Writing & Publishing Articles

by Brent Sampson

These articles are available to help you. They may also be used on your website, ezine, or blog without permission, provided the exact biographical information below accompanies each article, including the active links back to Outskirts Press:

About the Author

Brent Sampson is the best-selling author of Sell Your Book on Amazon and the award-winning Self-Publishing Simplified. As the president & CEO of Outskirts Press, Brent offers full-service, on-demand custom book publishing services to authors seeking a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to publish and distribute their books worldwide. Through Outskirts Press Brent has helped thousands of authors with writing, editing, publishing, marketing and entrepreneurship. Brent is also on the Board of Directors for the Education & Literacy Foundation. For more information about the future of self-publishing visit www.outskirtspress.com.

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What is a Trade Discount and Why do I Care? by Brent Sampson

A "trade discount" is also known as a distributor discount and is the percentage off your retail price that you offer to the publishing trade for distributing your book. The "publishing trade" consists of wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. Everyone who handles your book takes a piece of the trade discount.

Obviously, the larger the trade discount, the more money there is to split up among the parties involved. Standard trade discounts range from 50% - 70%.

Most publishing companies do not offer any information about their trade discounting policies up-front, nor do they give the author any say in the matter.

However some cutting-edge publishers, such as Outskirts Press, offer their authors the flexibility of setting their own trade discount. Flexibility varies by publisher. Outskirts Press makes this complicated subject as easy (and still profitable) as possible by creating three custom pricing plans: Price Plan 50, Price Plan 40, and Price Plan 25. These offer a 50%, 40%, and 25% trade discount, respectively. Advanced users can alter their discount even further, by going as low as 20% for online distribution, or as high as 55% for industry standard trade discounting. 

A 55% trade discount will often result in an industry standard 40% retail margin, which is what a typical book retailer seeks when considering whether or not to order or stock a book for a physical bookstore.  Some retailers, like Barnes & Noble, actually "mark" or "tag" books in their system that feature a trade discount lower than 50%. They do this for all books from all publishers as their way of indicating that a book has a "short discount" (less than 50%).  


The flexibility of Outskirts Press really begins to shine when it comes to pricing your book. As with the retail price, the trade discount is up to you. It depends upon what type of distribution you are seeking and how high or low you want your retail price. The Outskirts Press pricing calculator automatically estimates your book's pricing before you submit it for publication, based upon page count estimates that you provide. That way, you are never surprised.

With most other publishers, including PODs, the publisher sets your trade discount and retail price for you.


Since the price plan is directly related to both your profit and your retail price, special consideration should be given to picking the right plan. The higher your plan, the higher your retail price and/or the lower your book profits. The lower your plan, the higher your profits, but perhaps to the detriment of distribution.

Remember that a trade discount is different from a retail margin. Wholesalers receive the trade discounted price. Then they turn around and distribute your book to a retailer for a retail margin they (Ingram) set. If the trade discount and retail margin were the same, Ingram wouldn't make any money and would go out of business. For this reason, the retail margin passed to the retailers is always lower than the trade discount you set with your price plan.

Good news! Books with at least a 20% trade discount are automatically distributed via the Outskirts Press WHOLESALE DISCOUNTED BOOKSTORE at https://outskirtspress.com/buybooks where anyone can buy copies of your book (in quantities of 10 or more) for the full trade discounted price and you still receive FULL royalties for those sales. We cut out the wholesale middle man and pass the full discount directly to the retailer without penalizing the author. No other publisher does this.

If you set a trade discount for your book, the minimum is 20%. You can set your trade discount for any amount between 0% and 55%, although there are 6 "main" levels to consider, and the three most popular (and effective, depending upon your goals) are packaged together into our three Pricing Plans:

0% No distribution. You handle all sales directly from your own inventory. This is the trade discount automatically set for you with the Emerald package, which does not include any distribution or wholesale availability.
20% On-line availability currently via Amazon and Barnes & Noble and many other websites (Powells, Books a Million, etc). Bookstores and off-line retailers have access to your book via special order and may increase your suggested retail price to pad their profits. Any package, aside from the Emerald, can select this trade discount. Offline distribution or availability will be nearly impossible.
25% THIS IS PRICE PLAN 25. Any package, aside from the Emerald, can select this trade discount. To maintain competitive retail pricing, this is optimal for Economy and Full-Color packages that plan to only sell books online.
40% THIS IS PRICE PLAN 40. On-line availability plus increased physical bookstore potential at NET 20, which means usually a 20% retail margin is provided to the bookstore as their profit (approximately half of what they typically desire).
50% THIS IS PRICE PLAN 50. Barnes & Noble tags any book from any publisher with a "textbook classification" if the book has a trade discount lower than 50%. That is their way of telling their employees that the book is a short-discount, meaning less money for their stores. This Price Plan is the recommended plan for Outskirts Press authors who want the combination of reasonable retail pricing and royalty plus distribution and availability opportunities both online and off.
55% The highest trade discount offered, resulting in maximum distribution potential for an industry standard 40% retail margin. The optional Retail Returns Service is highly recommended with this discount to get the best opportunity when pursuing offline chain retailers.


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