Author Topic: Dart Frog Books  (Read 729 times)  

Offline JoyMosby

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Dart Frog Books
« on: June 15, 2018, 09:36:48 AM »
I took my paperbacks to my local bookstore yesterday and talked to the owner, she suggested I look at Dart Frog Books, I understand its part of Ingram.

From what I read on their website, https://dartfrogbooks.com/pages/submit , you can submit your self-published book and for a fee (89.00) they will review it and see if it is book store ready. If it is you pay an additional $386 for marketing and guaranteed front faced placement in twenty independent bookstores for three months, along with some other marketing.

They have another part that looks like a vanity press to me and it is the $5,000.00 + range.

I was wondering if anyone out there is doing this and if so what was/is your experience with it?
Thanks

Online Bill Hiatt

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2018, 10:25:57 AM »
I took my paperbacks to my local bookstore yesterday and talked to the owner, she suggested I look at Dart Frog Books, I understand its part of Ingram.

From what I read on their website, https://dartfrogbooks.com/pages/submit , you can submit your self-published book and for a fee (89.00) they will review it and see if it is book store ready. If it is you pay an additional $386 for marketing and guaranteed front faced placement in twenty independent bookstores for three months, along with some other marketing.

They have another part that looks like a vanity press to me and it is the $5,000.00 + range.

I was wondering if anyone out there is doing this and if so what was/is your experience with it?
Thanks
I looked at the website, and if there is any connection with Ingram, it isn't apparent. (I would think that would have been mentioned--it would be a selling point.) Dart Frog uses Ingram as a distribution mechanism, so your book would have to be available that way, but using Ingram for POD doesn't make them an Ingram subsidiary.

Book store placement would be nice, but even the basic option is pricey. How many books would you have to sell in those 20 bookstores--assuming they were all interested--before you had a positive ROI?

The same question is doubly relevant if Dart Frog "publishes" the book. $5500 is a lot of upfront cost, and most of the services could be found much more cheaply if purchases a la carte. Your book ends up in a lot more bookstores, but how many copies do you have to move to show a profit?

I'll not use the term vanity press on the assumption that DF really has the distribution channels it claims, but it seems pretty close. The author assumes all the upfront costs and has to move a substantial number of books to break even, let alone make a profit.

The flowery testimonials would be more meaningful if any of the authors talked about ROI or any of the bookstores talked about sales. They all focus on excellent service and on getting the book into bookstores.

If I had $5500 to burn and desperately wanted my book on bookstore shelves, I might consider it. Otherwise, it doesn't seem like a good business decision.



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Offline JoyMosby

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2018, 10:42:27 AM »
I agree with everything you are saying, and I also wonder what happens when the three months are up. Do they keep stocking it if they are selling or do you have to pay for placement again, and only for one book. I just ran the numbers and I would need to 164 books to break even, based on my current royalty from Amazon.

Not that doesn't seem too far out there, but I have a series, if I only did one book, and the readers wanted to continue the series then I would be pushing them to Amazon to purchase the next book . . .kind of defeats the purpose of supporting independent book stores.

I just wanted to see what people thought about this, thank you for your feedback.

Offline DCRWrites

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2018, 10:47:37 AM »
For what it's worth, I dropped by my local bookstore recently and their deal is a straight 30% off the top for consignment. It sounds a lot better than Dart Frog even if it is fewer stores.

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Online boba1823

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2018, 11:47:18 AM »
Normally I'm skeptical about.. well, most marketing type services that are offered to authors. However, given that your local bookstore directed you to DartFrog, I'd be inclined to think it legit.

If I understand what I'm reading on their website correctly, then assuming they approve your book, it's $475 for a guaranteed three months placement, face front (I assume this means the cover of your book is visible), in their special sections in 20 independent bookstores. That ends up being just under $8 per store per month.

Frankly, that sounds pretty good as long as the special DartFrog section in these stores isn't hidden in the storage room. Did you notice where this section was in your local bookstore? Obviously you'll need to calculate how much you earn per book.. it isn't clear to me how all of that works in terms of if the stores just order your book through Ingram, how many they order, what the return policy is, etc. Still, I'd be happy to pay a book store $8/month for decent placement for some of my books.

