Book Distributors and Self-Publishing with Dan Poynter

dan_smallDan Poynter fell into publishing. He spent eight years researching a labor of love. Realizing that no publisher would be interested in a technical treatise on the parachute, he went directly to a printer. The orders poured in, and the author was suddenly a publisher.

Dan has since produced over 80 books and revisions, some of which have been translated into Spanish, Japanese, British English, Russian and German. His seminars have been featured on CNN, his books have been pictured in The Wall Street Journal, and his story has been told in US News & World Report. The media come to Dan because he is the leading authority on book marketing. Often described as “Mr. Publishing,” Dan Poynter shows publishers how to sell more books using some surprisingly simple marketing concepts.

Dan is a frequent speaker, successful publisher and renowned book publishing consultant, who has a unique, pioneering approach to marketing books—which he so generously shares. No one gives away more help, advice and expertise than Dan Poynter.

The following is an excerpt from an interview I did with Dan where he shared insider secrets on successfully publishing and marketing books.

Cathy Stucker: How hard is it for a new publisher, or a new self-published author, to get into a distribution system, like getting a wholesaler or distributor to take their book?

Dan Poynter: Well, it can be difficult. There are about 90 distributors out there. I’ve got a report on my website, of course, but they specialize. Now, you have about 5 or 6 large ones that carry several different categories of books. I mean, they may be carrying business books, music books, pick a few others, but they don’t carry a few others like fiction or something else. So, you want to do your homework, go to their website, see what they carry, and you want to go with the distributor that has a lot of books like yours. Now, if you have a business book, you want to be with a business book distributor because they’re going to be going to the downtown bookstores where the business books are.

If you have a parenting or relationship book, you want to go with the distributor that has a lot of those books because it means that their sales reps are going to be going to the stores in the suburbs. If you have a relationship book and you were with somebody with a lot of business books, they wouldn’t be sending their people out to the suburbs stores; well, your book wouldn’t get shown and if it was put in the wrong store, wouldn’t even sell. So, you want to match your book to the distributor. Find the right distributor for the book.

Cathy Stucker: And then at that point you approach the distributor–and you said you’ve got information about the distributors and how to approach them and so on available. But the distributors are, for one thing, going to look for a very solid book, something that is sellable. It has to look good. It has to have not only good information, but it has to have a good appearance.

Dan Poynter: Well, certainly and you want to go to their websites and download their submission forms, you can send the whole packet in so they can evaluate the book and have all the backup paperwork. But the first thing you’re going to do is match your book to the distributor which means they want to hear from you. They know what you’re talking about and they know where to sell it. You just have to do a little homework upfront. Don’t do what most people do which is a mailing blast, trying to hit all of them hoping something will stick.

Cathy Stucker: Right.

Dan Poynter: Just pick out the ones that are the perfect match and send it to them.

Now, you brought up something, you’re perfectly right. As a practical matter, many of these distributors do not want to take on somebody with a single book or a brand new author or publisher because they require so much hand holding, and they’re not making that much money on a single book.

Cathy Stucker: Right.

Dan Poynter: So, you want to convince them, and I hope that you’re going to do more than one book. You’re going to find that this book business is pretty good, and you’re going to continue to come out with more books on the same subject. See now, here’s the problem though, that if you decide to sell off to a publisher or if you’re publishing yourself and you’re looking into distributors, these people see you coming. They know that most writers are introverts, and they know that most of the people who come out with books are not going to do radio; not going to do television; not going to do autographing; in fact, they’re not going to do anything to promote the book.

And so, you have to convince them that you are different. So, if you’re a professional speaker, you want to emphasize that you’re a professional speaker, that you are up in front of audiences every other day, that you are out there promoting your subject matter, and that you’re going to be promoting the book. That’s very, very important. They want to go with winners, and distributors and publishers suffer from the 80-20 principle. You know, they’re making 80% of their money from 20% of their authors.

Cathy Stucker: Well, I actually had a very easy time getting a distributor because I approached the distributor and said, “I have a new book coming out. And oh, by the way, the day it comes out, it’s going to be featured in Woman’s Day Magazine.”

Dan Poynter: Right.

Cathy Stucker: And they said, “Okay.”

Dan Poynter: We’d like to get on that bandwagon.

Cathy Stucker: Yeah. They figured, “Okay. This looks like it could be a winner.” But that was a special situation. I literally did have that happening. In fact, I was trying to get the book out in time to take advantage of that publicity. So, absolutely, if you’ve got that something shows them that you’re promoting, that makes you more desirable.

Dan Poynter: Which means that in the package that you send to them, if you have some newspaper articles on yourself, or magazine articles, fatten up the package, show them who you are.

Throw anything in there that will build you up and make you look like that you know something about letting people know that you have a book, that’s called book promotion.

The complete, one-hour interview with Dan Poynter is one of twelve expert interviews that are part of the Cash Content Formula course. Learn more, and get a free one-hour audio about making money with your content, at

My interview of Dan is also available at


  1. says

    I have just completed the 3rd edition of The Rogue Aviator. The first trwo editions are with iUniverse but the 3rd is published by myself through a printing company (A&A Printing).
    I want to utilize a book distributor and I am very close to choosing Atlas (Bookmasters) but I am very leary of their onerous contract. Can you reccommend any other distributors? My book is aviation-themed and will appeal particularly to the military, ex-military or pilots in general. Thanks very much for your response. Sincerely yours, AllenMorris/aka Ace Abbott