Book Marketing Blogsby Penny Sansevieri
July 13, 2011
We had a great show with host Penny Sansevieri and our special guest Amy Collins, who discussed how author events are as relevant as ever.
About our guest: Amy Collins is the owner of The Cadence Group, a sales and marketing service provider for the publishing industry. In 2008, The Cadence Group launched New Shelves Distribution, a full-scale book warehousing, sales and fulfillment company selling publisher’s books directly to the national chains and independent bookstores in North America. http://www.thecadencegrp.com/
Events are vital to an author’s success:
With publishing going digital, are author events a thing of the past? No, they are just as valid, says Amy. They are changing just as fast as everything else, but events are extremely valid. They are different from 10 or 12 years ago – and they are an absolute necessity. It’s what authors need to do to get out there. (more…)
June 15, 2011
We had a great show – with a lot of listener questions – covering what authors should know about selling their book in bulk and special sales with our guest Amy Collins.
About our guest:
Amy Collins is the owner of The Cadence Group, a sales and marketing service provider for the publishing industry. In 2008, The Cadence Group launched New Shelves Distribution, a full-scale book warehousing, sales and fulfillment company selling publisher’s books directly to the national chains and independent bookstores in North America. Learn more at http://www.thecadencegrp.com/. (more…)
June 1, 2011
We had a great show on the ins and outs of book cover design (as well as some general book design dos and don’ts) with expert Jeniffer Thompson.
About our guest:
Jeniffer Thompson is the author of Website WOW: Turn Your Website Into Your Most Powerful Marketing Tool. She brings more than 12 years of marketing and publishing experience to her current position as President of Monkey C Media. She understands the importance of creating a site that will engage and strategically draw your audience toward a powerful call-to-action. (more…)
May 18, 2011
We had a great show on the future of literary agents, featuring two great guests who are in the midst of all of these changes that impact agents, publishers and authors.
About our guests:
Katharine Sands is with the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, founded in 1974. http://www.sarahjanefreymann.com/index.html
May 4, 2011
We had an informative show about ebook and audio book distribution with three special guests:
* Brian Felsen is president of BookBaby/CD Baby/HostBaby. BookBaby digitally distributes the works of independent authors, poets, memoirists, and publishers, making their ebooks available to digital retailers worldwide (including Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble.com, Sony’s Reader Store, and Amazon.com). He also is the president of CD Baby, the world’s largest online distributor of independent music. www.bookbaby.com
* Jeffrey Kafer of SpringBrook Audio is an award-winning voice talent and audio book producer. Having narrated over 30 books for such publishers as Audible, Studio Now, Mountainland Publishing, and Books in Motion, Jeffrey knows exactly what it takes to make a world-class audio book. He handles production for all SpringBrook Audio and Perfect Voices titles and post-production for Crossroad Press titles. Jeffrey works out of his home studio in the Seattle area, serving clients worldwide. www.springbrookaudio.com
* David Niall Wilson, owner of Crossroads Press, has been writing and publishing horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction since the mid-eighties. His novels include Maelstrom, Sins of the Flash, Vintage Soul, The Mote in Andrea’s Eye, Deep Blue, the Grails Covenant Trilogy, Star Trek Voyager: Chrysalis, Except You Go Through Shadow, This is My Blood, and the Dark Ages Vampire clan novel Lasombra, among others. He has over 150 short stories published in five collections, one of which, Defining Moments, was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in 2007. He has won the Bram Stoker Award for his poetry, and his short fiction, and has high hopes of someday writing something remembered as great. crossroadspress.com (more…)
April 21, 2011
We had a great show about additional distribution options – with an emphasis on getting into bookstores – with special guest Amy Collins.
About our guest: Amy Collins is the owner of The Cadence Group, a sales and marketing service provider for the publishing industry. In 2008, The Cadence Group launched New Shelves Distribution, a full-scale book warehousing, sales and fulfillment company selling publisher’s books directly to the national chains and independent bookstores in North America. (more…)
April 6, 2011
We had a great show on what every author should know about book distribution.
