Guest Post by Tom Corson-Knowles
By now, we’re all familiar with Amazon. It’s become the #1 platform for selling books, both in print and in digital form, and it’s done more to help nourish the self-publishing explosion than any other company out there.
But simply sticking your book up for sale through KDP and waiting for the sales to roll in is a recipe for disappointment. Succeeding as an independent author involves a lot more than just writing: marketing and PR are part of a modern author’s job, too.
And guess what? Amazon can help here, too! It’s more than just a distributor or sales channel: Amazon also offers a variety of ways for authors to promote their work on the site, reaching more readers and making more sales.
Some of Amazon’s programs are only open to bestsellers, which can be a little daunting for a new author—or even an experienced author who’s launching a new book or a new series.
So let’s take a look at Amazon promotion strategies that can help you boost your Kindle sales even if you don’t have a bestseller…yet!
The road to strong Amazon sales starts even before you write your book. With the right planning, strategies, and launch techniques, you can jumpstart your sales from the very start—and begin taking advantage of all the promotion opportunities Amazon has to offer!
Many of Amazon’s best promotional programs are only available to bestsellers. Now, there are more than 19,669 bestseller lists on Amazon, so becoming a bestseller is a little less of a challenge than it seems on the surface.
Choose Your Categories
Getting that “bestseller” status still takes a little strategic groundwork, though. First, you need to choose your categories carefully when uploading to KDP. You’re only allowed to select two of Amazon’s internal categories, so it’s best to choose two in different top-level categories if you can, to maximize the potential for showing up in search and making a bestseller list (or two).
For example, your romantic ghost story has a better chance of moving up in the ranks if you list it under both the Romance and Science Fiction & Fantasy top-level (or “parent”) categories, then choose the appropriate sub-categories. So you might end up with Romance > Paranormal and Fantasy > Romantic, which gives you a lot more opportunities to rise up in the ranks among different audiences.
Use KDP Select to Launch Strong
The first 30 days are the most important time for making an impression on Amazon. There are multiple programs that highlight strong-selling new titles, making it even easier for them to gain momentum and make exponentially more sales.
This means that you have to really make an impact with your new book when it first hits the Kindle store. For new authors, or authors with a new series, this can be a bit of a challenge. One way to turbocharge your launch is to offer your book free for a limited time by enrolling in KDP Select, which lets you set your price as free for up to 5 days out of every three months.
This helps you take advantage of Amazon programs in a few ways.
More Readers for Amazon’s Algorithms
Amazon is known for its strong recommendation engine, where it displays titles that might be of interest to customers as part of “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought…” Of course, you can’t get into this promotion area if people haven’t bought your book—which is why offering your new title for free or at a discount for a limited time when you’re launching is a great strategy! Those free downloads count as purchases for the purpose of getting into the recommendation engine. And once you’re there, more readers will see your book and potentially purchase it.
The more reviews you get, the better you perform in Amazon’s search rankings. So launching strong with plenty of four- and five-star reviews automatically shoots you up the search and recommendation rankings, increasing the chances that more people will buy your book when it goes to regular price after your launch.
Using Amazon’s pre-order function can also help you off to a strong start, because it lets you drive your newsletter subscribers and other contacts to an actual sales page even before you’ve finished the book. Any pre-orders count toward your bestseller status and can help you land in Amazon’s Hot New Releases section before your book is actually live. From there, the sales will just keep growing as more people discover your book!
Amazon Marketing Services (AMS)
Another great way to boost your visibility and sales on Amazon is to make use of Amazon Marketing Services (AMS). These paid ads let you promote your books alongside similar titles or to readers who have searched for similar keywords, kind of like using Google AdWords.
These ads send readers straight to your book’s sales page on Amazon, where they’ll see all those great reviews you’ve gotten through your smart launch strategy.
Now the sales start snowballing as more and more people find and buy your book, helping you appear in more places in the recommendation engine and moving you up that bestseller list so that you can appear in even more places through Amazon’s internal promotions!
Kindle Countdown Deals
Once your book is launched and selling, you might want to try using sales or discount deals to help climb the bestseller lists and unlock the power of Amazon’s algorithms.
When you’re enrolled in KDP Select, you can take advantage of Kindle Countdown Deals, which let you put your book on sale for a short, specified period of time and shows a countdown timer of how long the promotion has left, encouraging readers to buy now rather than waffling.
You can run one Countdown Deal of up to seven days every 90 days, discounting your price by at least a dollar (and going all the way down to a sale price of 99 cents).
Best of all, if running your deal (and promoting it to your newsletter subscribers and others) helps land you a coveted bestseller slot, Amazon will help you even more with promotion!
If you have a bestselling book that’s currently doing a Countdown Deal, Amazon will promote it on the Special Deals section of Kindle devices, in the Kindle app, and on the Kindle Countdown Deals page in the Amazon store. And what does that mean? More exposure and more sales!
By launching your book with a smart strategy, ramping up interest by using a KDP Select giveaway, taking out targeted Amazon Marketing Services ads, and using Kindle Countdown Deals to maintain your momentum, you can not only boost your Kindle sales, you can also climb the bestseller ranks.
From there, Amazon will start promoting your book more and more to its customers through its algorithmic recommendation engine, putting your work in front of readers who are ready to buy.
Through the magic of smart strategies designed to take advantage of Amazon’s algorithms, you can go from “new launch” to “bestseller” and build the kind of momentum you need to make a full-time author income!
– – –
You went to CreateSpace and uploaded your self-published published book to them, and they offered you a free ISBN. You took them up on their offer and proceeded to upload your book so that you could be on Amazon. Okay!
But now you are thinking about bookstores and libraries and want to start getting your books in there. No problem, right? After all, you saw on Create Space that they could get you into bookstores and libraries all you have to do is click the “extended distribution for bookstores and libraries” button.
Not so fast! Unfortunately, when Create Space offers you bookstore and library distribution, they’re doing it by using a third-party Print on Demand company called IngramSpark. IngramSpark is the second largest POD company after Create Space. They’re owned by the Ingram family in Lavergne, Tennessee (they also own Ingram Distribution and Ingram Wholesalers.) While all three of these companies are owned by the same family, they are three separate companies that do different things.
To get into bookstores and libraries (Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million), you need to be in a wholesaler. Ingram Wholesaler is the largest book wholesaler in the US and the best one to be in. They have the furthest reach, and more bookstores and libraries use them first than any other wholesaler.
The fastest and easiest ways to get into Ingram Wholesaler is to sign your book and your publishing up with Ingram Spark. (You CAN apply to Ingram Wholesaler as a non-POD publisher, but they have VERY high standards, and most publishers are not accepted.)
It is not only acceptable it is IDEAL to have your book files up on Create Space AND up at IngramSpark at the same time. I have an article explaining why here.
Ideally, you will want your book up on Amazon through CreateSpace, but you want your book up for bookstores and libraries through IngramSpark. To get in the Ingram wholesaler there are a number of steps you need to take.
This will allow you to get the best profit from Amazon from CreateSpace and the best distribution options to retailers like B&N through Ingram. If you have your own Ingram Spark account, YOU set the discount, and returnability factor and YOU own your distribution decisions… not CreateSpace.
Ready? Here are the steps you need to take:
FIRST – You have to confirm that the ISBN you have on your book belongs to YOU. If you took an ISBN from Create Space, then you don’t own it, and you cannot take that book anywhere. (If you already have an ISBN and that you bought from Bowker or your own governmental agency you’re ahead of the game – you can skip this part…) But if you got an ISBN from Create Space, that means that they own your ISBN, and THEY own the distribution rights to that edition of your book. This is not good. I’ve written an article explaining why here:
Buy your own ISBN from the proper entity. If you’re in the US, go to www.myidentifiers.com
SECOND – Sign up for an Ingram Spark account at WWW.INGRAMSPARK.COM. There’s an actual instructional videos on their site you will find helpful Here is one here:
Once you’re all signed up for Ingram spark and they have all of your tax ID and bank information, you’re ready.
Sign into IngramSpark, give them your book information and upload the new file with the new ISBN.
THIRD (A) – FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAD TO PURCHASE NEW ISBNs AND ARE UPLOADING NEW EDITIONS.
Once you have your new ISBNs and you’ve registered then new edition of your book (yes, if you put a new ISBN on the book it’s a new edition) it is time to upload the new files (interior and cover) both to CreateSpace AND to IngramSpark.
THIRD (B) – FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO GAVE CREATE SPACE EXTENDED DISTRIBUTION:
Your ISBN is in THEIR account on CreateSpace and needs to be released from them before you can proceed to claim the book at IngramSpark.
