Mailing books: Books fit nicely in a free USPS Priority Mail envelope, and a stamp costs less than $5. (You can charge the customer for shipping.) Customers will receive the book in two days, which makes them very happy, especially during the holidays, and especially if it’s autographed. Do send your books priority or first-class mail. The drastically lower cost of media mail might be tempting, but it can take a very long time to deliver, and sometimes—especially during the holidays—your book is likely to arrive to the customer later than they want and it also may be damaged.
POD sales: By printing with a POD service like CreateSpace your book is mailed to customers on-demand when they order from CreateSpace, Amazon, or any online retailer in their expanded distribution program.
Subsidy presses: Not recommended. If you choose to create your book through a subsidy or vanity press or author services company, they handle sales and distribution. You can buy books from them to sell at events, but after a predetermined number of “free” books that come with your “package” the per-book price is much higher than with a POD service like CreateSpace, or a short run printer. See Predators & Editors online for a list of subsidy presses.
Retail sales: If you sell direct to retailers, such as to non-bookstores, you can negotiate their discount, but 40% to 50% is standard. You may be asked to sell on consignment, which means you won’t be paid until the books are sold.
Back-of-room sales: If you are a speaker and sell direct via back-of-room sales, you earn 100% of profits. At some events you may be asked to pay a small percentage to the organization or directly to the cashier who is handling the sales.
Specialty distribution: It’s also possible to sell through specialty distributors—for example, someone who travels to conferences and sells books for you, or the owner of a website that specializes in your topic. They might ask for 50% to 55%.
Ebook sales: Ebook sales are handled much the same. The discount is dictated by the sales channel, such as Smashwords or Amazon. You can sell ebooks directly from your own store if you have set up digital downloads, or from a third-party store like Gumroad. (The section on websites includes information on setting up and using online stores.)
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