Going Wide - How Many Distributors?

Maximize your income with wide distribution

Where are your books available for sale? Amazon? Is that all?

I now have over twenty distributors or places where you can buy my books. This includes my online bookstore, apps, educational distributors, audiobook distributors, or streaming services. Just this month, I added an international app in India.

When I started MimsHouseBooks.com I knew I didn’t want to be exclusive to Amazon because my books were more targeted to the education market and to trade markets. So, how’s all this working out for me? This year (the sixth year for Mims House Books), my gross income was over six figures and here’s the percentage breakdown of income sources.

2020 Income Sources

Special Orders

The number one source of income, with 50% of the overall income, is special orders. For example, one school district in North Carolina provides a free summer reading book for each elementary child. My book was chosen for the fourth grade, so they ordered 1637 paperback copies.


A friend recently published his first book and was surprised that a local zoo wanted to place a small order of twenty books. Yes! That’s the beginning of special ordering, which can eventually make up a huge percentage of your income.

Likely, next year, the percentage will be less because I had a couple big orders this year that may or may not repeat. Special orders are worth learning the ins and outs of purchase orders and invoices. When a customer wants to buy a book, they send a purchase order with the specific order information, and it’s considered a legally binding document. I won’t send out books without a PO. Then, when I send books, I include an Invoice (or I email it to the customer, as agreed upon), which tells them how much to pay and when the payment is due. All accounting programs have the capability to generate these documents. Even with one book out, learn the process of special orders!

Amazon Tied with Foreign Rights

Mims House also had a great year for foreign rights with a six-book Korean deal for the Moments in Science series. In fact the income from foreign rights equaled our income from Amazon KDP.

Of course! Of course, we sell on Amazon and try to maximize our income there with advertising and promos. But I’m aware that it’s only one source of income!

App, Online Bookstore, and Traditional Contract

Tied for third place in income sources were a children’s reading app, my Shopify store and traditional contracts. EPIC! reading app curates its list and my books are included because they’ve won awards such as the NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books and have earned starred PW and Kirkus Reviews. As a subscription service, they pay from a pool, so you never know what the per-read payment will be. But they have such a strong following, you earn on volume.

I started my Shopify store last year (read about it here). It still needs a ton of development, but it had some nice orders from customers. I expect this income to grow every year.

And yes, I did sign one traditional contract last year, and I still receive royalty payments from a couple traditionally published books. I’m not looking for traditional contract and will do few of these. But this book was a special project that made sense. I’ll tell you more when I can!

Other Income Sources

The rest of the income came from a variety of small ongoing activities. You can see my online video courses here. (Take 10% off any course with this coupon: INDIE). The other online platforms are difficult for children’s books and combined, they were only about 4% of my income (Apple, Kobo, Overdrive, GooglePlay, Findaway, etc.) I did one affiliate sales push, but found I’m not aggressive enough to do well with affiliate sales. I’ve done some consulting, but that has dried up because the pandemic forced companies to tighten budgets.

So, there it is. The winners this year were clearly special sales and foreign rights. Those will tend to come and go, so I don’t expect them to be as big a percentage next year. But already audiobooks are becoming interesting. For many distributors, you see sales numbers for a month, but aren’t paid for three months (90 days). The November and December audiobook sales were great on a couple platforms. We’ll see if that trend continues or not.

Where did your income shine last year? What bright spots do you expect for 2021?

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