Offline JoyMosby

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2018, 12:33:12 PM »
Normally I'm skeptical about.. well, most marketing type services that are offered to authors. However, given that your local bookstore directed you to DartFrog, I'd be inclined to think it legit.
It's not a scam, I'm sure.

If I understand what I'm reading on their website correctly, then assuming they approve your book, it's $475 for a guaranteed three months placement, face front (I assume this means the cover of your book is visible), in their special sections in 20 independent bookstores. That ends up being just under $8 per store per month.
When you break it out that way it isn't a bad deal. Pay to play $89.00 to have them look at it, cheaper than an editor but then you add in the fear of rejection. . . .

Frankly, that sounds pretty good as long as the special DartFrog section in these stores isn't hidden in the storage room. Did you notice where this section was in your local bookstore? Obviously you'll need to calculate how much you earn per book.. it isn't clear to me how all of that works in terms of if the stores just order your book through Ingram, how many they order, what the return policy is, etc. Still, I'd be happy to pay a book store $8/month for decent placement for some of my books.
She hasn't signed up for it yet . . .and I agree more information is needed. and there doesn't seem to much on the site.


Online Bill Hiatt

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2018, 01:11:45 PM »
Normally I'm skeptical about.. well, most marketing type services that are offered to authors. However, given that your local bookstore directed you to DartFrog, I'd be inclined to think it legit.

If I understand what I'm reading on their website correctly, then assuming they approve your book, it's $475 for a guaranteed three months placement, face front (I assume this means the cover of your book is visible), in their special sections in 20 independent bookstores. That ends up being just under $8 per store per month.

Frankly, that sounds pretty good as long as the special DartFrog section in these stores isn't hidden in the storage room. Did you notice where this section was in your local bookstore? Obviously you'll need to calculate how much you earn per book.. it isn't clear to me how all of that works in terms of if the stores just order your book through Ingram, how many they order, what the return policy is, etc. Still, I'd be happy to pay a book store $8/month for decent placement for some of my books.
You're right that the price for the placement service doesn't amount to much per month per bookstore. However, without knowing how much traffic each bookstore gets, how many customers like the particular genre an author is planning to stock with them, and similar data, it's hard to know whether it's money well spent or money down the drain. (And I think coupling that relatively simple offering with a much pricier option worries me a little. I'd be happier with tiered pricing to reach more bookstores rather than an option that looks a lot like vanity publishing. I might be willing to pay for greater reach, but why should I need to bundle that with services I can in many cases get cheaper on my own? I get that their certification means a lot to independent bookstores--but they can accept or deny books without having to publish the books themselves.)

Dart Frog has been doing this long enough to be able to offer some stats. Even "Authors average x number of sales in the first three months, book stores continue to stock y% of books received through the program, etc." would be enough--yet there's nothing like that on the site.


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Offline MyraScott

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2018, 01:24:14 PM »
You know what's sad?  I live in a mid-size city and we don't have a single book store left.  Nada.  The last B&N closed last year and honestly, it was more coffee shop /game store than bookstore.

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2018, 01:33:59 PM »
If the dream is to tell people "I have my book in twenty stores" then go for it. I think you are asking the wrong questions. Why do you want your book in 20 stores? What is the advantage if you  work with them?
Their testimonial page is full of praises on how nice they are, which I am sure is true. If you gave me 5500 bucks, were going to be best mates. But read over the testimonals again, there is something missing.

SALES.

Not one author has mentioned sales and I would guess there is a reason why. Personally I would pass and focus my attention elsewhere or go about it a different way.

Offline JoyMosby

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2018, 01:48:14 PM »
There are pros and cons to this. I started this thread to see if anyone is doing it yet. I think the owner of the bookstore we trying to help me find ways to get my paperbacks in bookstores. She wasn't trying to sell me on it and she since she isn't a part of it 'yet' she has no idea how it works from our end.

I think if I really wanted to push my paperbacks it might be worth a try, but right now I am happy with ebooks being my main thing. Plus I would have to move all my paperbacks to Ingram and I just moved them to Amazon. I don't think I want to move them again soon.

It is nice to hear what other writers think about this.
For what it's worth, I dropped by my local bookstore recently and their deal is a straight 30% off the top for consignment.

This is what I would like to do with mine.

Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2018, 02:17:05 PM »
I would avoid doing business with any company that sold vanity press services, no matter what other services they were offering.