Our guest and cohost was Sherrie Wilkolaski, who is Director of Marketing at Author Marketing Experts, Inc., where she is responsible for client relations, product development, campaign team management and business development.
Distribution is a challenge for most authors. Many want to get on Amazon.com, and that’s all they know. But distribution is the ability to get the book out in front of as many people as possible. Amazon is one channel. Other channels include online bookstores, ebooks, audio books, book clubs and bricks and mortar bookstores. Begin by doing your research and thinking ahead. You have options. Be flexible, find experts to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. (more…)
March 9, 2011
We had a great show with host Penny Sansevieri highlighting tips and tricks and savvy publishing advice for book design, front and back covers and editing!
About our special guest: Sue Collier is President of Self-Publishing Resources and co-author of “The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing.” As president and CEO of SPR, Sue oversees all book project work, coordinating a team of experts and holding true to the result-getting principles she learned from founder Marilyn Ross.
SPR provides turnkey service to individuals and organizations seeking to publish and promote their own books, handling all aspects of book editing, design, production, and marketing and promotions. Sue also offers personalized coaching services for authors and small presses, providing them with the benefits of her extensive publishing background. Over the past two decades, she has worked with hundreds of clients, guiding them through the self-publishing process, and helping them produce professional, attractive books. Learn more at http://selfpublishingresources.com/.
We were also joined by Jeniffer Thompson, the author of “Website WOW: Turn Your Website Into Your Most Powerful Marketing Tool.” She brings more than 12 years of marketing and publishing experience to her current position as President of Monkey C Media, http://www.monkeycmedia.com/.
And finally, AME’s Director of Marketing and publishing consultant Sherrie Wilkolaski rounded out our panel. Sherrie is responsible for client relations, product development, campaign team management and business development at AME. She successfully stumbled into the self-published market quite by accident with the success of her own best-selling book, which reached a #1 sales rank back in 2003. Sherrie then started her own self-published marketing company and has helped thousands of authors publish and market their titles.
Mom should not edit your book. Really
It may sound funny, but we’ve heard from authors who say their mom has edited their book… or helped with their design or cover.
Common mistakes authors make include not wanting to edit their books, to their books not having a front or back cover. Or, they might have a nice front cover, but the back cover is blank. It’s so important to turn your book over to a professional who can help you edit the book – not just for typos and grammar, but for structure. Additionally, you want professionals who can help you design a strong, compelling front and back cover for your book.
Sue says about 60-70 percent of books she sees do not have a professional cover design. Of the books with front covers, about half don’t have back covers. Yet any publisher will say that the cover is a critical marketing piece of a book, if not the most important marketing tool. Your cover serves as a teaser, a billboard that shows the reader why he or she should read your book.
Positive growth in book editing
Editing makes or breaks a project. And no one can edit their own work. They’re too close to it. A professional, unbiased editor is the way to go.
We’ve seen many authors who think their book is the field of dreams… write it and they will buy. These authors just want to get their book out the door so they skimp on editing. However, Sue says she is starting to get more prospects that are coming in to discuss editing. Authors are getting the message that editing is important. Their book is their resume. If they would never send out a resume full of typos, why send out an error-filled book?
Spell-check seemed to convince many writers that editing was no longer necessary. But as any good writer or editor knows, spell-check has its drawbacks.
Create compelling book covers
One of the first considerations is how will your book cover look thumbnail size – can you read the title?
Photos and fonts can create a mood for a book; there are certain fonts associated with the 80s, for instance, while other fonts are simply classic, adds Jeniffer.
Placement matters, too, for your title, graphics, etc. It’s important to use a designer who has experience. Sherrie notes that Amazon.com rejects a lot of book covers because they don’t meet the retailer’s requirements. The final sizing is due to the final page count so that’s another challenge.
The cover should convey to a reader instantly what the book is about, it shouldn’t be confusing. A prospective reader shouldn’t have to open the book to see what it’s about.
To find designers, ask around in writers’ groups, and also, with book covers you like, check the credits. The designer is often mentioned in the book.
