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Why you need IngramSpark AND CreateSpace – UPDATED

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I have been asked one question more than any other: “Do I need IngramSpark if I have CreateSpace?”

I know it’s tempting to avoid the extra expense and hassle of taking on a second print on demand (POD) provider, but I want to take a moment and share some of the experiences we’ve had at New Shelves Books with our POD work.  I hope these statements help you determine if you need one or both.

So . . . do you need both?

Yes:

  • CreateSpace does a terrific job with Amazon.
  • CreateSpace charges less for printing and set up fees than IngramSpark.
  • CreateSpace does offer “extended distribution” for bookstores and libraries (sort of . . . more later).
  • IngramSpark charges set up fees and a lot more for proofs than CreateSpace does.

But:

  • CreateSpace’s “extended distribution” is only fully available to those books using a CreateSpace ISBN. (You should always buy your own ISBNs and have a direct relationship with your book’s brand and ISBNs.)
  • Even if your book has extended distribution and can be bought by bookstores, it most likely won’t be. Bookstores do not relish the idea of giving their biggest competitor money.
  • Books in extended distribution ARE listed at Ingram Wholesalers, but NON-RETURNABLE and at a lesser discount so bookstores and libraries do not get the good terms that they would if they could buy from YOU at IngramSpark.
  • In addition, the extended distribution offered by CreateSpace is actually IngramSpark! CreateSpace uses IngramSpark for the distribution. It does not, however, offer competitive discounts to the bookstores, further narrowing your chances of being stocked.
  • You will be instantly relegated to the pile of “self-published” books before the buyer has a chance to review the quality.
  • IngramSpark allows your book the chance to be ordered in many countries and formats that CreateSpace does not.

So:

  • Use CreateSpace for Amazon. It does a great job and takes less money for each sale.
  • Use IngramSpark in addition so that your book can be ordered by the bookstores and libraries from the large wholesalers with which they prefer doing business.
  • Use your own (Bowker-provided) ISBN so that you have the benefits of your publishing company’s brand on all databases.
  • Don’t cheap out. IngramSpark and CreateSpace are two different tools for two different markets. If you don’t want to be in the retail store and library market, then you don’t need IngramSpark. But if stores and libraries are your goal, then spend the money to provide the books to them in the manner that gives them the best chance of saying “yes.”

Finally

If you really cannot stand the thought of using more than one POD provider, go with IngramSpark. It will allow you access to more venues even if it makes you less money per unit.

IngramSpark and CreateSpace take all comers.

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Author Tours

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Are Author Tours Worth It?

By Nicole Riley

I am often asked if author tours are successful.  We are very honest with the folks we have worked with on what a book signing might look like, yet there are still a number of authors who think there is going to be a line wrapping around the building to purchase their books at every event no matter what we say.  Although we would love to see that happen, I would like to provide a more realistic view to the process, and help you define the word “successful” for yourself.

Before going any further, I would like to say that this is my opinion solely based on my experience with booking author tours for the last couple of years.  I too often receive feedback that an event was just ok, or the author hoped that more people would have attended, or flat out that this was a waste of time!  I would like to add that we have had several clients we have booked extraordinary author events for that have had success written all over them!  Many of which have used these events to graduate into another phase of their career development.

Before booking an author tour, ask yourself…

  • What makes an author tour successful?
  •  What defines the word success for you?
  •  What are your expectations?
  •  Most importantly, what strategy are you using to reach that definition of success in promoting your tour?
  • Do you have a publicity campaign going on in conjunction with your events that includes radio interviews or major network television?
  •  Have you sent a press release to the local newspaper?
  • Have you taken out any ads where your event will be taking place?
  •  Are you promoting your book on your own website?
  • Is the store hosting the event promoting the book on their website prior to the event?
  • Are you aware of how much a display and prominent positioning of your book would cost without an event?
  • Do you want your book to be in a store weeks prior to an event, being displayed when it might otherwise get lost on a shelf?
  • Do you want your book to remain in a store and potentially be reordered because of a connection you may have been able to make with the buyer?
  • Do you realize that by having an event you give journalists a great reason to write about you?
  • Are the amounts of books you sell at your event defining your success?

