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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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What’s In A Name?

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I have had numerous conversations lately about how and why to name your publishing imprint.

If you are going to be an independent or small publisher, if you are going to take on the time, expense and trouble of publishing your own book instead of letting a vanity press do it for you, you need to know the following about the name of your endeavor:

  1. Bookstores ARE willing to stock books by independent authors who have published themselves
  2. Bookstores are NOT all willing to stock books that look like they were published less than professionally
  3. Having the author’s name as the publisher name, or naming the publishing entity in a similar vein to the title of the book will look amateurish
  4. Avoid this… come up with a professional sounding, independent book publisher name for your new small business.  This is small business… name it as such
  5. you MUST register the name with Bowker and make sure all of your materials and data uploads contain the name exactly as you gave it to Bowker.

Enjoy being treated like a professional!

 

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How to Sell and Market Your Book All on Your Own

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I recently had a session with a client and there were so many good ideas that I thought I would share what I could.

The main ideas to come out of today’s session were:

  • Make sure you always have a copy of your book with you. Spend time every day dropping off signed copies of your books to store managers and/or following up with manager who got your book last week.
  • Keep doing events, get creative. Remember that events are about exposure and stocking… not just about sales that day.
  • Learn the rules of distribution and sales and follow them!
  • Keep finding reasons why the press should write about you.
  • Constantly write articles and submit to the large web and print media organizations.
  • Reach out to bloggers on  your topic and offer a guest post.
  • Participate in discussion groups on line every day.
  • Give away books every chance you get.  Send them to the media, to reviewers, to bloggers, to retailers. Keep sending them out. (But make sure you put stickers on your review copies so that they don’t end up getting sold)

If you would like to hear more and get more detail about these and other ideas. Check out our other blogs

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So You Think Your Book Belongs in a Store?

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It is every writer’s dream to see his or her book in the front window of the local bookstore. It is fun to imagine tall, colorful stacks of your books surrounded by throngs of curious readers flipping through the pages while others rush to the cash register with their copy. Feel free to continue this fantasy as you pound the keyboard, but if you’re interested in turning the vision into reality, then stop writing for a moment and read on.

The Four Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before your Finish your Book:

1. At what retailers do your readers shop?
Are you SURE? (Don’t guess – go to those places and make sure.)

 
Too often, I find myself assuming that I know something to be true because I believe it to be true. Things that used to be fact a few years ago may not be anymore… but I forget to take that into account. I have learned the hard way that before I make any plan that involves other people or money, I need to CHECK to make sure that what I THINK is actually SO.

2. Do those retailers buy books like yours?
Are you SURE? (See above)

3. How many of your types of books sell each week?
If you are going to be looking for a publisher or publishing yourself, you need to know what books like yours sell for. You also need to know how many units sell each month. That data will be KEY when presenting your book to an agent, a publisher, or a retailer. “I want to sell a million copies” is not a sales plan.  It is a fantasy.  If I told you that business books helping managers become better leaders only sell 23 copies a month at one of the major airport bookstore chains, what does that do to your financial plan?  You NEED the facts to make a solid plan… data, not wishes makes for a successful book.

4. Is your book as good as the ones already there? (Be honest and really LOOK at what is on the shelves already)

  • Is your cover as good as the ones on the shelves?
  • Are your priced competitively?
  • Does your book offer something new to the market?
  • Do you have the amount of reviews and endorsements that the books on the shelves do?
  • Are you going to spend the same amount of money on promoting your book that their publisher did?
  • Do you KNOW what the author and publisher did to promote their book and are you able to give it a similar amount of time and energy?
  • Do you have several good reasons why a buyer should risk their profit margin on an unknown author or book when they have proven successes already on their shelves?
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Prepare and Budget for the ENTIRE Life of Your Book

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Most authors budget their time,money, and energy for the life of their book, but they forget that the book’s life span does not end when the book is printed… that is when it starts. A book’s life starts at it’s birth (the launch) and needs to be budgeted for.

