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Diamond Adjustment

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One bit of news that may have gotten lost in the shuffle the last couple of weeks was that Diamond Comic Distributors, the basic monopoly in the industry, announced a modification to their order cancellation policy that went into effect last year.

As it turns out, they will now deliver on any item listed in their catalog even if it fails to meet their new minimum order benchmark that was part of last year’s new policy. Instead, they’ll simply take that figure into consideration for future issues or products in that series.

So, say for instance, Diamond lists the first issue of a new series and the orders for it fall below the benchmark. Diamond won’t cancel those orders, as was the policy earlier. Instead, they simply won’t list the second issue of the series.

My reaction: Gee, thanks a lot for making this change now!

I had my graphic novel, Adrenaline, solicited in last June’s catalog, right after the new policies went into effect, but of course before this most recent adjustment. That means when the orders for my book fell below the benchmark, all orders that I did get were simply canceled.

Now, I’ll admit that my orders were pretty low, 159, which even for a $20 graphic novel is pretty low. Incidentally, the reason I made it $20 was because Diamond’s benchmark was based around total dollar value of the orders, not purely quantity. I felt I had a better shot this way. I don’t know if a $16 price tag, which is what I sell it for at conventions, would have really gotten me any more orders. Besides, it collects 8 issues (one double-sized) worth of material so it still worked out to a decent value.

But the result was still the same. Not a single copy was delivered to the retailers that ordered it. Diamond also wouldn’t give me any information about which stores had ordered it so there was no possibility for me to try and fill these orders myself.

I don’t know what these stores, or the people who had ordered my book through these stores, thought when the book never arrived. I’m sure Diamond simply issued a cancelation notice without much explanation. I doubt it read, “The publisher really wanted to get you your copies, but we just couldn’t be bothered.”

And I’m not under the assumption that Diamond should have to concern itself with my small orders, or that it really affected the retailers all that much when my book never showed, but it did mean quite a lot for me. The difference between getting a few books into a store and absolutely none is noticeable.

Hey, I’m a small publisher. I’m prepared for the harsh realities of the business. I know that readers won’t automatically flock to my book or that most retailers won’t want to take much of a risk with it. This is why I really need those few orders I did get to be filled. Once a few copies get out there, it increases the chance that someone will notice it and tell someone else.

It’s even possible the retailer might notice the few copies they ordered sold and restock. Hey, I can dream can’t I?

Instead, what happened? Well, I became one more independent publisher whose books never showed up. And the cycle continues.

I guess there’s no point in me complaining about this now, seeing as Diamond has reversed this aspect of its policy. I guess this simply stands as a testament to why it was good they finally set things right on this issue.

As for me, well I’ve moved on. I’m not depending on the direct market anymore. I’ve mostly gone digital now. Not because I don’t love print comics or anything, but because it’s the best to be sure people can find my work if they’re interested.

So, self-promotion time. For any of you who read comics on the iPhone or iPod touch, the third issue of my new series, American Terrorist, will be up on the Comics by comiXology app this week. It’ll be on a regular web browser service pretty soon.

Will it ever be on a comic shop shelf? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

# # #

Tyler Chin-Tanner started his own publishing company, A Wave Blue World, and writes and draws layouts for Adrenaline, its flagship series.
© 2008 Tyler Chin-Tanner.  All rights reserved.

Email: tyler@awaveblueworld.com

www.awaveblueworld.com 

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Comments

  • Richard Boom

    Richard Boom Feb 19, 2010 at 3:49am

    well...good for Diamond on getting some common sense back in the system.
    Can you not try and re-list the item now?

  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Feb 19, 2010 at 5:06am

    I find it amazing that Diamond didn't even pass on the order information so you could do some grass roots work yourself ... Good thing they don't have a monopoly ... waaaaait a minuuuute ....

  • Richard Boom

    Richard Boom Feb 19, 2010 at 8:12am

    well...they are BIG and most retailers do not want to also contact Haven for instance.

  • Eric Lindberg

    Eric Lindberg Feb 20, 2010 at 8:11pm

    Tyler, I feel your pain. I was all set to release a graphic novel with AC Comics but orders were so low, they wouldn't even cover AC's production costs, let alone the Diamond minimum. I really fear for indie and small press publishers these days (and I'm ashamed that with my own budget concerns, I don't do more to support them). It's good that Diamond has slightly amended their policy but it's still a really tough market out there.

  • Tyler Chin-Tanner

    Tyler Chin-Tanner Mar 2, 2010 at 3:39am

    Guys, sorry it's take so long to comment. I couldn't figure out how to sign in, but I did want to respond to your comments.

    Richard- I don't think Diamond will let me re-list now as that kind of goes against the policy even with the most recent adjustment. They solicited my book, it didn't get enough orders, so now no more chances. I would have been better off just waiting until this recent change had I known.

    And to Bart and Richard- You know, I tried offering it to Haven and at first they seemed into it and sent me the forms, but when I sent everything in, I never heard back from them. I'm not sure how they're doing business wise, but I haven't heard much from them.

    Eric- Thanks for sharing your similar story. At least it's nice we're not alone. But I have noticed that many of us Indie guys don't make for the best fans. We're too particular. We don't go running out every Wednesday morning demanding our copies and every variant addition. I guess we just have to keep on keeping on.

    thanks, guys.

  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Mar 2, 2010 at 9:22am

    Hang in there Tyler! I'm rooting for you! I'm

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