Into the bookstores.

So, I have to make some distinctions here.

There is being published and distributed in bookstores.

There is being published and being available for bookstores.

And there is being self-published.

When I came back to writing I had every intention of self-publishing. My friend Jared convinced me this was the way to go. The thing that had bothered me about mainstream publishing in my first career was that:

1.) I'd send my books off to the Void, not to hear about them for six months to a year at a time, only to then be put on hold, told that I was almost there, just one more rewrite, and so on and so on.

2) If a book didn't make it, it went into a cedar chest to be forgotten. Six months or more of work, just gone. It seemed like a dispiriting waste of time. So when I bought Pegasus Books, I used my creative energies there for the next 25 years and I'm glad I did. I made a success of it, despite all the odds, and no one but me knows how fucking difficult that was.

Anyway, the waiting was agonizing, the knowing that it was all for nothing was even more agonizing. And that's when I had an agent!

I researched self-publishing myself and was convinced it was a valid thing to do. (Since then, I've talked to dozens of aspiring writers who dismiss it out of hand. I'm thankful I was able to get over this bias.)

But to be honest, I thought I'd get more sales when I self-published, but I probably missed the window of opportunity. There are probably something like 1500 books a day being published, both physical and ebooks, and there is no real reason for anyone to read your book instead of someone elses.

So when I self-published my first book, I got something like 25 downloads, no doubt most of them friends and family.

That's okay. I accepted that. (I did make a brief foray into trying to get an agent which went nowhere, for which I'm extremely grateful now. Probably would have short-circuited my writing...)

So anyway, I knew that whatever the result, the book would be the same. I saw no reason why I couldn't get the a cover for the book and have it edited by myself. Still don't.

But I stumbled on a middle path by accident, and discovered that there are publishers who will pay you, do the editing, get the covers (much better covers than I was able to do myself--at first. Now I've got a couple of guys doing covers from me who are great) and actually PAY you. Maybe not a fortune, but enough to be proud that someone is paying and doing all the work.

Sales were considerably higher than self-publishing, of course, but not as high as the average person thinks a writer makes. But...well, that was always an illusion, reserved for the top 1/10th of 1%.

The downside was--while these books are available at Barnes and Noble online, and on Amazon, and you can buy physical copies, and there is a chance a wholesaler or an independent bookstore will order and carry your book, it isn't as likely.

This is the hybrid model, and I'm a great believer in it. Small publishers are very open to knew ideas, and aren't resistant to new writers, and respond quickly and efficiently, and you're actually dealing with the owners and publishers.

But I also write so much that I would overwhelm the two publishers I've got very quickly. I'm going to be self-publishing without a doubt, because I just write too much stuff. (I write everyday, just about, and I seem to have oodles of creative energy.)

And then, one of my publishers, decided to go the bookstore distribution route. That is, like the mainstream publishers, the book is promoted in advance and then sold into bookstores. It's a dangerous move, really. Returns have killed more than one publisher, but hey, I'm along for the ride.

Ragnarok Publications hooked up with IPG (Independent Publishers Group). Tuskers III, which was on the verge of being published last October, was delayed until this October.

Fine, I thought, wondering what would happen.

Not much, for a long time.

Now that is all changing. The IPG Fall catalog was just released and it is chock full of Ragnarok books, including Tuskers III and a sidebar with Tuskers I and II. The books are given prominent space in a slick catalog. They represent a major portion of the fiction novels being offered.

So here's the thing: IPG has 70 reps, who visit all areas of the country. They have rep who deals with Barnes and Noble. They deal with foreign markets.

I still have things to learn. I didn't realize there was a difference between a wholesaler and a distributor.

Here's how I understand it. A wholesaler, like Ingrams or Baker and Taylor, carry your books. They do have catalogs, and they do send them out, but they don't do much more than that. The books are there to order, more or less.

IPG actually goes out and TRIES to get your books into bookstore, and are apparently very good at it. They have experience on how to use metadata to get your books noticed, they know their clients, and so on. (Already, Tuskers III is being offered in advance on Amazon, the first time that has happened with one of my books.)

In other words, this is a bigger deal than I expected.

Because of my previous experiences in bookstores, I have very low expectations. Here's how it normally works: The books get into bookstores, where they are for a month or so, and then they get moved out. For 99% of the books, that's pretty much it. The wholesalers might hold onto the stock for a little longer, but eventually it fades.

But, hey, it's way more exposure than I was getting before, and I'll take whatever comes.

Kind of exciting, really.