Flying Pigs

30 July 2015

Gearing up for the launch of my new book Pigs Might Fly on Monday, the first self-published one I’ve been involved in, after more than fifty titles put out by the big trade publishers. It’s been a  steepish learning curve and has involved a lot of man-hours that may or may not pay off – only time and what’s left of the book trade will tell… As any small- or self-publisher will tell you, distribution is always a major issue. Some feel they can distribute their books themselves and that does work if you don’t mind doing some serious legwork and your book is specific to a particular region – “Inns of the Yorkshire Dales” or whatever. But if you’re hoping for a national sale, you really do need a national distributor and you’ll have to give up 60% or more of your cover price plus another 3% or so for wastage – lost or damaged copies in their warehouse. You’ll also have to pay to deliver the books to that warehouse and pay for collection or destruction of any returns or overstocks, and they’ll only pay you at least 30 days after they actually ship and invoice the books to retailers, so you might be waiting two or three months – or more – before you see any cold hard cash. However if you’re a tiny publisher and you want to sell to Waterstones, say, you’ll have to do it through a distributor because, though shop managers have some discretion to buy local books, Waterstones nationally will only deal with major publishers and distributors and if you’re tiny, that aint you. The choice is yours: there’s Gardners, Bertrams, and a score of others who will handle anything from straight distribution, through to sale and fulfilment including invoicing… but all of it comes at a price. Which you choose and how much of your potential workload you want to hive off to them is up to you, but – obviously – the more they do for you, the less of each book’s sale price will find its way to your pocket. I’ve given my book to Gardners to distribute through the book trade, with a separate wholesaler supplying the gift trade, other than the network of small, non-book trade outlets around the Dales that I’ve built up myself over the past two years since The Inn at the Top was published. These tourist attractions, gift shops, Post Offices, cafes, pubs, B&Bs, camp-sites, etc, etc, stock signed copies of The Inn at the Top and Now Pigs Might Fly and sell pleasingly large numbers of them… only commercial confidentiality prevents me from telling you how many! Best of all, I get to spend a couple of days every month wandering round the Dales doing my delivery runs, and catching up with old friends from the days when I was running the famous (or should that be infamous?) inn there – what’s not to like?