The story of the publication of Anarchist Farm by Jane Doe might be of interest. I had done reasonably well as a small press publisher (working part time jobs the whole time). About the time Anarchist Farm was ready for publication we ran out of the third printing of The Last Days of Christ the Vampire. We had the usual problems of small book publishers - limited distribution and lack of economies of scale. In addition our best clients, about 100 independent bookstores that were willing to carry our weird books, were under pressure from Borders. Every few weeks one would go out of business.
So I decided to sink or swim by trying for a higher level of sales and getting my books into Borders. My distributor agreed to push a new edition of the vampire book and Anarchist Farm. There was a moment when it looked good. Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Ingram (not my distributor, but the main distributor in the U.S.) put in orders for about 3000 copies of each book. Because books cost little to print after the first 2000 copies, I ordered 5000 each from my printer. Margins on books were terrible; III Publishing received only 35% of the cover price of books sold in stores.
And then Border and Barnes and Noble asked me to buy shelf space. You didn't think we could sell 1000 of a book not reviewed by the New York Times or backed by a big ad budget, without your buying shelf space, did you? Well, actually I thought they could. But I had spent every bit of my money on the big print runs. Even if I had been willing to bribe the sleazy chains, I could not.
A year later our distributor dropped us, then six months after that they declared bankruptcy. They too had been hurt by the killing of the independent bookstores. I decided not to publish any more books. I had plenty in my garage.
We've sold over 2000 Anarchist Farms, which used to be good for a small press. A lot of people liked the book because it showed a sense of humor about goings on in the world of radical environmentalists and anarchists.
I hope German readers enjoy the book.