Wednesday, January 30, 2008

“Oh, they’re long gone.”

Last week, I sent out a batch of brochures for When Pigs Fly, and today I began following up. I’d obtained a list of truck stops off the website of a trucker’s association. The first six numbers I called from that list had been disconnected. Then I reached a fellow who said that all his customers spoke Spanish. After that, two of my numbers connected to offices of Progressive Insurance Company, followed by one that connected to the post office in the town I had in mind. I told the lady about the truck stop I was trying to reach, and she said, “Oh, they're long gone.”

Sigh. This list was worth what I paid for it, and not a penny more.

My last call worked out better. I spoke to a woman who said I had to contact their corporate purchasing department. I did so, and collected contact information. Then I contacted iUniverse to find out how big a discount I could offer for large quantities, with the idea of the customer buying directly from the publisher. Pfft! Thirty, thirty-five percent. If I want to offer a higher discount, I have to buy huge quantities and sell them myself—national chains normally demand a discount of 50-70 percent, the iU guy said, “and don’t forget that we never accept returns.”

I never expected to make a profit selling my novel, but I had hoped at least to get more copies of my book out there. It’s a truism that self-published and subsidy-published books don’t sell many copies, but of course they don't. The publisher's whole business model is based on many authors each selling only a few copies. They are simply not interested in volume sales.

When Pigs Fly garners uniformly excellent comments from readers, but it seems I have to reach those readers one by one. I may look into canceling my contract with iU and republishing on my own, but I’m sure that's no small task.


Ruth D~ said...

I bet you could make some money writing a book about what you learned. But iU wouldn't publish it. :>)

Can you make contact in Lowell with those brochures.

Barry said...

Sure you can DIY, Bob. Piece of cake.

Get an EIN. Set up your LLC, buy a stack of ISBNs, some typesetting software or a layout artist if you don't want to spend time perfecting those skills. Hire your cover designer and copy editor. Find a reliable printer who will do a small batch; review the proofs. Wait anxiously for the boxes to arrive unless you let them do the distribution (for additional $$).

Amazon listing is a must, so enroll in their Advantage program and send a copy for their 'search inside' folks to scan. At your expense, FedEx the copies Amazon orders on consignment and wait for sales at 55% discount of listed price, which may or may not be below your total cost.

Charlie is largely responsible for selling most copies and creating the buzz that gave Crack! and Thump the success it's had, taking it into multiple printings. My first effort, Fearsome Battle, sank without much impact, because the author could not promote it. Still got plenty of the first printing on hand.

So...if you really want to DIY, I'll be glad to open up my rolodex and mind (gratis) to help.

Meanwhile, I'm looking for a place to start posting chapters of my books free on the net, so I'd appreciate any leads or advice you can offer in that regard.

Oh, and good luck.