{Dear d0t} Please Explain Distribution to Me

Dear d0t:

My god, you’ve been super-quiet. So can you explain what “distribution” means in publishing? Does that mean a publisher got acquired?

Signed,

Schmane Schmanficcer

Dear Schmane:

My email has been a RIOT this week, I can tell you what.

Let’s explain:

Setting up a publishing company isn’t as easy as getting yourself an LLC and then putting up a website and publishing your friends’ books. I mean, sure you can do that, but here’s the real deal: You might as well be self-publishing if you’re going that route.

Any “new” publisher has the same outlets for distribution you do: places like Smashwords and Lulu and Amazon and B&N and iTunes, etc.

What delineates the big guns from the little guns in small publishing is distribution. Sure, you get availability with the little guys, but that means if your grandma goes into Barnes & Noble in her neighborhood in Boca, she can order your book. Same as she could online.

DISTRIBUTION is what gets your book on shelves in places like B&N and your local bookstore and your Walmart. And the only distributors they work with are big publishers… not Amazon’s hook-up.

So most of these bigger “little” publishers sell their first-born children to a big publisher to become a distributor for their books. LOTS of smaller pubs do this to get their books into bookstores. Entangled Publishing, for example, has a current agreement with Macmillan for distribution, which is why you can often find their titles in bookstores. U.K. publisher Quercus has an agreement with Random House for their distribution. Note that this doesn’t make either one of these companies part of the company that’s doing distribution. Think of it like Walmart agreeing to carry Shake Weights. Sure, they can sell a lot on TV, but they bet they can sell more if you can walk into any Walmart in Amurkah and pick up a set along with your $1 bandanna and your instant cheese grits.

What it means overall? There’s money to be made by both parties so they form an alliance.

What it all boils down to? If the author is getting paid on net instead of on percentage of sale price? They’re probably going to make less money per book, but the publisher hopes to make that up via a wider distribution possibility. They’re betting they can sell more copies for their authors if they can get their books into every Walmart in Amurkah.

But shelf space is limited. Even the big pubs can’t get all their books into stores. So just watch with a raised brow and see how it goes.

-d0t

As d0t is of the disagreeable sort, Dear d0t will be posted when the spirit moves her, as in when she has a less than negative number of fucks to give. Be sure to check out d0t’s other articles.

{Dear d0t} Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Dear d0t:

Okay, so it’s a little weird writing this letter, but I shall persevere. I, quite frankly, don’t understand the current environment in which critics can critique, but if authors respond, they are branded as vile human beings. Where is the discussion? The quest for further knowledge? The idea of meeting up at the end of the day for a nice, stiff drink at a lovely speakeasy?

Sincerely,

Schmorothy Schmarker

Dear Schmorothy, if that’s your real name:

Here’s the deal: the majority of people in the current climate don’t really want discourse. They simply want agreement. They claim to be open-minded and friendly and want to have this open discussion, but in reality, they want the whole world to think like they do.

Add on the whole “entitlement” issue that seems to be a new affliction along with this thing called “affluenza” and you’ll have a giant mess on your hands. You’re entitled to your opinion, but there is a prevailing belief that the First Amendment gives you the right to speak your mind and then not get criticized about it (that’s incorrect… please leave a comment if you need links to an explanation).

Now, compound this socio-political soup with marketing, in which publishers want authors to have an “image” and the audience wants that “image” that’s been sold to them by the publisher and you have the perfect storm of people waiting for an author to fuck the hell up so they can dogpile.

In an ideal world, Dorothy, we’d all meet up at the end of the day at the Algonquin, crack open a bottle or ten of Veuve Clicquot, and laugh about it. You set the example of giving every bit back and audiences love you for it even after your death. But perhaps if every negative review wasn’t “THIS IS MAH RIGHT” and every author response was “HDU” we could get back to that golden era of authors and critics talking to each other about what they disagree on, making critics better at their job and authors better at theirs.

-d0t

Don’t miss d0t’s first article. As d0t is of the disagreeable sort, Dear d0t will be posted when the spirit moves her, as in when she has a less than negative number of fucks to give.

{Dear d0t} Homosexuality Is Just Not My Thing

As many of you know, Dear d0t was an extremely popular feature back when we had TFN up and running. We hated to lose D0t and her amazing advice, and we’re thrilled that she’s agreed to come on and dole out her sage advice once again. As d0t is of the disagreeable sort, Dear d0t will be posted when the spirit moves her, as in when she has a less than negative number of fucks to give.

Dear d0t:

So I’m not prejudiced, but homosexuality is just not my thing. My characters are totes het and yeah, they might use some rude words when describing the gays, but that’s who they are as people. That’s just their character. I don’t know why reviewers are jumping all over my story.

Straight love just as friends,

Schmanita Schryant

Dear Schmanita:

Oh, honey. Bless your heart.

And if you don’t speak Southern, I can tell you I learned in my years married to a Southerner that bless your heart roughly translates to the Internet-speak phrase “Die in a fire.”

Here’s the thing. You can have whatever beliefs you want to. You can vote however you want to. You can believe in whatever religious doctrine you want to. And you can write about all these things all day long.

What you cannot do is dictate how people are going to react to you. And if you have characters who are racist or classist or sexist or cisist (go look it up, dear, I’ll wait) and that’s treated as A-okay in your story/novella/novel/fanfic, then you better be wearing a nice seersucker sundress so you can stand the heat.

Once you put yourself out there, you have to expect that — unless you are only sending your words to friends and family you know share your ideology, people are going to disagree with you. And if the language/characters/tone has an -ist at the end, people are going to be upset. Either suck it up, buttercup, or think about how you can write these characters to appeal to a broad range of people. They don’t have to be likable. They do have to have potential repercussions applied to their actions.

-d0t