My local bookstore offers a consignment deal, though it's on a shelf off to the side, away from the rest of the store, where your professional-looking book would be shelved with less professional-looking self-pub books of an assortment of genres. So, not great placement.

Online Bill Hiatt

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2018, 02:28:21 PM »
So far, I haven't really had the time to pursue this, but there are a lot of bookstores willing to make consignment deals. How significant that is depends on where you live. Often, they only want to do business with local authors.


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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2018, 02:30:19 PM »
You know what's sad?  I live in a mid-size city and we don't have a single book store left.  Nada.  The last B&N closed last year and honestly, it was more coffee shop /game store than bookstore.
In the LA area, there are still about five (but between B&N and Borders, there used to fifteen or so). There is still at least one independent book store close to me, but there used to be far more.


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Online she-la-ti-da

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2018, 05:59:04 AM »
Quote
However, given that your local bookstore directed you to DartFrog, I'd be inclined to think it legit.

Or they have some sort of business relationship that pays them to send authors there. I'm sure those "publishing" services get pushed pretty hard.

OP, you can go through Ingram on your own. You don't need some other company to get your books there and in their catalog. There are even coupons to get free set up (I think it's $49 per book normally). Once it's in the catalogs, bookstores can order it at the usual discount.
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Offline Day Leitao

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2018, 06:22:08 AM »
They are a vanity press.

Vanity because they "select" the manuscripts they accept.

I think this is what distinguishes self-publishing services from vanity presses, on how they'll work on your sense of being selected, approved, receiving validation, and charge through the roof for the privilege.

Considering that only noobs use any type of vanity service, you'd be in terrible company.

As to why the bookstore referred this service, it's because they have a partner program paying them to refer people: https://dartfrogbooks.com/pages/bookstores

Quote
Every time an author submits a book and selects your store as his/her place of referral (from the list of bookstore partners in our submission form) we will send you a check for $35.


I must agree that for a vanity/self-publishing service, the partnership with bookstores is smart.

Online boba1823

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2018, 08:01:03 AM »
If I understand the website correctly, the (vanity) publishing services are a separate thing from the bookstore distribution services, correct?

It's entirely possible that they try to rope you into their publishing if you just apply for the distribution, of course - it would be nice to track down a few people who have used it.

One thing I noticed from further reviewing the website is that Dartfrog appears to be very new. The site only shows 17 books. For what it's worth, more than half of them show as 'Dartfrog Approved' rather than being 'Dartfrog Published' - I take it that these are the authors who just paid for bookstore distribution. April of this year was the first time they sent out books to the bookstores. There are some pictures of the bookstore displays, which, to be honest, look pretty good.

I don't know, but it's looking potentially decent to me. I don't see it as being worth my time to personally travel around to a bunch of independent bookstores to see about book placement, and this is the first multi-store paid placement for indies that I've come across.


Offline Mark Gardner

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2018, 01:35:02 PM »
Considering that only noobs use any type of vanity service, you'd be in terrible company.
While I personally would not use a vanity press, and in general vanity presses tend to be predatory, saying that only n00bz use them is disingenuous.

Example #1: I have a friend that wrote a Christian non-fiction autobiography. The author's not interested in making money on his book. He's really not even interested in royalties, he just wants to spread the word of his story, his journey, and share his experiences being incarcerated and finding Jesus. He doesn't want the hassle of setting up accounts, formatting, etc, etc, etc. He just wants the books. A vanity press is just what he needs. He needs someone to handle the editing, formatting, cover design, POD setup, electronic setup, etc. He's happy to assume the cost of these actions, and is willing to pay a premium so that he doesn't have to.

Example #2: A world renowned author has a contract with a big 5 publisher who he has been with for decades. For his latest book, the big 5 publisher isn't interested in producing hard cover books. The author wants hard cover books. The author is a multiple NYT and USAT best seller, and can pretty much write his own ticket after decades of being a big 5 published author. He's not interested in indie publishing a hard cover. (Even though you try to convince him that it's a legit way to go, and offer to help him along the way.) He doesn't know how to, or care to do anything indie. Another publisher wouldn't be interested in acquiring just the hard cover rights because they don't want to compete with big 5 publisher. A vanity press is just right to meet his needs. He assigns the hard cover rights to a vanity press, and they churn out the hard covers for him.

