I was excited to be accepted by them and be able to say that as a self-published author, I also had a distributor. It seemed to give me more credibility, but oh ... at such a cost.
First, I had to pay $500. I believe this was to be in their magazine—which, although I was pictured within the same pages as Kirk Cameron, I saw no sales come from this. (Still, it’s neat to have on hand and peruse through sometimes—but it did cost me!)
I was told I wouldn’t make money unless they made money. This seemed to make logical sense to me. (However, someone other than me was making money.) I agreed to pay to have a poster of one of my books displayed at the International Christian Retail Show. This brought in a few sales but nothing to get too excited about. Probably not enough to pay for the $150 poster.
As a member, you’re offered numerous ads to participate in. One of which was the Munce catalog. I was accepted by them, which I was told through someone at Advocate this was something special as not every self-pubby gets through their doors. Then I was told what ads I should probably go with in their magazine. In three months, they would showcase four of my books in half page ads for a total of $3800. I swallowed hard, stared at the money in my book account, and said okay. I had the money, it was set aside to ride this roller coaster and see where it would take me, so no worries … right?
Lots of books went out to places like Ingram, Anchor, and smaller places. However, not enough to cover even a small portion of what I’d paid. Therefore, I chose not to do any more ads until I made my money back. However, without doing consistent ads, my name wasn’t out there. Without my name out there, no one was buying my books.
Long story turned pricey. Ingram and eventually Anchor, plus some of the smaller places, returned my books. Ouch. Then I had to pay back what I’d earned, plus now pay a small stocking fee.
So when all was said and done I realized this wasn’t working for me. I wrote another large check to close my account with Advocate and have the returned books sent to me. This gave me a ballpark figure of $5500 in all that I had spent with Advocate.
Does this mean you shouldn’t venture down this lane? Not exactly. I think it might have worked out if I hadn’t done a big ad or any ad for that matter, because the small ones I tried before getting out never brought in sales either. So if after reading this you still want to give it a try, join but don’t agree to ads. Then if someone asks you where they can get your books, you can proudly tell them anywhere. Any bookstore can order them. Keep a low profile until you decide you want to drown yourself in marketing and keep your name alive—maybe then the ads would pay off.
A note to consider. I could have paid for the same Lifeway ads that you see in your mailbox. Yes, I could’ve made myself look as popular as Joyce Meyers. This put things in a new perspective. Yes, Joyce is well known now and probably very gifted although I’ve not read any of her work. However, what worked for her is having someone believe in her and be willing to risk enough money to keep her in the lime light. If only we all had that we could all be so famous.
One last note, in the short time I was with Advocate, they went through a lot employees. Although they were all very kind in my dealings over the phone and email, there were some expensive foul ups made. That first $500 charge—well that was charged to me twice. Had I not caught it, well … And that wasn’t the only accounting error … always in their favor. Now I don’t believe anyone did this on purpose, but if you sign with them, check your monthly statements carefully!