Distribution is essential to a successful product. You have to be able to get your book into stores in order for it to sell, and self-distribution is rarely a successful option. In order to self-distribute you need to maintain continual contact with stores that sell your book, as well as trying to sell your product to those that don't. That can be a difficult job on a local level. If taken nationally, it becomes a full time job. Internationally, you have to worry about import laws, tariffs, and taxes.
Most distributors will want to review the product for about six weeks before they commit to distribution. If you are doing an ongoing comic magazines they will want to see several completed issues so that they can determine if the publisher is likely to maintain a schedule. Most books are submitted in photocopied format, with one issue printed.
Distributors expect a discount between 60% and 70% off cover price. They then offer their products to retail stores at a 30% to 40% discount. At the end of the day, everyone should be making the same percentage of profits, about 15% to 25% - the rest goes to overhead and production costs.
Distributors are not responsible for marketing or advertising your book. That is the publishers job. A distributer might emphasize a book in their sales catalog in order to inform stores that have not purchased said book as to how well it is selling in other stores. If an ongoing series does not sell well after 4 to 6 issues, most distributors will drop them. Graphic novels and books may be given more time to find their market because they have a longer shelf life (they are not removed at the end of the month to make room for the next issue). However, not all comic shops carry these types of book.
Here are the three main comic book distributors:
1966 Greenspring Drive
Timonium, MD 21093
|Diamond is THE largest comic distributer. This can be either good or bad for the small press/self-publisher. The upside is that EVERY comic store in the US and Canada orders from Diamond, as well as many internationally. The downside is that they distribute so many books, it is difficult to stand out from the crowd in their sales catalog. Also, Diamond wants a substantial discount yet does not offer any additional services than any other distributer (besides the vast number of stores which they reach every month).|
PO BOX 259804
Madison, WI 53725-9804
|FM Distributors is the second largest distributer of comics. Although the company was technically established in 1997, it has several decades of experience as a comics distributer (formally Capital Comics Distribution, I believe). They are a thoroughly professional bunch which distributes many books that have been rejected or dropped by Diamond. They do not advance order from publishers, but buy books based on the sales orders they receive.|
220 N. Main St.
Salinas, CA 93901
|Cold Cut has a very good reputation throughout the industry. They're not as big as the others, but they have been around since 1994, and deal with over 500 retailers world wide. The good thing about Cold Cut is that they stock for long-term backlist availability. That means that if they do distribute your book or magazine, it remains in their catalog for quite awhile. This can be extremely helpful if you are still trying to build up your market or "find your audience."|
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