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Thread: APG Sales & Distribution

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    Onlyifyouwanttowillyoufin daway-Enya inkkognito's Avatar
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    APG Sales & Distribution

    Anyone know anything about distributor APG books? I am pulling my hair out! My book was a little delayed by a cover change, but came out in July and I've had the author's copies in my hot little hands for a while now. However, on Amazon it changed status from "not released" to "out of stock." I checked with my publisher and he was checking with them to see what's up. Now I heard from a friend who had ordered it that Amazon says it's not available and isn't going to be, so they cancelled her order. That means all the pre-orders are cancelled, and I know there was a decent chunk. Argh!!! I forwarded that info. to the publisher, as they had just told him that they were working on it, and now this... Just curious if anyone else has had any experience with them. It's in the fall catalog...sigh.

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    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    No offense, but...are you sure the problem is with the distributor? Shifting the blame to someone else is a handy way for a nonperforming publisher to fob off nervous authors.

    - Victoria

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    Onlyifyouwanttowillyoufin daway-Enya inkkognito's Avatar
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    I have my author's copies so I know the book is printed, and they have been cc:ing me on the emails to the distributor. I had notified the publisher when I saw the status go from pre-release to out of stock and I know there was some correspondence at that point. A round of pretty terse (to put it mildly) emails went out today with this latest development, so we'll see.

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    New kid, be gentle! Carlene's Avatar
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    I had the same problem in 2005 when I published a romance with a small pub - I got my author copies but...the books never made it into stores. I had folks checking all over the USA and as far away as Australia - and they kept getting the "out of stock" message or an "out of print" message. I was not please and it turned out to be a publisher problem. Long, horrid story - I got my rights back and just repubbed.

    Good luck!

    Carlene

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    I see in Ingram iPage that you have a number of back orders in all their warehouses. They don't list your book as being out of stock or unavailable, so that's a good thing. They list the distributor as Midpoint, so APG must be a subsidiary. APG's site says they've been kicking around for twenty years.

    At any rate, it's incredibly rare that a distributor is at fault for not getting the books to Ingram's warehouses. They get a weekly report from Ingram that tells them the numbers for all their titles. When the numbers are low, they have Ingram generate a PO and ship more books to their warehouses. That isn't to say a distributor screw up isn't impossible, just not probable. They would have had to seriously drop the ball to make that kind of blunder.

    What raises my eyebrow is that your publisher, Frederick Fell, didn't appear to be aware of it. Most distributors have online reports that their client publishers can access to see up to date information on the disposition of all their titles. It's pretty hard for a publisher to have a book fall through the cracks.

    If it were truly the distributor's fault, any publisher worth their salt would be on the phone screaming for answers. And they would be able to tell you exactly what happened in order to keep you in the loop. Without more information, this just feels all wrong.
    Last edited by priceless1; 08-05-2009 at 07:45 PM.

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    Onlyifyouwanttowillyoufin daway-Enya inkkognito's Avatar
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    Yes, I was concerned that the publisher didn't know until I contacted them. I noticed the same problem with another of their books that was released at the same time as mine...I'm guessing it's still the same story although I haven't looked it up as I'm focusing all my worry on my own. They are a very small publisher and their past books are all available, but that doesn't give me much comfort now that mine is caught in limbo.

    Priceless, are the backorders something I can see on a website somewhere? I'd love to see how many there are...I know I had quite a few on Amazon before everything went to hell in a handbasket because I was watching the ranking (and because now I've had people email me to ask what the heck is up).

    I'll update the saga as it plays out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by inkkognito View Post
    Priceless, are the backorders something I can see on a website somewhere? I'd love to see how many there are...
    I doubt it. Here's what I pulled off the iPage site:

    Status IN OR PA TN [these are the warehouses]
    On Hand 0 0 0 0
    On Order 33 20 20 20

    Even though your book shows a release date of June '09, Amazon's site still lacks the order button. You really got the shaft on this and should demand an explanation from your publisher, as this will have dire consequences on your promotion schedule.
    Last edited by priceless1; 08-05-2009 at 08:34 PM.

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    Onlyifyouwanttowillyoufin daway-Enya inkkognito's Avatar
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    Yes, it has already affected the promo...grrrrrrr. Thankfully it looks like they sorted it out as it can be ordered via Amazon as of today. Only two months late! Thanks for the numbers. It's heartening to see there are some orders, although I don't want to think about the ones I lost on the Amazon pre-orders.

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    Your book is still listed as on backorder on iPage, which could make things tough for bookstores should they want to place an order. It's probable the books arrived at Ingram's warehouses, but the paperwork can take a few days to wend their way through Ingram's bowels. Good luck to you!

