My Sort of Big Break
There was probably a time when I believed that one big break was all I really needed in order to succeed in this venture. It turns out that, at least with the route I've taken, a whole slew of big breaks are required in order to get into position for the sort of really big break I'd dreamed about. Someone once said that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. I sure hope they were right.
Distribution is everything with books. Anybody can self-publish a novel, but if you can’t get it into the supply chain then it hardly matters how much publicity you are able to generate. Few readers are motivated enough to jump through hoops in order to find a book, no matter how many good things they've heard about it. That’s why when I heard that PMA had a Small Press Distribution Program through Independent Publishers Group I jumped at the chance to become involved.
Only after I received notification of acceptance to the program did I learn what odds I’d overcome. It turns out that they only choose to represent a fraction of the books submitted to them, and rarely do they select novels. The more I learned, the more I understood how big the obstacles to success were, but I was committed at this point.
A week after hearing of my acceptance to the IPG program I received a letter from them. It contained one piece of information that was news to me. Acceptance of my book was contingent upon a cover redesign. They thought my current cover positioned the title as too juvenile. I called the printer, and the covers had just been attached to the books. I now had 3300 copies of a cover IPG wouldn’t accept. I practically tore all my hair out before realizing I’d better bite the bullet and redesign the cover. It was nearly as expensive to strip the covers as it would be to do a new print run, so I had the books shipped to me while I went in search of a new cover designer.
Eventually I found Lightbourne. I cannot say enough about the skills and work ethic of Bob at Lightbourne or Cynthia at IPG. With their help, as well as the assistance of Jilla at Noveldoc and many others, we redesigned the book in time to make the IPG catalogue. Now I needed to beg another favor of IPG. I’d been accepted for their Fall 2004 distribution program, but I wanted my book out by June 2004 in order to take advantage of the Tour de France in July. How can I ever thank them enough for pulling the necessary strings to get my novel into their system and available for their reps to promote in record time.
With so many people bending over backwards for me (including a whole slew who I have no space to mention in this blog) I felt a deep obligation to generate the publicity required to move some books. The real adventure was about to begin!