Dec 31st, 2019
Hi everyone, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of the We Make Books Podcast - A podcast about writing, publishing, and everything in between!
This week we’re going to other side of book distribution and that is taking a closer look at traditional book distributors. Who are these people and what sorcery do they perform to teleport your book into the hands of readers everywhere? Well, right off the bat, they are working their magic: It’s just distributors, there are also printers, and whole sellers, and warehouses. We’re going to go through all the people involved in traditional print distribution and what part they have in getting your book out into the world.
We Make Books is hosted by Rekka Jay and Kaelyn Considine; Rekka is a published author and Kaelyn is an editor and together they are going to take you through what goes into getting a book out of your head, on to paper, in to the hands of a publisher, and finally on to book store shelves.
We Make Books is a podcast for writers and publishers, by writers and publishers and we want to hear from our listeners! Hit us up on our social media, linked below, and send us your questions, comments, concerns, and seriously people, who saw Cats? Come on, tell us, which part horrified you the most?
We hope you enjoy We Make Books!
Rekka:00:00 Welcome back to, we make books, a podcast about writing, publishing and everything in between and sometimes a little bit after. And this is our final episode of 2019.
Kaelyn:00:10 Oh my God, it is. I didn't even know -
Rekka:00:12 Our innagural year is to come to a close. We managed to get in 25 episodes.
Kaelyn:00:16 I was going to say, because 26 would have been if we were doing every week and we started in may.
Rekka:00:21 Every other week. But yeah, we started in may, but what we had were batches. Kaelyn had a September idea, so if you haven't, if you're just joining us now for the first time, we have lots of episodes including an entire month from September of weekly episodes and then some Submissions September.
Kaelyn:00:40 God, we ended up with like nine episodes in September I think.
Rekka:00:44 I think it wasn't nine, but it was a lot.
Kaelyn:00:49 Maybe it was seven. I don't see, this is the thing, I've blocked it from my memory. I don't even remember now.
Rekka:00:53 Yeah. Um, so this, this episode we're doing the beyond the publishing.
Kaelyn:00:59 The, yeah, the beyond the publishing.
Rekka:01:00 Well it's still part of the publishing or the publishing process. But as far as the publisher themselves, yes, they lose a little bit of control right here.
Kaelyn:01:09 Yeah. And this is, this is also, you know, when we were talking about the other side of distribution today we're talking about getting your book out into the world, using a distributor. And you know, we're going to talk about some terms and some differences in various groups of people that you've encountered along the way. Um, I will say upfront, this was a difficult episode for me to do and this is one where I'm doing a lot of the talking.
Rekka:01:33 This is my fault because the last episode, episode 24 was the self-publisher or indie, very small, um, operations side of this where it was almost all digital pod meaning print on demand, which is basically digital until they turn around and shoot out a copy to the reader. So, um, and very specific and very specific and step-by-step. And there were some, you know, concrete things we could tell you. And so I then after or before we recorded that, I turned to Kaelyn and said, and you can go next time and her eyes.
Kaelyn:02:04 Oh God. Because here's the thing I I deal with are with Parvus Press' distributor, Baker and Taylor publishing services. It's not fun for me though. Not, not because of the people. The people are great. Just -
Rekka:02:19 Especially the authors.
Kaelyn:02:20 Yeah. Just managing this kind of stuff is very confusing. And this is like you and to talk about, you know, the behind the curtain stuff. I think a lot of people out there have no idea what's going on in the background here because sometimes I feel like I barely have an idea of what's going on in the background here. Um, so, you know, I tried to keep it very broad because as specific as last week is, this is one that is just all over the place. There can be any number of combinations of people and practices. Yeah. If you say something specific, it's going to be wrong in, in enough circumstances that it's not percentage that it's, yeah.
Rekka:02:54 It's bad info.
Kaelyn:02:55 So, yeah. Um, you know, I, I hope everything didn't come out as confusing as I feel like it sounded it did. Yeah. So it's a little bit of a shorter episode, but it's just because it's so broad.
Rekka:03:09 But we just want you to get back to your new year holiday and that was the last day of the year.
Kaelyn:03:13 Why are you listening to us go, you know, do something -
Rekka:03:15 Well, no, listen to us. And go do something.
Kaelyn:03:17 Listen, listen to us while you're doing something you have to do before the year ends, right?