Here is a video of my most recent talk on the Life of Your Book.  We will be covering this in more detail on Mentoring Mondays with Judith Briles starting June 3th.

 

 

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Who Are Your Writing For? Where Are They? What Do They Buy? Why Will They Buy Your Book?

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Shannon Parish(Check her out at SHANNON PARISH.COM)

Shannon did SUCH a nice job picturing the questions authors need to ask while they are writing. WHO they are writing for … WHO will buy their book … WHO/HOW they will market to it?

Here is the first one!  Enjoy!   I will be posting more soon!

 

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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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Your First Day as a Publisher.

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The book is done. Congratulations! You have put your whole back into the huge task of writing, editing, polishing and finishing the book that has been your life’s work for ages.

Send the manuscript to the designer and pour yourself a well-deserved glass of ginger-ale.

Done.

Now, welcome to your new job as Publisher. (You may have the nagging feeling that you should have started this job months ago, but better late than never! Let’s get started!)

Now that you are no longer a writer, you can dedicate yourself fulltime as a publisher, marketer, sales rep, publicist and social media specialist. These jobs with all of their various elements and duties will take up the next year or more of your life.

So, how do you get started? What do you do first?

Here is a partial list of essential-do-not-skip job duties that every Publisher has:

1. Choose a Publisher name. Don’t make it anything that connects to your name or the title of the book. The publishing house name/imprint should be independent and professional sounding (example: Democracy Publications). There are many reasons to publish under your own imprint name:

 a. Your book will be taken more seriously than if it is listed in all the databases as published by a vanity press or CreateSpace.
b. Bookstores will be much more likely to consider stocking your book if they do not have to purchase it from their biggest competitor, Amazon/CreateSpace.
c. You can control the costs and pricing and save money.
d. Reviewers will give your book a more serious consideration.

2. Sign your publisher name up with Bowker at www.myidentifiers.com. Name, address, phone, email, website (if you have one)

3. Buy set of ISBNs (Don’t buy one. You will need more than one soon and they are inexpensive in groups of 10) from www.myindentifiers.com.

4. Pull all of your book data into the ISBN management section: title, subtitle, price, ISBN, eBook ISBN, eBook price, trim size, page count, word count, category, age group– into book ISBN fields at www.myidentifiers.com (this will start the process of getting your book’s data out to the world and make it easier for the sales to be tracked.) Do not skip this!

5. Find at least 5 books that compete for your same readers and learn why your book is similar to them and why your book is better. You will need this when you are selling your book to stores or doing research or writing a cover letter to a reviewer. These 5 books will help you in numerous ways. Take your time with it and ask for help if needed.

6. Decide if you want to be in bookstores and libraries. (REALLY research what it takes to be in those venues… it is not as easy an answer as you would think) Do the math… how much money will you make per book after printing, distribution and shipping costs?

7. Decide how you are going to print and distribute your book. Should you use a Print on Demand service such as Lightning Source or CreateSpace? (there is nothing wrong with USING CreateSpace, I just recommend not putting their name all over your book.) So… POD or would it be better to print a few thousand copies and sell through a distributor? Look at the numbers, ask your local bookstore, find out everything you can.

8. However you decide to proceed , sign up with the POD company, distribution, or fulfillment company and provide them with your book data.

9. Get endorsements and marketing plan and executable PR program together.

10. Spend as much time in bookstores and online learning everything you can about your market and your book category.

This is by no means a complete list, but these are some ESSENTIAL items that should be completed as soon as you decide to take on the job of publisher.

All of these items should be completed before you are done writing the book.

 

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What Are Book Store Buyers LOOKING For?

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A client recently asked me.  What the %$#@! are book buyers looking for? He went on to say “My book is priced right, well-designed and exactly what older American’s are needing… what more can I do?”

I thought I would share my answer in the hopes that it might answer other questions out there.

If the book is well written, has a topic and message that will appeal to their customers, and is well designed, it has a good shot of getting a test order from a bookstore book buyer.

