Distribution, Fulfillment, Billing and Collection
Solicit and receive orders, warehouse, pick, pack, ship, receive returns, and restock. These are all operations that a small publisher can perform and control in a garage with a few basic tools and supplies. But they can be time-consuming and a swift and orderly execution of these functions is very important.
Before trying to handle this work yourself, explore the possibility and costs of hiring a local or national mailing house or distribution service.
Billing, accounting, collection, cost analysis and control
If you are computer-literate these functions, too, can be handled in-house in a small operation using basic accounting software and a personal computer. Commonly, however, a very small or self-publisher will prefer to use a mailing and business service already equipped to do this work efficiently. A somewhat larger publisher will want to consider using all or part of the publishing services provided by consortium services–publishing organizations that service (or are co-op associations of) small publishers joining together to share a common sales force and marketing and distribution services.
Be wary of so-called “vanity” presses that offer authors publishing services. These can cease after delivery of books, printed at the author’s expense.