Re: RARA-AVIS: printing and distributing books

From: Sandra Ruttan (
Date: 20 Mar 2010

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    I'd strongly suggest carefully reading all the fine print in their contracts, though. The first book I had published was published by a small press that used Lightning Source. It wasn't a vanity press, I never paid. But I thought I'd done all my homework going into the contract. Yes, they had distribution, through Ingram. Yes, the books were returnable. Great, stores would carry them.

    Except when I talked to store owners I found out that the discount on my book was so low, it wasn't worth it to them to order the book in. Bookstores can usually take 55% of cover price. In my case, they could only take 20%. I negotiated with the publisher to reduce my royalty rate so that the discount would be doubled to 40%.

    They started paying me less as per the new royalty agreement (I get monthly statements and checks) but I eventually found out from another bookseller that the books still only had a 20% discount. It turned out that in the contract with Lightning Source, Ingram had the right to set the discount, and wouldn't change it, so there was absolutely nothing that could be done. So, while the publisher was already paying Lightning Source for printing and distribution through Ingram, someone out there was pocketing an extra 20%.

    It means the books aren't commercially viable. Not if you want to be in bookstores.

    It may be easier than it once was, but you still have to review the contracts with extreme care, and I'd suggest never signing them without having them reviewed by an agent or lawyer with experience. I did so much homework leading up to the first book that the results were devastating. I did take the deal to use it as a stepping stone, which got me an agent and a NY publisher, but it was a very frustrating experience and to this day there are people who infer I'm self published and treat me like crap because of it, and I generally don't review anything through any of these sources, because I know first-hand how frustrating it is for readers to try to get the books.

    Cheers, Sandra

    On Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 10:48 AM, Debbi Mack <> wrote:
    > However, with POD publishing you can have much cheaper, smaller print runs as needed. Plus if you set up an account with Lightning Source, your cost per book is really cheap. And Lightning Source is affiliated with (or owned by??) Ingram. So there's you're distribution right there.
    > Becoming your own publisher isn't nearly as complicated, expensive or difficult as it once was. E-books, of course, are much cheaper and easier to distribute than print books. And, like it or not, they are a growing market and will likely become a much bigger part of the book market in our lifetimes (at least, mine :)).

    LULLABY FOR THE NAMELESS Dec 09 Dorchester

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