Distribution Part 2

In the first installment of this series, we talked about a basic definition of what full service distributors do:they get books to the stores and other outlets that then sell them to the public. Today, let's talk a little about how they do this.

Distributors make life easier in many ways for publishers because they handle at least some, if not all of these kinds of tasks: creating and then taking and fulfilling stock orders from stores, creating marketing materials, representing books at trade shows, processing returns from stores.

In addition, some provide fulfillment for orders directly from the publisher's website or even via phone number they provide. The distributor receives books shipped from the printer, stores them and then packs each individual order as it comes in. If the distributor has collected the funds from a customer as well, they then pay the publisher their portion on a set schedule.

As far as the customer is concerned, all of this happens seamlessly behind the scenes and that's the idea. Once in a while you might here the phrase "distributed by such and such company", but if you're like me, it makes absolutely no difference as long as your purchase experience is good/you get what you want.

One other thing that you should note is that occasionally, the terms distribution and fulfillment are used somewhat interchangeably. Generally though, fulfillment means filling and shipping orders, it doesn't usually involve marketing activities.

Who are the distributors, what does it cost to use their services? More next week.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Distribution- Part 1

A few months ago, I did a short series on Lulu and the pros and cons of using it. Today, I'm going to start a new series about the topic of distribution. If you have any questions anywhere along the way, please feel free to either email me or put a note in the comment section.

Let's start with the most logical point-what is distribution?

First, let's talk about what is referred to as full-service or traditional distribution.
Consider this: there are thousands of publishers trying to sell thousands of books to the stores that sell them. Imagine the insanity if every store was contacted by every publisher about every book, old and new alike. The paperwork it would entail to fill the shelves would be absolutely insane. That's where the full service distribution comes into the picture.

Distributors catalog the inventory of multiple publishers, their representatives present the information to the bookstore buyers and the buyers place one order through the distributor. The distributor then facilitates getting the books to the stores either via their own warehouse or a wholesale warehouse. Stores may deal with more than one distributor for different lines of products because no one represents everything, but they are still dealing with far fewer entities than the first scenario.

If you walk into a B & N or other major store, the books you see got there via that process for the most part. This process is also generally what's in play when books sell in the thousands or tens of thousands+ copy level. It's definitely possible to sell decent quantities without distribution, but it is certainly a lot more challenging.

Do you want or need full service distribution for your book? Maybe, maybe not. Stay tuned.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Trying to Figure Out How to Get Attention for Your Book? You're Not Alone

Sometimes, we writers like to dream ourselves into the land of bestsellers. We think about what it might be like to be on the big lists, how we'd be set for our next book and the next one after that. All we'd have to do is write, our publisher would release the book and all is well until the next one is ready-lather, rinse, repeat.

In some ways, it kinda makes sense. If your writing continues along the same path as the first big book, those who bought the first, would likely flock to future books too. Launch it and they will come kind of thing, right? Well, not exactly.

There's a competitive dynamic that occurs even at the bestseller level, that I hadn't thought about until I read this about Dan Brown's upcoming book and what it means to other big name books.

In a nutshell, even the big players worry about whether their book will get attention. That's how much publishing has changed over the years. Readers have so much to choose from, even well-known names are not exempt from a little hand-wringing and stressing out at the point of a book's release. There are no guarantees at any stage of the game.

What does all this mean to you? Be prepared.
Even if you have an agent, or are picked up by a large publisher, be prepared for plans to change and that you may not totally understand why or believe the changes to be fair. Also, understand you may not get all the attention you think your work deserves. Be willing to grow.

If you aren't going the traditional route, be prepared to compete. You may or may not directly be competing with Dan Brown or others in that realm, but you may be indirectly. Be aware of the possibility and prepare as much as you can so that you aren't blindsided if it happens.

And if any of the above does happen, be prepared to be knocked back a bit, or maybe even knocked down. Most importantly, be prepared to get back up and to take more steps forward no matter how big or small.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Do You Write Read-Aloud Books? Take Note

I was alerted to today's tidbit courtesy of fellow author Barb Techel (BTW, if you like daschunds, you'll want to check out her mission in life www.joyfulpaws.com)

The info she passed along via Facebook is about a new type of e-book reader program called Ripple that's geared for kids. Here's how it works in a nutshell: authors can make their read-aloud books available through the service, an adult purchases the ebook version, and then record themselves reading it via their own computer speaker. They then tell the child their book is ready for them, the child logs on and can hear the story being read to them by the person who purchased the book. The grownup involved might be a grandparent living in another city or potentially a parent working or serving outside the country.

There's a short video clip that describes it in a little more detail .

I agree with the gentleman who posted the video, even if it's not quite here yet, it's something to keep an eye on. In the meantime, if you sell this kind of book, why not recommend/suggest what is available now to potential buyers? Using Skype to read a book live via the net or recording even a short video and emailing a link or uploading it is easier and easier to do, but not everyone will think of doing it, even if they're aware of the technology. Have them try it out with your book!

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Publishing Terms Glossary

Short and sweet today. There's a lot of unique terminology to know in any industry and publishing is no different. It is also more important than ever to at least understand the basics because these days, an uniformed author can easily be a scammed, frustrated or disappointed author in no time.

To help you out, Agent Nathan Bransford has posted a great list of some of the stuff you need to know. Find it here Still have questions? Post them here and I'll do my best to clarify or find someone who can.
Enjoy your weekend!

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Attention Please?