Rekka:03:21 Yeah. So, so, um, on that note, uh, thanks again for tuning in and enjoy the episode and we'll talk to you next year.
Kaelyn:03:27 Next year.
Rekka:03:41 You weren't working in a, um, a, mine while you were in Montreal?
Kaelyn:03:45 No, a corporate mine does, does that count?
Rekka:03:49 Can you get black lung from corporate mind?
Kaelyn:03:51 No. You get black heart from corporate minds.
Rekka:03:53 Your heart shrank three sizes.
Kaelyn:03:55 Yes. Yes. It's, it's microscopic at this point. It's very difficult to find even with the best of telescopes.
Rekka:04:03 Or microscopes.
Kaelyn:04:04 Or microscopes. What I was going more with like the black dwarf star. No, but you're right. Microscope was more appropriate than we like looking into space biology versus astronomy. So, um, so, Hey everyone, uh, this is, um, today we're talking about the second part of distribution. And by that we mean, um, using actual distributors for your books.
Rekka:04:27 Not the self publishing print on demand, do it yourself bootstrapped version.
Kaelyn:04:33 Yes. Um, so you know, Rekka got to say all of, uh, go through all her stuff last week and this week it's my turn. This is, it's going to be a little bit of a shorter episode because it's not going to be as technical.
Rekka:04:49 There won't be instructions cause someone else will do this for you with any luck.
Kaelyn:04:53 Exactly. Yeah. So when you think to yourself, Hey, what's the advantage of going with a distributor? All of that stuff we talked about two weeks ago, you don't have to do that yourself. Um, which was a lot. That was, that was our longest single topic episode.
Kaelyn:05:10 Um, we've had some that were a little longer, but they were interviews and compilation question episodes. Yeah. So, um, but it was good. It was very informative.
Rekka:05:21 Yeah. I was really happy with how it came out. I think, like I said in that episode, it was the only time that, to my knowledge that the okay, start here and then do this and then do this sort of thing was covered in one place. Um, obviously we didn't get into all the other self publishing, you know, favorite topics like Amazon ads or anything like that. I don't know if we will ever cover those on our own. I think we need to bring in somebody else and here's the problem. It'll change.
Rekka:05:50 In a couple months.
Kaelyn:05:51 It's, you know, you brought up a very good point in that episode, which was as soon as someone has a class on and puts that information out there, it's basically useless.
Rekka:06:00 Yeah. The time it takes to publish that information is the time it takes for those, you know, various channels to change the way that things work at all. Exactly. Um, but as you pointed out before we started recording, what you're about to talk about hasn't changed very much at all in a long, long time.
Kaelyn:06:20 Yeah. It was funny. You know, like those, those thoughts you have when you're falling asleep. I had just finished editing the, uh, previous episode.
Rekka:06:29 Episode 24.
Kaelyn:06:30 Yeah. And I was like, I don't want to say in a snit, but like I was feeling very like, this is ridiculous how, you know, authors and publishers are treated with, you know, this kind of stuff. And like, I hope this helped. And then I was thinking to myself like, you know, there's a reason that we can kind of talk about all of this in, I know it was a long episode, but it was a relevantively short span of time. And that's because this hasn't changed much. Um, yes, there's, you know, the digital components and there's computers and, um, I was talking to Rekka about this before we started recording that. Anything that you really needed to be like a skilled expert in. And by that I mean like it was almost like a trade, is kind of gone. Um, you know, there's graphic designers who have of course taken up that mantle, which, you know, that's, that's kind of almost the only remnant left of physical book production.
Rekka:07:29 Physical letter setting -
Kaelyn:07:31 A physical, like graphic designers have taken so many aspects of that on in there.
Rekka:07:37 There, there are definitely things that I do on the daily as a graphic designer in inside and outside publishing. That was never covered even 11 or 12 years ago when I was graduating as a graphic designer from an art school. This stuff was never anywhere in the curriculum.
Kaelyn:07:56 Yeah. So, um, I don't know. It's just, it's interesting. You know how this has been -
Rekka:08:00 And a little frustrating.
