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View Full Version : Is an author considered traditionally published if published by a small press...



james1611
05-05-2006, 08:09 AM
hello,

experts, would an author published through a smaller publisher, that pays for everything, pays royalties, etc...but uses P.O.D. for the printing of its books and distributes primarily through online distribution, since brick and mortars don't stock books printed with P.O.D. (as i understand it?)....

...would that author be considered traditionally published, since they obviously weren't self published?? Would they be considered for future works to already be a published author??


thank you,
james

bsolah
05-05-2006, 01:11 PM
It's an interesting question. I'd be interested to find out too. I think the answer might be yes. Wicked Karnival, a horror mag, used to use Lulu to publish their magazines until being picked up by a proffesional small press group. Anyway, it sold reasonably well and the writers, some of them notable ones, noted it as a credit.

jchines
05-05-2006, 03:51 PM
In my case, yes. The publisher for my mainstream novel Goldfish Dreams (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1932300031/) exactly matches what you describe, and when I talked to a friend at Five Star about possibly picking it up, they said no, as it was already published. (Even though sales were poor).

I may ask my agent to see what he can do with the book in a few years, once the contract expires, but even if it sells, I'm almost certain it would be for a lower advance than an unpublished novel.

Whether this book got me any credibility as a published author is another question, and unfortunately, the answer is probably not. Partly because it's not my usual genre, but also because a big, traditional publisher isn't going to be impressed with the low sales numbers from a publisher they've probably never heard of.

maestrowork
05-05-2006, 04:03 PM
experts, would an author published through a smaller publisher, that pays for everything, pays royalties, etc...but uses P.O.D. for the printing of its books and distributes primarily through online distribution, since brick and mortars don't stock books printed with P.O.D. (as i understand it?)....


In this case, POD is the technology, not the business model. Many publishers, including big houses, use POD some times.

Your understanding is incorrect. Book stores WILL stock the books if the books are returnable, and can be ordered through their warehouses such as Ingram or Baker & Taylor. It doesn't matter how they're "printed."

Small presses that use POD technology are considered traditional publishers.

james1611
05-05-2006, 05:01 PM
So then, it should be a question to ask a smaller publisher in particular...do they have returns??

If a publisher does allow returns no matter the print technology, does that mean that brick and mortars will automatically stock them? I don't imagine that is the case...i believe i've heard that sales people for larger houses shop the catalogs around to get that done, and small publishers don't have that resource.

However, would a book store be willing to recieve a press kit and then potentially stock some if they were impressed with the product?

james

LloydBrown
05-05-2006, 05:08 PM
So then, it should be question to ask a smaller publisher in particular...do they have returns??
That's one of them.

If a publisher does allow returns no matter the print technology, does that mean that brick and mortars will automatically stock them?
No..and

However, would a book store be willing to recieve a press kit and then stock then potentially stock some if they were impressed with the product?

Yes

jchines
05-05-2006, 05:15 PM
One thing to be aware of: some bookstore folks won't make the distinction between Print-on-Demand as a technology vs. vanity press or self-publishing. The glut of PA authors and other vanity press authors trying to get their books into the stores has, unfortunately, blurred that line. Many folks will assume PoD = self-published. So you may need to do a bit of polite re-educating of bookstore staff to get a PoD title stocked.

The phrase, "My PoD book is returnable and has a 40% bookstore discount" goes a long way toward busting some of those myths :)

maestrowork
05-05-2006, 05:23 PM
So then, it should be a question to ask a smaller publisher in particular...do they have returns??

As my Barnes & Noble manager pals would tell you, it's a big thing. In fact, it's the FIRST thing they check before they would even consider. It's not the only thing (they also look at discounts, distribution, reputation of the publisher, quality of the book, reviews, etc.) but it's always a REQUIREMENT. If the book is not returnable, tough. There's nothing they can do.



