So in time these new middlemen with a distributor base for bookstores to order from, and contacts with some of the best writing America had to offer made life much easier for both sides of the publishing business. A few even went international and the author's work could be sold through outlets worldwide.
The workings of the jobber or small press distributor in the beginning was relatively simple. They would hire armies of salesman to go out to the retailer with lists of new titles, samples, information about the authors and details of the discounts to take orders direct. It doesn't work that way today, but it was effective back then.
In today's world that system works exactly the same with the big difference being in the modern high speed communications tools available. Instead of the enthusiastic groups of salesmen the jobber of today uses a printed catalog and an on-line database, with periodical updates through the year on a microfilm database or computer disk. Orders are taken toll-free by computer, telephone and fax machines.
This is what happens when you get a distributor to handle your products today. The first thing is their being able to look at every transaction as a part of the business without emotion. The distributor is looking for a much different set of criteria than a small press publisher imagines. Their reasoning is very much along the same lines as the retail store that will eventually stock your book. This jobber wants to know the same things the retailer does so that he may be able to convince them to buy your product. They do not read your samples to make this decision. They are very accomplished skimmer's. These jobbers can glance at a few pages at intervals of any book, look at the style, weight, size and price of the product and tell how many they may be able to sell within three or four copies. If your book conforms to what they think their select customers can sell, they will make you an offer to stock the title. Normally they will order two or three hundred of what they perceive to be a fast mover and perhaps fifty of the rest.
Now at this point the jobber has to figure out how to address the information the retail store is going to need to determine if he or she should stock this particular item. The things the retailer wants to know are, once again, not what the small publisher would expect. They want to know the following things.
1. How many were printed in the print run and how fast can they get delivery if the title starts to move. If the first run is small, they'll need to know the turn around on another printing. This tells them how much of a hard-sell they can do and not run out of books to ship.
2. They also will want to know if your book is going to fit in with the other titles like it on the shelf space allowed for them and if the price is not out of line with the others around it.
3. Then comes evaluating the attractiveness of the cover. Will it cause people to buy it before something else near it on the shelf? Is there enough information on the back to tell someone what the book is about and convince them to buy it?
4. They are not interested in the contents of the book. They only want to know if they can sell it. It will NOT do any good to make an emotional plea on their need to stock it on the ethical grounds of providing the consumer with the information or anything. On the other hand, they do need to know where the book is going to fit in the store with others of the same kind. In the paragraphs describing the type of book you are offering, you can make your short emotional pitch.
5. They need to know title, author and cost. What kind of person will buy the book? Why would they pay this much for it? What discount is offered to the store? Does anyone else stock it? Will it cause other books in that section to be sold with it?
6. Now they'll want to know everything you can tell them on your return policies. Can they return them in six months for cash or credit, etc.?
7. What did the reviewer's say about your book? Do you have any flyers or advertising material to promote it, or will you share local advertising space cost, etc.?
Once you've covered most of these items in your mailing and flyers the chances are very good that you'll get some kind of an order. Even a token order to see how well you deliver is a step in the door. Once the jobber starts to handle the book you'll start getting the large orders on a regular basis. If you have a good book these orders could run into the thousands of copies, so be prepared to reprint as fast as needed. The oldest, bigest and best of these distributors is The Ingram book distributing company. They are modern and geared to an electronicly ordering world. They were also the first to offer to print Christmas catalogs for the retail stores to mail out to their list of best customers before the holiday season. That practice by itself more than doubled all of the pre holidays orders for books every year from the jobber that printed the catalog. The retailer had to make sure they had enough books on hand that was listed in the catalog because the people who received the catalog were their best customers and expected the store to have what they advertised. Sound familiar? That's just exactly what the large publishers had been doing to them all along. This time the store name was on the catalog. That made it more important to stock the books. I've done the same thing a time or two by printing a Christmas book, wish list, with flyers and a few pages of books for big stores. I always made sure a couple of my own titles were on the list of course. It works. The Christmas catalog is a real bargain for the stores. The publishers of the various titles in the catalog pay to be included, so the store gets the magazines for between 10 and .20 cents a copy. They save a great deal by not having to print these catalogs themselves. All of the financial responsibility once again falls on the small publisher.
Don't ever be timid about dealing with any of these things I tell you about. There is one thing you all have to remember. That is that the small press publisher pays for everything to keep all of these people in business. No other person who is part of this business takes any risk what-so-ever. If the retailer can't sell them, you get them back, usually damaged. If the distributor can't sell them or gets them back from the stores, you get them back, usually damaged. And so on it goes. Because of this, you must feel you are contributing more than anyone else and can be on an equal footing with any other part of book selling. You have to be competitive, that's true, but you also deserve the biggest profit since you take all of the risk. Don't let anyone back you into a corner and convince you to make such a close deal that you lose money. They need you and your products to make anything at all, so they'll be the ones that will need to back up and take less.
If you can cover most of the things mentioned here, in a good quality presentation, you stand a good chance of the distributor or retail store asking for a review copy. That will be followed by a nice starter order if the book makes the grade. It takes three things in today's fast paced electronic world to be successful. Information, Equipment (tools to do the proper job), and WORK. With this kind of article you have the information. You can rent or borrow the equipment. That only leaves one more thing for you. With a little belief in yourself and some dedication the WORK part will come about in abundance, because you'll enjoy the effort you put out for the rewards