Kaelyn:08:01 Yeah. So, um, but along those lines we're talking about the other side of getting your books printed and out into the world, which is distribution. Um, so real quick some definitions and terminology here because I want to establish something. When we think of a distributor, we think of an entire process. That's actually two parts. We think. We think distributor, we think, you know, you give this book to this person and they go through the whole process of uh, printing it, warehousing it, marketing it, getting it to resellers, third party resellers, which are like Barnes and noble and bookstores. There's actually two different groups, I will call them in there. There's a whole sellers and there's distributors. Basically the major differences, wholesalers, process orders and ship books. Distributors are marketing books. They're talking them up, they're doing research and focus groups and trying to figure out where this book fits in and who's the best people to get it in front of.
Rekka:09:07 They're out meeting librarians at trade.
Rekka:09:09 Yes. So you'll notice I left something out there, which is the printing, the production of the book. Um, that can vary wildly. Um, and it really depends how you want to do it. And we'll get into that a little bit. So you're an author, you've signed with a publishing house that is distributed. Um, there are dozens of distributors in the country. Um, Oh, and just to qualify, I'm talking about primarily U S practices here. Um, internationally I think you'll find in Western and English speaking countries. It's kind of the same with, you know, some nuances. But we are, we are talking again as per usual, primarily U S because international, you know, that can vary a lot and really muddy the waters. So we're, we're going to stick with U S um, so you've written a book, you've signed with a publishing house that is distributed. Um, so you're probably wondering like, okay, I finished the book, I sent it to them. They said, cool, that's done everything sent off. So what's happening to it now?
Kaelyn:10:12 And let's just say that is exactly how it goes.
Kaelyn:10:14 I sent it to them. They said, cool. It's done.
Rekka:10:17 Yeah, I know. Well, obviously,
Kaelyn:10:19 We covered this process in other -
Kaelyn:10:19 You know, you go back and listen to every other episode leading up to the, it's cool, it's done part of this.
Rekka:10:27 So where's my book? Why can't I hold it yet?
Kaelyn:10:31 Well, your books sitting in a digital file somewhere at a, uh, at a print shop and when I say a print shop that makes it sound much more adorable and um, homespun than it actually is. This is sitting in a giant manufacturing and production environment and giant bespoke. Yes. So we're actually going to start with the printers because obviously before anyone can do their jobs here, they need to have the book, right?
Rekka:10:58 And we're talking about not your word document, we're talking about the layout files and -
Kaelyn:11:02 We're talking about the entire completed file that can be put into a computer and then printed to make a book. So a distributor gets your book, what are they gonna do with it now? Well, the first thing is they've got to get it printed. And these next steps get a little complicated and wonky because all of this is depending on internal setup. Um, I'm going to use, so Ingram and Baker and Taylor publishing services are the two kind of big guys here. Now there's does, like I said, there's dozens and dozens of other distributors. Um, there's actually a whole Wikipedia article on us book distributors, which I mean they have, they have everything on it. Everything. Um, the distributor needs to get the book printed. Now I'm not going to go too much into the means by which this happens because some places have them in house that you can use their print services and maybe they'll give you a discount on them. Um, you can, if you want, get your books printed in China and then sent to whoever needs to have them in order to get them distributed.
Kaelyn:12:18 Uh, it all depends on contracts and you know, everything's, everything's negotiable as they say. Um, but the whole point is that the distributor needs to get the books. The whole seller is going to warehouse the books. So now what's happening is you've got 5,000 copies of your books sitting in a warehouse somewhere. The whole seller has a list of all of those. And this is not some pretty magazine with lots of, you know, pictures of the covers and it's a spreadsheet with ISBNs. Um, it's, it's a spreadsheet with numbers, titles, relevant pricing information, maybe some information about genre. That's it. And third party sellers, the bookstores are just looking down this list. And it's, I mean, it's an order form. You can go online and find pictures of these there. Um, any mean these are like, I can't even call them ... catalogs almost doesn't seem right because catalog implies -
Rekka:13:22 It's a product list.
Kaelyn:13:23 Yeah. A catalog implies some organization and ease to navigate. It's a product list is exactly what it is. So third party sellers go through this and they just say, I want this many of this, this many of this. The order goes to the whole seller. They go to the warehouse, they load up that number of books, and then those get shipped out to the wholesaler. So then how does the bookseller know what they want? That's where the distributor comes in. The distributor has a marketing team whose job is to sell books to, you know, whatever their specialty is, be it, you know, uh, third party sellers like bookstores or to libraries, to schools. Um, any, anyone that's interested in buying books. Um, by the way, for anyone who says libraries are dying, libraries are still one of the single biggest purchasers of books. And they're great because they don't return books.