If a publisher does allow returns no matter the print technology, does that mean that brick and mortars will automatically stock them? I don't imagine that is the case...i believe i've heard that sales people for larger houses shop the catalogs around to get that done, and small publishers don't have that resource.

Print technology doesn't factor in when the stores put in a purchase order. In their database, it doesn't say "POD or offset printing." What they really care is: Are the books in the warehouse? Can I get them? If they're available through Ingram or Baker & Taylor, then fine. Most vanity/self-pub POD books can't get into Ingram.


However, would a book store be willing to recieve a press kit and then potentially stock some if they were impressed with the product?

Yes. However, once again, your books have to be returnable.

Silverhand
05-11-2006, 09:11 PM
Can anyone list out any publishers that have been successful using POD technology....and getting into bookstores?

veinglory
05-11-2006, 09:18 PM
I see a bunch of PODs on shelves. The local Borders has a whole shelf of romance that is sized to fit TPBs that are mainly PODs from Elloras's Cave, Brava etc.

LloydBrown
05-11-2006, 09:23 PM
Can anyone list out any publishers that have been successful using POD technology....and getting into bookstores?

How/why would you do both?

If you have 1,200 stores wanting your books, why wouldn't you do an offset print run?

veinglory
05-11-2006, 09:24 PM
Because you're a small press with no printer or warehouse space?

Silverhand
05-11-2006, 09:37 PM
Well my question stems from a pair of publisher that have gotten back to me in the last 2 weeks. Both dont charge me anything....both use lighting source....both give discounts...and have return policies. But, everyone seems to think they dont stand a chance.

I am guessing the the publishers reasoning is that they are very new...or smaller in scale? I understand the approach....I just want to know it can be successful. I have heard it works...but dont know enough to really make a judgement.

I write fantasy btw...so has anyone heard of a fantasy publisher using POD tech...and being able to sell to stores?

veinglory
05-11-2006, 09:40 PM
You are in the no-mans land of traditional small POD press by the sounds of it. I suggest you contact some of their exisiting authors and ask for the goss on distribution and sales.

Cathy C
05-12-2006, 01:11 AM
I find this an interesting question, because this is really the core question of many authors. What is "traditionally published?" What does that term mean, or does it mean different things to different people? Yes . . . and no. If you ask someone in the business of large publishing, or some of the trade magazines, you'll find the answer is pretty much set in stone. POD and traditional publishing are two different things. If the book is POD, it's not traditionally published. Here's an article from Publisher's Weekly (the trade magazine of the publishing industry) that discusses the distinction:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6302787.html?text=the+hybrid+alternative

This particular remark was telling when discussing the new business model in question in the article, because it does highlight a very fatal flaw with many POD presses:


Literary Architects and Syren provide editing, design, production, fulfillment and marketing services, much like a traditional publisher does. Both companies also pay royalties, but unlike traditional publishers, Syren and Literary Architects authors have the final say in crafting the book and they retain all rights to that book.

So, a traditional publisher, as a commonly accepted term (at least as far as the industry's trade magazine is concerned) provides editing, design, production, fulfillment, marketing, crafting the final book and keeping certain rights. Most of the POD presses fail in one or more of these areas.

Now, when you ask small press organizations and independent publisher groups what's a "traditional publisher", naturally they ALL consider themselves to be one, and you start getting into the discussions of the printing PROCESS -- whether offset or POD is a better deal for the money. But those who choose offset have a very definite opinion of POD, which is often negative. If the large press market discusses POD, it's actually talking about PTD, or "Print TO Demand". This isn't a book or two, as authors are often accustomed to thinking of it, but a small run of 100-1,000 that targets lesser demand titles that are still warehoused and sold in the normal manner.

Booksellers don't seem to differentiate between small press and POD. They really don't have time to consider whether a publisher is "traditional" or not if it's not a conglomerate publisher. Books that are printed on demand are often either refused in whole or let in the same way, so that independent presses share shelf space with subsidy press titles. Here's an opinion (also in PW) that discusses this potential problem for small press books:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6299382.html?text=the+problem+with+pod


Replies in the form of letters to the editor in the next issue were either totally in agreement, or "insulted" that a printing process is defining small presses in toto. :Shrug:

So, from the POV of the author, which is it, or does it matter? Well, in a manner of speaking (IMHO, naturally) yes, It does matter to the author. If the industry as a whole still sees a clear distinction between "POD" and "traditional," FOR WHATEVER REASON, then whether it's fair or right or just, it's reality. That title will then necessarily follow the author. So, it depends on your goal. You're an "author" from the moment you pen a book. You're a "published author" from the moment you have a product with an ISBN. But a "traditionally published author?" If there's something inside you that wants to make that distinction, then it's only fair to use the majority opinion. Taking the publishing industry AS A WHOLE, from large to small, the majority have created a definition, and it doesn't include POD.

Good, bad or otherwise--it just doesn't.

icerose
05-12-2006, 01:27 AM
Another thing they have to consider is, time to ship, if it's POD, some take 3-4 weeks! Bookstores do not want to wait that long. TPB instantly put a negative look on your book because no commercial publishers use it, at least not that I know of, because they are much more expensive.

Price of the book. It makes a huge difference and it really does matter.

Quality. With an unestablished small press, especially POD you have to set the bar for what quality that publisher puts out. You are starting out with a below average bar because of companies like PA that just don't care what they print.

Effort, what kind of effort is your publisher putting out. Are they expecting you to do everything? If so you and your book will fail miserably because you won't get into book stores because your publisher isn't putting in the efforts to get it listed with the proper distributors and such.

So really, a lot of factors, some POD's are much better than others. Those who are bad taint the waters and that stain rubs onto you. Deserved or not.

Just something to be aware of.

Silverhand
05-12-2006, 02:26 AM
Cathy and Ice...just wow....so much great info there.

Hehe...but it still doesnt answer the question...have you heard of any small presses that use POD publishing method and are successful at distribution? Let me start with any kind of novel...and move down into fantasy.

veinglory
05-12-2006, 02:28 AM
Shall I say it again? Ellora's Cave. I am sure there are others but that one springs to mind. I saw about 30 EC titles at my (small town) Borders. In fantasy, I am pretty sure Meisha Merlin POD.

Cathy C
05-12-2006, 02:53 AM
Hmm... I'm not certain EC is POD anymore since both Borders/Walden's and Hastings chains started to stock their books. These aren't individual stores choosing the books from EC's site like it used to be. Certain titles are actively shelved in ALL stores through the booksellers' regular warehouses. It would be a good question to ask the EC people next week at the RT conference, because a lot of people would probably like to know which POD company can keep up with that level of fulfillment. Sales are apparently very good at the larger stores.


I'll ask and let you know! :)

veinglory
05-12-2006, 02:56 AM
I am assuming we meant POD the printing technology, c.f. an off-set print run. I know they are stocked, but those books are TPBs and they sure look like PODs.

icerose
05-12-2006, 08:17 AM
I personally do not know of any as my only dealings are with Publish America. The only company to actively undermind an authors efforts at selling books.

Go figure.

There have been a few authors that had gotten the agreements going, then PA would cut their legs out from under them.

Other POD companies would not act like this, but they have to be willing to get discounts up to 55% as well as a return policy. Then they have to distribute them through various distributors and wholesalers. Wal-mart has their own wholesaler that it would have to be listed with and such. I had accomplished these tasks, but again, back to my publisher.

It was possible back then, but PA has cut out a lot of roads and helped give other POD's a very bad rep.
If you can over come these, your last thing to worry about will be fullfillment. I haven't heard of any, but again, look at my experience. Hopefully Cathy will be better able to answer your question after the RW convention.

Gillhoughly
05-12-2006, 06:42 PM
What Veinglory said.

