If you're passionate about Christian books, you might consider becoming an online Christian book distributor. Christianideas.net says the best part about this business is "knowing that the products you are selling are helping people in their spiritual lives." Christian book distribution is competitive, especially in today's market, but with the right planning, drive and pricing, you can become very successful.
Things You'll Need
- Marketing plan
- Pricing model
- Trading relationship with publishers or a major distributor
Determine your audience. Successful Christian book distributors such as monergism.com have a focused niche in the market. Consider your passions, expertise and who you want to serve. What will differentiate you from the pack? What gaps in the market might you fill?
Create a business plan. Jeff Crosby, Associate Publisher, Sales & Marketing at InterVarsity Press and former Vice President of Sales for Ingram Book Company, says you should ask yourself the following questions as you develop your company:
What vendors will I work with---individual publishers or distributors such as Ingram Books or Spring Arbor?
What discount terms will they offer? Contact the credit departments of publishers or distributors for a credit application and terms.
Based on those discounts, what is my pricing model? Set your pricing model at a level that will allow you to be competitive and cover your costs while eventually generating a profit.
How will I handle order fulfillment? Some companies will do back-end fulfillment for small websites and other book distribution partners on a fee basis.
How will I handle other aspects such as accounting and customer service?
Secure financial backing. InterVarsity Press Special Markets Sales and Marketing Manager and former bookstore manager Andrew Bronson notes under-financed start-ups can go down overnight---so be sure to secure enough cash flow up front. Consider a large loan from an Angel investor.
Develop a website. Hire a skilled web designer who knows how to integrate a store into your site.
Hire a marketing firm to launch your brand. To be successful, Bronson suggests you will need to have a substantial marketing launch to attract new customers and differentiate your brand.
Tips & Warnings
- Attend book industry trade shows to establish networks before you launch your firm. The International Christian Retailing show and Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit are among the best. Keep it simple. Operate on a budget. Consider outsourcing as much as you can. Stay flexible. Keep the ability to grow quickly if needed.
- Be well financed. Cash shortages will shut you down fast. Be patient. According to Crosby, it might take two to three years to turn a profit, but eventually you can create a thriving business.
- Jeff Crosby; Associate Publisher, Sales and Marketing, InterVarsity Press; Westmont, IL
- Andrew Bronson; Special Markets Sales and Marketing Manager, InterVarsity Press; Westmont, IL
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