for approaching bookstores and retailers, and discuss the challenges and rewards of working with physical stores.

Understanding Wholesaling

Wholesaling involves selling your book to retailers at a discounted rate, allowing them to sell it to their customers at a profit. Typically, retailers expect a discount of around 40-55% off the retail price. By selling your book through physical stores, you can tap into new audiences and broaden your reach, helping to increase sales and raise awareness of your work.

Tips for Approaching Bookstores and Retailers

When it comes to pitching your book to bookstores and retailers, preparation and persistence are key. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Research potential stores: Focus on stores that are likely to be interested in your book, such as independent bookstores, niche retailers, or local shops in your community.
  • Create a professional press kit: Develop a polished press kit that includes a sell sheet with information about your book, an author bio, high-resolution images, and any relevant press coverage or endorsements.
  • Offer a competitive wholesale discount: Be prepared to offer an attractive wholesale discount to make your book an appealing option for retailers.
  • Be persistent and professional: Follow up with retailers after your initial contact, but be respectful of their time and decision-making process. Keep in mind that many independent bookstores receive numerous requests from authors, so patience and persistence are essential.

The Advantages and Challenges of Working with Physical Stores

While selling your book through physical bookstores and retailers can be a rewarding experience, it’s essential to consider both the advantages and challenges involved. Some of the benefits include:

  • Increased visibility: Having your book displayed on store shelves can help boost its visibility and attract new readers.
  • Local connections: Working with local bookstores can help you build relationships within your community, leading to future collaboration opportunities and potential speaking engagements or book signings.
  • Support for independent bookstores: By partnering with independent bookstores, you’re contributing to the success of these beloved community institutions.

However, there are also some challenges to keep in mind:

  • Lower profit margins: Due to the wholesale discount, you may earn less per sale when selling through physical stores compared to direct sales or online platforms.
  • Inventory management: You’ll need to manage your inventory carefully and ensure you have enough books on hand to fulfill orders from retailers.
  • Limited control over display and promotion: Once your book is in a store, you have limited control over how it’s displayed or promoted, which can impact its visibility and sales potential.

In conclusion, wholesaling to physical bookstores and retailers can be a valuable addition to your self-publishing strategy. By carefully selecting potential stores, presenting a professional press kit, and being persistent, you can increase your book’s visibility and forge meaningful connections within your community. Just be prepared to navigate the challenges and rewards of working with brick-and-mortar stores as you continue your self-publishing journey.

With selling your book outside of Amazon, managing author copies, setting up your own online store, and wholesaling to physical bookstores and retailers covered, our next step will be exploring alternative distribution channels like subscription boxes, libraries, and literary events. Let’s keep uncovering new opportunities to make your book a success!

Exploring Alternative Distribution Channels

As we continue to delve into the world of self-publishing, it’s essential to consider all the possible avenues for getting your book into the hands of readers. Beyond Amazon, author copies, online stores, and physical bookstores, there are alternative distribution channels that can help boost your book’s visibility and sales. In this section, we’ll explore some of these unique options, including subscription boxes, libraries, and literary events.

Subscription Boxes

Book-themed subscription boxes have gained popularity in recent years, offering readers a curated selection of books and literary goodies delivered right to their doorstep. Partnering with a subscription box service can provide exposure to a new audience of avid readers and potentially lead to increased sales and word-of-mouth promotion. To get started, research subscription box services that cater to your book’s genre or target audience and reach out to them with a proposal.


Libraries are an often-overlooked distribution channel for self-published authors. By getting your book into libraries, you can reach readers who may not otherwise discover your work. To begin, approach your local library and inquire about their process for acquiring new titles. You can also consider joining library distribution services like IngramSpark, which can help get your book into libraries on a larger scale.

Book Fairs and Literary Events

Participating in book fairs and literary events can be an excellent way to showcase your book, network with fellow authors, and connect with readers in person. Look for events in your area or within your book’s genre and apply to be a vendor or speaker. Be prepared to invest in promotional materials like banners, bookmarks, and business cards to make your booth stand out.

Collaborations and Partnerships

Consider partnering with other authors, businesses, or organizations that share a similar target audience. Collaborations can take many forms, such as co-hosting a webinar, writing guest posts for each other’s blogs, or cross-promoting each other’s books on social media. By teaming up with others, you can tap into new audiences and boost your book’s visibility.

Social Media and Online Communities

Leveraging social media platforms and online communities can help you build a dedicated fan base and increase sales. Engage with readers on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and join online communities and forums related to your book’s genre or topic. Share valuable content, interact with your audience, and offer exclusive promotions to encourage readers to purchase your book.

In conclusion, exploring alternative distribution channels can be a fantastic way to expand your book’s reach and find new readers. By thinking creatively and trying out unique strategies like subscription boxes, libraries, and literary events, you can broaden your self-publishing horizons and increase the chances of success for your book.

We’ve covered a wide range of self-publishing topics, including selling your book outside of Amazon, managing author copies, setting up your own online store, wholesaling to physical bookstores and retailers, and alternative distribution channels. By considering these various options and diversifying your distribution channels, you can maximize your book’s potential and pave the way to self-publishing success.

We’ve journeyed through the world of self-publishing, exploring various alternatives to selling your book exclusively on Amazon. By considering options like wider distribution channels, ordering author copies for direct sales, setting up your own online store, wholesaling to physical bookstores and retailers, and tapping into alternative distribution channels, you can expand your book’s reach and increase your chances of success.

Remember, the self-publishing landscape is ever-evolving, and staying open to new opportunities is key. As you navigate this exciting journey, be sure to explore these options and diversify your distribution channels. By doing so, you’ll not only maximize your book’s potential but also build a fulfilling and successful self-publishing career.

So, fellow authors, let’s continue to think outside the Amazon box, embrace the myriad possibilities that self-publishing has to offer, and make our literary dreams a reality!

About Rebecca Wilson

About Rebecca Wilson

Writer, designer, and book coach Rebecca Wilson has been publishing a broad variety of creative books for more than half a decade. She combines her teaching background and publishing expertise at SelfPubMagic to share her love of bookmaking with other creatives.