Why does back cover copy matter?
Back cover copy is terribly misunderstood. Some authors put nothing on the back; others want to pack every inch of space on the back cover with copy – which no one will read.
Sue suggests the following elements for a good back cover, which should be short and sweet:
* a headline
* a benefit statement about the book (what’s in it for readers: such as what will they learn, feel, etc. – make it fun and interesting
* testimonials – if you have them, they are very important. You want to show readers the book’s benefits.
Bookstores like short, succinct, and easy to read book covers (front and back).
Jeniffer says 250 words is a good place to start for the back cover copy. Include a couple of bullet points, plus one or two endorsements – you need these ‘sound bites’ to grab readers’ attention and highlight the benefits of the book to them.
Sherrie also advises authors to have their book title repeated on the back cover. Also, do not try to cram as much as possible onto the back cover. If it’s too cluttered, no one will read it.
If authors are struggling with space constraints on the back cover, they can put their author bio inside. It’s far more important to make sure you tell readers about the book on the back cover.
What kind of image should go on the front cover?
Can an unknown author’s photo appear on the front cover? In general, this is not a good idea. You need to have a face that can sell books, which is typically someone who’s well-known and has an established brand.
However, Jeniffer recalls a Pilates book about weight loss, in which the instructor clearly practiced what she preached. Her cover photo validated her book’s message so it was effective.
If an author can’t afford a cover designer, what should he or she do?
Jeniffer recommends studying book covers and looking for what you like as well as seeking out covers in your genre. If you don’t have design experience, see if you can get an art student who can help.
Sue observes that authors who show these potential cover ideas to their husband, children, etc. don’t always get the most honest opinions. Go outside your comfort zone, such as to a local bookstore and ask what they think of the cover, if it would attract them. Get an opinion from people who sell books, that’s the best opinion you can get. These are front line people who know what sells. Turn your bookstore into a laboratory – get to know your genre, how the books are shelved, etc.
Authors can also post their cover options on their social media accounts such as Facebook or Twitter to get feedback (and then it serves as a marketing opportunity for the book, says Sherrie).
How to title a book
Authors must step away from their personal feelings and take the advice of professionals. Titling a book is one of the most important things about the book. There have been cases where books were re-titled and re-released and became bestsellers. For instance, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” was originally titled “You Can Feel Good Again.”
The title should be catchy, preferably descriptive (especially if it’s fiction), and it needs to grab people’s attention – which is very tough to do, Sue acknowledges.
But the right title can make a huge difference, she adds, mentioning “The Art of Courtship.” Retitled “The Art of Kissing,” it outsold Courtship by 6,000 to 2,000 copies.
A â€˜Squash’ titled cookbook sold 1,500 copies, but when it was renamed the â€˜Zucchini’ cookbook, sales zoomed to 300,000 copies. Just changing one word can lead to great sales.
Several classic books that we know and love started out with decidedly different – and not so compelling – titles:
- “The Dead Un-Dead” became “Dracula”
- “The Last Man in Europe” became “1984″
- “Catch 18″ and “Catch 11″ became “Catch 22″
- “Atticus” became “To Kill a Mockingbird”
- “First Impressions” became “Pride and Prejudice”
- “Fiesta” became “The Sun Also Rises”
- “Strike” became “Atlas Shrugged”
- “Mistress Mary” became “The Secret Garden”
Sue advises brainstorming titles and typing out ideas, reading your first chapter and table of contents, getting opinions AND making sure no one else is using the title you want to use for your book.
Jeniffer recommends making the title easy to remember, short and to the point, big enough to read on a thumbnail cover online or from 10 feet away in a bookstore. Have a good website url that ties into that brand.
Adds Sherrie: brainstorm, whittle down your list, and give it time, think about it, talk about it.
You can download the full show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepublishinginsiders/2011/03/09/smart-self–publishing-series-part-4-why-book-design-editing-matter.