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    Onlyifyouwanttowillyoufin daway-Enya inkkognito's Avatar
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    Thanks...would that be a good thing to point out to the publisher or just wait a few days and see if it's a paperwork backlog? Here I thought the worst part was writing that sucker. Little did I know! I still haven't figured out who dropped the ball, i.e. distributor or someone at the publisher. The publisher himself has been on it now with the distributor, so we shall see...

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    Quote Originally Posted by inkkognito View Post
    Thanks...would that be a good thing to point out to the publisher or just wait a few days and see if it's a paperwork backlog?
    Considering they dropped the ball, I would leave nothing to chance and talk to your publisher. Their reply to you should be (after a butt-kissing, heartfelt apology), "yes, our distributor sent X number of books to Ingram on XYZ date, and it takes a few days for the system to update."

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    Likes picnic with roast beef. Eirin's Avatar
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    Distributors - The Good, The Bad, and The Downright Ugly

    This isn't about a specific company, as much as a general request for information about this part of the industry.

    A few days ago James Macdonald put up a thread here at B&BC concerning a newish publisher, Sheaf House, and I went to have a look. They seem to be earnest, well-meaning and author-friendly, if lacking in any relevant publishing experience.

    It's also not a POD, vanity or any form of self-publishing service. I know this, because the publisher, Joan M. Shoup, spends the first paragraph of her About page telling me so. She then goes on to explain that Sheaf House books are distributed by a company with a national sales team (more on this company later).

    See, now I'm puzzled, because on the surface, Sheaf House doesn't look to me like the kind of outfit that would have much in the way of distributon. And while quite a few small/medium presses certainly are able to get their books both reviewed by trade publications and into stores, Sheaf House gives off a more amateurish, homegrown vibe; and so I started to wonder about this distributor, and distributors in general.

    I have two premises here:

    1. Agenting and publishing is interspersed with both shady and earnest-but-gormless operators alike; it would be wonderful if this wasn't the case in other parts of the industry as well.

    2. Writes are getting wise to the importance of proper distribution. They look at a publisher, and ask questions like: "Yeah, but how will you get my book into stores?" They're also getting wise to the difference between wholesalers and distributors.

    The question is, if the publisher answer is: "No problem. We're contracted with This-or-That company. Here, go have a look at their website, they have a catalogue and everything." - do most writers have the tools to evaluate said company?

    For an out-and-out scammer, contracting with a shady or ineffectual distributor could be a lure and simply part of their overhead. (If you think that sounds elaborate, go take a look at Bobby Fletcher's Empire of Scam.)
    Whereas a well-meaning, but clueless publisher, could very well know enough to understand that proper distribution is important, but not enough to avoid ineffectual ones.

    So why did I start banging my head against this? Right, back to Sheaf House and their distributor - APG Sales & Distribution.
    Please note that I'm not an industry insider, and I don't have either the knowledge or the personal experience to make any sort of authoritative statement. All I can do is place incense on the google altar and speculate on the odd stuff that comes up.

    Onward.

    The list of publishers that use APG is compiled from their homepage and their Fall 2009 Catalogue.

    Lets take a look at the publishers who use APG:

    Frederick Fell Publisher - This is APG's Big Guy. They have their own catalogue and look to be on the up-and-up on the surface, although there is some weirdness in the thread here at B&BC.

    3-D Alley - Can't find website.*

    Amethyst House Publishing - This from homepage:

    Finding a necessity in the market for new and
    emerging Authors to have a voice, Amethyst
    House is focusing on that need.

    Amethyst House, is committed to finding a
    market not only for new Authors but for talented
    Authors whose quality work has yet to find a
    favorable reception.
    Aslan Publishing - Christian 4theluv press.

    Borgata Books - Can't find website.*

    Celebrity Press - Can't find website.*

    ColourStory Publishing - Can't find website.*

    Compendium Inc. - Can't find any book-related Compendium Inc. sites.

    D C Thomson & Co Ltd - Appears to be a Scottish printer of everything, possibly with a sideline in publishing.

    David Icke Books - Self-publishing outfit for David Icke.

    Dercum Audio - Can't find website.*

    Eager Minds Press - Can't find website.*

    Everywhere Press - Can't find website.*

    Epiphany Imprint - Looks like a self-publishing outfit.

    Inclusive Books - Looks like it's primarily a self-publishing outfit.

    Foulsham - Non-fiction. Looks legit.

    Green Sugar Press - This appears to be a selp-publishing group venture.

    Humor House - Can't find website.*

    J R Publications - Can't find correct website.

    Javelin Publishing - No information available.

    Knowledge Products - Audio publisher.

    Levine Publishing - Self-published author, Michael Levine, can't find website.

    Life Action Press - Can't find website.*

    Manor House Publishing - Canadian press, no About page, but includes this in their submission guidelines:

    Also include a summary/synopsis of your manuscript and outline what you see as the market, sales potential and sources of sales for this book – including any sales outside of bookstores. And describe what you will do to support your book through marketing and promotional initiatives.

