Publishing N00b Questions
August 5, 2008 5:41 AM   Subscribe

I've got a publication I'd like convenience stores and others to sell. How do i get them to do that, and what kind of financial arrangements are involved?

Let's just say that I'm publishing a tabloid-sized publication on a subject of great interest locally, and that it sells at retail for $1. Ideally, I'd like it to be sold at convenience stores, gas stations, and the like. (It is the type of thing that, because of the subject matter and price, will likely be purchased on impulse.)

Who do I need to approach? Individual managers at each store? A district manager for the chain stores? Owners?

And what do I need to offer them to make this an enticing deal? I am willing to split the sale 50/50 because I can still make a decent profit. Is that an arrangement that is likely to appeal to them? Do I ask them to buy them from me, or do they take them on consignment?

Answers to these and all of my unasked questions are appreciated!
posted by unclejeffy to Media & Arts (3 answers total)
I would go to a couple chain stores and keep asking to talk to a manager until you find one you gel with, then show him/her your product and see if it would be possible to sell it at that store and also how you might get it into the other stations. Ive seen so much random crap at gas stations that I can't imagine it is that hard to get your foot in the door.

As far as consignment or them buying them from you....probably you will get a lot further if you do consignment I would guess. That way its no skin off their nose if your product doesn;t sell.
posted by ian1977 at 5:52 AM on August 5, 2008

Many years ago I worked for a fan club for a band and we published a bi-monthly newsletter. We approached a local record store about them offering it on their magazine rack. We sold them X amount of copies at a price (say, $1 each) and they were free to charge whatever they wanted. Eventually they increased their order from 5 copies per issue to 50, and we also got requests from a few other record stores to stock our mag. We didn't have any sort of return policy, so I don't know if they ever had a lot of leftovers, or if they just left old issues up for sale or what, but you may be able to negotiate a deal where you'll buy back unsold issues. Good luck!
posted by Oriole Adams at 6:18 AM on August 5, 2008

I've been involved in distributing a magazine like this. (a locally based political monthly -- explicitly anarchist/radical but with slickish production values, and more focus on local issues than straight propaganda).

On consignment is much less of a risk for the store owners and much more likely to persuade them to take stuff, its also how they are likely to getting stuff now. Bear in mind with magazines its often the case that just the cover is returned if its unsold. Small and /or owner operated stores are more likely to sell stuff, you will need to find out what the policy is with chain stores, they might have a deal with a distributors. Another thing to bear in mind is local competition. If you are at all in competition in an established local paper they are capable of pulling all sorts of tricks. A bunch of people tried to start an alternative weekly in the town I lived in and it was pushed to the wall when the local mainstream paper issued ultimatums to local paper shops -- either stock their little paper which sells a few copies a week or ours, the local daily. Consider alternative outlets -- we sold through wholefood shops, record shops bookshops, tattooists etc. Anywhere where the owner might be vaguely sympathetic and willing to take a punt.

Basically we would go round various outlets, with a bunch of copies and a duplicate book. Ask them how many copies they want, write it in the book, get them to sign for it, give them a copy, move on. Then repeat with the next issue and or to see if they need more copies. At some point you need to tally up some combination unsold copies/their records and try and get the cash from them. You need to make sure your records are up to date as you are not necessarily going to get the money form the last lot before you give them more. We found it good to pop into venues that were selling a lot on a fairly regular basis, to both ensure they still had copies, and to rescue our mag form whatever pile of crap it had been buried under.

We didn't take ads but i suspect they are more important than cover price for most publications when it comes to money. We didn't make any, had a pretty small print run and lots of other ways of getting rid of them (as well as lots of unsold back issues). If you are hoping to get rid of large numbers you might try and aim to get a deal with who ever is wholesaling the existing magazines, as I understand it they do regional distribution deals, but will also have a minimum number and its likely to be something like a 3 way split between you, the distributors and the retailers. A lot less work however, and potentially a lot more sales.
posted by tallus at 9:41 AM on August 5, 2008

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