It came in the mail yesterday. A snail mail letter from Barnes & Noble, postmarked New York. My wife opened it. She scanned it. “They don’t want your book,” she said. [insert explosions, screams, and that little light that came out of Sirius Black’s mouth shooting out like a bullet from mine] Okay. It wasn’t that bad. Honestly, it had been the answer I’d been expecting all along. I’m a small publisher of two books, both by me.
Then, she said, “Wait, I skimmed over this first part.” She read it aloud: “Thank you for sending us THE MOON COIN. We welcome the opportunity to review books of all types from publishers large and small. After a careful review, the buyer for the category has decided to place an order for approximately 10 copies on THE MOON COIN.”
Then I read it. Ten times. I read it ten times because I was certain that on the next reading it would say something else.
But . . . it didn’t. It’s been a whole day. I’m still in shock.
The one big hitch is that B&N wants me to get my book into a distributor or wholesaler (there’s a difference?), before they’ll order the copies. I’ve been thinking about distributors for awhile now. I even went the the Self-Publishing Book Expo in New York last month, mostly to go to a workshop on distributors. What did I learn? There’s no way I can swing a distributor for THE MOON COIN or the upcoming THE DRAGONDAIN. My unit price is just too high. 22 full-color illustrations can do that to a book, you know. I stopped crunching the numbers after I got to the point where I was losing several dollars on each book (and I just knew there were more fees). Distributors want exclusives, which means I’d have to pull the book out of my own bookstore (and all the independents that are currently selling it). Distributors want a hefty cut of ebook sales. It’s endless.
My was despair incarnate.
Then I flipped over the list of distributors B&N had sent me. A list of wholesalers, huh? What are those?
I googled them. Wholesalers don’t ask for exclusivity. Wholesalers don’t ask for a cut of ebook sales. Wholesalers don’t ask for as big of a cut.
I said all right.
Our bookstore even had an account with one of the wholesalers on the list!
I submitted the book to them today. If they give me the thumbs up, THE MOON COIN is headed to a Barnes & Noble (and thousands of independent bookshops) near you. If they give me the thumbs down . . . all is lost and I sink into a pit of despair deeper than tar is black. Stay tuned.
Here’s the actual letter: