Monday, February 6, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Consortium Book Sales

1)      Tell us about the history of Consortium Book Sales.
We grew out of a small wholesale cooperative in 1985 – so we have lots of experience in selling books and getting them out there. We’ve developed an expertise in advocating for independent publishers, and we now represent more than 100 independent publishers from around the world. We have been careful to grow and evolve in ways that matter to small publishers – offering an e-book partnership, developing our marketing offerings, and expanding into social media. We like to be at the forefront of what’s next in publishing!

2)      What is a book distributor?
Succinctly, we sell publishers’ books to a broad national audience and function as the print and digital “back office” for publishers so they can focus on acquisition, editing, and marketing.

Think of it this way: an individual publisher doesn’t have as much clout individually as they can with a distributor. Frequently they can’t get book buyers at major chains like Target or Barnes & Noble to pay attention to them. By joining forces with other small publishers, we can help them all get representation at bookstores, online, in media and in advertising. Two heads are better than one and many hands make light work!

3)      What genres do you represent?
Our publishers cross all genres – fiction, nonfiction, mystery, kids, poetry, self-help, and more. Many of them have achieved national and international recognition for their books, and they all have unique identities. You can see a full list of our publishers here.

4)      What are the benefits of working with a book distributor?
As mentioned before, the main benefit of working with a distributor is joining forces to take advantage of economies of scale. Our publishers also benefit from working with us because we are constantly trying to improve conversation and awareness around independent publishing, letting readers know that these books exist as an excellent alternative to mainstream publishing. People flock to independent films and music – why not books?

5)      How is Consortium Book Sales different from other distributors?
We believe that our commitment to serving our publishers really sets us apart. Each person on staff treats their job as what it really is: a customer service position. We are happy to work with publishers to share our thoughts on cover treatments, coach them on marketing pitches, advise them on print runs and reprints, and celebrate their successes. We consider each book published by each of our publishers to be *our* book as well.

6)      What services do you provide beyond distribution?
In addition to the nuts and bolts of distribution (warehousing, shipping, sales) we offer marketing services, a beautiful four-color catalog, social media, representation at trade shows and conferences, and e-book merchandising and sales with our partner Constellation. We also encourage our publishers to talk with one another, creating a network of colleagues who can help one another solve their unique problems.

7)      What submission guidelines must publishers meet before you work with them?
We work with independent publishers who have a structured, ongoing publishing program with plans to continue publishing well into the future. A publisher interested in distribution through Consortium should follow the submission instructions here.

8)      What does a partnership agreement with Consortium Book Sales look like?
Consortium offers a full-service, exclusive distribution agreement to publisher clients.  Our fee structure is a sliding scale based on net sales, with optional additions based on publisher needs and preference. A publisher joining the Consortium team can expect the full participation of our entire staff, from production to marketing to sales.

9)      Who are some of the authors that appear in your catalogs?
Our publishers’ authors include Tomas Tranströmer, Andrew Krivak, Adam Mansbach, Lucille Clifton, Noam Chomsky, Charles Bukowski, Paul Harding, Che Guevara, Tony Kushner, Pablo Neruda, and Arundhati Roy, and their honors include Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, and Nobel Prizes (to name a few).

10)   Where may readers purchase the books you distribute?
Wherever books are sold!

11)   What do you expect to accomplish in 2012?
In 2011, we had a Nobel Prize winner, a #1 New York Times bestseller, and a National Book Award Nominee on our publishers’ lists. We expect to see even greater things this coming year. We expect to make some strong connections with bloggers via social media and real life in 2012, leveraging the power of the reader to bring awareness to our publishers’ books. We look forward to sharing one of the strongest fiction lists we’ve ever had, and we are hopeful about the future of e-books as a means of expanding readership even more broadly.

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