This is how to get Create Space to release your title and allow you to claim it at IngramSpark:
Sign into your Create Space account and go to the distribution tab. Uncheck extended distribution to bookstores and libraries. You need to uncheck that button telling Create Space that you no longer give them permission to offer your book through their IngramSpark account.
Next, send CreateSpace an email through the customer service contact portal telling them that you have unchecked permission and asking them to release your book from their IngramSpark account.
Next, fill out the form found on THIS page:
Then email the form and the ISBNs and titles of your books to: email@example.com
Wait for 5 to 7 business days to hear back from Create Space and IngramSpark that Create Space has released your ISBN from their Ingram Spark account and hear from Ingram Spark that they have accepted your title transfer.
Once you have completed the third steps (A or B), you will confirmation emails letting you know that you are all set. Log into IngramSpark, and you should see your title in your dashboard.
For those that are worried about losing existing Amazon reviews on their Create Space listing… once your new edition is up on Amazon, you CAN get your reviews from the old edition up on your new edition. You have to go through your Author Central account and call the author central customer service group. (yes, they DO have a phone number!) Just ask them to duplicate the reviews onto your new ISBN edition.
Hope that helps!
Question: Is there a special way of communicating with Vine Reviewers? Or do you simply comment on their review like you suggested doing with regular reviewers?
You can click on the reviewers name and see if they have an email listed, email them and ask if they want to review the book.
OR you can go to AMS.AMAZON.COM and pay $1500 to have Amazon offer your book to Vine Reviewers for you.
Question: What is the best way to find Top Amazon reviewers? How do you contact them?
I would go here https://www.amazon.com/review/hall-of-fame and just click on each reviewer, find their website or blog and get their email address that way. When you ask for a review, give them the option of a PDF, an eBook, or a print copy. Make sure you include your email address.
Question: Is it best to contact them before or after your book’s release date? And if before, how far out from the release date?
You should wait until the book’s release date because they cannot post a review until it is up and you want to have books in hand to send them the MOMENT that they ask.
Question: How many reviewers of the same book would you contact? Do you find there is a point at which contacting too many seems overboard or possibly unprofessional?
No number is too high. I counsel folks to reach out to 20-25 reviewers each week and never stop. Ever.
What will it take to get your book into libraries and independent bookstores?
Introducing the New Shelves Books Lift Off Program
Ready to explore your book’s potential in the “offline” world? Let us help with a turnkey program that lets you see what’s possible before you invest a significant amount of time, energy, and funds.
Here’s how it works:
You send me your book, and I will read it and give you my HONEST opinion as to its chances in the book and library market. When a book isn’t widely embraced, it’s usually because it doesn’t meet current market standards. That’s why I want to see your book first. It gives me a chance to assess the potential for success based on my years of experience in this industry. I will be honest about your chances before I charge you a penny. (It’s kinda what I’m known for . . . . )
If we agree to proceed I will create for you:
- Sales plan
- Book Information sheet
- Marketing plan checklist (based on your input)
- Cover letter
- Sales call script
- Database of US Bookstores and Libraries with contact information
THEN, one of my highly trained staff members will call and email 100 stores/libraries to pitch your book. Our goal is to get your book into their databases and onto their shelves.
Once we have contacted 100 stores/libraries, we’ll send you a report detailing store responses: yes; no; or more information, please.
After you review those results and assess your book’s potential, you have three options:
- You can bring the work in-house using the materials and kit I give you.
- We can move ahead with another 100 stores/libraries for an additional fee.
- You can decide to focus on another segment of the marketplace.
What can you expect? In my experience:
A few books are accepted by 20-30 locations
MOST are tested in 10-20 locations
Some find a home in 5 or so stores/libraries
The Purpose? The Lift Off Program is designed to give you everything you need for a sales campaign plus generate immediate feedback and results from those first 100 calls – all in just one month.
With this approach, you haven’t invested a huge amount of money and have all the tools you need to use on your own going forward for this book and your next one.
We are currently accepting only 4 books a month in this program to give every client our full attention. So book now and save your spot!
If you are looking for a new source of income from your book, you might want to consider libraries. Libraries in the US are experiencing a huge surge in foot traffic. Public librarians are seeing a lot more patrons and their checkout rates are skyrocketing
. Need more good news? Their budgets are going up too. In many cities, the annual budget for libraries is increasing and libraries are opening new locations and reopening at historical rates.