To the best of my knowledge the term "traditional publisher" was first made popular by our favorite self-promoter, Publish America. What a great bunch of (bleep)s!

My own definition of a pro publishing credit has to do with "Did you get paid?" as in advance, not royalties.

But you're very much in a no man's land with a small press that seems to be trying to do the right thing by you with their returns policy.

Should you submit another title to one of the big print publishers--the ones with advance checks--and you are asked "What else have you sold?" Tell the truth. "I have a title placed with the small press, Print Buddies. They do this and this just like the big boys, and it got my feet wet, but my goal is to get placed with a larger house." (Or some better variation of that. I've not yet had my coffee.)

Sometimes the big guys will have heard of the small press, sometimes not. Focus on the work from you that they DO have.

Don't mention how many copies you sold unless it's over 5 thousand books. Anything less won't impress them. ;)

Silverhand
05-12-2006, 07:24 PM
Sorry for not taking Eloras Cave as a publisher. I thought you were referring to a novel that made it to the shelves. heh

Maybe this was already addressed....but if a small press took returns and offered the 50% discount....what other problems will they face to get a novel inside stores?

I think someone mentioned shipping? What is the average wait time from a big publisher in comparison.

The company I was sold on...and was ready to sign with has lost their investor for this project...which is a red flag most likely. But, now I at least get to research this business model some. See if it can work....see what challenges I face if I do go that route..

Cathy C
05-12-2006, 11:38 PM
I am assuming we meant POD the printing technology, c.f. an off-set print run. I know they are stocked, but those books are TPBs and they sure look like PODs.

:Shrug: They're TPB because that was the format of the ebooks and most of the other erotica titles are too (from other publishers.) But I don't know if they use offset or POD for each individual book at this stage. It's difficult to tell the process difference anymore (which is a good thing, but does make it hard to know for sure.)

Again, worth asking when I see her (the publisher.)

BardSkye
05-13-2006, 09:29 PM
I think the biggest problem most small press publishers face is marketing, and the money to do so.

Once the bones are there - you have 5000 copies of a terrific book printed and waiting to go, you're set up with Baker and Taylor for distribution, you've got your promo materials ready to help the bookstores with point of sale, you've sent out review copies to anyone you can think of - you've already expended a fair amount of money even if you're too small to offer an advance on royalties. Now you have to let the bookstores know the book exists... and taking out an ad with Baker and Taylor for their quarterly catalogue is only the first step. Advertising is not cheap but without it nobody will ever know you have a great book to offer.

My own opinion is that a small press who offers the same things as the conglomerates - royalties, returns, discounts to bookstores, book production and what marketing they can - is a traditional publisher.

After all, whether you have 10,000 head of cattle or 100 head, you're still a cattle rancher.

james1611
05-18-2006, 06:28 PM
I have tried to get an answer on its own thread, but nothing.

How do returns work?

does the publisher buy back the books? and at what price are they buying them back?

James

jchines
05-18-2006, 06:53 PM
I'm not sure the precise accounting details, but the bottom line is that the publisher makes $0 for returned books. It's not a matter of returning them and getting half of the cost back, or re-selling them to the publisher. If 12 books are returned (or pulped), the bookstore does not pay the publisher anything for those 12 books.

Hopefully someone can fill in any gaps in my knowledge...

james1611
05-18-2006, 07:27 PM
so does that mean you don't get paid until the books they ordered are sold...or that you just return the money to the bookstore or wholesaler or whomever?

james

jchines
05-18-2006, 07:42 PM
The way a traditional big publisher works, you get your advance (often split into parts -- for me, I get half upon delivery of the final manuscript and half upon publication.) The book starts selling, and you start earning royalties. Once those royalties surpass the advance, you actually start getting money, right?

Except that's where you get into reserves against returns. This is a certain amount the publisher holds in reserve, on the expectation that some of those "sold" books will actually be returned, so can't be counted as sales.

