Amy Collins

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How To Do Your Own eBook Distribution – UPDATED

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Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, Sony, Blio…. UPDATED FOR MARCH 2014

Here are some questions that keep authors up nights:

1. What is the best way to get my ebook up on all the major platforms?
2. How do I get set up?
3. What files do I use?
4. Do I use Smashwords? BookBaby?
5. Do I need to pay someone a cut or a fee to do my ebook distribution?

AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!

Here are the answers:

1. The best way to get your ebook out up on all major platforms is to spend an hour setting up accounts with Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Googlebooks and iTunes. The rest can wait. Seriously. Kindle alone is over 90% of ebook sales; so with Nook, Kobo, Googlebooks and iTunes included? You are ALL SET.

 

2. How do I get set up? EASY! Here are the links you need to set up your own accounts:

KINDLE
https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin 

NOOK
http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/ 

KOBO
https://secure.kobobooks.com/auth/Kobo/login 

iBOOKS
https://itunesconnect.apple.com/   (make sure you have a MAC for this one… they do not let PC’s upload files)

GOOGLEBOOKS
https://books.google.com/partner/add-books-form

 

3. The files you will need are .epub and .prc. Most ebook platforms use .epub, but Kindle needs a .prc (or .mobi) file to look really good.

If you don’t know anyone who can turn your word document or pdf into a .epub or .prc file, email me at info@newshelves.com and I will get you hooked up. DO NOT pay more than $1 a page for this service. Too many authors are paying WAY too much!

 

4. You CAN use Bookbaby and Smashwords to do your book. They are both great companies, but they take a cut of your sales and very often the look of your ebook is not as professional or as top line as it should be. If you don’t mind giving up a percentage of your sales, they are a good option.

 

5. For about an hour of your time as an investment, however, you can EASILY set up your own accounts.
(At this point, I want to remind you all of something we here at New Shelves OFFER EBOOK DISTRIBUTION. We do it every day. I am telling you, you DO NOT NEED US to do your eBook distribution…. You can do it yourselves and save yourself the 50 cents a unit we charge or the hefty percentage that our competition charges. You can do it.)

 

6. As for the AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH portion of the process? Here is a eBook account set up worksheet that will allow you to pull all of the information you need into one place before you start and that way you can move easily through the set up process on each platform.

 

Call me if you need any help.

 

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Do You Have a Book Distributor? Are You Sure?

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I had so much fun talking with the authors and indy publishers at AuthorU earlier this month.  Here is a snippet that explains in detail the difference between Wholesalers, Distributors and Fulfillment Houses.

Too often I get calls from authors/small press owners who tell me that they “have a distributor”… then they mention Ingram or Baker & Taylor.  CLOSE!  But no…. check out this 2 minute video to see why:

Book Distribution vs. Book Wholesalers

 

 

 

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What Are You Willing To Do?

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I had a blast speaking to a large group of authors at Author U Extravaganza in Denver this weekend.  Here is the first snippet of the advice I gave at this amazing conference.  Just loved this event!

 

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Radio Interview with Author U founder Judith Briles

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I had a wonderful time speaking with Judith Briles about the state of self publishing and how to market books in the coming year.  Click here to listen:

RockStarRadioYouPublish

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Math Lessons for Small Presses

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Lesson #1

PUBLISHERS and how they sell books:

If a publisher wants to get their books into a bookstore or library, they will have to sell their book to a store or a wholesaler at a deep discount. That discount is usually between 40 and 55 percent off of the retail price. It can sometimes be 60 percent or more if the store is part of a chain or a wholesaler that has a central warehouse and has extra costs associated with getting the books to THEIR customers.

The book buyer for the wholesaler or store will contact the publisher, place a purchase order for books, and expect to receive them in five to seven days. They expect to be billed for these books, but will usually require at least ninety days to pay.

If you want to become a publisher, here are a few things you should think about. You have to plan and budget carefully. Small presses usually aren’t paid for three to four months or longer. Plan for not getting paid for 6-7 months.

You will have to pay to ship the books to them.  They rarely will pay a small press for shipping.  If you want to take a stand, I applaud you!  But it will cost you some sales.

Now, are you ready for the big hit? Publishers may not even see the money they think they are owed because the books are bought on a returnable basis. Fully returnable. One hundred percent. (Or as we used to say when we were kids: backsies!) After a publisher has shipped a book to a store, the bookstore has the right to ship it right back for any reason.

So, a book priced at retail is $16.95

A publisher sells it to a wholesaler for $7.63 (55% discount)

The publisher then waits sometimes 6 months for the $7.63 or for the book to be returned.

If the book’s printing and design/editorial costs are in line with what they should be, each book should have cost the publisher approximately $ 3.25 per unit to produce.

