Whether you’re a first-time author or a seasoned publisher with numerous backlist titles, you’ve probably considered at some point whether you need to use a distributor like the Casemate Group.

Aside from creating and publishing your books, making them available to buy and find as easily as possible, is vital. Wholesalers and distributors are the two main channels for getting your books sold by large high street chains such as Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, WHSmiths, as well as available via indie bookshops, libraries, universities, museums, gift outlets, and online retailers such as Amazon, Book Depository, and Books Etc. You’ll also consider wanting to make digital editions available through e-book retailers around the world.

Wholesalers are a key middleman between the publisher and most major book stores. These retailers sell a lot of books by a lot of different publishers, so being able to place orders with a small number of trusted accounts, such as wholesalers, who ultimately act as a stock holder for your books, rather than having to deal directly with thousands of authors and hundreds of publishers, makes their lives a lot easier. The same rationale applies equally to smaller, independent bookshops. So if you are looking for global, even national distribution for your books, with your books able to be sold in bookshops across the land, you will need to be set up with a major wholesaler.

One thing you must bear in mind with wholesalers is that they are not retailers. They do not market, sell or promote your books to the same degree as a bookshop would. They provide information to retailers, with highlighted titles largely financially supported by the publisher paying for advertising space to promote their books in the wholesalers’ new title announcements. Your books are stored with numerous other books, reliant on sales and marketing activity to provide the required demand for the book to create orders from book retailers.

This is where a distributor comes in. You will need someone with good connections to bookshops, who has longstanding, successful relationships with the buyers, who is able to communicate the strengths and commercial viability of your books, and the expected marketing and promotional activity it will have, to encourage them to place orders and have the books on the shelves ready for when customers see this coverage and the demand for the book begins. The other thing the distributor will ensure is that the bibliographic data for the book has been disseminated and is available on all retailers’ systems, so that they are able to order the book with ease.

So why do you need a distributor rather than just a relationship with a wholesaler?

  1. The best ones will have a dedicated, active sales force pitching and selling their exclusive range of books directly to retailers and bookshops, getting as many copies on the shelves, both physical and online, in front of consumers, as possible
  2. Wholesalers generally have a minimum quantity of titles published per annum requirement, and want to see as few sales reps as possible to make their job as efficient as possible, so regular, face-to-face communication can be difficult without a credible distributor working for you, championing your books
  3. Correct, up-to-date book data is vital to the success of any book, and good distributors have dedicated data managers ensuring that your book data is correct, current and in line with industry standards
  4. Many, many books are published each year, and in order for your books to stand out from the rest, you need marketing and promotional support. A good distributor will have long-standing relationships with reviewers and both national, local and specialist press, who can maximise and champion the unique selling points of your books and, due to their credibility, the best chance of achieving the most coverage for your books. They will also be able to work in partnership with any dedicated publicity person or team, if you choose to add additional support to help promote your books, and provide author care, liaising with authors to help organise events, talks, lectures and launches
  5. Not only do you need an account with a wholesaler, but you also need a trusted warehousing set up which is used to sending books to wholesalers and bookshops all over the world, day in, day out. Fast turnaround times, well-packaged orders, automated ordering, accurate reporting and good customer service is key to ensuring your books make it onto bookshelves and into customers’ hands as easily and quickly as possible. A good distributor will have this relationship in place and will manage this for you.

What next? If you’ve now established that you need a distributor to help you achieve your publishing program’s sales goals, please contact Simone Drinkwater at the Casemate Group to discuss this further.

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PLEASE NOTE: Casemate’s US and UK Offices are closed through the end of July and we are working remotely as a result of COVID 19. Our telephones will be answered as usual, so feel free to call us but please bear in mind it may take us longer than normal to answer your questions. You can also email us on casemate@casematepublishers.com; casemate-uk@casematepublishers.co.uk