Good question. As of today, anyone who is part of the SelfPublishing.com Thor distribution program simply needs to sign into their Customer Resource Center, click on Fulfillment/Thor orders, enter any quantity from one on up, fill in a few lines on an order form, and wait a few short days and …. Poof…. The books are at your front door.
My basic self-publishing philosophy has not changed. If you are going to be a self-publisher, you first need to be a publisher. That starts with the ownership of the ISBN. ISBNs can either be bought one at a time at https://www.selfpublishing.com/isbn/ or 10, 100 or 1,000 at www.bowker.com. Don’t fall into the Vanity Press trap of being “assigned” an ISBN. You will regret it.
Now that you are a publisher, the first book you publish needs to be authored by you in order to be a self-publisher. It’s as easy as that. Now that you have a book that you’ve authored and you are ready to publish … you books to sell books, which is why I insist you print at least 100 copies on the first printing. After you sell the first printing, you come back and order a second and so forth. Over the years I’ve written tens of thousands of words on this subject but for this article I think that I have managed to sum it up in one paragraph.
The primary reason for the 100 copy minimum is my belief that there is no better incentive to sell books then to have boxes of them staring you in the face, every time you open your closet or garage. Over the years I have personally emptied more than one garage full of my self-published product. That kind of incentive really works. In 2011 you don’t really need to fill the garage. Technology has helped keep the printing unit cost relatively low on much shorter print runs. While the most financially successful self-published title I was ever associated with, sold two million copies, printing books 100,000 at a time, the most successful self-publisher is in his 27th printing and rarely prints more than a few hundred at a time. My least successful self-publisher, from a financial business standpoint, printed 100 copies, gave them to his friends and family and was never seen again. While these are the two extremes, the thousands of self-publishers I deal with generally fall somewhere in between.
If you print and sell a few thousand books over the course of the year, you are still best to print the few thousand (the average print run at SelfPublishing.com is 2000), sell them and come back and print another few thousand. If your sales goals are more in the 100 copies at a time range, the rest of this is for you.
The Thor POD distribution program has been around for about ten years. In the early days of POD, the quality of the printed product produced left much to be desired (and that is being nice). I would always tell people to think of Thor as “pennies from heaven” and that the chances of the POD printed book ever landing on the same table as the primary offset or digitally produced book were slim. Rather than think of the POD produced book as a printed book, it was better to just think of it as a $3.50/book paycheck. IE: Don’t buy your own book from Amazon, just to see what the POD printed book looked like. It was a waste of money and would just drive you nuts.
Well, things have changed. Not only has the whole POD distribution changed from pennies to dollars, the quality of the printed product has changed to the point that you can barely tell the difference between the Thor printed product and the original digital or offset product.
This evolution in quality has helped clear my conscience enough to offer you this product for short reprints, and still be able to sleep at night. Here is how the Thor Printing program works:
First: You need to be a printing customer of Self Publishing, Inc. ( RJ Communications, SelfPublishing.com or BooksJustBooks.com). If you aren’t, you should be. We are one of the oldest self-publishing/printing services on the Internet. We are also one of the few/if not the only one where every single person in the organization has significant experience in the printing or publishing field. (All you Author House people out there, the scuttlebutt has it that all the production, sales and customer service has been moved to Cebu in the Philippines.)
Second: You need to fill out the marketing form for your book. This will be the information that is fed to the various websites in the system so take your time and do it right.
Third: You need to sign up for the Thor Distribution program. There is no upfront charge for this program. The $129 setup is subtracted from the first $129 in sales. This program makes your book available to over 26,000 wholesale and retail outlets. Authors are paid monthly via Paypal on the profit from book sales through this system. For more information, go to http://www.selfpublishing.com/marketing/thor-distribution/. This program is only available for single color paperback or hardcover trade books at one of the standard sizes offered by SelfPublishing.com.
Fourth: Once your title has been uploaded into the system (3-4 days) go to your Customer Resource Center and sign in. (https://customers.selfpublishing.com/login.php?requestedpage=/index.php). If you don’t remember your user name or password, the system will email it to you.
Fifth: Once you are in, click on the tab that says Fulfillment/Thor Orders. Click the line that says Create a new fulfillment/THOR short run printing order. This will bring you to a screen where you can see all titles either in storage or in Thor. It is very intuitive from there. If you have ever bought anything online, you will be able to figure out how to order books. You can save your “ship to” addresses and credit card info for future orders. Once your order has been entered you’re done. In a few days you will receive tracking info and a day or so later you books will be sitting on your front porch. It’s as easy as that.
WARNING: Before you run to your Customer Resource Center and order 100 books, order one or two. While the Thor Printing printed books will look more or less the same as your original printing, there will be differences. Most notable is the extra blank pages the printer adds to the book and the barcode on the last printed page. There are also some slight differences in the paper and the cover coating. When you receive that first book, take a look at it. If you like it… great; order as many as you’d like. If you don’t like it, you need to go back and order books the old way.
How much do the Thor Printing, printed books cost? I almost forgot to tell you the best part. You can buy any quantity of books from one copy to ninety-nine at the 100 copy unit cost. There is a small handling fee and actual cost of UPS shipping but the normal $100 administrative fee does not apply. If you are an existing Thor Distribution customer, you can order books today. If there is any money owed from the original set up, you will need to pay it with the first printing order. This whole system is designed to be a “hands off” automatic system. If you are used to having someone in my office do all your administrative work for you, this system won’t work for you, but trust me… it’s easy.