The next subject was about mailing manuscripts to dozens and dozens of publishers over time and the total postage involved in doing it.
Main line publishers are a strange breed. They aren't able to conform to change as easily as some of us. They get used to seeing that box of paper come in the door for a reader to glance at before going to someone with decision making capabilities. We all know that, that manuscript is going to have to go into a computer at some point for any typesetting or editing to be done anyway. Still, you'll have to start training publishers at some point to understand that by taking a little risk up front. It will save you a bundle on postage. I'm not saying anything I haven't done myself. I've drafted the best query letter and short bio. possible and included a computer disk with the book on it. What happens is the normal reading or not reading is done from the information in the letter. The old way would be requesting the manuscript if they are interested. Since they have it on the disk up front, it will probably be read instead of waiting for you to send the ten-dollar box of paper. I had this happen many times, so I know it works this way. If they are not interested from the query letter, they would not ask for the paper anyway. Why not start trying these things out your own way? Maybe you'll upgrade a few publishers into coming back into the real world instead of sticking by the old methods.
Another letter from Janis Fisher at Bay Shore really got my attention. I was impressed with the fact that anyone remembered this. She said her mother told her I wrote a newspaper column about twenty years ago and wanted to know if it was true.
Yes I did write a column on a regular basis for almost four years while I was going to school in California. It was more than twenty years ago, though. It was mid-seventies. Your mother is dating both of us by remembering it. It was called "Letters to the Wizard." I also did all of the "Betty Bimbo & the Gumball Phantom" comic books for the same underground publisher. Those are really very, very valuable today if your mother has any of them. I did a lot of painting, writing and sculpting while attending college. I've not had time for doing much of it lately but I did win a few nice awards with my oil paintings back then. One of my novels deals with those years. The name of the book is called, as you might expect, "Letters to the Wizard."

P.O.Box 370
Chelsea Michigan 48118-9977
For an estimate provide the following

PHOTOS... Y or N
COVER...10pt. coated or?___________
BLACK INK +_______Other colors
PAPER... 50lb. 60lb. 70lb.
BINDING... Perfect (Paper Cover)
Case (Hard Cover)
Saddle stitch
Spiral wire.

P.O.Box 4371
Chapel Hill NC 27515-4371
Send for a complete information package. Very good pricing on books. Extra services not recommended, like copyrights, bar codes, etc.


Remember this, it's very expensive and harder to get your book accepted by these catalogs. Be prepared with your best product and presentation.
BOOK CHAT 29 South Wabash Ave. Chicago IL 60603
This one is a part of Kroch & Brentano. The cost per section is over $5,000.00
AMARANTH PRODUCTIONS P.O.Box 9471 Minneapolis MN 55440
A part of the B. Dalton chain stores. The cost per space is over $700.00
586 Fifth Ave. New York NY 10036
The cost for a space is about $500.00
THE SCRIBNER BOOKSTORES 597 Fifth Ave. New York NY 10036
Cost $400. per book
COKESBURY GIFT BOOKS 201 Eighth Ave. South - Nashville TN 37202
347 Reedwood Drive. Nashville TN 37217
Roaring Brook Lake Putnam Valley NY 10579
Cost, $1000.00 per space.

Here is the list of Bulletin Board Systems Linked together on the FIDO world wide web. These are the telephone numbers to hook onto their computer modem and request information, etc. The FIDO address is also below the direct line telephone number, then the Systems Operator name. You'll use your modem to call and ask to talk to the person who runs the system, then request information about advertising your books. Pick one close to you or ask for a list of FIDO connections. This list is a bit outdated but there are over five megabytes of them to choose from.

Blazing Islands BBS
Silver Springs MD
301 949-0748
Ron Matny
Dave's Cave
Vancouver Canada
604 540-2256
Dave Zille
The Feel & Heal Ordeal
Los Angeles CA
213 249-6292
Chris Thiel
Grand Central BBS
Cambridge MA
617 354-6073
Paul Ferdinand
Infinite Space
Orlando FL
407 240-1790
Herb Scherker
Law Mug BBS
Chicago IL
312 661-1740
Paul Bernstein
Redbeard's Cove
Colorado Springs CO
719 392-2705
Jim Raver
The Support Network
Millbrae CA
408 259-0297
Frank Arnold
THE System
Redwood City CA
415 364-6320
Scott Hunter

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