With over 3 billion dollars a year being spent in US libraries (according to ALA Materials Survey released March 2016) on materials (read: books), it is time for you to spend some of your sales and marketing time presenting your book to librarians.
Before you pick up the phone or keyboard, you need to know one key piece of information: what libraries look for in a book.
#1 They want books that will appeal to their patrons.
The higher the checkout rate at a local library, the more successful the library is rated. Books that appeal to patrons mean higher checkout rates and the librarians are seen as successful and the libraries get to keep their budgets intact.
#2 They want books that drive traffic into their libraries.
The more people that visit a library, the more needed the library is to the community. Budgets go up, more staff is needed, and everyone gets to keep their job and continue with their main goal which is…
#3 They want to be of service to their communities.
Librarians the world all over have one common characteristic…they want to be helpful. It is the main reason why they become librarians. So, if you (as an author) can be of help to their patrons, you should offer! Write an article for their newsletter, offer a workshop, host a club or event…
#4 They want to save time and look good to their bosses.
Librarians are just like the rest of us. They are overworked, busy, and want to go home at the end of every day knowing that they are well respected. If you can help the librarians order successful books quickly and easily, you are doing great. Do what you can to make a librarian’s job easier, and you will have a lot of sales.
#5 They want to work with authors that understand these first four goals.
If you approach librarians with a marketing plan that will drive traffic into their branch, and you can show them that your book will do well on their shelves; if you can offer them your book easily and through wholesalers that they already work with and can offer their patrons some added benefits….You are well on your way!
Materials librarians use to decide which books to buy
- a one page sales sheet with your book’s details and description
- a one page sheet about the author that showcases what a great person you are
- a marketing plan and outline showing all the ways you are going to promote the book
- a list of things you are willing to do to help the library promote the book and your topic
- Reviews from trusted sources
Now that you know what libraries look for in a book, create an email that focuses on the librarian’s goals instead of on how great your book is. A proper attitude, the right tone, and the right materials will get you much further than your belief that your book should be a best-seller.
*Originally published on IngramSpark.com by Amy Collins and New Shelves Books. Dec 20, 2016
What to do AFTER you upload your book on Amazon
There are things we want to see on our book’s Amazon page:
- Search Inside working nicely (but not showing TOO much of the book)
- All versions of our book showing up on all the different book’s pages and linked together
- Our Author Page highlighted and linked
- Our reviews from previous editions posted on the current edition
- Perhaps our book discounted by Amazon to give it a “boost”
We also want to see our book on the top of the list when we type in the title or our author name.
But these things won’t happen right away. The week that you upload your book is too soon to expect to see these things. Links, listings, Search Inside, reviews… these items take some time to find, enact, and post. So when you first upload your book, please be patient with Amazon and give the computer minions time to get to all of the thousands of books that were uploaded on the same day your book was.
BUT, there are things you can do to speed up the process a bit.
- You can email CreateSpace or Amazon Advantage customer service with the ISBNs of all of our versions of your book and ask them to link them together.
- Go into Author Central and choose “Call Me”. They will call you and you can request that they copy the reviews and materials from your first edition to your current edition.
- You can also ask them to assign your book to a specific category you have seen but could not find in the drop down list on your upload page. (This is a great way to position your book against your direct competition and get a higher ranking)
- Go into Author Central and make sure ALL versions of your book are listed on your bibliography. If not, claim them.
As for where your book falls in the list when you type the title or author name into the search bar, that is strictly based on demand and number of views and sales. The quickest way to get to the top? Search by title name, find your book, click on it, and buy a copy. Then choose that EXACT URL (with search tags) in the URL bar and copy to send to your friends to click on and purchase. After a few purchases, your book will be up near the top of the list when people type in the title!
This week I am honored to host Sandra Beckwith, the owner of BuildBookBuzz and one of the most knowledgeable marketers I have ever met. Please enjoy this article she has written expressly for New Shelves Readers:
What’s one of the best ways to get media exposure for your book?
Demonstrate that you’re “media-friendly” by creating an online press kit for your website.
An online press kit houses all the materials a journalist needs to determine whether to report on your book or its topic, or to use you as an expert resource for an article or segment related to your book.