I think it is very important to think about these questions.  In my experience the most successful tours are those that are synchronized with a publicity campaign of some kind.  I have seen author tour sales figures range anywhere from 3-100 books at a signing.   If you sold 5-10 books at your signing would you deem your event “unsuccessful”?  Of course the goal is always to sell as many books as you can, but I think we should remember that these book signings are equally about selling yourself, as it is about selling books.  They are a perfect opportunity for you to promote yourself.

Invite anyone who will listen.  Word of mouth is powerful! Piggybacking off of  my hometown book sales blog post when I said there will be no one more interested in you and your book than your hometown, I believe the same holds true for the start of your tour.  I often will refer to this type of an event as a Book Launch Party.  A date that is close to your pub date, premiering in a local store, surrounded by family, friends, co workers, etc. are great ways to jump start your tour!  I also suggest finding a store that hosts Local Author Festivals.  This MAY bring in an extra book sales for you, but if not wasn’t it still nice to meet other local authors in your community while practicing your self -promotion skills?  Successful?  Only you can answer that.

If an event is not in your hometown, you will not have your local support system. If you have no media hits, and you factor in the genre of your book and pray that you have been able to reach your target audience through telepathic waves, would it be semi-delusional to think that there will be a line of buyers extending out the door?   Is that expectation you set to high?  For example, let’s say this is your first book, you have no publicity to speak of, and you just drove many miles to be at your 2nd event on your tour.  There are 3 lucky shoppers who run into your table by accident and buy your book, and 2 customers who came in to see you because they saw the in store signage last week.    Was this event unsuccessful?  I guess it would be if you went into it expecting that you were going to sign 50 books that day.  Again, what were your expectations?  Are you being realistic?  I guess my point is that you will get out of your author tour what you put into it!  At the same time I say this, there are times where authors are doing all of the right things and the number of attendees is still low.  Maybe it was a beautiful day, or it ended up snowing in June…. I don’t know.

So are author tours successful? I believe they most certainly can be.  This is your opportunity to meet potential buyers face to face and captivate them and your audience.  Plus it adds a personal touch to your book promotion efforts.  Not to mention, prior to the author event your book is given free display that without the event is otherwise extremely expensive!   Drive a crowd, smile, talk to people, have fun, share the message your book was intended to send.   Be realistic and define your own success!

 

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What They Think They Know About Books

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I get calls all the time from people who “know” the book publishing industry.  They have written a book and have been avid readers for years… so they assume that they are the key demographic and what they know is fact.

More often than not, what they “know” is old news.  Now I assume that no one reading this falls into this category, but perhaps we can pass this info onto the others…

So, once again:

  1. Hardcovers no longer are the standard for “serious” books and are rarely purchased
  2. POD has become more acceptable to bookstores, but you still need to print some and offer them through traditional distribution or fulfillment companies to be taken seriously by the bookstores.
  3. Digital Printing has improved in quality and you do NOT need to print thousands of books.
  4. There are even fewer print and online reviewers of consequence but…
  5. Reviews are still KEY.  Most libraries and major book chains need professional reviews before they will consider a small press title in any real quantity.
  6. Libraries and bookstores are not necessarily the best way to get to readers anymore
  7. Most books are not sold in bookstores
  8. eBooks have taken a much bigger portion of book sales
  9. There are MORE readers now than there were a year ago THANKS to eBook readers
  10. Inexpensive eBooks are the best way to get your book out to the most people and create a buzz.  It does not “cheapen the book, it gives the reader a chance to sample something they would not otherwise because of a special offer.

Call if you want clarification on any of these!  518-261-1300  or email info@newshelves.com

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Your Spine Is Your Cover

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Here’s one of the dirty little secrets in book publishing. Publishers spend countless hours and dollars working on their covers, but they often miss the point.  With the exception of online retailers, your book spine is your cover.