Kaelyn:14:24 Um, and we'll get into returns later.
Rekka:14:26 And how that, how, just to clarify, you said anybody who wants to buy books, we're still talking business to business level.
Kaelyn:14:31 Yes. We're still talking business to business level. Um, you can't go to Baker and Taylor publishing services and say, I would like one Salvage please. They're going to go, cool. You should go online and get that. Please buy it from us, but do it online. You're never going, you know, you as an individual consumer of books are never going to get one of these massive product lists of books, you know, check a box, send it back to them and have a book show up.
Rekka:14:59 This is, you know, this is business to business.
Kaelyn:15:02 Right. Um, so the distributors have a whole team of people and like we're saying before recording, I always felt like distributor was a little bit of a misleading name because it makes it sound like they're the ones handing out the books. What they're actually doing is trying to get other people to buy the books of the wholeseller can hand them out.
Kaelyn:15:24 Um, they have sales reps who are specialized and focused in particular areas. They go to book fairs to market meetings, they go to, you know, sales conferences and they have the book out there and they go, yeah, this is a really great book. It's going to be, you know, hot on the market. Uh, it's this genre it's really going to appeal to this demographic. This author has, you know, a really great track record with this kind of group of people. You should buy a thousand of them cause they're trying to get the stores to buy the book to keep it in stock.
Rekka:16:05 So the question that comes to my mind at this point is if a distributor has accounts with multiple publishers and those publishers themselves are deciding which of their books they want to push, more or less. Yeah. How does, how does the distributor like, where's the, the um, you know, like the one that's actually in their hand that they're handing out at these things versus the 25 in their catalog? Just random numbers. But -
Kaelyn:16:34 Distributors are just handed things by publishers.
Rekka:16:39 When a publisher signs with a distributor, it's all the publisher's books.
Kaelyn:16:41 They don't have as acquisitions and new releases come up, they distributors don't have the option to go, Hmm, yeah. You know what, we're not too sure about this one. They're not involved in the process. That's the publishers. So, you know, I don't know how awkward a situation that ever. Um, I'm sure I'm sure things like that have happened. So anyway, they will have people who just specialize in, I mean really like granular specific kinds of books and they go to all these conferences and um, you know, there's, these are seasonal. There's, you know, of course the spring versus the fall catalogs. Um, there's all of this stuff they know about timing things with how they hit the market. Um, like for instance, I was talking to, so a part of his press is distributed through Baker and Taylor publishing services. And I was talking to someone there and I was kind of trying to figure out a release date and she was telling me like, well, don't do it, don't do December.
Kaelyn:17:40 And I said, why not? She said, well, because everything then is focused on Christmas and it's not a bad thing necessarily to have your distributed in December with a Christmas focus. But we at Parvus we're independent. Maybe we're not big enough to really make sure we're not drown out by everyone else. You will notice there are a lot of book releases in December and they try to capitalize on this. And then January and February is just dealing with all of the leftovers. And I don't mean leftover releases, I mean the returns, the, you know, what have you, after the December releases, I don't mean, you know, we're just dealing with whatever comes next. Um, it's also started in the new year. So there is like their strategy and some of these things apply more to certain genres than others. You know, they know like what kind of books are really going to do well for summer reading. So they'll say, Hey, this would be a good thing to release in may and June because it's going to be everyone's beach book for the year.
Rekka:18:44 Most people have heard a little bit in one way or another about how Hollywood just decides what time of year they're going to release their movies.
Kaelyn:18:51 This is pretty similar. Yeah, and to be clear, the distributor does not get to decide these things, but they can advise. They're certainly very helpful to talk with. So you know, the distributor, like for all of this work that the marketing team with the distributors are doing and like I, I shouldn't even call it a marketing team because really they're, they're in sales. That's, you know, that's their job. Um, they have a marketing team, they have research that they work with, but distributors themselves are not really going to be doing a super lot to market this book.
Rekka:19:28 So just to touch on real quick, you know, as you're going, so like, okay, so great. So what's the publisher doing and all of this?
Kaelyn:19:34 They are also marketing the book. They're the ones when you see like ads for books. Like I live in New York and like, believe it or not, I do see ads on the subway sometimes for books or on taxi. I've even seen him on taxis and buses. I was really surprised. But you know what I've seen recently and um, I'm sorry, but we need to take a minute and talk about this. Some incredibly disturbing Lifesize 3d ads on the size of buses and taxis for the movie Cats.