4 reasons for an online press kit
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you need one.
Here’s what your online press kit will do for you, your site, and your book:
- Help journalists find you when they’re looking for interview sources.
- Improve search engine optimization (SEO) so that your site show up when people search for terms related to your book. (That’s because your press kit elements will contain those search terms.)
- Give journalists the information they need to report on your book – sometimes, without even contacting you.
- Provide readers with detailed information that helps them decide to purchase your book.
8 online press kit elements
What should you include in your online press kit?
Consider these eight elements. The first five are essentials; the last three are good to have, but optional.
- Announcement press release: This versatile tool helps people understand the value of your book. When writing it, include an objective description, information on why people will benefit from reading it, your author credentials, and how to purchase it. (Get detailed instructions in Get Your Book in the News: How to Write a Press Release That Announces Your Book.)
- Author bio: Is this on your book’s jacket flap or back cover already? Just copy and paste! Two to three paragraphs are usually enough. (But be sure you don’t make these four common author bio mistakes.)
- Author photo: Provide a professional, current author photo in a JPG format that journalists and bloggers can save and use.
- Book cover image: Media outlets and bloggers will want to use your book cover as an illustration, so make it possible for them to do so without contacting you for the file.
- Author Q&A: The question-and-answer list is particularly popular with radio talk show hosts, who don’t have time to read guest books and must rely on publicity materials you provide.
- Optional tip sheet: This is a type of news release that offers tips or advice in a bulleted or numbered format. It’s used by both fiction and nonfiction authors to get widespread media and blog exposure. Not familiar with tip sheets? Read, “How to promote your book with tip sheets.”
- Optional quiz: Newspaper, magazines, newspapers, bloggers, and radio talk show hosts love quizzes, so give them what they want! They’re fun to create, too.
- Optional fact sheet: If you find yourself continually referring to specific details during conversations about your book (with the media or others), consider summarize them in a bullet point fact sheet that places all of the information in one document called a fact sheet. It will save everyone time while helping your SEO.
Don’t make this common mistake
Finally, avoid the mistake that many authors, publicists, and publishers make in their press rooms: Do not make these documents available in PDF format only.
There are two reasons for this advice:
- Because people use different software and systems, not everybody can copy and paste easily from PDF files. Even when they can, journalists often lose formatting. That means they have to find and insert important paragraph breaks, and so on. Don’t force them to do any more work than necessary.
- If your PDF is saved as an image, search engines can’t search it – which makes it useless for SEO.
Here’s what you want to do: Make everything but the images available in a text format that’s similar to all of the other content on your site.
One of my favorite examples is my student Candy Harrington’s press room for her book, 22 Accessible Road Trips: Driving Vacations for Wheelers and Slow Walkers. See how easy it is to copy and paste information from her book announcement press release?
Writing your online press kit elements
You can create all of these materials easily yourself. You wrote the book, so you can write all the materials that support it, right?
Instead of reinventing the wheel, though, take the easy route and let me help you. Get a template and a real-life sample/example for each of your written press kit elements – as well as templates and samples for other important book publicity tools – in my popular author workbook, Build Book Buzz Publicity Forms & Templates.
This time-saving resource that includes instructions for creating these elements (except the images) and many others used by authors guides you through the process with fill-in-the blanks forms and samples.
What’s in your author press room? Please share a link to it, too!
Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her BuildBookBuzz.com site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested. Download Sandra’s free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” and you’ll also receive her free weekly newsletter loaded with book marketing tips and advice.
In my last post, I had the privilege of giving you some ideas on how to impress bookstores and convince them to stock your books. One of the ideas included making sure that you had a strong marketing and book publicity plan. Great advice (if I do say so myself), but HOW? Getting press and having a constant promotional presence IS vital, but how does an author with no PR experience go about getting that presence?
Enter Joan Stewart, aka “the Publicity Hound“. Joan and I have worked together for many years helping authors and publishers learn the ins and outs of PR and marketing. Joan has over 30 years experience in the media and knows what doesn’t work and what does.
