I’m excited about the support and interest I received for my post: Proposal for Indie Authors. Interest is so great, in fact, that “I” is already “we” and we even have a name:
Are you part of the we that makes up Pendragon Express? That’s up to you! I expect that the more people that hear about our new venture, the bigger we will become, and right now there are lots of different ways that you can help us if you support our mission.
Our Mission: To increase distribution of independent titles by making them available at conventions around the US.
If you read the first post, perhaps you gathered that already, but I do so like seeing it stated all concise and official-like. Now, to expand upon that. There are two metaphorical arms that will make up Pendragon Express and work together towards accomplishing our mission. Basically: Authors and Small Presses, and Sellers and Distribution Organizers. I’d like to outline for you our plan so far for how both arms will work.
Authors and Small Presses
As all who work in independent publishing know, you spend a lot of time and effort marketing and distributing your work to reach niche markets. We love you for that and we’d like to do more than just applaud your work from the sidelines. By pooling our resources, we believe that we can help you increase your exposure with no more cost to yourselves than you are already putting into other methods of distribution.
What we will provide: We will arrange for the booth, display equipment, labor, and much of the organization required to sell at conventions, fairs, and other events that might otherwise be inaccessible to you as a single author or small press.
What we need from you: We need you to provide the hard copies of your book(s), including shipping, to the convention(s) of your choice. We’d also love it if you included flyers and other promotional material. We will attempt to minimize your shipping costs by efficiently organizing our sellers between conventions. Meaning, you send copies of your book to one person and your book travels to several events for that year. To make all of this possible, we will also take a cut of the profit to cover the overhead mentioned above.
Are we out to make money? No. We are doing this for our love of independent publishing. If we were wealthy, we’d pay for all the tables, all the hotel rooms, and all the labor ourselves. Just like if you were wealthy, you’d print a large run of your books and pay the big book stores to distribute them. As it is, we must take a cut of the sales in order to provide you with a continuing business model - in other words, so that we can do this more than once and still eat that month. And, just as you labor for free to Get the Word Out, most of our labor will also be pro bono. Our cut goes towards paying for the dealer’s table and compensating our sellers.
Sellers and Distribution Organizers
We are also looking for people interested in the distribution and sales end of Pendragon Express. Without somebody standing at the booth, the books will not sell. Selling at a convention can be a wonderful experience for outgoing, passionate people interested in business or in our particular niche of publishing. Not only will you learn about and meet people involved in independent publishing through our organization, but you’ll meet all sorts of convention attendees who might share other interests with you. You’ll also, of course, gain experience with sales - both the pitch part and the display and organization part.
Who we’re looking for: We are looking for people who enjoy attending conventions, fairs, and other events where genre books can be sold. When we imagine our perfect seller, we imagine someone who attends one or more conventions, fairs, and other events every year (when possible) just for the love of attending those events. If you are already planning on going and are familiar with a convention, you’ll better be able to handle any hiccups that come your way. (“The event staff gave me the wrong table!”) You’ll also know how to arrange your time so that you can still enjoy the parts of the convention that you look forward to participating in that year. If you’re an experienced convention goer interested in attending new conventions, that’s great, too. It is unlikely that your compensation from Pendragon Express will cover all of your transportation, food, and other associated costs, so it is important that you chose to sell at events that you are personally interested in.
What we need from you: We need you to, most importantly, keep track of money and any merchandise we send you, as well as detailed records of what is sold, so that we may pay our authors and compensate you. We need you to keep track of when (and where) you need to show up, whether you are setting up the booth or taking over for another seller. We need you to inform us ahead of time of how much time you are willing to spend at the booth. Ideally, we’ll have at least two sellers at any event, even the smallest ones, so let us know which programs you wish to attend away from the booth. We need you to arrange for your own transportation and hotel room, if a hotel room is needed for you to attend. We need you to read over any information we send you regarding our authors, their works, and any thing else we expect you to sell or display. We need you to smile at customers and be willing to hold conversations with potential customers when appropriate. Basically, we need you to be friendly and responsible.
What we will provide: We will purchase the seller’s table, whether it be in the artist’s alley or the dealer’s room; or, at a fair, inside or outside. We’ll let you know if you need to purchase a badge in order to attend. We will facilitate the transfer of books to you or to the convention and give you the information you need to set up, sell well, and keep our accounting in order. We will also provide some display materials depending on where you are selling and the space available. We plan to put together digital displays that can be run on a laptop if electricity is available at your table, and to organize various business cards, fliers, and other freebies to help draw interest to your table. We will provide you with as much information as possible about our authors, their works, and any thing else we expect you to sell or display. We will compensate you for your time from our cut of sales at that convention. If sales are dismal because of a poorly run convention or low attendance, and if we have surplus funds from other conventions and donations, we will supplement your cut as possible. We value your time. We keep NO money for ourselves. Any funds go back into Pendragon Express, to our sellers and to cover tables and other overhead.
If you like our mission, there are so many ways you can help support us, both big and small! Please email us and consider joining us for future skype or aim discussions where you can have an impact on how Pendragon Express will be run. We want your opinions, and your ideas. Most of all, we want to share the excitement!
There's not much up at the website right now, but that's because we don't want to make too much of the ins-and-outs official before you get a chance to add your feedback - so please do! By email or in the comments below.
*The name: We’ve named Pendragon Express after a podcast known as Pendragon Variety (.com). The Pendragon Variety podcast features round table discussions related to writing and reading of genre fiction, as well as author interviews and short fiction from around the ‘net. Not only do we like the name Pendragon (obviously) but we feel that these two projects are so strongly related that they should be considered as part of the same, larger organization of fiction lovers and independent authors. Because this organization is larger than Pendragon Variety, it is not necessary that you have participated in or even heard about the podcast in order to participate in Pendragon Express.