Rekka:20:01 No, we're not going to talk about that. No, I'm sorry. No -
Kaelyn:20:04 I'll put a picture up of the bus, you needs to know.
Rekka:20:09 No, don't, don't expose her.
Kaelyn:20:11 No. You need to see what they did to one of those double Decker tourist buses. I'm going to put a picture of it on the Instagram. Like I, I'm sorry everyone, but like this is, this is happening. So, um, I just, I'm sorry, but like I saw that on, I needed to get, I was actually sitting in a Barnes and noble when I saw it.
Rekka:20:29 Just to bring it back around.
Kaelyn:20:32 Just to bring it back around.
Rekka:20:32 So [laughs] So for a person who walks into Barnes and noble, dropping that topic, like a hot potato.
Kaelyn:20:39 Rekka's really having trouble with this everyone. You should see her face.
Rekka:20:43 So you're in Barnes and noble -
Kaelyn:20:46 They edited out all of the bulges and boobs.
Rekka:20:49 So -
Kaelyn:20:52 I don't know. I haven't seen the movie. I saw the play once when I was a kid and I was even very confused by -
Rekka:20:57 It's a musical.
Kaelyn:20:58 Sorry, yes the musical.
Rekka:21:00 I've seen it several times. There's a thing called the dance belt. You don't have to edit out anything, hopefully. Um, so -
Kaelyn:21:08 They edited out everything.
Rekka:21:11 I know it's terrifying. This is why I want to move on and I feel like it's just nothing what I ever wanted to see again.
Kaelyn:21:22 I feel like, you know, it's our responsibility to acknowledge that something like this happened and check and make sure everyone's okay.
Rekka:21:28 Okay. So all right. @WMB cast on Twitter did you see it.
Kaelyn:21:34 Did you see cats?
Rekka:21:35 Did you want to, were you taken against your will? Are you okay? Do you need a hug?
Kaelyn:21:40 How are you feeling? Just in general? Does life still have meaning to you?
Rekka:21:43 Alright. So publisher's going to market directly to the consumer of the books -
Kaelyn:21:47 So yeah the publisher, the publisher is the one responsible for the real marketing, the direct marketing campaign. Um, now this is, it's all kind of cyclical because the publisher is trying to get people excited about the book to get the bookstore excited about to get the bookstores excited about the book so that the distributors can go sell these to the bookstore because the distributors are trying to get the bookstores excited about the book.
Rekka:22:12 Right. And so neither happens without the other part.
Kaelyn:22:15 Exactly. Yeah. It's all like, I hate to say this, but like it's all hype. That's the biggest strategy in book marketing right now is getting people excited about books, which we are, we love books. We're always excited about them.
Rekka:22:32 But the word hype is very scary for an author who's feeling like the brain weasels about how like they're an imposter and they're going to be found out as soon as all these orders come through and people read the book, you know, it turns out it wasn't worth all that hype, but you can't sell it without the hype. So we do the hype.
Kaelyn:22:48 Yep. It's, um, it's such a finicky industry and is the next logical step here is then, okay, so what's happening with all the books sitting in the warehouse? How does the distributor come into this? The answer to that is that could be multiple different things. Um, because again, all of this depends how your distributor works. Now if for instance, it's Baker and Taylor publishing services, they've got their own warehouse and their own wholesaler. That's a subsidiary of them. And just as a quick aside, some of you might be going, Baker and Taylor did and I hear that they closed their wholesaling.
Rekka:23:28 Yeah there was a poorly handled press release.
Kaelyn:23:31 Yeah. So you'll hear me every time we say this, Baker and Taylor publishing services, which is different than Baker and Taylor. So Baker and Taylor in may of 2019, I believe the press release was actually May 1st, 2019 put out what was not a great press with, um, because I got several panicked text going, Oh my God, is Baker and Taylor shutting down? You guys just signed with them. Yeah. Baker and Taylor stepped away from the wholesale book business to focus on libraries and education reselling. Baker and Taylor publishing services still exists and is still a wholesale seller of books. Um, so if you're, for some reason ever bringing that up, you have to make that distinction because I get in trouble sometimes -
Rekka:24:30 And I've had bookstore owners argue with me. Yeah. Then they say no, Baker and Taylor is gone. Yeah, Taylor is gone from your catalog. But there is this other company.
