acim, particularly the big ones, have long ago developed the practice of both distributing and promoting the book they are going to publish. Unfortunately, in the much newer print-on-demand, self-publishing industry, there are authors who believe that author services firms do the same thing; also, some companies catering to self-publishing authors fail to enlighten them about the difference between distributing the book and promoting it.
The gist is that “distribution” in publishing refers to the process of making a book/title available in the market through booksellers (i.e. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.). “Promotion,” on the other hand, focuses on making the public aware of the book’s presence in the market and creating a demand through effective-and sometimes aggressive-marketing strategies that further increase the book’s chances to be sold.
Although completely different, distribution and promotion are often thought of together either as one and the same or two parts of one package-with distribution also comes promotion-which they are not. The truth is, distribution and promotion are completely separate entities, albeit closely related. Unfortunately, some author services firms take advantage of self-publishers-particularly the new ones-who make this erroneous assumption. Distribution on its own rarely sells books.
Distribution and promotion are the final leg of a book’s journey. Although neither gives a 100% guarantee that your book can reach its supposed destination-the readers-both are aimed to bring the book closer to its target audience.
Distribution can only go as far as booksellers; promotion, on the other hand, takes things further by increasing the chance of your book to reach the hands of the readers. When the goal is for the book to sell, distributing it is not enough. Stopping at distribution will only make you rely on the chance for a potential reader/buyer to take notice of your book and, hopefully, purchase it. But when your book is unknown and sits among the thousands-millions-of others having titles, authors, or publishers that are more recognized, the chance for your book to be noticed, much less bought, is very slim-and this is where promotion plays a very important role.
Book Promotion – Is It Worth It or Worthless?
Although book promotion is a norm and believed to be an effective method of getting your book known and boosting its sales, there are still some who believe otherwise. In a post by bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch on her blog titled “The Business Rusch: Hurry Up. Wait.” she stated her reasons why and how spending time promoting your book is not a time well-spent. According to Rusch:
“Publicity doesn’t work for books. It really doesn’t. All it does is get your name in front of a reader who might then glance at your book. Or not.”
And for the independent authors, here is what Rusch had to say:
“Writers who promote their book instead of writing the next book are wasting their time. The more books you’ve written, the more books you’ll sell. That’s how it works. That’s how it’s always worked.”