Challenge,  publishing

So You Wrote a Book…

You Have Options…

How do you get that book to readers?  There are an amazingly large number of ways. Let me list the five major ways and then explain them a little. Keep in mind that books could and have been written about doing all five.

  • 1… Traditional Publishing
  • 2… Retail Sales Worldwide
  • 3… Crowdfunding
  • 4… Direct Sales On Websites
  • 5… Personal events

Traditional Publishing…

In 2023, no writer with an ounce of brains who lives in the real world instead of myth-world, would spend the years and years to sign a small deal with a traditional publisher only to lose all copyright and control of the book. This way in 2023 is a non-starter and I did an entire series of posts on the why of that.

Retail Sales Worldwide…

This the way most indie writers think of selling books, and in 2023 is is very easy to do, both in paper and electronic. You license your book to Amazon (some stores worldwide), Kobo (a ton of stores worldwide), and D2D and then have D2D get it out to a ton of other places around the world.

You can hit about 80% or so of the English-reading markets in the world in those three easy steps.

You can also translate your book and hit those retail markets and also put your book in audio and hit those retail markets.  As it should be, this is the building path for indie writers.


Kickstarter has become a good place for books, and of course there are things like Patreon and other places like that.

This is the second tier of expansion indie authors tend to make after they get their books out retail. If done right, this can be more profitable in not only money, but in bringing readers to your work over the long haul.

Kickstarter Campaigns can be your best advertising for your new book. And in building a series and a mailing list.  Patreon, if you can keep it active and have a focus is a great method as well. There are many other platforms in the crowdfunding area, all the way down to Paypal donate buttons. New things are coming into play all the time.

Direct Sales on Websites…

This is the logical third expansion for writers as they come in and build an inventory of books and stories. This area goes from selling stuff on your own web site to actually building a direct sales store through a platform like Shopify. And so much more.

There is a lot of innovation going on in this area right now across indie publishing, and allows products to be brought into play from an author’s series or trademark. And then the products can not only be sold direct, but also through Kickstarter campaigns.

The major advantage of direct sakes is you get all the customer information instead of a retailer getting it. Easier to make personal contacts and build a customer base going forward. Authors also get a higher percentage of the price of a book and that adds up quickly.

This area also leads into the huge licensing world for your books and products. That’s a good thing.

Personal Events…

Signings, conventions, and so on. This harks back to how the old vanity press authors used to sell their books and it is expensive and takes a certain type of author to do it.  If you get invited as a guest of honor to conventions a lot, or make money being a speaker, most certainly have the books and products to take with you and get help selling the product. Not something, however, you would plan on doing early in your writing career. And the profit margin is narrow, if any profit at all. But you do build goodwill with customers if you are personable.

So five summary statements about the overall of selling books in 2023. I had a couple of questions along these lines and I thought I would just lay it out in simple, easy to see form.





  • James Palmer

    Great breakdown of the options, Dean. I’ve done 3 and 5 for a while now, and this year I’m working on expanding into 2 and 4. I no longer have any interest at all in pursuing 1.

    • dwsmith

      We did a lot of selling in person with Pulphouse back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I swore after those years that I would rather be shot than haul books to a table ever again. And yes, we sold a ton of books, but still not sure we actually made any money on the operation when taking in not only the costs of the books and shipping to us, but getting them to the convention, cost of the table, cost of the time to stand behind the table for three days, and so on. That is a young person’s sport.

  • Alexander Boukal

    From hearing you (Dean Wesley Smith) and Brian Lee Durfee talk about your eye problems, I got thinking. Braille exists as a means for the blind to read. Could we writers publish our books in braille so that the vision-impaired as well as the vision-abled can read our books?

    I’ve discovered a place that does in fact print textbooks, business cards, etc. in braille, at the cost of $1 per page.

    Clovernook Braille Printing.

    I need to explore the website further, but it seems like writers could be printing fiction books in braille.

      • Connor Whiteley

        Hi both,

        I was talking about this with an Aussie author in 2021 and they use this place because from what I remember you simply send them your book, they translate it for you and they put it on their online bookstore and you can told books from them to ship out.

        I think this is a great idea but I just have no idea how you would market it and the cost is very steep to be honest. Even the one both at $1 a page, even my short novellas that’s still at least 110 pages so $110 per book. That’s a lot.

        And when I think about the WIBBOW test back then and even now, I think it would be better off writing than trying this idea.

        Just another website if someone wanted to check it out.

        • Anthony

          I think that audio is a way better way to get your books to the blind than braille translations.

          • Jojoba

            I have been looking at this myself. Hyper simplifying things, braille is just embossing. It is doable and then directly sell to braille-using libraries and such but it does take some work