Diamond Modifies Initial Order Cancellation Guidelines

Via today’s Diamond Daily, a slight change to the year-old order minimum benchmarks; now, even if a product offered in Previews does not meet the benchmark, orders will still be processed for the first offering:

In response to retailer feedback, Diamond is modifying its guidelines for cancelling retailers’ initial orders for underperforming products and merchandise in PREVIEWS.

In the first quarter of 2009, in an effort to reduce the number of underperforming products in PREVIEWS, Diamond implemented higher minimums for purchase orders. At that time, Diamond also began cancelling retailers’ initial orders for affected products.

Now, however, having had almost a year to fine-tune the processes for choosing catalog offerings, Diamond will place a purchase order with a publisher or vendor to fill retailers’ initial orders for any products offered in PREVIEWS, even if those orders fall below Diamond’s minimum purchase order levels. This policy takes effect with product solicited in the January, 2010 PREVIEWS.

“We feel that this modification allows us to better serve our retailers so they in turn can better serve their customers,” explained Diamond Vice President of Purchasing Bill Schanes. “If a title or item underperforms, we will still place a purchase order to fill initial orders. We’ll then address our need to avoid unprofitable SKUs by not listing subsequent issues or like products in future issues of PREVIEWS so both retailers and their consumers should order with confidence.”

Retailers can check cancellations to their own orders via their invoicing and the My Account page of Diamond’s Retailer Services Area. They can also check Diamond’s overall cancellations list in the Product Changes & Shipping Updates section of the Retailer Services Area’s Data Files page.

Comments

  1. “Ya get one shot, kid. Don’t blow it.”

  2. OK, that’s interesting. I still think savvy smaller companies are going to be firming up other distribution methods, but this is at least a lone opportunity.

    Rather like a TV series option, with which you’d only have the pilot to become a hit. Hmmm.

  3. Could a smaller company solicit the first three issues of a series in their first offering, as a package?

  4. Think “OGN” as your first (and only?) solicit.

  5. OK, so instead of the old situation, where I order #1 of 6, it fails to meet the minimum, and I don’t have to pay for an incomplete story, Diamond will now ship and sell me #1 knowing when they do so, that they will not be offering me #2-6? Sorry, but if it’s solicited as “1 of 6″, and Diamond knows that’s not what they’re going to deliver, that should be returnable, at both the distribution and retail level. I should get my money back. At least under the previous procedures when a new series got aborted before delivery, I was never out any money. Now they’re going to ship the dead fetus and expect me to pay for it?

  6. It also means that publishers should have a robust website available to inform customers of the next issue available from Diamond. Also, the website can also sell comics directly to fans, sidestepping Diamond if need be.

    Most small publishers do not publish miniseries. It is better to write an arc which can be collected, with continuing storylines into the next arc. This keeps the reader hooked. See: Levitz’ ABC Plot paradigm. Or write done-in-one issues if the creative staff is stable.

    I wonder how long fans will wait for a mini-series to finish? Kick-Ass #8 just shipped this week. If the series is good, and small-press, then I’ll give the creators time, since they’ll probably have day jobs. This has been a fact of collecting since the days of Eclipse, when I had to wait months for a new issue of Tales of the Beanworld.

    If Diamond won’t distribute the next issues, then I’ll find other ways of buying them.

  7. Interesting.
    They haven’t informed we smaller publishers directly about that yet as far as I know.

    I would have LOVED for Diamond to fulfill the initial orders that they received for our second book (a self-contained one) last summer rather than leave a couple hundred people hanging. Despite all of that I still love my Diamond rep.

    Now that the holiday madness is over people seem to happy to buy directly from our e-store. The profit points are way better but it takes a looooong time to sell off a 1000+ books.

  8. But for a lot of small press series, getting dropped by Diamond can be the kiss of death. After all, in this scenario they’re already selling poorly with distribution to the Direct Market… without it, they’re done. Whether it’s labeled “#1 of X” or not, that’s what the first issue almost always is, and I resent a distributor selling me the first chapter, already knowing that they will not sell me the next.

  9. There’s no mention of any additional criteria for evaluating a book’s future listings. Say it’s another BONE or STRANGERS IN PARADISE; what then? Are they going to let quality books with real potential die a premature death just because they’re not immediate moneymakers? If that IS their policy, it’s incredibly short-sighted and to a degree self-destructive. Diamond made a lot of money off BONE during its decade-long run. But under this new policy, there never would have been a second issue.

  10. @Torsten – I’ve got to disagree with something you said. When I worked at Diamond *MANY* small publishers published minis.

    Diamond, themselves, got away from their own guidelines, as the submission packet asked that publishers submit with the first 3 issues. After all, many canceled books were the result of unprofessional lateness/production snafus, and not low orders. By asking for multiple advance issues, Diamond knew a series had some in the can. Eventually, Diamond started accepting books based on one submitted issue. Many of these books were listed as #1 of X. These publishers wanted to release the series, and later release a trade – a la DC or Marvel. Due to aforementioned problems & low numbers, the books MIGHT get 3 issues out, but the series wouldn’t be finished. The publisher could resubmit later, calling it an OGN, but the damage to the brand had been done.

    For all small publishers, the takeaway message is that OGN is the way to go! Skip the single issues.

  11. Does anyone have a list of books that were cancelled by Diamond under this policy, and whether they were published anyway?

  12. Simon Jones says:

    –> Jason A. Quest

    But think about stand-alone books. Under the old rules, if the book failed to meet the minimum requirement, all the orders would be canceled, retailers would have to deal with disappointed customers. Retailers may even pass over a book on the mere assumption that it won’t ever be filled. This change addresses that in a big way.

    The DM system is still quite harsh for small and self-publishers, that’s not in doubt. But we should still recognize that Diamond made a concession here. The rules have been relaxed. Risk is shared a little more equitably. Retailers can order books with more confidence.

    All things considered, this is a positive development.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] According to a Diamond Daily dispatch posted by Heidi MacDonald, the distributor now fulfill initial orders that don’t meet the benchmark but cancel subsequent offerings that fall short. In other words, publishers and creators get a little breathing room with the first issue, but the second (and third) better meet the quota. [...]

  2. [...] Discovered via the always excellent The Beat, thanks Heidi! [...]

  3. [...] Now, Diamond has backed off somewhat on their dictate. Heidi MacDonald reprints an announcement from the distributor that says Diamond will place a purchase order with a publisher or vendor to fill retailers’ initial orders for any products offered in PREVIEWS, even if those orders fall below Diamond’s minimum purchase order levels. This policy takes effect with product solicited in the January 2010 PREVIEWS.

“We feel that this modification allows us to better serve our retailers so they in turn can better serve their customers,” explained Diamond Vice President of Purchasing Bill Schanes. “If a title or item underperforms, we will still place a purchase order to fill initial orders. We’ll then address our need to avoid unprofitable SKUs by not listing subsequent issues or like products in future issues of PREVIEWS so both retailers and their consumers should order with confidence.” [...]

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