Playing with the Big Dogs

What I want to know is when the LDS publishers are going to start aggresively marketing toward national stores like Barnes and Noble, Borders, and the like.

Well, some of them do. I have a couple of titles in a few of the local big box stores. But I don’t aggressively market to them because, quite honestly, I can’t keep up. It’s too expensive.

Setting aside the fact that if they order a bunch of product and then decide not to pay their bill—or pay really late, I have little recourse and will probably go out of business [it has happened to others]…

Scenario: An LDS suspense novel has a limited audience. If I’m lucky, I might sell 10,000 copies. But since I may not be lucky, I only print 2,000 in trade paperback. My cost per book is $1.50-$2.00 per book. LDS bookstores take a 40% discount. To break even after expenses, I have to sell it for $14.95. Fortunately, it sits on the LDS bookstore shelf next to other LDS products similarly priced.

The bigger national stores and distributors want 55-60% discounts. I just can’t afford it. Books for a national market can risk a bigger print run and get their cost per book down to 40-50 cents. They can afford to offer the bigger discounts. And they can sell it for $9.99 and still break even. Assuming I could get the nationals to take a smaller discount, my book is still going to sit on their shelves next to a lower priced book. All things being equal, which book are you going to buy?

When you have a niche audience, you have to sell through a niche store where your customer is willing (however reluctantly) to pay niche prices.

My solution: Everyone go out right now and convert your neighbors so that LDS novels are no longer a niche, but mainstream. Then I’ll be able to afford to aggressively market to the national stores.

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