SO to start, here is a short list of things Joan and I have seen authors and publishers do that do NOT work…
Book Publicity Don’ts:
1. Going for the “Big Hit.”
Every author is hoping for a call from NPR’s Terry Gross or the producers of Good Morning America. Perhaps they are pitching for a cover story at USA Today. Spending more than a small amount of time and money on these Top Tier Media outlets is not a great idea. There is a VERY small chance of getting in (especially if you are an indie author.) On top of that, if you DO get a Big Hit, it is a general media outlet going to a general audience; it is virtually impossible to focus on your message. Getting a Top Tier media appearance is fabulous to build credibility but does not usually sell books the way you think it will.
2. Sending out press releases and expecting that the editors and press will contact you.
Press releases are simply announcements. They are very different from story or interview idea PITCHES to the writers and editors. (See our earlier post on pitching your book.)
3. Sending out mass emails to thousands of reporters on a list. (“Spray and Pray”)
Lists are a great way to get started and a very useful tool, but mass mailing a form letter to the list will not get you anywhere NEAR the results a crafted email will. Take the time to personalize each email. You will gather FAR more media and press successes if you do.
What Does Work:
1. Penetrate your local community where people know you.
WHY: Local media frequently views local authors as celebrities and local media are incredibly easy to get into comparatively to national media stations—especially local papers. Newspapers and weekly papers need local news, and you need items in the press on a regular basis.
Pat Morgan, author of The Concrete Killing Fields, penetrated the local Memphis area when she launched her book. She got a full page article in the local paper and a big write up in the Memphis Flyer and appeared on local TV stations. Yes, she had plans for a national press appearance and ended up in larger markets, but those local press appearances helped her sell a TON of books in Memphis and got her on a local bestseller list for TWO YEARS.
2. Springboard from an event.
If you are appearing at a function or speaking for an organization, offer to write an article for that organization’s newsletter. Or ask if they will send an email to their entire mailing list about you and your book. Then, get the organization to help you pitch the media in their industry and geographic area. Program coordinators are looking for interesting speakers, but they also know ALL the media folks because they have to promote their events. Remember, only a small percentage of a group’s membership will attend an event. Reaching the rest of the membership and getting online and print exposure is a great way to optimize your appearance.
Steve Snyder, author of Shot Down: The True Story of Pilot Howard Snyder and the Crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth, (a BookWorks Book of the Week) sold over 2000 books in eight months mostly by targeting museums that had anything to do with aviation. WWII groups, retirement communities, and senior living mobile home parks and RV clubs.
Mara Purl, author of The Milford-Haven Novels, now speaks for the American Heart Association about taking care of your heart and life by being kind to yourself. She is not a medical professional; she is a novelist who writes heartwarming love stories! The American Heart Association buys copies of her book to give to folks who attend the events so that they can relax with a book. She put bookplates for the non-profit organization in the book. The organizations love it and she has sold thousands of additional books with this idea.
4. Getting your book into Holiday Gift Guides.
Holiday Gift Guides in newspapers and online are easier to get into than national magazines. National magazines start planning their holiday content many months in advance. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Graduation, Father’s Day, hunting season—you name it—print publications, websites, and podcasters all have gift guides. If you are interested in being considered for a seasonal promotion, I suggest you approach your target venue four months before the holiday month. Newspapers usually don’t need that much time, but magazines do. Better safe than sorry!
5. Pitching the New Product sections of magazines, (especially niche magazines!)
While Real Simple and Martha Stewart are great, go with niche and smaller publications to start. They are always looking for new products, and a book IS a product. There are always websites and newsletters happy to suggest new products that could help their readership. Let your fingers do the Googling! TIP: Make a high-res jpg (300 dpi) of your cover available on your website so that journalists and editors can download a high-resolution photo with no trouble. Also, have a 50-word, a 100-word, and a 200-word description ready for cut and pasting as well. Editors LOVE to work with folks that make their jobs easier.
We’d love to hear what kinds of book publicity strategies you’ve used to get noticed in the comments section below—what worked, and what didn’t.
Originally published at: https://www.bookworks.com/2016/10/book-publicity-dos-donts-for-indie-authors/#sthash.vZF0RPkA.dpuf
Book Buyers Work Through Wholesalers
Bookstores, supermarkets, gift stores (and just about any other chain retailer) work with wholesalers. Among the biggest wholesalers in our industry are Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Bookazine, America West, Brodart, and others.
For a retailer to buy your book directly from you, they have to go through the hassle of setting you up in their system. They will not likely go through this exercise unless they are convinced that your book is worth their time and trouble. So in the beginning, they will typically want to order from a wholesaler.
