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Cracking the physical distribution problem

I’m scaling my publishing business one piece at a time, and today I’m focusing on amping up the physical distribution of my novels.

It’s pretty bad right now.

I’ll get an email that one’s been purchased, then make a label, put it on an envelope (if I even have any that day!), and walk it to the post office in sad solitude. It’s nearby, but the whole process is still painful for a single sale.

There are ways that I can make the fulfillment process less time-consuming — dedicated label printer, etc — but it’s still going to be some work for every sale. However, it can be effectively 5-10x less work if I’m selling 5-10 books at once! Libraries and bookstores are going to want multiple copies, so I need an easy way for them to order in bulk.

The store can currently handle paperbacks along with the eBooks, but only one copy at a time:

A new, improved cart

Paperbacks and eBooks, together? That’ll cost you.

Ah, the shipping fees seem a little high, so I’ll fix the bug in the calculation and order in some packing materials, ie. good envelopes, tape, bubble wrap and an office-quality labeler. Now books can go out fast and arrive looking vaguely professional. As a value-add, I’ve got some freebies — stickers, bookmarks, etc. — that I can slide into each shipment. Please treat yourself to the full experience by ordering some books.

But selling in bulk requires the addition of a retailer portal. It’s a significant effort. Here’s what I need:

  • a different version of the sign-up page,

  • a different version of the eBook store that includes a discount calculator and options for re-ordering in future,

  • actual knowledge of how libraries and bookstores small and large purchase new books, so I can accommodate them.

This last item is pivotal, so, wearing a novelty foam quail head, I entered the local library and asked if I could speak to––

Ah, that didn’t happen, and in fact, I’m not even going to do any of those things. Seems like a lot of work, and it’s focusing too much on the physical distribution, where the returns are far higher on the digital side.

Instead, I’m going to tackle something that’s much easier in the short-term and requires no extra work per sale — a loyalty program. NEXT →

Posted in: Scaling up

Scaling in progress!

Come back soon to see how the next plan hatched.