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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

How Authors & Small Publishers can Get Paid On Time

There have been quite a few complaints from publishers about late or non payment from distributors and book stores. Some have stopped sending books to large distributors because of past due invoices, some over 180 days old. Part of the problem is no response, it is bad enough when you are not getting paid, but when orders keep coming in and you are not getting any acknowledgement to your collection efforts, you just can't keep sending books, says one publisher.

There are steps you can take to get paid on those past due invoices and keep new invoices current.

Step #1

Gather together all the past due invoices, and stamp them PAST DUE.

Step #2

If you have an email address or phone number with a contact name for your client, email them or call them and give them the information on the past due invoices and let them know their account is on hold.

Step #3

Mail the invoices to your client with return receipt requested or send them in a flat rate Priority Mail envelope with delivery confirmation. Using the large colorful envelope is a great way to get your information to the top of the pile. Who do you know that doesn't grab the big Priority mail or Fed Ex envelope out of their mail pile to open first?

Step #4

Send a letter with these invoices stating the age, invoice numbers, their PO#, your account #, total amount due, and any other pertinent information. You may want to request a proof of delivery or print off the delivery confirmation information from the web to send with the letter.

Step #5

Tell them their account is on hold and you will not be shipping any more products or providing any services to them until these invoices are paid. You can include a self addressed envelope and state that you have enclosed an envelope for them to send their check. Give them a date, to have this paid to you.

Once they have received the package, email or call them. Ask them what they are doing with the invoices. Ask them questions such as:

Do they have to be approved by someone else? If they have to be approved, who has to approve them and when will they give them to that person? Get that person's direct number if possible. Find out if that person signs the checks. Are there any discrepancies with the invoices? When will the check be cut? When can you call back for the check number?

Once all the past due balances are cleared up, you need to think about future invoices. Do you want to extend credit again or do you want to have pre-payment or payment at the time of the order. Whatever you decide put it in writing. If you can both sign the agreement, that is even better. Remember, having a credit policy in place tells people you mean business.

Some authors will only ship on a pre-paid basis to bookstores or distributors they have had payment problems with. It is up to you to decide is it worth it to keep shipping books when you are not getting your money and then having to spend time (which is money!) chasing your money? Is it worth losing the money to have your book out there and being seen by someone?

Most small publishers and authors are desperate for a sale or for interest in their books, and usually that is how they end up in this situation. It is my opinion that distributors and book stores or anyone else who wants to purchase my books, needs to pay for them in a timely manner just as they would to a large publishing house. When you sign a contract with any distributor or bookseller, make sure you are happy with the terms. Be sure to pay close attention to how your payments start coming in, if they are on time and in full or late and have deductions or errors. The sooner you correct anything that is not correct the better. Don't just accept 120 day terms from someone because, that is their standard. You can accept their terms or tell them yours and be in control. You can certainly meet them halfway, but if receiving your money late is going to cause you to lose money, don't do it.

About the Author

Michelle Dunn has over 17 years experience in Credit and Debt collection. She is the founder and president of Never Dunn Publishing, LLC, is a writer, publisher, consultant and the Editorial Advisor for Eli Financial Debt Collection Compliance Alert Newsletter.

Michelle has been featured in Ladies Home Journal, PC World, Home Business Magazine, Home Business Journal, Entrepreneur, The Internet Web Source, Professional Collector, and in Home Ba


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