If you write a book (or create any kind of product for that matter) and you intend to sell it, you want attention. You want to do radio, have your picture on the front page of the paper. You want to be on TV-maybe even one of the top morning shows or even, (deep breath) Oprah.

Do you want all that or at least parts of it? Really? If you answer is still a resounding "yes", the next question is, are you ready if it happens?

Consider what happened in the last week to the Taviano family thanks to their 52 Zoos in 52 Weeks adventure. First, yes they really did that. Based from their home in Ohio, they put thousands of miles on their van, stayed with people they'd never met before except online and got as far as LA, CA.

When they did their last official stop at their hometown zoo in Columbus, they'd sent a media announcement to local TV and newspapers. TV showed up for the wrap up party on August 1. The segments aired the next day, hit the papers a day or two later.

From there the Associated Press picked up the story. By Mon/Tue there were hundreds of results if you Googled the story. Their story was picked up then bumped for something else several times. Then mom Marla was booked on a nationally syndicated radio show by Wed, then the whole family was flown in on Friday to NYC be on the CBS Early Show on Saturday.

Is your head spinning yet?

Of course they had wanted and sought out publicity. But the thing about publicity is you can't totally control it like you can with advertising. You rarely know exactly who's going to grab on to you or your message and when. A week later, things are calmer, another radio show is scheduled last I read.

You want attention for your book, but are you really ready to handle it if it comes faster or bigger than expected? Are you comfortable giving a radio interview, to be interviewed on camera even if it's your local channel?

The Tavianos were relatively prepared for the attention they got; it's hard to be prepared for everything especially early on. But CBS was "out of their comfort zone" as Marla put it to her friends, family & fans as she asked for our prayers and support. And that's another key, as you prepare do the best you can, and also put together a support system. In this time of the www, there's no reason to even think about going it alone.

So once again, if you are blessed to get the attention you seek, are you ready? If not, what are you going to do about it starting right now?

BTW, if you want to read about cool zoos, and what God is doing through the Taviano family, visit www.52zoos.com or www.marlataviano.com You can also keep an eye out for the upcoming book.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


What Else Do They Want?

In the last post, we talked about the fact that very often it will be the case that your readers/customers don't need your book and one key to being able to still sell it is to get people to want it.

While you're working on how to do that, another idea to consider is-what else might they want?
If someone buys your book, there's a possibility they'd like something else too that's either directly related or associated with it. Now you probably wouldn't do this if you only sell on Amazon, but if you sell in person at all, it is definitely a strategy to consider to put a few more dollars in your pocket in a very overcrowded book market.

Examples of directly related:
Is there a concept or catch phrase in your book that would work well on a t-shirt, coffee mug or mouse pad? How about your book cover? Does a character wear a unique piece of jewelry that could be custom made for you to sell by a local jeweler or artist?

Examples of associated:
Is your book set in wine country or is a character a wine-lover or a foodie? Could you package your book with wine glasses, a wine scented candle or a cookbook?

Kids books are sold together with other products quite frequently, there's no reason adult books can't be too. Of course you don't have to make or write the things to go with it, but it shouldn't be to tough to find a way to make an attractive package deal.

Have you packaged your book with another product of your own creation or with someone else's? Please share with us!

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Most People Don't Need Your Book

Did that title statement catch you off guard? It did when I read the same sentiment in an article recently. But it didn't take long for me to understand how true it was.

It might not be the most pleasant exercise, but consider points like this for a moment:
1. If your book is non-fiction, there is a huge chance that all or part of your information is online and it's free. That's a big struggle the whole publishing industry is grappling with right now.

2. People are reading fewer books generally, but there were hundreds of thousands of new books published last year alone. And remember, that's on top of classics and other perennial best sellers.

3. If you are a reader, you may already have a backlog of books on your shelves along with a wish list, and your friends keep recommending more.

4. Decades ago, books were a major form of escape, entertainment and relaxation. Now there are numerous choices to fill free time.

How do you write and sell books if most people don't need them? You have to make them want to buy them. Want is different than need. You need to eat, but you might want chocolate instead of a salad. You need clothes, but you may want a particular brand over another that fills a similar need.

What's to want about a book? Maybe there's information in it they can't find easily for free. Maybe a writing style just hits the spot when they want something refreshing. Maybe it's because they met they met the author. Answer that question and you'll be well ahead of those who never stop to consider it.

So, why would people want your book?

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


The View from the Other Side

You and I are writers and authors (or are at least we're working at it). We have lots of ways and lots of opportunity to communicate, commiserate and celebrate the world we work in. This is good because writing can be a lonely, frustrating and maddening enterprise sometimes.

But what about those who are essentially spectators to this world of words, editors and queries? I'd be willing to bet that most of us do not have a significant other or spouse who share our writing world. I don't. My husband is a musician (and a darn good one too :-)). Luckily for me he does understand and relate to "the arts", but not all areas of writing and music overlap by any means. Maybe some of you are in a similar boat, but others probably have family that aren't into such things at all, which makes what we do completely foreign and uninteresting.

No matter which is the case in any given family though, there is one common thread that exists-writers need support and encouragement. Yes, many of us can dig our heels in and push ahead without it, but life's much sweeter and less stressful when we believe others value what we do verses considering it a waste of time and effort.

Not sure how to make that happen? Or if your situation is going pretty well, can it be even better? Here's an excellent post with some simple ideas that can be used in either scenario. Getting things on track may be as simple as a quick forward to someone you love.

How are things in that place where writers & non-writers collide in your life? Do you have tips/stories about how the non-writers in your family support you? I'd love it if you'd share.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett