Author photos taken by Robert Abrams in Paris, France.



THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY - Rebecca Buckley's Blog
Hello, I'm Rebecca Buckley, and I write books! Welcome to my blog. Here I'll talk about almost anything. Depends on the mood of the day. I'll also talk about publishing, writing techniques, and editing ... subjects close to my heart. So today, anytime you feel like it, feel free to jump in ... click on the COMMENTS link at the end of a post and give your opinion. If you sign in "anonymous" to comment, it's easier, just be sure you say who you are in the content of your comment.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER VS. DISTRIBUTOR ... OR Between a Rock and a Hard Place!

A bit more about the publisher/distributor dilemma ... here's something I found interesting on the Frugalmarketing.com website. Explains a bit more about how it all works.

"Ingram is the 6000 lbs. gorilla of wholesalers. It doesn't accept books from publishers of less than 10 titles or whose income *from Ingram* is less than $25,000 a year. (This figure will probably be raised to $30k next year.) This makes life very hard for the new or struggling small press. Most bookstores won't bother with a book that isn't listed in Ingram. It's not fair, but it's the way things are."

Just a note: RJBP books are listed with Ingram, but through Lightning Source which results in a 20% discount to booksellers on land. We're okay with Internet booksellers, it's just the brick & mortar stores that are the problem ... age-old problem for small independent publishers.

"Baker & Taylor is more open to small presses. They have programs through SPAN to sign up. Be aware that unless there is significant ordering, B&T will not stock your book. They will list it in their database and order when there is activity. They have the most hair-trigger returns program I know of (books can often come back 2 weeks after shipment when you are a 1-2 book publisher). This is because they are terrified of You owing Them money (returns are charged back to you)."

Now, I'm talking here as an independent publisher (R. J. Buckley), folks, not as an author. In my last post I believe I was misunderstood, comments were confusing, sounded as if the posters thought I was talking about authors self publishing. Not the case. The subject is Independent Publishers vs. Distributors - the relationship between the two.

Self-published authors are different all together. Falls into a different category completely. Your chances of being taken on directly by Ingram and Baker & Taylor are next to nil. That's a given. And getting your books in a store are next to nil, other than the neighborhood bookseller who takes local authors as well as getting into the library you frequent regularly.

So what I'm attempting to do here is explain the whys and hows it does or does not happen for clients of independent publishing houses.

DEFINITION OF AN INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER (or publishing house): "By definition, an independent publisher is any publishing company that operates on a traditional business model – where the money flows to the author – but is not owned by another company. That is, an independent publisher is not an imprint, nor an arm of another company. Independent publishers function in much the same fashion as an imprint of the Big Six, albeit on smaller scale."

In case you don't know ... here are The Big Six:

1. Hachette Book Group
2. HarperCollins
3. MacMillan Publishers Ltd.
4. Penguin Group
5. Random House
6. Simon & Schuster

There you go ... the BIG SIX! Operating as an independent publisher, RJBP has published 20 books to date, with three more to be published by the end of December this year (2011), bringing the total to 23. So far, 7 more books have been contracted to be published in 2012. So we're growing very fast for an independent the size of RJBP.

And again, the issue I'm facing is the best way to accomplish distribution to bookstores and libraries. Internet and ebooks are not a problem. That's solved. Readers ordering single books through bookstores isn't a problem. The problem is selling to booksellers and libraries at an attractive discount price that will entice them to purchase in bulk. That's the problem. And to do that, I have to be doing DIRECT business with the major distributors ... such as the two listed above.

And that entails a whole other can of worms ... to the distributors I must present an adequate business plan and projection, meet the annual gross and net sales criteria, inventory, pricing, cost of sales, etc. YIKES! But again, it's a puzzle that can be worked out. I know it can. Other small publishers have done it. I just have to figure it out. And when someone says to me "you can't do it", or that "it's too difficult," then that just pushes me forward.

HOWEVER ... "Getting into distributors, wholesalers and bookstores is not the important part. You have to create demand for your book--which means you have to figure out how to create customers!" EXACTLY!


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