Research, Research, Research: Distribution: Diamond Comic Distributors Part Two: What Can Diamond Do For You?

A column article by: Ace Masters

At the end of my last column, I asked this Burning Question: What can Diamond do for you?

But before you can even consider that question, you need to prepare yourself for what will probably be the most important relationship in your comic book publishing life.

"What relationship?" you ask. Only this: the relationship between you, the (potential) comic book publisher, and Diamond, your potential distributor.

Some people believe Diamond takes every title submitted to them. They also believe that once Diamond distributes them, they have "made it," and just need to wait for the money to roll in.

Diamond is the Distributor, so they take care of everything, right?

Wrong!

But to understand this answer, first you need to understand what Diamond does, along with the services they offer. Only then will you understand what Diamond can do for you.

First, realize that Diamond offers some services beyond distribution. But make no mistake – Diamond also charges for some of them.

So, what can Diamond do for you? The easy, quick and simple answer is this: Diamond can distribute your title(s) to retail outlets.

Now, what does Diamond do? It distributes title(s) to retail outlets.

Confused? Depending on your knowledge of distribution and how it works, you might be.

In truth, the only thing Diamond can really do for you is to offer you a distribution avenue to get your product (i.e. title(s)) into retail outlets. Diamond has no obligation to do anything beyond that for any of its titles.

However, if Diamond limited itself to only that, it would be remiss.

After all, Diamond wants each item to succeed and make money. To that end, it is willing to work with each publisher and offer services to help maximize the potential of all of the items Diamond carries.

What services does Diamond offer? Plenty, but only a select few will be covered here.

"So, what are these services," you ask? They are a sampling of what Diamond can do for you beyond basic distribution.

Services offered:

  1. Brand Manager:
    Think of the Brand Manager as your personal distribution counselor. This is the person assigned to deal with you personally and consult with you on the best route for your titles. This is also the person to whom you send in listings for Diamond’s Previews Catalogue. Don’t get too cocky, though; your Brand Manager is probably dealing with dozens of other publishers as well.

    The way Diamond’s Brand Managers work is this: Diamond will assign one Brand Manager to a section of the alphabet. For example A, B, C, D, E, F may be assigned to Brand Manager 1, which means that every publisher’s name that starts with A, B, C, D, E, F will be assigned to deal with Brand Manager 1.

    Your Brand Manager will be your best friend at Diamond and the person you will be constantly dealing with. He will give you advice on the best way to present your title, what format he thinks might work best, explain how Diamond works and what services Diamond offers.

    The good thing about a Brand Manager is this is a person you can form a relationship with who can guide you through the process.

    However, there are two drawbacks to Brand Managers. They may often suggest advertising, marketing and promotion ideas that Diamond has nothing to do with. For example, one common suggestion is to do multiple covers. Diamond will list the covers - maybe - but the cost of doing the covers comes out of your pocket. Diamond has nothing to do with printing or advertising. (Nor should they, as production, publishing, printing, advertising, marketing and promotion are the Publisher’s responsibility, not the distributor’s.)

    The other drawback is that Diamond changes Brand Managers every six months. Meaning that every time they changes brand managers - in order to keep things "fresh" - you have to build a new relationship with someone who possibly is not familiar with what you are doing.
  2. Previews:
    Previews is Diamond’s monthly order catalogue sent out to stores. In this, Diamond lists everything it distributes. As an indie publisher, your title will be in the indie section, listed under the name of your company. Diamond will use your cover art and your synopsis of the title for your listing, so make sure your art stands out and that your synopsis is compelling.

    Diamond is only obligated to list your title; you need to make it stand out.
  3. Certified Cool
    Diamond and Previews editing staff will often endorse a title or product they like. This is a personal choice on the editor’s part - this is not a paid service by any means. But it can help your title.

    "Certified Cool" is one of the endorsements they give. It means the title is cool and a must buy. (My title Fireblast, Adventures in the 30th Century was "Certified Cool" by Diamond.)
  4. Advertising in Previews
    Get ready to spend some money. If you have the cash, an ad in Previews is a great idea.

    In fact, many publishers will insist that if you can’t afford an ad, don’t be in Previews. That’s just silly.

    Diamond offers different types of ads from text ad, quarter page ads, and half page ads up to the best: Full Page Ads. You can get ads in Black and White or Full Color. If you really want to make a splash, dish out the cash for inside front cover.

    Diamond will even design the ad for you if you want. Plus, the ad will be placed as close as possible to your listing.

    This is where your Brand Manager will come into play and tell you the cost of the ad, any design fees, and help you get the ad placed.

    Keep in mind though, that only retailers and readers who read Previews (or look at Previews in the store) will see your ad. Readers who don’t use Previews will not see your ad.
  5. Direct Advertising to Retailers
    You have the chance to advertise directly to retailers if you wish. Diamond offers text based ads - a couple of lines - and other advertisements that directly target retailers. These advertisements are placed on the retailers order form and other publications that are only for retailers.

    These are nice, but there is one major drawback: many retailers don’t order indie books unless their clientele puts in an order. It is unlikely an ad here will change a retailer’s mind. But it is still worth a shot.
  6. Booth Presence at Conventions
    Diamond attends many conventions, and gives you the chance to be there, too, even if you cannot attend the convention. For a nominal fee you can get flyers, postcards, ash cans and even preview editions of your titles on Diamond’s table at a convention for Diamond to distribute to interested readers.

Diamond offers these services and more, but once you get past the free listing in Previews, be ready to hit your budget for the other services. Your Brand Manager will be the person to give you direction on these points, but beware: in the end, all the advice the Brand Manager gives you is to benefit Diamond as well as you. (Possibly it will benefit Diamond a great deal more than it will benefit you.)

Diamond will distribute titles and offer other services in conjunction with distribution. Keep in mind, though, that Diamond’s main service is distribution, and everything Diamond does is related to that.

Now, since what Diamond does – and what Diamond can do for you – has been defined, you need to think about this Burning Question for next time:

What can you do for Diamond?

Later,

Ace.

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