Keep in mind, there are more books published each year than could fit in 7 totally empty bookstores.  (And as you know, bookstores are not empty!)  Because of this, the buyers can only take a teeny fraction of what is presented to them.  Also, the buyers are judged (read: get to keep their jobs) by how many times their section “turns” a year.  The sales rate of their choices is closely monitored.  So they will pick books that they feel have the best chance to selling off the shelf several times a year.

That is where demand and platform comes in. If an author has a good platform, is reaching out to thousands, or tens of thousands of readers, is showing sales online (seen in Nielsen Bookscan reports) and has a strong PR plan with potential for a lot of media – the buyer will be far more likely to take the book in.

If the book does NOT have all of those things, then the buyer needs to see some other proof that the well-designed, beautifully-edited, fantastically-written, much-needed book won’t just sit on their shelves. There is a chance that someone will see your title on the spine on a crowded bookshelf and pick it up.  If they pick it up, there is a good chance that they might buy it. (If they need or want a book like yours). But a book buyer would much rather sweeten the chances of a “turn” by stocking books that will have browse-friendly qualities AND great press.  There are enough books out there that have great demand AND are great books to choose from.

Does your book have everything it needs PLUS good PR?  Is your book “All That” AND a bag of chips?

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Math Lessons For Small Presses – Part 3

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Lesson #3 – DISTRIBUTORS

Bookstores buy books from wholesalers and distributors. The major difference is that a wholesaler is publisher’s customer (wholesalers buy books from a publisher) and a distributor is a publisher’s employee (distributors sell their services to a publisher).

A distributor handles all of the après-production elements of getting a book onto a store’s shelves. Publishers agree to funnel all of their sales, warehousing, shipping, and billing through the distributor. They do this work for a percentage of the billing generated by the sale of the publisher’s books.

Like publishers, distributors sell a book to a wholesaler or bookstore at a discount of the retail price. That discount is usually between 45 and 55 percent.

So, if bookstores get about the same terms and about the same schedule, why do they go to a distributor instead of directly to the publisher? Some bookstores (especially bookstore chains) are not interested in setting up new, small, or regional publishers in their ordering and accounting systems for just a few books. They rightly weigh the benefits of a publisher’s book against the time and trouble necessary to order it, and if the balance does not come out in the book’s favor, they skip it. How do new and small publishers avoid this terrible fate? They sign exclusive agreements with a distributor.

A distributor’s cut varies from 25 to 35 percent of the net billing of each book. Just about every distributor has additional monthly fees, and most require an initial deposit for new clients.

Before you balk, keep in mind that it is very difficult, expensive, and time consuming to handle your own warehousing, purchase shipping materials, and learn how to ship exactly how each store wishes their shipments to arrive … and everyone is different. (It’s a little joke they like to play on publishers. I am convinced that bookstore owners get together every two years to devise slightly altered yet completely incomprehensible trafficking instructions.) Then comes the billing, monthly statements, handling claims for books damaged in transit, taking in returns, and reconciling the amount due with what the bookstore believes is due.

After that, consider the money and time it takes to tell the country’s thousands of buyers about your books. The sales reps working for distributors have long-standing relationships with the book buyers in your hometown, across the country, and in the major chains. You would not be able to start a fledgling relationship on your own with these buyers. What an experienced sales rep can often do with a phone call, you could rarely accomplish with six months and a great deal of research, e-mails, flyers, catalogs, paperwork, and free samples.

 

Back to the math!

A book priced at retail is $16.95

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

The distributor will charge the publisher on average $2.15 to handle that order.

Shipping and other fees will cost about $1.30 cents a book (give or take)

The publisher gets $4.18 for the book from the distributor 6 months later when the payment comes in.

After the productions costs of $3.25 are taken into consideration, the end profit is about .93 cents a book.

(AND the distributor does most of the work)

 

So there you have it.  Math by an English Major for Publishers. Let me know if you have any questions!

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