Kaelyn:24:43 Well Rebecca and I were talking about this at the time that like this was, it was not a good press release because they did not make it clear that there was still that Baker and Taylor publishing services still existed and was still doing this because, and we can get into a whole thing about the name publishing services, but even, you know, making that sound even worse.
Kaelyn:25:03 But anyway, so Baker Taylor publishing services has their own warehouse in stock of these books that they want, you know that they're going to have in one place and people are going to buy and they're going to send out to them. Um, I'm using Baker and Taylor publishing services as an example, but um, you know, this can vary wildly. So Barnes and noble comes to them and says, I want a thousand of this book. It sounds awesome. I think it's really going to sell a lot. The warehouse is the one that's going to process the order and get that to Barnes and noble. Now in this case, all of the sale related things are going through Baker and Taylor publishing services because they've just got everything together. So that's kind of the rundown of what the distributor is doing and how this is getting in front of you. Now the next question is how does anyone get paid on this kind of thing?
Rekka:26:03 Sounds expensive.
Kaelyn:26:04 Yeah, now, we've talked a little bit about this in the money episode of you know, how all of this trickles down. But how is the other side making money on this? And again, I'm going to speak in very broad terms because there are so many components and moving pieces to this. There's a lot, like everything is different here. So the Publisher's got to get the books printed.
Rekka:26:30 So you need to start with a product and the product has a parts and labor cost.
Kaelyn:26:35 Yes. So in this case that is printing and producing the book, because what's going to happen, the distributor is going to say, we have orders for this many already and we think that it's going to be this many more. The, we're going to speak here in round hypothetical magic numbers because this is not actually how much this costs. Um, so let's say this is a publisher that uses an overseas press. You know, they, they get the books printed themselves and then get them warehoused. They've got the, they bought the books for three bucks a book and let's say they have a thousand of them. So, so it's $3,000 depending on what's going on here. The wholesaler is going to buy the books from the publisher. Wholesalers themselves are very passive entities in all of this. Their only job is to get the order, send out the order. They don't care about the marketing, they don't care about, you know, how much this is selling. They've just got a giant building full of pallets of books. So they're going to buy now at this point we're talking cover prices. So they're going to buy this at a pretty steep discount off the cover price.
Rekka:27:59 Which the publisher has determined based on knowing that there will be all these discounts coming.
Kaelyn:28:03 Yes, yes. So then when the reseller, the bookstores buy the book, they're also getting a discount off the cover price. So what's happening here is everything is a little bit of a step up. So let's say the books for $3 each, the warehouse, the whole seller is buying them for $5 each, and maybe Barnes and noble is buying them for $7 each and they're going to sell them for $15.99.
Kaelyn:28:32 And they're keeping whatever they sell from that book.
Rekka:28:34 Nothing - the bookstore does not pay any money except for their initial order.
Kaelyn:28:40 But then they're going to have something else factored in, which is the ability to return the books. There are, there's a lot of math that goes into this and I hate it. It's complicated and ambiguous sometimes, which is not two words you usually hear together. Um, Barnes and noble for instance, can say, look, this book was not selling well. I still have 500 of them. They're taking up room on my shelves. I don't want them. Here you go. And wholesalers and distributors are kind of at the mercy of this because really at the end of the day here, you want to talk about the power structure. You want to talk about, you know, in the publishing world, it's not the agents, it's not the publishers, it's not the acquisitions editors. It's not even the distributors, the real people with the power to do whatever the hell they want. Here are the bookstores. And I don't think we think that because we think like, Oh, bookstores. Yeah. But they're the ones at the end of the day who are the cutthroat that can say, I don't want this anymore. Take it back.
Rekka:29:47 And they can do this at any point.
Rekka:29:49 If they forget to unpack the books and they realize, shit, I've had this sitting back here the whole time. These were new releases two months ago, but they're not new releases now. Or they were two - they were new releases two weeks ago, but there's something bigger that's taken off. I'm just going to, I didn't even open this box. I'm just going to ship it back.
Kaelyn:30:05 Yeah. Um, now if you know you had a book that like they had a few stray copies bought here and there like maybe, you know, one book sitting on the shelf isn't as big a deal to them. It could sit there for a very long time if they just decided like, yeah, we're just going to leave that there, it's fine.