Brick and mortar stores are packed with books. New releases. Backlist books. Series. Gift books.

Walk to any category (perhaps your own) and take a look at how many books are crammed on to the shelves.

What do you see? The spine, if you’re lucky.

All to often publishers make the mistake of not focusing at all on the spine of their book, not realizing that this is their number one marketing tool in brick and mortar stores.

What does this mean for you?

Spend some time on your spine.

Spine Size

Think about bulking your page count to make sure that your spine has presence. We’re not recommending that you fluff your book with overblown margins or blank pages. But we are recommending that you don’t cram in your text so tight to save a few cents on your printing prices.

Push it out a signature or two. It might make all the difference between getting lost on the shelf and standing out because you’re 1/8 of an inch bigger. Choose paper that bulks. You might be surprised at how easy it is to snag an extra 1/16 of an inch through paper weight alone.

Spine Color

Spend some time analyzing what the spine colors are in your category. This is extremely important. If every spine in your category is white, choose a vibrant color. Choose something that stands out. Choose something that practically leaps of the shelf and screams “pick me!” This is the time to buck the trends and be a little different. If you’re not sure what will work, grab some books that have different spine colors and stick them on the shelf where your book will go. Which colors pop to you? What do you see first?

Spine Text

Make it readable! Make it bold! Make it big! Make sure that the reader sees your spine and your text right away. If you’re standing 3 feet away from your spine, you need to be able to read what it says (see above about spine width – the bigger the spine the more room for bold text).

Take it to the Bookstore

Let’s keep this next bit between us…

The best way to really know if your spine works is to print out several versions, colors and copies true to size. Cut the spine out, getting rid of excess paper so you’re literally holding your book spine in your hands. Put a tiny piece of tape on the end of each option. Take your spine options to the bookstore and visit your category. Stick the various spines on the books that will sit next to you (usually alphabetical by author’s last name within category or subcategory). Which one works? Do any? What do you see? Can you read your title? Do you get lost on the shelf because you’re too tiny or you blend in too much?

Lack of attention to your spine can kill your book in the marketplace. Once you get in to stores, your spine really is your cover. When you consider the time, money and energy that you spend getting your cover right, promise us, do the same with your book spine.

P.S. Remember, be polite during any bookstore research. Bring your spines with you when you go and don’t interfere with bookstore customers!

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“But how many books will I SELL?” – Author Events Part Two

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One of the first things a publisher or author will ask of any marketing plan is “what is the return on my investment going to be?” The person with the checkbook wants to know that if they write out the zeros, they can plan on a significant return on their investment.

I hate to tell give them the only answer that anyone can give… “It depends.”

Carol Zelaya, author of the Emily the Chickadee series, published by Richlee Publishing, launched her first children’s book in April 2008. She hired a fantastic PR firm to set up the launch, complete with a book signing tour covering four states that she expected would stimulate sales. Her expectations were quickly dashed.

“I mistakenly thought that once you were invited to do a book signing, you had really made it.” says Zelaya “I was so wrong. Even when the stores did tons of publicity and put up big posters, no one came.”

But are sales the only purpose of an author tour? What results and returns can authors expect when the people don’t show up at the event? Why do an author event if no one can guarantee sales?

“The thing you have to remember is the benefits outside of the event.” Says David Brody, author of several novels, including Cabal of the Westford Knight, published last February by Martin & Lawrence.

If you go into a tour looking at it strictly in terms of sales during events, it will not work, Brody says. “I may sell only 5 or 10 books at an event, but that is not the point. I have to take into consideration that the store orders the books a few weeks ahead of time, makes a display, puts up a poster; plus, the manager and employees get to know my book. At the event, who knows who will hear me and what they might tell other people? And after the signing, I will leave a few signed copies and those might get displayed for a few weeks. I can often attribute 50 or 60 sales to an event that drew only 10 sales that day. If you look at it that way, the economics make sense.”