    If this is a Business book or non-fiction work requiring writing, rewriting and/or editing services, please advise and, if interested, we’ll discuss fees for such services. Please also advise if you are prepared to financially support your book by securing advance purchase orders prior to publication or via on-line resale initiatives or via third party purchases (such as clubs, organizations or institutions). This can also include author purchases to support website sales or speaking tours. All of this provides information re market demand/ sales potential.


    Ned's Head Books - Can't find website.*

    New Knowledge Library - Right. Probably best you go check this one for
    yourself.

    Paper Magic Group/Eureka School - I'm not even sure this is a publisher.

    Peace Publishing - No information available.

    Prelude Press/Mary Books - Can't find website.*

    Recovery Communications - Appears to be a self-publishing venture of this site: Getting Them Sober.

    Rock House Way Press - Self-publishing venture.

    Sheaf House Publishers - Christian small press, no apparent industry experience.

    Skoob Books - Can't find website.*

    S.O.S. Publishing - Can't find website.*

    Summerjoy Press - Self-publishing venture.

    Zoetic Publishing - Can't find websitw.*

    Zulu Planet Publishing - Can't find website.*

    *Can't find website means: I copied publishers' name from APG's catalogue, but didn't find a presence on the first Google page. I didn't branch into search-strings, or look beyond that.


    I don't mean to pick on Sheaf House, I don't even mean to pick on APG, but most, if not all, of these publishers are marginal at best. Wouldn't a good distributor be more selective?

    Is this distributor even able to get books into stores?

    It would make me a very happy poster if some of you knowledgeable fellow AW'ers would stop by for a discussion on how writers (and newbie publishers) can acquire the tools to evaluate this part of the publishing industry.


    Last edited by Eirin; 10-22-2009 at 10:46 PM.

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    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Eirin, I don't have time for more than a quick glance at the moment, but what I saw at their site didn't violate my sense of reality. I don't know how good they are at what they do, but so far I see no reason to think they don't do it.

    I find their bare-bones site vaguely reassuring. If I saw a deluxe site put up by distributors that went out of its way to be user-friendly and welcoming, I'd wonder what was the matter.

    Here's their "Sales" text:
    At APG we employ a distributed national sales team to include an in-house sales staff. We don't just rely upon buyers to find your publications, we put our experience to work by penetrating the marketplace and moving your products.

    As well as our Sales Team, we also have well established relationships with the national book trade retailers and wholesalers like Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-A-Million and Baker & Taylor, almost all of the independent book stores and regional chains that are members of the American Book Sellers Association, like Target, K-Mart, Wal-Mart and Meijers.

    APG can also place your publications in our Multi-Channel Internet Sales program, where we can reach MILLIONS of customers daily who have the convenience of shopping from home.
    Again, I don't know how real it is, but it's not what someone would make up who was making things up.

    I'll see what I can find out.
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    Likes picnic with roast beef. Eirin's Avatar
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    Thank you HapiSofi. I really appreciate that.

    I'm curious about APG, but I was also hoping to use them as a springboard/comparison in a discussion on distributors in general. See, I remember reading an old thread where Priceless gave a short description of being in the process of signing with a national distributor (can't for the life of me find that post now, of course).
    I think she mentioned certain requirements for consideration, such as trade reviews, but I do remember her saying she had to jump through hoops.

    That led me to believe that good distributor were selective. Which, when I think on it, is kind of a no-brainer. Their salesforce, and reputation, must be able to stand behind the books.
    And if there is good, there's sure to be bad lurking around too.

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    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eirin View Post
    See, I remember reading an old thread where Priceless gave a short description of being in the process of signing with a national distributor (can't for the life of me find that post now, of course).
    Is this the thread you're thinking of? http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=85783
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    Likes picnic with roast beef. Eirin's Avatar
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    Gah! How did I miss that?! I swear I searched the forums before I posted. Must've had a moment of dumb'n'blind.

    It wasn't the post I was thinking about, but since it's so much more informative, I'll just go read that instead ::sheepish::

    Thanks Cao.

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    That door could be a time portal... Deb Kinnard's Avatar
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    An update. APG Sales & Distribution does indeed distribute for Sheaf House and a number of other (small?) presses. I'm only writing this to say: APG was a huge disappointment from where I sit and type. Last winter, before my book released, they claimed they had commitments from big bookstore chains to order and stock my book. Those never materialized. No bookstores ordered. Not a single one. When I asked about this (face to face), I got no answers. I believe the rep made one phone call to one purchasing agent of her acquaintance, but the rep was not in and no follow up was ever done.

    If your (small?) press uses APG as their sole pipeline into bookstores, run. That's my sadder but sorrier tale.
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    Deb, I can attest that just like publishers, not all distributors were created equally. Some are fabulous and others suck stale Twinkie cream.

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    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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