Distributors – Who Needs Them? By Joei Carlton Hossack

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It has been a very tough year.

After six or seven years of being the only distributor for my books, the company decided they didn’t want to distribute anyone’s books but their own. I discovered this when I was about halfway across the country to pick up my supply. I had called to ask if they were going to be closed any time during the summer so I wouldn’t plan my arrival around their vacation. His answer was, “Didn’t you get my letter?” Not only did the distributor have almost 10,000 of my books (5 different adventure-travel books) but I had a new one being printed. It felt like someone had kicked me in the gut but I certainly wasn’t going to admit that to them.

In the ten years of my writing/publishing life, this was my fifth or sixth distributor and not one of them EVER did what they said they would do. They never featured my books at any of the book fairs they attended. They never gave me information about where my books were distributed. They never promoted my books on their websites. They never paid me on time. NEVER.

After much soul-searching, I decided to take my entire business into my own hands, which now included the distribution. I had 3,300 copies of the new book, Chasing the Lost Dream, printed and bound and then had all 13,282 books shipped across the country to a storage unit in Blaine, Washington. I became an importer because I was living in Canada.

Did I mention that it has been a tough year? I had no idea what six pallets of books looked like until they arrived. I was close to panic when it filled the 10 x 20 storage unit from back to front.

Instead of contacting the bookstores, knowing that they take books only on consignment and pay in five or six or seven months after they have shipped the books back and forth a couple of times, I contacted a large grocery store chain. I brought in a copy of each of my books. I made business cards with my books listed on the back and sold at their stores. I brought in all the newspaper clippings that had been written about me in the local newspapers and assured the book manager that I was very aggressive in promoting my books. Their first order was for 238 books. I had to deliver 17 books to 14 stores…and I’ve never looked back. My books are now available in about 50 of their stores…AND they buy the books outright.

Yes, it is has been a tough year but, to date, I have sold just as many books as I did before and financially this has been absolutely the best year BY FAR. It is amazing how much more money is left when you cut out the distributor. For the first time, I am totally in command of my business and I love it.

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Joei Carlton Hossack is the author of (1) Restless from the Start, (2) Everyone’s Dream Everyone’s Nightmare, (3) Kiss This Florida, I’m Outta Here, (4) A Million Miles from Home, (5) Alaska Bound and Gagged, (6) Free Spirit – Born to Wander, and (7) Chasing the Lost Dream. She is an inspirational and entertaining speaker specializing in world travel and writing/publishing/promotion. She also teaches memoir and travel writing. She can be reached at JoeiCarlton – at – Hotmail.com