On the Company web site it listed all of the booksellers they deal with, including Barnes & Noble and other brick & mortar stores. It was quite impressive and I had visions of my novel lining the shelves and featured on the “New Arrival” tables. I asked “Bruce” what the procedures were to get my book into those stores. His answer was a real eye opener. I will try to tell you what he told me in the simplest terms, this is NOT what he said, but he basically told me that in order for my book to be carried in stores, like B&N, the store had to get 40 to 70% of the retail price AND a guarantee that the books would sell. The higher the percentage I was willing to give them, the more likely they were to carry the book. The guarantee meant that whatever books they did not sell I would take back, at MY expense. So this is how it would work; I would pay the Company to print the books, GIVE them to B&N to sell at a 40-70% profit, and whatever they didn’t sell, they would then send back to me and I would have them….on my shelf……at home. Here was the kicker. In order to do this I had to “participate” in the “Buy Back Program.” The “Program” would cost me $500 a YEAR to participate in. Paying to be in the program did NOT guarantee that the stores would carry my book, they could just pass, but there was NO way they were going to get my book if I was NOT in the program. ( If you’re following this, you are doing better than I did on the phone with “Bruce.”) Of course, my book would be listed on Amazon.com and B&N.com and other Internet retail sites, for free, and they would order the books from the Company as they sold them so there would be no “Program” to be a part of, BUT I would have to pay a $35 a year fee to keep the listing active so Internet companies could get my book and/or info about it. “So,” Bruce asked, “can I sign you up for the program?” Now, I am a rookie at this, and maybe I’m naïve and this IS how things work. I wasn’t sure. I didn’t KNOW what to do. I needed to trust the people I was paying to “Assist” me in publishing my book.
First I had to think about how much I was going to sell my book FOR? I was thinking about $10 because I thought that was less than average and that would make it attractive. If I didn’t make a lot, that was ok. I was in this to start a series and I hoped that eventually I would sell millions. (Hey, if you’re gonna dream….dream BIG.) “Bruce” just kind of snickered at this. The math didn’t support that idea. The reality was that the Company was going charge me $10 each to print it. Ten Dollars was what they would sell ME a copy for. (Because I was going to need copies to give to family, friends and samples to send reviewers etc. etc. etc.) In order for me to make ONE DOLLAR on each book sold (ONE DOLLAR !) it was going to have to have a retail price of a minimum of $16.95. Anything less and I would not make ANY money at all. I sighed, because my ambition to keep the price down was not going to come to pass. I reviewed the math and realized I could not afford $500 a year for a “maybe.” I told “Bruce” I would NOT be participating in the “Program”…… right now.
I could tell that he was losing interest fast now that he knew I wasn’t buying anything more. “Bruce” said a quick goodbye and promised that “Alice” would be calling me, soon, to continue the process. Maybe she could explain it better to me…..