We're committed to equipping authors for success by sharing critical tools, expertise, and advice. That's why our COO Tom Reale is revealing insider insights on book distribution; find out how to avoid hidden risks - and maximize rewards - by partnering with the right publisher and distributor.
Not long ago, the American publishing industry was starkly divided between the “Haves” and the “Have-nots.” Authors either were represented by a royalty publisher with access to major wholesalers and retailers in 36,000-plus national locations – or they were sentenced to door-to-door distribution that literally required them to sell books out of their car or home.
Those lucky enough to be selected by a royalty house faced their own serious challenges including:
Recently, online retailers have driven some disruption in this space. Self-publishing services with eBook and print-on-demand capabilities are providing authors with (limited) access to major consumer channels at a very cheap entry point. But rather than fulfilling on the promise of a true, open book market, this route is more like having a publishing parent who decides to start giving you an allowance of $5 per week, and it comes with a slew of problems such as:
HISTORY IN THE MAKING . . . Twenty-one years ago, our founder, Milli Brown, had an epiphany. Standing in a bookstore and holding a novel, she wondered whether the average patron cared about who made money when they bought a book. She thought about it and had to honestly answer, “No.” Then she wondered whether the other customers nearby could rattle off the names of the major New York publishers, and whether they even knew which company had published the book they just bought. Again she answered herself, “Probably not.” After all, how many people have heard of Avery, Perigee, Del Rey, or Flirt, or know that they are all part of Random House?
So why couldn’t there be a professional publishing company, with all of the capabilities and reach of a royalty publisher, that delivered the major economic benefit of book sales to the person who deserves it most: the author? There would be challenges to driving this thought process uphill against an industry infrastructure severely biased toward a royalty model. But Milli had two major advantages on her side of the struggle to come: Texan stubbornness, and no national publishing bias.
THINKING DIFFERENTLY ABOUT DISTRIBUTION . . . To build Brown Books Publishing Group (BBPG), Milli and her team methodically added one capability after another, in each case snapping into place another piece of the puzzle needed to create a completely unique, top-flight national publisher. Each step of the journey was met with skepticism from the various gatekeepers in the book trade. In each case, through leadership, innovation, and perseverance, Brown found a way to offer more to individual authors than had ever been offered in the past.
Today at BBPG, our model is simple. We focus on four key pillars to provide:
ROAD WARRIORS WELCOME . . . After two decades of proving the value of our services and the quality of our books to the market gatekeepers, we added an on-the-ground, national sales force in 2015. When we set ourselves to the task of adding this critical function to the company’s offerings, we once again set the bar high. Most independent publishers settle for inclusion in a national, aggregated distributor and sales group. This forces them to sacrifice a large percentage of profits from book sales.
For us, that was a non-starter. Why?
ON A MISSION . . . BBPG’s calling is clear. We want to be the best publisher available to authors who want to bet on themselves. This is not publishing for the feint-of-heart. Our most successful authors bring serious focus to the success of their books. They understand their responsibility to the publishing process as we apply our skills and experience to help them realize their vision. We are and always will be “The Entrepreneurial Publisher for Entrepreneurial Authors™.”