Please join us March 22, 2011 for Secrets to Landing An Agent
So – how do authors manage to get an agent? Special guest Jeff Rivera will offer tips to finding your writing voice, developing a platform, writing winning query letters, choosing between agents and much more! Whether you are still writing your book, have been self published, or have unsuccessfully queried agents in the past, this show will offer invaluable insights on what it takes to get an agent. Jeff Rivera is the founder of http://www.HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com. With over 100 clients to date, he has a 100% track record of getting at least 10 literary agents to request to read his client’s manuscripts and proposals.
February 23, 2011
We had a great show that examined the ebook phenomenon and what that means for authors. In a word: opportunity!
About our guests:
Karen McQuestion’s essays have appeared in Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, Christian Science Monitor and several anthologies. She is the author of six books self-published on Amazon’s Kindle, one of which, the novel, A Scattered Life, caught the attention of an L.A. based production company and became the first self-published Kindle book to be optioned for film. Five of her previously self-published books will now be published by AmazonEncore. McQuestion lives with her family in Hartland, Wisconsin. Learn more at http://www.karenmcquestion.com/.
Tony Eldridge is the author of the award-winning action/adventure novel, The Samson Effect, which Clive Cussler calls a “first rate thriller brimming with intrigue and adventure.” He is also the creator of Marketing Tips for Authors, a site that publishes free tips and videos to help authors learn marketing techniques for their books. You can read the serial release of The Samson Effect at http://samsoneffect.marketingtipsforauthors.com/.
To illustrate the phenomenal growth of ebooks, in January 2011, indie publisher Sourcebooks announced that 35% of its book sales that month were ebooks.
Jumping into Ebooks
Ebooks constitute an enormous market, much more so than anyone anticipated. When ebooks first arrived on the scene no one really knew what to make of them. Were they a fad? Karen and Tony discuss why and when they decided to take the plunge…
Karen said she had been writing novels no one wanted to publish. This went on for years; she even had agents twice and got some great feedback and near misses, but she never got what she really wanted: a publishing deal. In 2009, Karen heard about Boyd Morrison, an author on a similar path, whose print books had not sold. He put his books on Kindle, sold 7,500 copies in less than three months, and got a book deal with Touchstone. http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/boyd-morrison-kindle-author-lands-major-book-deal_b11943. Karen decided to give it a try.
Tony turned to ebooks a little later. He had known about ebooks for a long time, and decided to dip a toe into ebooks in December, when he had his first two books published on Kindle.
Choosing an Ebook Platform
In July 2009, there was no iPad, readers couldn’t get ebooks on any phones, but Karen knew about the Kindle and Nook. There was so much information about Kindle that Karen decided to use that format as an experiment. Her hopes were high, but her expectations were low.
She uploaded two books toward the end of the month, and with 10 days left made $30. Karen joked with her husband that if she kept putting her books on Kindle they could go out to lunch once a month. By month two on Kindle, Karen’s books made $300 – when there hadn’t been any interest in them previously. Her husband asked her how many more books she had, and one by one Karen uploaded all of her books, focusing on Kindle because that’s where the majority of ebook sales were.
Tony went with Nook and Kindle. He notes that ebooks make sense for the frugal author. All of the tools for formatting and uploading are available for authors at no cost. There is a learning curve, but the information (on formatting and other issues) is out there. Tony got his two books out pretty quickly – and now he’s looking at his unpublished books. There’s one book he wrote approximately six years ago that he will now publish strictly as an ebook. The investment in ebooks is so low that Tony makes three times more royalties with ebooks compared to print. He considers ebook publishing an amazing path for authors.
Marketing Your Ebook
Once your ebook is uploaded, how can people find it? There are well over 800,000 titles in the Kindle store, for instance. Karen says an author can do some of the marketing work before the ebook is available for purchase. Do this by designating keywords and categories at Amazon. Authors get 20 keywords, although many gloss over this step. However, Karen says readers find your book through these tags. In her case, Karen used keywords such as “romantic comedy,” “chick lit,” etc. and filled in all 20 keywords in all five categories. She also priced her books very low, because she figured no one knew about her or her books and they would be willing to take a chance on an author if the books weren’t expensive. Finally, Karen relied upon Amazon’s sample feature, which allows readers to download a free sample of a book. If readers like your sample they will very often purchase the book.
