I recently contacted a “legit” publisher/distributor. (For now they will remain nameless but when I am ready for a full blown attack…) and submitted five titles from Hanshi Warrior Press for distribution consideration. The initial contact was most pleasant, and quite frankly, promising. I sent the books without hesitation (total retail value $87.75 plus S/H.) They were well-received and put on the “let’s take a look and we will get back to you” list. About four weeks later I get a call from someone on the “corporate management” team telling me they are very interested in one of the books and would I be amenable to this change, that change, blah, blah, blah. “Not a problem,” says I. “Great,” say They. “We’ll get back to you with an “investment projection” and it will explain everything we will do for you.” The person also asked if I would be willing to do this and that… (If you are “working” authors trying to get deals, you know exactly what I am talking about.) Lo and behold, I get the “investment projection.”
Now I understand that everyone in business is in business to make a buck so I have no problem with that. But here is the question. Do these publishers and distributors sincerely believe that most authors are idiots? Which unfortunately, most are, but that’s another story, not to mention that the hideously vast majority of so-called writers, can’t.
This is already a legitimately published book: The Hanshi of Central Park; ISBN 0—9779551-3-3 number, etc. OK, here we go!
PRODUCTION SERVICES - Compliance Package - $1000, Interior layout design - $4,100, Cover design and dev’t (sic) - $4.900
PRINTING – hardcover. 2500 – 3.63 – $9,075, 3,500 – 3.08 – $10,780, 5,000 – 2.61 – $13,050
(Printing costs are relatively moot and usually negotiable.)
DISTRIBUTION SERVICES - $2,500 Terms: Author retains 35% of cover price for all books sold through (company,) author pays shipping charges, plus $3.00 processing per order, freight for returns with an additional charge of .25 cents per copy and a .05 warehousing charge per unit per month
MARKETING SERVICES – $12,500 (Whatever that means.)
This is a cute one – PROJECT MANAGEMENT - $950
TOTAL - $33,025 to $39,000.
What a hand-job! The unfortunate thing about all of this is that there are so many jerks out there that will go for this. Compliance means a new ISBN, listing with books-in-print, taking interior type and clicking on “select all” and changing the font, redoing the cover? I’ll give you three or four hours at the most to do that. OK, five! Distribution services? Right! Setting up the catalog number with Baker and Taylor, etc. $2,500? Marketing services? This has nothing to do with retention of a PR firm, also at the author’s expense. Project management? No comment! BTW – totals DO NOT include warehousing and fulfillment costs.
I will leave it to you, dear reader, to make your own judgment on this. Also, as you well know, there is no way to determine how many copies they sell relative to how many they tell you they will sell. My last question to the “corporate management” team person was – “$40,000 for what? Do I also have to give them the Vaseline option?” You already know what I told ‘em.