The book distributor Client Distribution Services is moving into the publishing business on a limited basis, CDS president Gilbert Perlman said. The company, which helped John M. Hardy Publishing publish Robert James Waller's A Thousand Country Roads last year, will release popular science fiction/fantasy writer R.A. Salvatore's The Highwayman next spring.

Perlman said the move into publishing was "the next logical step" for CDS. The company has the sales and marketing infrastructure in place and has access to a pool of talent for editing, production and publicity, said Steve Black, CDS executive v-p and chief operating officer, and now publisher of CDS Publishing. "In essence, we're a virtual publishing company," Black said. He believes the attraction for authors to work with CDS is "financial participation and the working relationship." CDS is not offering a traditional advance, but Black said the royalty plan it offers could triple the payout to authors in a typical publishing deal.

Black said CDS is looking to do 10 to 20 titles a year in a wide variety of areas. He said authors who could benefit from working with CDS are those "who are betting on success, not failure." Authors have total control over the packaging of the work. "It's their book," Black said, adding that CDS also guarantees authors a certain amount of promotional dollars.

Salvatore said the agreement allows him "to be a true partner in everything from the design of the book jacket to the publicity and marketing plans."