Distribution | Tellwell Publishing

Once your book is complete, Tellwell’s distribution services will help get your masterpiece into the hands of your readers. All publishing packages include print-on-demand paperback distribution, making your book available for popular retailers like Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, and Barnes & Noble to include on their websites.

You may also choose Enhanced Amazon paperback distribution; Ingram hardcover distribution; and eBook distribution through Amazon Kindle, Kobo (Chapters/Indigo), and Smashwords (Apple Books and Barnes & Noble Nook).

Distribution channels

While books can be sold on thousands of online websites, Tellwell partners with these four distribution channels that supply the major global retailers with physical books and eBook files:

  1. Ingram (included in every print package)
  2. Kindle Direct Publishing (included with Enhanced Amazon Distribution service for print and/or Kindle eBooks)
  3. Rakuten Kobo (Kobo app and Chapters/Indigo)
  4. Smashwords (Apple Books, Barnes & Noble Nook, and many others)

Royalties for all purchases of books published through Tellwell are earned through one of these four companies. Tellwell conveniently consolidates all royalties and issues quarterly payments to authors.

How print-on-demand distribution works

Print-on-demand printing is technology that allows authors to sell their books globally without having to fulfill orders through their own physical inventory of books.

When someone orders your book online, a single copy is printed and shipped. This technology is especially advantageous for indie and self-published authors: you don't have to invest up-front in a large inventory of printed books.

When you sign up for one of our managed distribution options, we set your title up with Ingram, making your book available to thousands of online retailers in paperback format. Hardcover printing and distribution through Ingram is available for an additional fee.

Each retailer decides whether to list your book, but the most popular online retailers for our authors are Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, and Barnes & Noble.

You set the suggested retail price. The distributor will retain a fixed amount of that price to cover their manufacturing costs. The retailer will take a percentage in exchange for listing the book, and you earn the remainder as your royalty each time a book is sold.

Authors also have the option of purchasing the Enhanced Amazon service. We will set up your book for print-on-demand distribution with Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service, through which paperback orders will be printed and fulfilled by Amazon. (Note that Amazon's KDP service only supports paperback books.)

How to get stocked in bookshops

The best way to sell in brick-and-mortar bookstores is to provide a copy on consignment, typically ordered in advance through our print department. The bookstore takes a cut of the profits, usually between 45–55%. The details of consignment agreements vary, and arrangements must be made between the author and bookstore.

To purchase a book directly from the distributor and stock it on their shelves, bookstores will typically require a 55% wholesale (or retail) discount to be set with the distributor, who makes the book available to them. Books will need to be marked as “returnable,” which requires a charge of 45% of the suggested retail price per book returned.

Book-return program

Tellwell has created a program to enable you to have your book stocked by bookstores. There is an opt-in fee (currently $500 + tax) and the book must be priced high enough to ensure that the royalty earned will cover the costs of returns in the event that 50% of the books are returned. Beyond this, Tellwell would withhold all royalties earned via the distributor until 6 months following the author’s decision to opt out of the program.

With this in mind, it is not advisable to choose this route before understanding the implications, and more importantly, having confirmation from bookstores that they intend to stock your book.

Having a bookstore order and shelve your book from the distributor is an extremely competitive process, and even if a book is set up with a 55% wholesale discount and a returns policy, it is unlikely that any bookstore will decide to carry the book without being approached by the author, and shown a history of high sales and a strong positive reception for the book.

Unfortunately, the process involved to allow returnability is set up so that the distributor, retailers and publishers can all minimize risk and maximize profit, with very little being earned by the author per book sold. In other words, it’s not particularly lucrative for independent authors.

This is why it’s best to start with a strong online marketing campaign, and take advantage of the existing online retail infrastructure, which is far simpler and lower-risk, combined with local launch and signing events. Proudly revealing your book to your community is often the most rewarding aspect of the publishing process for many authors.

Why trust Tellwell to distribute your book?

  •    Our Managed Distribution program does all the heavy lifting to make your book available for sale through Ingram's network of booksellers. We consolidate and pay royalties from all channels and provide regular sales and royalty reports. We will be available for support as long as the book is published if there are any issues with your retail listings. Most authors choose this program as opposed to direct distribution.

Frequently asked questions

Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection, which gives the owner of an original creative work the right to prevent others from reproducing or copying a substantial part of it.

A book, or an idea for a book, is protected by copyright laws as soon as it is "fixed in a material form." In other words, as soon as you have typed up the first draft of your manuscript, it is protected by copyright, and you do not need to officially register your book for copyright protection. Within Canada, you may optionally decide to enroll your book with the national copyright registry for both Canada and the US. Here is what each of the above offices have to say about the benefits of copyright registration:

Canadian Intellectual Property Office

"First, if you have to enforce your copyright in a lawsuit against an alleged infringer, the copyright registration may be used as evidence against the infringing party that pleads ‘innocent infringement.’ An ‘innocent infringer’ can argue in court that they were unaware of any copyrights in the infringed work due to the lack of registration. The courts will generally award lesser penalties if indeed the infringer is found to be an ‘innocent infringer.’

“Second, a registration can be produced in the court as evidence to support that copyright exists and that the registrant is the owner of the work."

US Copyright Office

"Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law.” See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration” and Circular 38b, Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), on non-U.S. works."

If you would like your book registered for copyright, you may either register the book yourself through the following links, or Tellwell can do this on your behalf. For current fees, please reach out to support@tellwell.ca.

Registering your book with either the Canadian or US will extend registered protection to all countries that have signed the Berne Convention until at least 50 years after the death of the author.

Ingram is one of the world's largest print-on-demand distributors and makes your book available to over 39,000 retailers around the world.

Once your book is sent to this distributor—which Tellwell will do for you under our Managed Distribution model—Ingram will make your book available to their network of retailers to list and sell. The retailers can decide whether or not they list your book, but the most popular retailers that we typically see listing our books online are Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, and Barnes & Noble. Each time a book is ordered by a reader through these online listings, Ingram will be the one to print, ship, and fulfill those orders.

Distribution of the paperback edition of your book through Ingram is included in all of our publishing packages. We can also distribute a hardcover edition of your book through Ingram for an additional fee.

The 39,000+ retailers that list books distributed by Ingram include both physical bookstores and online retailers; however, due to the competitive nature of this process, most of our authors focus on online sales, or they make a bulk order of their books and create consignment agreements with local bookstores.

We offer an enhanced distribution service to optimise the Amazon listings on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, and Amazon's other non-US sites. We will set up your paperback book on Kindle Direct Publishing, which is owned by Amazon.

We offer this service because Ingram doesn't distribute to Amazon.co.uk. Amazon.co.uk will usually list the book through Amazon.com’s feed, but it will occasionally only sell via third party retailers on the website. So far we have been unable to find any pattern to indicate which books will be picked up and which ones will not.

When your book is set up through KDP, paperback orders placed through Amazon will be printed and fulfilled by Amazon itself, rather than through Ingram. The listings on Amazon.co.uk and .com won't say "out of stock" and always show at your suggested retail price. Through KDP, your paperback books will also be available for fast shipping through Amazon Prime. Read more ...

This is the million-dollar question! The best Suggested Retail Price for your book depends on your goals, the price other books in your genre are selling for, and your book’s specific print-on-demand cost. Read more ...