Send ’em to the Shelves: Working with a Distributor

with Brent Cunningham, Executive Director of Small Press Distribution

Getting your book in front of book buyers and a larger pool of potential readers is a numbers game. Through their sales representatives and wholesaler agreements, distributors give you credibility with book buyers and access to a wide range of sales channels, from small retailers to national chains, and online bookstores.

Distributors serve authors and publishers by:

  • Acting as the official vendor on behalf of the publisher; usually via an exclusive agreement to provide print, ebook and/or audio book to the book trade.
  • Set up titles with many wholesalers—the middlemen between you, the author or publisher, and most major book retailers (especially when your operation is too small to do so yourself).
  • Pitching and selling their titles directly to the retail buyers via an active sales force, in the hopes of getting as many books as possible on shelves and in front of consumers.
  • Bills customers, ships orders (to wholesalers and/or retailers) so that you as the publisher don’t have to; may offer fulfillment (to consumer) services as well.

In the October MiPA presentation, speaker Brent Cunningham will share his years of experience with distribution for independent publishers. He will provide insight on the benefits of working with, and the services provided by a distributor, and he will discuss how to begin working with a distributor like Small Press Distribution.

There will be time for questions, so sharpen your pencils and come prepared to pick Brent’s brain at the end of the session.

On or before Tuesday, October 13, register to call in or access our online meeting using the Zoom app on your computer or mobile device or call in from your phone. REGISTER HERE

About Our Speaker

Brent Cunningham has worked at Small Press Distribution since 1999, starting as their Sales Manager. In February he was named their Executive Director. SPD, based in Berkeley, is the nation’s only non-profit literary book distributor, serving around 350 smaller, independent publishers. He has published two books of poetry with SPD publishers, Bird & Forest (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2005) and Journey to the Sun (Atelos, 2012), as well as a chapbook titled The Sad Songs of Hell (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2017). He lives in Oakland with the poet Melissa Benham and their two children.

Small Press Distribution, better known as SPD, has for five decades connected readers with writers by providing dynamic access to independently published literature—getting small press books out into the world so that essential but underrepresented literary communities can fully participate in the marketplace. For numerous small presses, SPD has long provided the only reliable and available access to the U.S. book market.

In 2019 books sales of over 250,000 books, topped 2.5 million dollars, comprised of 35% wholesalers and jobbers, 25% online booksellers, 17% independent bookstores, 8% university and college bookstores, 5% direct to individuals, 2% direct to libraries, 1% to chain stores, and 7% other (mostly foreign sales).

Event Details & Registration

We are online with this month’s meeting, utilizing a Zoom meeting generously provided by the North Dakota State University (and MiPA President) Suzzanne Kelley!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020:

  • 6:30–7:00 (CT) Virtual Happy Hour Networking—drop in any time before the meeting to say hello (and test your audio and optionally video connection)
  • 7:00–8:30 (CT) Presentations and Discussion

Program is free to all attendees; pre-register using the meeting link.

Register in advance for access by clicking here

You will be prompted to download and install the Zoom application if you don’t have it already.

You can chose whether you want to use your camera (if you have one), or just listen in using your device’s audio.

Or, use one of Zoom’s dial-in numbers to call from your phone.

And be sure to let others know you’re coming on Facebook.