Rekka:30:24 So, or if they happen to notice the sequel's coming out soon.
Kaelyn:30:27 Yeah. Yeah. So the returns, they just get to say, here, take this back. So what does that do to your money? Well, that I won't say you give it back. A lot of times it's more, it's a deduction against future earnings. Um, which you know, like this is, this is any, anything that you're producing a product for, you're going to run into this.
Rekka:30:51 So the publishers account with the distributor, just based on what you said to clarify is almost like a, a line of credit, but not like a credit card. Like if you have $20,000 limit on your credit card, they're not gonna eventually pay the $20,000. But you know, yeah.
Kaelyn:31:08 So like, well actually that's, that's a good way in to say, how does the publisher get money from all of this? Because the publisher is getting the money a percent. The distributor is taking off a percentage based on what went out to the retailers. They're selling the books for the publisher. And by selling the books for the publisher, I mean, they're the ones trying to get people to buy these books. So, you know, in theory what should be happening is every month, every quarter, however this goes, you just have, you know, your accounting statements going through saying like, Hey, you did a $5,000 in new sales, there was, you had $1,000 in returns, so this month you're getting four grand. So returns can be a scary thing.
Rekka:31:54 Um, with, uh, wholesale books and this is why a print runs for, you know, a new release are going to vary based on the estimates you were mentioning earlier where they, they already have this many orders. They're going to print this many because it looks promising.
Kaelyn:32:09 Exactly. Yeah. That's how many they think they'll sell because everybody wants to avoid the returns at some point.
Kaelyn:32:16 Sh, kind of round out the conversation with this, with that this was more definitional and process in this episode. All of these components that we talked about here, the printing, the whole sale, the distribution, they're all interchangeable. They can all be coming from different sources thinking and look, and this is the case a lot of the time that if you're going to go through Baker and Taylor publishing services, then you go through Baker and Taylor publishing services and you don't really think about too much of it. It just kind of is handled. That's not always the case. And frequently it's not. Um, so this was just kind of more meant to be informational. Um, you know, not, not the process because there is no standard process with this. There is the print to wholesaler to distributor to bookstores to into the hands of readers. If that's, that's the best flow I can give you. How far you have to go in between those points is varies wildly.
Kaelyn:33:26 Um, so that was the distribution -
Rekka:33:30 Right. As much as we can really cover in one episode. It's funny, we had to trim out so many side conversations because we knew that that side conversation is going to take us in a direction that's gonna make this a four hour episode.
Kaelyn:33:42 Yeah. And here's the thing. If all of this sounds complicated, I'll just, I'll say it, we, there are big chunks of this we're taking out where I had to stop and go, I have to restart that whole thing all over because I'm going off in a direction that's confusing.
Rekka:33:56 This is, it is a confusing process and this is, I think one of those, you know when we talk about like the thick curtain that publishers and process hide behind, I think this is one of the stranger aspects of it and sometimes that that curtain is not so much there because they're trying to hide it from you. But because it's something like this where you can't just easily explain it.
Kaelyn:34:17 And honestly, if -
Rekka:34:18 Maybe a publisher is trying to protect their author from worrying about stuff like don't worry, like I don't, I, this is not, I'm happy to be on this phone call with you, my lovely author. However we could talk about something that's actually going to like, you know -
Kaelyn:34:29 Yeah for authors, this is not your job to worry about this is this is the publisher. And then even with the distributor, they're taking things away from the publisher and telling them, don't worry about that. We've got that.
Rekka:34:39 Yeah. So they're out of it's job security.
Kaelyn:34:42 Yeah there is some degree of specialization here where it's like, look, this is our thing to worry about. You worry about that other thing.
Rekka:34:49 Right. And that's a good thing because you want that somebody is not going to try and micromanage the parts that they aren't professional about.
Kaelyn:34:59 Yeah. So, um, like I said, this is now one thing -
Rekka:35:07 Not that they're not professional. I just mean it's not there. It's not their job.
Kaelyn:35:11 It's not their job. It's not their specialty.
Rekka:35:13 Um, if they get involved is going to make it worse. Not better. Yeah.
Kaelyn:35:16 This by the way, I'm going to end on this note is one area that if you are very interested in learning more about this, this is something you can go online and actually find out a lot of information on because this is one of those areas with sort of definitive, uh -
Rekka:35:31 The steps and processes and the only thing you're missing is the, the part with the contract where all the prices are agreed.
