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  Why authors must honor their chapter delivery schedule

When an author makes a commitment to write a book, a whole array of people go to work, technical editors, copy editors, graphic artists and formatting experts.

When a chapter is late, it throws-off their schedules and worst of all is when the print plant has been scheduled to do your book and the manuscript is not ready.

Make sure that you choose dates that are realistic and doable, as late books have dire consequences.

Worst, of all, Rampant TechPress is severely punished by our distributor, the Independent Publisher Group (IPG) and if your book is late, both your sales and the reputation of Rampant TechPress suffers.

Here are excerpts from the IPG documentation on our obligations as your publisher.

The book trade is indifferent to your problems. Late titles will be severely punished.

"Punished?" You may think this is strangely personal word to use to describe the seemingly impersonal way the book trade separates the sheep from the goats. But let me explain why no other word will quite do:

The Sad History of a Late Book

Your rep, or your distributor's rep, sits down with a bookstore buyer and pitches your book. The buyer agrees to take some copies on the understanding that they will show up on the pub date indicated in the catalog.

The pub date is an essential part of the deal. In the larger stores and the chains, buyers have a more or less fixed budget to spend each month for the acquisition of new titles. When they agree to buy your book, they have allocated a part of that budget. Down the line, their buying skills will be evaluated by how well the books they have selected sell.

But your book does not show up when promised, which means they have wasted some of their buying budget. Their performance will be less than it might have been, and therefore their chance for a raise or a bonus will suffer. They take this threat to their income quite personally.

The publicity, however, is right on schedule because you made your deal with the publicist months ago and much of the best publicity requires a long lead-time. The publicity starts to have an effect, and customers come into the bookstores to get a copy. If you are lucky, someone at the store will try to special-order your title, but since it is not available from any wholesaler, it will not be found and the sale will be lost.

This is bad, but it gets worse. The customer concludes that the bookstore (not your publishing company) is incompetent. How could a bookstore fail to have copies of a book that has just been reviewed in the local press? You have made the bookseller look like a fool to customers. Booksellers take this personally.

As time goes by and the title does not arrive, many of the stores who have bought it contact the rep or distributor or wholesalers to find out when the title will be available. These queries need to be answered. Many calls, e-mails and faxes are exchanged (hundreds of them), but no one is making any money.

"When will the book actually be in print?" the publisher is asked repeatedly. Hearing the irritation in the voices of the questioners, the publisher gulps and says "June for sure!" which everyone knows is likely to be false: late books just get later. People have been lied to, which they take personally.

Finally the book is published. But by now the advance sale has dwindled down because many purchase orders expire if not filled by a certain date. The unexpired orders are filled. Now the publisher says to the reps, "By the way, you will need to reinstate all of those expired POs." But as there is no button to push to reinstate orders, this means that the reps responsible will have to resell the title to each of their bookstore buyers.

Frequently the title never will be resold. Each rep carefully weighs the inevitable damage to their credibility when they waste the time of a buyer by re-pitching a title. They imagine raised eyebrows if they even bring up the question of this overdue title. Is this title strong enough to take the risk?

Do you want to remind the buyer that you have wasted their time and budget and then waste some more? Reps take their relationships with buyers, since they are essential to their livelihood, very personally.






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