If you are focusing on independent bookstores or gift stores, there is a way around this. You can offer them your book on consignment. This means they don’t pay you up front for the books, but only after they sell.
If you have gone the POD route through IngramSpark (which is a good route to go), you are already set up at the biggest wholesaler in the US, Ingram Content Group. IngramSpark is part of Ingram Content Group and they work together to make your book available to retailers. (Just make sure that you choose “returnable” when setting the book up—retailers buy RETURNABLE!)
If You’re Not POD with IngramSpark, How Do You Get Into a Wholesaler?
Getting into a wholesaler is not complicated, nor is it easy. I’ve included a list of links below to the wholesalers’ information and application pages. Applying to each wholesaler takes time but is a great first step.
Bookstores and Libraries:
Baker & Taylor – http://www.baker-taylor.com/suppliers_supplier_info.cfm
B&T Application – http://www.baker-taylor.com/PDFs/BT_VendorApplication2016v3.pdf
Brodart – http://www.brodartbooks.com/
Bookazine – http://www.bookazine.com
Follett (K – 12 and University Libraries) – https://www.follett.com/contact-vendor
Quality – http://www.quality-books.com/ideal.htm
Unique – http://www.uniquebooksinc.com/index.php?q=publisher-agreement
Bookstores and Chains:
America West – http://americanwestbooks.com/information-for-publishers/
Overdrive Application – http://company.overdrive.com/connect-application/
Big Box Stores:
Select Media – http://www.selectmediaservices.com/partners.html
The News Groups – http://www.tng.com/AreYouAVendor/Pages/USABookVendor.aspx
ReaderLink – http://readerlink.net/TitleSubmission.aspx
You’re Set Up With Wholesalers, Now What?
When I meet authors and publishers who are interested in growing their sales, I ask them this question: “What shelves do you want to see your book on?”
What I hear the most often is “Barnes and Noble”, “BooksaMillion”, “Costco”, “Walmart” and often, “My book would be PERFECT for Airport stores!”
While that may be true, I hate having to tell them what I am about to tell you…
That will only happen if you can prove to the book buyers at these stores that your book will earn its shelf space.
When it comes to bookstores (and all retailers), you need to show them that you are working to create demand. Stores’ book buyers are presented with thousands of different titles each week and they obviously opt for those they think will make them the most money. Books with strong marketing and advertising backing them will be favored over those that do not.
They will also be checking their biggest competitor, Amazon. All bookstores have access to sales data and even the smallest independent bookstores have to be highly discriminating on how/where they invest their time, real estate and resources. So if your sales are poor on Amazon.com, your book won’t make the cut.
I wish it were true that that bookstores and book buyers will “give books a chance” and champion the little guy. While there is the occasional exception, bookstores are businesses and judge every potential book placement for its ability to make money.
As for other retailers, airport stores, Costco, and supermarkets have very limited shelf space compared to the rent they are being charged. It’s a buyer’s job to make sure that those shelves earn their keep. If books are put on the shelves that don’t sell enough, the buyer has to replace them, which is expensive and a waste of time and money (and can make them look bad).
No matter how great your book is, you need to prove to the buyer that your book will make money. How will you do that?
Offer the buyer a list of things that you ARE going to do.
- Host a book club online
- Run a BookBub promotion for your eBook
- Offer table or window display advertising dollars
- Write articles for a national magazine
- Get interviewed by national newspapers
I know this list is a bit overwhelming and your next question is probably “well how do I get all that marketing and PR?”
That is an entirely different question we can address in a future post. But now you are armed with the facts about what you’ll be facing when you approach a national chain in the book world or outside of it. It is not impossible to get your book on the shelf of a national chain or bookstore, as long as you have a firm idea of how the business works and what the book buyers need.
If I can help in any way, do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published at: https://www.bookworks.com/2016/08/wooing-book-buyers-to-get-your-book-into-stores/#sthash.DeXdDHRw.dpuf
This month, I asked Jerry Friends, the Publishing and Distribution Manager at Thompson Shore to sit down with me. Jerry and I met at AuthorU Extravaganza last September and I was impressed with his knowledge of self-publishing. Jerry has seen thousands of books succeed and fail in the last few years and so I asked him to join me.