Karen also used Kindleboards.com, a forum for Kindle lovers, and the Amazon site itself to get the word out about her books. She did not blatantly push her book, but became part of the communities, and that way the members got to know who she was and about her books.
Sales of Karen’s books began to snowball as people bought ebook devices, and word of mouth kept the sales going. In May 2010, her ebook success story was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article.
Interestingly, Karen markets less now, because each book builds on her previous books. If readers like one book by an author, and all the books are priced reasonably, then they buy the other books.
Tony is planning a blog tour, building buzz with some helpers, offering excerpts for free and doing a newsletter blitz. Ebooks allow authors to do a lot more with their marketing a lot sooner. And Tony is thrilled about the new Kindle feature that allows users to loan their books to others. He will use this feature for his ebooks as it has the potential of expanding name recognition in a big way. You’re not missing out on sales by loaning ebooks, but finding new readers, he says.
The Surprising Elements of Ebooks
Tony says the economics of ebooks surprised him more than anything else. When authors go the ebook route and do the work themselves, their initial investment is low and the profits come quickly. And now, with mobile technology, not just Kindle and other ebook readers but smartphones too, it’s easy to read and carry thousands of books everywhere. This is going to become the norm for the future for authors and readers, he says.
From the standpoint of being a writer, Karen says she’s been most surprised by the opportunities ebooks have brought. She once wrote a “quiet” novel, a character-based, humorous and touching book that did not have a great marketing hook, put it on Kindle and within a short period of time sold a lot of copies. Then an LA film producer contacted Karen for the rights to A Scattered Life for a movie. There are so many opportunities with ebooks, such as the chance to write different kinds of books, novellas, essays and short stories.
Sources, Pricing and More
A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing blog by Joe Konrath http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ taught Karen everything she needed to know about publishing ebooks. Authors should write a good book, get it edited, critiqued, etc. and try putting it up on Kindle. The book could take off, but if it doesn’t take off, that’s your answer – maybe it’s not going to take off at this point, she says.
Tony turned to Google to get started. Amazon has a pretty good guide for its Kindle. However, Tony also searched YouTube for videos because he likes visual guides. He also followed the blogs of people who discussed their Kindle experience.
What about book length, price and the book cover? Tony says he started at $7.99, but after doing a survey he found that price was probably higher than the average Kindle book. Once he lowered the price to $4.99, his books started taking off. He’s not sure if the price will remain the same, but it’s easy to go in and change the price point with a click of the button. His advice is to find similar ebooks and look at the price point. Don’t price your ebook too high or you will price yourself out of sales.
Another piece of advice: you have a totally different piece of technology so don’t confine yourself to old marketing – think outside the box. Tony’s book, Conducting Twitter Contests, was published as PDF with embedded videos. For the ebook version, he used all the hyperlinks and put those on a dedicated Kindle page. You can’t watch the videos on the Kindle, but as you’re reading you can click on the links and go to the website with video.
Karen had priced all her books on the low side. She and Amazon Encore debated the price for A Scattered Life, and ultimately the price remained at $2.99 and she sold 100,000 of the book downloads. She doesn’t think that would have happened if the book had a higher price. If your goal is to get people to read your books, it’s better to price them lower.
For Karen, this is writer heaven, a dream come true. Ebooks are a growing market and as the actual devices become lower in price it will become more mainstream. The ebook market for books for teens is now expanding (many teens got Nooks, Kindles, etc. for the holidays). And authors can be creative: Amanda Hocking has sold more than 500,000 ebooks on her own. One of her smart marketing moves was pricing the first book in her series at 99 cents. At the end of the first book was an excerpt for book #2. Karen had a Kindle, and bought book #2. That second installment had an excerpt from the third book, so Karen bought the third – and both of those books are $2.99. By then, Karen didn’t mind the higher price because knew she knew Amanda’s books would deliver.
