I went to a very interesting and a helpful panel yesterday re: book promotion, that started with Dark Coast Press co-founder Jarret Middleton talking about how distribution works for indie books. As usual at AWP, I’m reminded of all of the people involved in getting books to market, and all the dear, brave folks who keep at it because they are passionate about writing and about books, be they print or digital. Middleton shared a graphic that outlined the process (see also: labyrinth) a book goes through on its way to market. Here’s the breakdown:
Writers are all familiar with this part: you submit your work to the publisher, if it is accepted, it goes through editorial (unless you’re Donna Tartt), then design, printing, and the creation of sales and marketing material. Check, got it, this all makes sense.
What I did not know was how distribution works. From Middleton’s talk:
Publishers pitch your books marketing materials at a pre-sales conference, and if you’re lucky, your book gets a few minutes of a distributor’s time, and during that time, they are trying to pick holes in the presentation – reasons to reject the book, reasons it won’t sell, flaws in the marketing plan or materials, etc.
Then the press makes adjustments to the marketing materials so that they fit the distributor’s needs. (Middleton noted that it often feels like the presses work for the distributors, not vice versa.)
Voila! You’re in the catalog. Sales reps then take the catalog around and pitch the presses offerings to book sellers, and once in the mix, your book’s sales data goes into the system (what system, I’m not entirely sure of, but I think there might be an evil bald numbers cruncher surrounded by monitors laughing maniacally somewhere.)
Whew. Once this happens, you’ve got roughly a ninety day cycle before the reps are shilling different books – the next catalog. So then it is time to sell, sell, sell! You’ve got more than one dollar on this bet, though, so next up, notes on what booksellers and the sassy Tumblr chick had to say about doing it well.[/fusion_text]