What She Did: Let Their Friend/Relative Read And Edit Her Book
Jerry and I both agree that it is very tempting to save money (and some hurt feelings) by letting someone who “gets” you read your manuscript. I mean, just because they are related to you does not mean that they are not qualified to edit a manuscript! What about authors who KNOW a professional editor?
What You Should Have Done Instead
In spite of all the “good” reasons to hire or use someone you know to edit your book, you should not do it. Ever. Nope. No exceptions. Nada. Sorry.
Editors need to start from a place of complete “zero” when approaching a manuscript. They have to read the writing from a position of complete ignorance about the writer or their decisions and suggestions will be shaded by what they know. The reader will not have the benefit of shared experience with the author and neither should the editor. No matter how tempted you are, give the reader the benefit of an edited manuscript that was reviewed by a complete stranger.
What You Can Do
Don’t just take my word for it. Editors and editorial services will do evaluations of a set number of pages for a small fee. Thompson Shore charges $100 to completely edit and evaluate the first 10-12 pages of a manuscript. Other editorial services are also out there and are a TERRIFIC investment even when in the middle of writing. How great would it be to get coaching on your writing tone, voice, and style BEFORE you finished?
What I Did: Printed And Published My Book Without Solid Goals In Mind
According to Jerry, the most important conversation authors need to have with themselves will focus on for WHOM the author is writing and WHAT goals will be pursued.
- Are you writing a cookbook to raise funds for a local charity?
- Are you writing a book to allow you to pass on your advice to clients?
- Are you writing a book to share your story or entertain and be of service to the world at large?
I am guilty of this. I published my last book with a vague idea of the market but I did NOT set solid sales goals. I knew I wanted to be of help and that is as far as I got.
What I Should Have Done Instead
I should have asked myself the following questions:
- Is this book for my clients and business associates only?
- Do I want the book to be purchased and used by total strangers?
- Do I want to sell the book outside of the US?
- How many books do I want to sell in the first two years?
- How much time and money am I prepared to invest in achieving these goals?
What I Then Did
After speaking with Jerry, I went back and set a goal of 3000 books sold online (print or ebook) in 2017. I want to mainly focus on the US and Canadian market because some of the advice in my book does not translate wonderfully to other countries. Yes, I want to still give away a LOT of books to clients and students, but I have been focusing my time and money on promoting my book as an “add on” to my existing base…. It is time to expand to strangers and let my book “introduce” me to another group of authors and publishers who need or want my assistance.
Next step. Invest the time and money necessary to ACHIEVE the goal of selling 3000 copies in 2017.
What He Did: He Did Not Get A Second Proof Read Of His Book After It Was Laid Out
A client of mine (I will call him “Jeff”) hired an independent copy editor to edit his book. Then the edited manuscript was turned over to a professional layout and design firm who did a terrific job laying out his book and creating a killer cover. The problem? Dozens of small and not-so-small errors were introduced into the manuscript during the layout process. This is COMPLETELY NORMAL and to be expected. Computers create weird spaces or glitch and swap a few letters around with punctuation.
Jeff thought that because the book had been through a review before the layout, he did not need to spend the $2 a page or so to have a professional proofread after the layout. He went to print without it.
What He Should Have Done Instead
Jerry and I see this all the time. At Thompson Shore, the author makes the final decision on every part of the publishing process. Once the book was laid out, Jeff should have either had several people/volunteers read it carefully and make notes of errors and corrections OR he should have hired a professional proofreader to finish the job. Once you spend ALL of that time writing the book and ALL of that money publishing it properly, WHY would you skip this vital step?
What He Then Did
Jeff “unpublished” his book, took it off sale and brought the lay-out file to a professional proofreader. She read and re-read the book several times over the next 10 days and made over a HUNDRED notes that Jeff agreed with.
Here is the thing… Jeff’s manuscript was well written; it was beautifully edited, it was professionally laid out… it just needed that last final step to be considered a professionally published book. There is no need to “rush” to publish. All that does is satisfy the lesser side of our natures. Take the time to do it right and you will be SO glad. The satisfaction that comes from publishing properly, setting goals and creating plans to achieve those goals and “doing it right” will save you time and money in the long run.
More to Come, and What About You?
Next month, I will have more screw ups and mistakes to share with you. I hope you find my DO THIS, NOT THAT features helpful! Feel free to leave a comment below or ask a question… I LOVE giving my opinion!
*Originally published by The Book Designer Nov 2016 by Amy Collins