The point is that even though you and I wouldn't use a vanity press, there is a time and place where such an organization would be the exact fit for an author. As long as the vanity press represents themselves accurately, then they're okay in my book. Dart Frog appears to be representing themselves accurately, even notifying the potential author that the percentage of their authors that make back the setup fee is such a low percentage.

Offline Steve Vernon

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2018, 03:38:48 AM »
If they're expecting you to hand over $5500.00, they are a vanity publisher.

Even if you just hand over the $89 and the $386 - you are still just throwing your money out of your window and into that frog's pockets.

Step away from that frog.

That frog is going to give you warts.

You'd be better off putting your book out through Ingram Spark. They distribute to bookstores and libraries and they only charge $49 for the processing. Besides that, if you keep your eyes open they offer freebie codes that allow you to eliminate the $49.00 charge.

Even if Dart Frog is on the level, how many books do you think they'll distribute over three months? And, out of those few books they manage to distribute, how many do you think they will actually sell at these bookstores?

Nope. I don't want to be mean, but this is a bad idea.

Online boba1823

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2018, 07:35:28 AM »
I'm not usually one to be sceptical of the sceptics, but I'm not sure that some of the criticisms here are actually based on what DartFrog, specifically, is offering based on the website information. Though admittedly, you have to dig around to find all of the pertinent details.

You'd be better off putting your book out through Ingram Spark. They distribute to bookstores and libraries and they only charge $49 for the processing. Besides that, if you keep your eyes open they offer freebie codes that allow you to eliminate the $49.00 charge.

As far as I know, Ingram Spark doesn't offer any bookstore placement services. DartFrog is the only place I've heard of that does offer this to indies - though I'd been keenly interested in any other options, particularly if they have a more extensive network of stores. (Incidentally, for the $475 bookstore distribution option, your books do already have to be available via Ingram Spark.)

The placement offer looks legit; they have photos of the bookstore displays: https://dartfrogbooks.com/pages/dartfrog-displays-in-partner-bookstores

Is this likely to be profitable? That's definitely questionable. The stores stock one copy of your book at a time, re-ordering only when/if that copy sells. The cost rounds out to about $8/store/month. I know absolutely nothing about the bookstore business, so I have no idea if an author could expect to sell enough to match that cost in royalties. That will presumably depend on how much traffic these bookstores get, as well as factors specific to the book in question. Still - if I had a local bookstore that would stick a face-front copy of my book in a decent location for $8/month, I'd certainly give it a try.

I understand and share the general scepticism toward many of the services offered to indie authors. But in fairness, there's a significant difference between a service that is legitimate but may not ultimately be profitable and one that is purely "throwing money away." And I do think it's worth taking a good, careful look at DartFrog - any any other similar services that may exist - given that actually getting physical books into bookstores is one of those areas where indies are at a major disadvantage relative to trad publishers.

Online levz

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Re: Dart Frog Books
« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2018, 08:31:14 AM »

The placement offer looks legit; they have photos of the bookstore displays: https://dartfrogbooks.com/pages/dartfrog-displays-in-partner-bookstores

Is this likely to be profitable? That's definitely questionable. The stores stock one copy of your book at a time, re-ordering only when/if that copy sells.


Interesting.  Some of the displays look quite impressive and like the sort of thing that might draw a book shopper's attention.  (A couple are a little less impressive though. Like the ones where they've stuck them at the bottom of the shelf - like a last and unwanted thought that the bookshop's not really interested in. But, most of the displays do look really good in my opinion).

However, I understand the bookshops not wanting to have too many copies on their shelves or in their stockrooms, taking up valuable space - especially if the books don't sell, but one book at a time seems at least one too few.  I'd have thought it'd be better to have maybe two at hand so that if one sells the other can immediately replace it while the shop orders a third.  Otherwise who knows how long the lag might be between selling a book, ordering a replacement and then waiting for the replacement to arrive - while youre still paying for that (now empty) shelf space.

It's an intriguing concept though.  And I think that a service that offers this kind of entry into multiple brick-and-mortar bookstores could (potentially) be a useful thing for an author.  Depending on your goals.

« Last Edit: June 17, 2018, 08:34:03 AM by levz »