Building a Winning Relationship with Your Distributor: Realistic Expectations; Recognizing When Things Are Going Wrong

December 1997
by Bob Erdmann, Publishing Consultant

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Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a three-part series on making life with a distributor successful. We will examine this relationship from its beginnings, through its tenure.


Last month I discussed the importance of making your selection of a distributor a good one right from the start. I gave you twenty-five tips to do this. This month I would like to review the realistic expectations that a publisher should have about its distributor, and vice versa. I once again want to stress to you how important it is that both the publisher and distributor understand and agree to each other’s expectations up front in order to avoid the situations which I point out later in this article.

A Publisher’s Realistic Expectations of Its DistributorCommunication: The publisher should be able to get prompt follow-up and a timely response to questions and concerns that it brings to the distributor’s attention.Sales Reports: The publisher has every right to be informed about actual sales by way of on-time sales reports. If the standard reports are not specific enough, the publisher should be able to simply ask the distributor about a book’s sales activity at a specific account and get a reasonably prompt response. They really don’t like to do this, but it’s data you need to know!Accounting: A distributor holds a fiduciary responsibility to the publisher and as such is legally bound to account for its client publisher’s funds that it has receive…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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