The shipping and distribution costs of GETTING a $16.95 book to the wholesaler is usually around $3.50 a book. (this factors in calls to stores and wholesalers, sample copies or flyers sent to buyers, shipping of books, materials, returns… it assumes that you are doing everything yourself.

That leaves the publisher .88 cents a unit in profit.

Where does all the rest of the money go?  Why does a wholesaler take so much?  That leads us to next week’s Lesson #2

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Why is Everyone Selling My Book Except Me?

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This week I have received a number of questions from a client who has seen her book for sale on Amazon’s Marketplace, B&N’s used book page, and other used and cheap book sites.

“Where did these come from?” she asks.  Her next question was how to hire a lawyer to stop the sale of her book from which she gets no recompense.

After phone-pouring her a stiff drink, I explained where they came from and why there is nothing she can do about it.

First off, several of the sites that list a book do not actually HAVE the book.  Computer bots have scurried around the book websites and grabbed new book information as it is released. The bots then send the book info back to their host computers who post the book automatically. I love seeing one of my clients $16.95 books on sale for $203.50 at a used book site.

But other than that, the books you see ARE real.

Smart authors print pre-release copies of their books, Advance Reading Copies or actual book copies, to send to reviewers and jounalists during the early months of a book’s marketing campaign.  Dozens or even hundreds of copies of these books are sent out to reviewers and editors asking for some attention.

Bethany Brown of The Cadence Group says: “We here at the Cadence Group always sticker the books we send out with bright orange stickers stating that the books are for review only and not for resale.  But even with those stickers, the books always show up for sale on Amazon, B&N, and other used book outlets. It is the reality of the review world.”

Once a book is reviewed, the reviewer is well within their rights to do whatever they wish with it.  A LOT of reviewers have a local used bookstore that will take boxes of books each  month.  These used bookstores, having bought the books legally, put them up on their Amazon and other retail marketplace pages.

I will say here what I said to my now-no-longer-letigious client.  Let it go.  A few used copies bought cheaply will only help get your book out there.  The more people who read it the better!  If you sent out 100 books, then brace yourself that 86 will be sold as used or almost new.  That is 86 more readers than you would have had.

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“I want to sell a million copies”

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I hear this sentence at least three times a day.  A million copies. The magic number.  Just thought I’d throw a few more magic numbers out there….

Here is a brief run down of Stephen King’s latest marketing program for his last book from an October 2011 Wall Street Journal Article.

Mr. King and his publisher, Scribner, face an odd challenge as they unleash an elaborate marketing campaign to promote “11/22/63.” How do you rebrand one of the world’s most famous and successful living authors? Scribner is targeting history buffs with book-giveaway promotions on bio.com and history sites. To reach news junkies, the publisher bought ad time on 11 p.m. news programs in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The 30-second ad, which will also run on the CNN airport network and on the A&E and Syfy networks, shows archival footage of Kennedy’s Dallas motorcade, with a voice-over that says, “What if instead of justwatching history, you could change it?” Mr. King’s book tour will include appearances at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston and at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, the site Oswald fired from. The Dallas museum is preparing to host 1,000 people.

So what do we take away from this?

Mr. King has a huge following and decades of New York Times Best Sellers behind him.

He was on the road for weeks doing events in high-profile locations.

His publisher purchased ads on CNN, A&E the 11pm news in major markets.

Scribner also launched a multi-platform online campaign that gave away over 3000 books.

The magic number since the book released last November?  According to Bookscan, Mr. King has sold 576,361 copies across all formats.

One of the best-selling authors of all time spent over a hundred thousand dollars on marketing with his publisher and even with eBook sales included, did not reach a million copies.

What is the real magic number?

It starts with the amount of time you spend getting the package of your book right

It is followed by the number of months you spend planning and orchestrating your launch

Right behind that is the number of ads and programs you participate in.

But that last number does not count much unless the ads and programs are in top venues (USA TODAY, PEOPLE, CNN…)

Next up is the number of PR and marketing professionals you are working with.

Then is there are the amount of reviews you get

A BIG number is how many retailers are getting your marketing and PR information to convince the buyers to buy your book.

Finally, there is the elusive “tipping point” number.  How many people have to love and recommend your book before it takes on a life of its own?

So what is the answer to the question “what are the right numbers for my book?”.

It is different for everybody, but start with THOSE numbers and THEN tell the world how many you plan on selling.  If you are going to spend 20 hours and $4000 on sales and marketing, your book will not “catch fire”.  The stories of books that grow from nothing and become huge successes have enormous numbers behind them. Numbers of hours, numbers of dollars, numbers of supporters…. the ratio varies, but the totals are the same.  At least a million….

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