Thursday, September 15, 2011

The One Thing

With the acceptance as a Bakers and Taylor publisher, there is only one difference between 3L Publishing and traditional publishing. In exchange for super high royalties, you pay for the services you consume -- and that's it. We had a weak distributor in the past that didn't really move books. We expect the new arrangement with Bakers to push books so much better through their reputable services and quality catalog. When we went to the New York Book Expo and our former distributor handed us a CD and mentioned ignore the typos, we knew we were in trouble. Not just any publisher gets accepted to Bakers and Taylor. In fact, most publishers without the quality catalog and sales track record can get into Bakers.

Some publishers don't have any distribution model outside of Amazon. In fact, many small publishers in and around Sacramento don't have this capability. So, if you're looking to work with a local outfit, ask your representative how they distribute to the bookstores.

The key question to ask about distribution into the bookstores: who do you use? If they utter anything outside of Bakers and Taylor, do your own homework and find out that distributor's reputation. If they have a national distributor and you're paying them a very high hourly or general rate, you will be left high and dry without distribution -- and spending a lot of money to be left without bookstore distribution. Applying for distribution with individual titles is very challenging. We did this with my first book Second Bloom, which won awards, and it got rejected. We even went to the Independent Book Publishers Association, and it got rejected. It's a challenge to get a single book distributed.

If they only offer Amazon and eBook then ask some critical questions about eBook service.

The key question to ask about eBook service: Do you convert the book and "own" the sales channels? What does this mean? Is your publisher really the provider or are they contracting the eBook service to something like Smashwords? Why does this matter? First, Smashwords is really the publisher and royalties will not be as high. Second, that means your publisher is no more then a facilitator with no control. You could do Smashwords on your own. Here at 3L Publishing, we have direct relationships with our eBook providers with Nook (Barnes), iBook (Apple) and Kindle (Amazon). Don't be misled about this. Find out and specifically ask.

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