They are gold: A couple of my authors have reminded me that you should be on the lookout for strategic partners, which are persons or businesses with a stake in promoting you, your business, or your book. There are various types:
Presentation Partners: If you are in demand as a speaker, the outfit that hires you may wish to distribute your book to the audience. In this case, you offer the event organizer a large quantity of books at a deep discount. The right deal could substitute for your speaking fee. Or not. In any case, you should charge enough to cover your printing and shipping costs plus some profit for you. John Huenefeld, the publishing consultant I followed religiously in the 1990s, did not like to offer more than a 65 percent discount for such purchases. If you are doing a special run of books, you can sweeten the pot by crediting your "co-publisher" within the book in some fashion.
Other Bulk Buyers: If your book is a direct hit with a business or a nonprofit, the entity may wish to distribute your book in quantity even when you are not speaking to them. Go for it.
Publishers: While traditional publishers usually take the lead in reaching out to bulk buyers and co-publishers, you can approach a traditional publisher as your co-publisher. In this case, you remain the publisher and your partner (who happens to be a traditional publisher) buys hundreds of books from you at a 65 percent discount and gets credit as a co-publisher. Why would they do this? First, they want your book. Second, this may be the only way they can get your book. Or third, they may prefer the opportunity to spend, let's say, $3,500 for 500 books instead if $20,000 to develop and pay for a much larger press run.
Other Benefactors: Not every strategic ally will be a book buyer. For example, one of my students is a professional landscape photographer who wanted to take photographs of a photogenic site with limited access to the public. She was able to gain access by offering the use of her photos, to be taken at the site, to the organization responsible for protecting the area. Now she has a stake in promoting the organization, and the organization has a stake in promoting her work.—The Publishing Pro