It's a guessing game, and I wouldn't begin to try to explain it, as most of it is beyond me.

In terms of self-publishing, it's obviously going to be very different. I know some places will take books on consignment, which means you just hand over X books, then come back in a month or two to see if anything has sold. If they have, the bookstore pays you. If not, you either take your books and go home, or you leave and come back again later.

CaoPaux
05-18-2006, 08:48 PM
so does that mean you don't get paid until the books they ordered are sold...or that you just return the money to the bookstore or wholesaler or whomever?

jamesTo quote:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=525171&postcount=68


Bookstores never buy books. They take them on credit, and return the unsold copies for credit. Nobody pays for a book between the time it leaves the bindery and the point at which a customer takes it to the bookstore cashier.I suggest reading the "How Real Publishing Works" thread:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20586

james1611
05-19-2006, 12:02 AM
alright how do you use the cool quote boxes...I just ain't gettin it...

dumb hillbilly,
james

CaoPaux
05-19-2006, 02:41 AM
When replying to a message, the easiest way is to click the http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/quote.gif button at the bottom right of the post you are replying to.

Otherwise, paste the text into your reply box, highlight it, then click the http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/editor/quote.gif on the tool bar.

Cathy C
05-19-2006, 05:12 PM
so does that mean you don't get paid until the books they ordered are sold...or that you just return the money to the bookstore or wholesaler or whomever?

james

Yes, that's what it means. Here's the short version:

Distributor A orders 10,000 copies of MY BESTSELLER from the publisher. Those books are "sold" as far as the publisher is concerned. They're shown as "shipped" on the royalty statement. There are only two categories on the royalty statement that the author actually sees, shipped and returned. The distributor sends MY BESTSELLER to the bookstores they work for. Major chain bookseller A takes 2,000. Major chain bookseller B takes 3,000. Those are shipped to the various stores to shelve. The other 5,000 remain in the distributor's warehouse, waiting for more orders.

One month passes. Bookseller A has sold 1,000 of the 2,000 ordered. Bookseller B did really well selling and not only sold all 3,000, but ordered another 1,000 from the distributor. Warehouse now has 4,000.

Five more months pass. Bookseller A straggled through and sold another 200. Bookseller B sold 800 of the second 1,000. The distributor decides that they've warehoused them long enough and need the room for different books. They start to write their return slips, and so do the booksellers. Here's how it looks:

Distributor A distributed 6,000 books. They're "returning" 4,000.
Bookseller A actually sold to the public 1,200 books. They're returning 800
Bookseller B sold 3,800 books. They're returning 200.

The reports are prepared over the next few weeks and at about the 9 month mark, they send the publisher a request for credit for 5,000 books (50% returns is pretty common in the industry.)

Now, during the interim, the author has received either one or two royalty statements. But what can the publisher tell them? They only know they SHIPPED 10,000. But, the returns haven't been reported, so they can't actually pay for the author's share. Both sides are left twiddling their thumbs, waiting to see if the Waldenbooks in Pipe Springs, Oregon has sold the ten they ordered, or the Barnes & Noble in Denver, Colorado sold their 400. :Shrug:

So, in the THIRD royalty statement, the author finally sees that 5,000 actually sold and the royalties are being applied against the advance. THEN, if the advance is "earned-out", they actually get a check.

Make sense?



Originally Posted by veinglory
I am assuming we meant POD the printing technology, c.f. an off-set print run. I know they are stocked, but those books are TPBs and they sure look like PODs.


Okay, I asked about this. I found one of the editors over at Ellora's Cave here at the RT Convention! :) It was pretty much like I thought it was. EC was doing "print TO demand" and up until recently, was using POD technology, but was doing print runs of 5,000-10,000 and then warehousing them. Fulfillment was in-house, rather than using a company like Lightning Source to drop-ship. Just recently however (probably about when they got the deal with Walden's) they started to use off-set. So, we were both right... ;)