The Distribution Rip-Off

By: Jeff Herman

Thousands of intelligent writers enter into hybrid self-publishing contracts that include traditional distribution, and even if no copies ever show up in a store, the contract hasn't been breached. Why? Because it's easy to establish all the requisite tools for stores to order copies and for the orders to be fulfilled. Any one can do that, even if you don't really have anything to sell.

Why should a store eagerly give the time of day to any of the legions of hybrid or self-publishers? There are already too many established publishers and books to keep up with, and keeping the store well stocked isn't an issue, especially if the entire inventory has been shipped on cosignment. A bookstore manager's primary obligation is to ensure that the right books are stocked for his or her customer base. Of course, some stores will step beyond their comfort zone and research other options, and sometimes a customer will ask the store to special order obscure books. The rarest exception is when a non-traditionally published author manages to bypass the obstacles, and somehow causes consumers en mass to demand copies from their local stores. This sometimes happens and when it does the stores will follow their customers and order copies from whoever can fulfill them. The phenomenon will be rapidly followed by a horde of agents and traditional publishers offering the writer traditional options. This also happens to writers who solely self-publish digital formats and are able to generate massive orders.

The original point of this blog is to emphasize that distribution is technically available for everyone, but only achieved by a tiny fraction of those who are eligible. This isn't presented to discourage you, but to simply enlighten you and perhaps save you from paying a hybrid publisher for a service they can't realistically provide in any measure. If the firm claims otherwise, then ask them to document it by showing you meaningful purchase orders from stores. Keep in mind that these firms are in the business of getting writers to pay them for a large menu of functions. In many cases, they provide exactly what they were paid to do and everyone is satisfied. Dissatisfaction prevails when the writer was enabled to have unrealistic expectations about what they would receive in return for the money they spent. Non-distribution is often the most painful surprise inexperienced writers encounter. Unless they can establish deception or negligence, moving on and warning others might be their next best move.

Remember to follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook to be the first to learn about new releases, see behind-the-scenes at BP Wiz headquarters, and stay on top of the latest news from the publishing world!

No comments: