[Alopex] Would you like to see Across Thin Ice, the first volume in Blotch's Nordguard graphic novel series, in your local book/comic store? It's more likely than you may think!
Diamond is the largest comic book distributor in North America (according to Wikipedia, anyway), and as such, it is the primary way that books get from publishers, like Sofawolf Press, into brick and mortar bookstores. We got ATI listed in Diamond's August Previews catalog, which means that bookstores across the country now have the opportunity to put in an order for book in order to carry it in their store.
Here's the general process:
- Diamond ships catalogs to stores at the beginning of the month. (The stores should all have their copies now.)
- Stores consider what's available, then submit an order to Diamond by September 1st.
- IF enough orders come in to Diamond, Diamond then places an order with the publishers for the total number ordered.
- Publisher ship the books to Diamond, and
- Diamond then compiles orders for each store and ships them out.
- The stores place the books on their shelves...and hopefully they sell!
What's this about staff picks?
In each catalog, Diamond staff pick out favorite products they want to highlight. We are extremely pleased that Across Thin Ice has been chosen as a staff pick for the August 2011 catalog! Daria Medved gave us a wonderful review (even if Pi might disagree with her characterization of her team as "cuddly animals"), which means even more eyes will be focusing on ATI than usual, and hopefully more stores will want to stock this title.
How can I help?
These catalogs are thick — the ATI staff pick is on page #318 — so it's hard for any one title to stand out, even if it is a staff pick. Talking to the person who does the buying for your local book/comic store helps ATI stand out simply by being mentioned, but also shows that there is a potential market.
If you have a copy of ATI, bring it with you! The art throughout the book is stunning, and letting people see it firsthand is probably the best way to convince them that the reviews aren't just empty superlatives. However, if you do, please note that Diamond is only listing the the softcover edition. If you bring a hardcover to show, be sure to point out that the cover binding will be different, but the interior pages will be exactly the same. (The cover image is similar, but not exactly the same due to the nature of the different bindings.)
Why should they listen if I've already got a copy?
Just because you bought one copy elsewhere doesn't mean you might not want to buy more! If you are likely to buy more as gifts, be sure to say so. If you've been showing it to local friends who have been asking where they can get a copy, mention that you'd point them to their store if the book were in stock.
Even if you don't know anyone personally who has interest in ATI, you can point out that the strong visuals and Blotch's attention to detail make it an eye-catcher that people will be likely to pick up, and even more likely to purchase once they flip through the art inside.
But don't you and Blotch make less money on distributor sales?
Yes, this is true. We are quite happy when people buy direct from us online or at conventions, because it cuts out the middleman. However, getting into brick-and-mortar stores is one way for us to get ATI into the hands of people who otherwise would never have heard of Blotch or Sofawolf Press. We might lose some online sales, but in exchange, we get wider visibility and the potential for greater sales volume, though at smaller margins.
Also, we're publishers because we like books! By extension, we love bookstores, especially independently owned ones, which can be personable, helpful and even quirky. (Sadly, as publishers, we are too busy to read much for pleasure, which means we don't spend as much time in said bookstores as we used to...) Running an independent bookstore is tough these days, and we're happy to provide quality products for those stores that remain in business to offer to their dedicated customers.
Any other suggestions?
If you do decide to bring up ATI at your local store, please be polite. If the staff look busy, it might be better to come back another day or another time. You have until the end of the month before orders are due! You don't want your first impression to be a bad one.
Show your enthusiasm without appearing to be overly fanatic — if you present ATI as something that everyone should like because it's an action-packed period adventure with unique lead characters who are uniquely suited to search and rescue in the arctic, you're more likely to convince the store that this might be sellable to their other customers than if you focus on how furry it is and how it would totally sell to the local furry population. In general, we want people to see anthropomorphic animal stories as a genre anyone could find interesting, not just a niche market (or worse, a bad stereotype).
You might also consider leaving the tail and ears at home for this, unless the staff wouldn't recognize you without them. But do wear your three-wolf-moon shirt if you're a hipster! That shirt totally gives you ironic indie cred that no one could possibly understand.