Kaelyn:35:37 Yeah. And also like this is, this is something that is, is delineated. The wholesaler does this, the distributor does this, the publisher does this, this isn't one of those. Well and then sometimes, and you know, not always, and I know I just got finished saying like sometimes and not always.
Kaelyn:35:59 I know I just got finished saying that like the process is not, but the linear way in which this happens, publisher to printer printed a wholesaler, wholesaler, distributor, distributor to bookstore, bookstore to reader, that doesn't change. Um, if you're interested in finding out more between the difference between distributors and wholesalers, you absolutely, this is something you can go online and find information about. I warn you, it's a rabbit hole because what you're then going to find is all of the weird, interesting, different ways that distributors and wholesalers are connected and how they're all under our umbrella parent companies and the incestuousness of the publishing industry and -
Rekka:36:42 Lannisters of publishing, um, -
Kaelyn:36:44 Baker and Taylor publishing services is owned by Follete. So, you know, it all comes full circle somehow. So anyway, um, that's, you know, that's where we're going to leave you here. Um, I hope that wasn't too confusing -
Rekka:37:00 And if you do have specific questions or if some of that was too broad, yes. We can try to, to answer them in like a, a listener questions episode. Yeah. But we're like, well, Kaelyn said she had to stop and start because there were so many details that could have really made this a lengthy episode beyond what would be reasonable. So trying not to, trying to get specific on this kind of stuff will make you too specific that it's not helpful.
New Speaker: 37:26 Yeah. And no longer applies in a way that's going -
New Speaker: 37:28 I mean like she could say this is what Parvus does and that's not going to be what Tor does.
New Speaker: 37:34 Exactly. So that's, yeah, it's not a direction we really want to take the conversation.
Speaker 1: 37:40 But if you do have specific questions like I don't understand X about the whole sale, then we'll try and answer that for you.
New Speaker: 37:49 It's funny because this episode, a strong departure from last weeks that was very specific, this then this, then this. But if you're doing a print on demand and a, you know, digital self publishing and things is there are steps and like there are the, you have to do at least these things to make your book functional. Right. Um, if you wanted to get into warehousing and distributing as a self publisher, a lot of that's how it started. You warehouse in your garage and you distributed by hand out of the trunk of your car. Yup. You know, more power to you if you were good at it. Uh, I, I, I can't even imagine that Amanda's is a magical thing. I mean that's pretty much why self publishing has taken off the way it has. Totally. But for
Speaker 2: 38:36 traditional publishing, there's a reason that some authors is a very good reason why some authors just choose not to be involved in that side of any of the process. And I can certainly understand why because as you heard in this episode, it's, it's not shrouded in mystery, but it's fine grain nitty gritty stuff. Yeah. So anyway, um, so we're going to stop before we try and explain it one more time. Why we didn't tell you everything there is, this is like my head hurts after trying to do, and it's not quite like trying to talk to a quantum physicist and get an easy answer, but it's a little bit like trying to talk to the quantum physicist. So, um, anyway, so on that note, uh, thanks for sticking bearing with me through this one because, um, I realized that was a little disjointed. I'll try to, Oh, send us your questions if you have any and we can try and repair the damage done.
Speaker 2: 39:30 But hopefully I don't think, I think that was good. I think, you know, we're, we're talking about it before it's been trimmed. That's true. And once it's trimmed, I know you, it's going to be nice and clean and straight forward. So, um, so, you know, but if you have questions you can find us online. Ask the WMB cast on Twitter and Instagram. You can find firstname.lastname@example.org and you can subscribe to us through most of the podcast aggregators. I'm trying to find a few more of them to get us out there even wider. And um, you know, if you want to leave us a rating or a video, we would love it either Apple podcasts or Apple iTunes. Um, they are the same bank of reviews. So you can go in there and just, just gush a little. We wouldn't mind. Yeah, no, not at all. Um, I read your review in a future episode.
Speaker 2: 40:10 Yeah. And Hey, you know, if there's something you want to hear about and you put it in a review, you've called us out, we have to answer it. Um, and then if you are finding this information super helpful and you have some spare change to throw our way, we do have a Patrion, um, email@example.com forward slash WMB cast. We have some patrons now and it's fantastic and we love it. And, uh, we really appreciate your support. So thank you for listening and thank you for your support. And we will talk to you in the next episode.