So the question I put out there is this… “What is the REAL return on your author tour investment?” I’d love to hear from authors who have recently toured to see if they think touring is worth their time and money.

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Bookstore Events – Your Thoughts?

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The Cadence Group is doing some research in to bookstore events and we’d love your thoughts!

As we know, the landscape of book marketing is changing on a daily basis. Budgets are being slashed at all ends of the publishing process from advances to marketing to promotional placements to author tours. Publishers and authors are trying to figure out how to best reach their readers.

The avenue that we’re currently exploring is the author tour, book signings, and/or bookstore events.

Do they work? The Cadence Group has interviewed a number of authors, independent retailers, publishers and chain bookstores. We’d love to get your thoughts and feedback as well.

What’s your experience?

Results coming soon….

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Bookstores as the new Top 40 radio station?

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It seems that each day brings another industry bulletin about how a bookstore has closed or how a chain will be reducing the number of titles it will carry. Brick and mortar stores are having to make hard choices; limiting their selection.

High retail rents, gasoline for delivery trucks, the economy, and unemployment can all be blamed, but not for long. Yes, it is time for consumers to tighten their budgets, but that is not the driving force behind the reduction in titles on bookstore shelves.

As a culture, we have become used to “shortcuts” and “hot-keys” in our work and home life. Our radios offer the same 100 songs each day with only a smirking nod to “independent” music. Technology does more than entertain and assist us; it often makes our choices for us. As we sink more deeply into our dependence upon technology, we lose our willingness to work for our pleasure.

Gone are the days when we slowly browsed a library or bookstore shelf looking for the perfect book to fit our mood. Those of us who find the time to read a book no longer have the time to search for one. We reach for the review section, listen to the latest NPR praise and ask our friends what their bookclubs are reading.

Armed with a vetted list, we can log on line or run into a bookshop and make a beeline for the front table. Chances are, the 11 books we have heard good things about are stacked there.

It is not that America does not have time for books, we don’t have time for bookstores. That is bad news for both parties. We want a quick hit, a guaranteed success, a sure thing. There is nothing wrong with that, but it will forever rob us of that one amazing “find” that could have altered our thinking; the hidden gem that could touch us so personally and deeply.

I understand the America is asking for fewer choices and that the bookstores have to do what is best for their business… I guess I was just hoping for more time before the book industry became what radio degenerated into 30 years ago…. a place for the masses to be told what to enjoy.

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Your Book’s Journey

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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 as others rush to the cash register. Feel free to continue this fantasy as you pound the keyboard, but if you’re interested in turning the vision into reality, then suspend the writing and read on.

In order to make that dream come true, you have to stop thinking like a writer and start thinking like a publisher. For publishers, the dream location is not the bookstore shelf; that shelf is simply a short stop on the way to the real destination … a reader’s bookshelf. The only bookshelf that truly counts is the consumer’s. This blog has been created to guide your book into (and then out of) the hands of people who actually paid money to read it.

If you’re truly serious about publishing your book, then you need to shake off the fantasy and take a good, hard look at the challenge ahead. This isn’t meant to discourage you. The better prepared you are, the more successful you will be in reaching your goal.

The path a writer’s work takes through the publishing process, into the retail market, and then onto a consumer’s beside table is arduous. On this journey you will encounter misleading signposts, paths damaged by overuse, and rough road from underuse. But you will also experience a number of wondrous sights and resting places. The sweeps and turns of the publishing path can be fascinating—but even more rewarding if you know the lay of the land ahead of time.

As a writer on the verge of publishing, you are enthusiastic about your work and determined to see it through to book form. While these are certainly helpful qualities in battling the challenges ahead, there is one tool that will help you to overcome the obstacles and push forward during the final stretch: knowledge.

The best way to start a journey is to learn as much about your destination as possible. Once you know where you’re going, you’ll be able to plan your route to get there. So set your writing aside for the moment as we explore the book industry and the oh-so-important destination: the reader.

To be continued…

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