With 1,500 books published every day in the U.S. (print, not ebooks) and very few access points for these books, what ebooks have done is offer a way for authors to get published and experiment. They’ll find out right away if readers like their book. With ebooks, authors have quick access to readers and no blocks to distribution, unlike print publishing.
Aspiring writers should keep the faith. If they couldn’t get published before, just jump in and try ebooks. The opportunities are there, Karen says.
You can download the full show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepublishinginsiders/2011/02/23/smart-self-publishing-part-3-making-money-with-ebooks
Please join us March 8, 2011 for the Smart Self Publishing Series, Part 4: Why Book Design & Editing Matter
If you want your self-published book to stand out, you need: a good front cover, strong overall book design, compelling back cover copy and, most importantly: strong editing. Our guest Sue Collier, President of Self-Publishing Resources and co-author of The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, will discuss these issues, why they matter so much, and how authors can find the right professionals to ensure their book shines.
About our guest: As president and CEO of SPR, Sue Collier oversees all book project work, coordinating a team of experts and holding true to the result-getting principles she learned from founder Marilyn Ross, who continues to serve as the consultant to the consultant. SPR provides turnkey service to individuals and organizations seeking to publish and promote their own books, handling all aspects of book editing, design, production, and marketing and promotions. Sue also offers personalized coaching services for authors and small presses, providing them with the benefits of her extensive publishing background. Over the past two decades, she has worked with hundreds of clients, guiding them through the self-publishing process, and helping them produce professional, attractive books. Learn more at http://selfpublishingresources.com/.
February 9, 2011
We had a great show that continues our Smart Self Publishing Series, with Part 2 focusing on Becoming Your Own Publisher.
About our guests: Eric Kampmann is President of Midpoint Trade Books, a leading sales and distribution company designed to provide crucial services to today’s independent publishers. Midpoint has built its excellent reputation as an innovative and powerful sales driven company designed to help independent publishers compete successfully in the trade book marketplace. Kampmann is also the Publisher and President of two publishing companies: Beaufort Books and Moyer Bell. Beaufort gained national attention in 2007 when it published the national bestseller If I Did It in partnership with the family of Ron Goldman. Kampmann has taught courses on book publishing at Harvard, Columbia, NYU and numerous publishing and writers conferences. He is the author of The Book Publishers Handbook (2007).
Tanya Hall is the Business Development Manager at Greenleaf Book Group, a publisher and distributor specializing in the growth and development of independent authors and small presses. Tanya drives Greenleaf’s efforts to develop strategic partnerships to grow Greenleaf’s reputation as a leading independent publisher. Prior to her current role, she built Greenleaf’s distribution program into major retail and wholesale channels. Before joining the publishing industry, Tanya worked as a television producer for Extra! and E! Cable Networks.
How has book distribution changed during the last few years?
Tanya noted that Borders used to buy large quantities of books up front, but they also used to return a lot of books later. Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble started with fewer books and increased orders over time. When Borders starting having trouble, it whittled down Greenleaf’s avenues to sell and forced them to take hard look at diversifying by reaching out to special sales accounts (non-bookstore) to offset that change. What non-bookstore markets? Half of their list is business titles, so the markets include airports, where they do a lot of business. Gift markets include gift trade shows, hospital gift shops and corporate accounts, where a client might have connections. Greenleaf looks at where the author has existing connections, where his or her message resonates and the audiences the book addresses.
Publishing has disregarded every major change that’s come down the pike during the last 20 years. In 1996, Eric started a publishing company during a bookselling revolution – not started by the publishers, but by Baker & Taylor, Amazon, B&N and to a smaller extent Borders, and other accounts. There was an enormous change in what was being bought, what was available. This changed the market. The traditional New York publishers have not had the ability to perceive these changes, for several reasons, he said.
If you design these companies right and put together pieces right, then the need for capital is much more limited than people will tell you, Eric says. Lean and mean is the machine you want to have. Selling to the trade part of the world has never been easier. If I Did It, for example, a Beaufort bestseller, had a signed contract Aug. 15, and they shipped 125,000 copies to bookstores on Sept. 12… that’s less than 1 month, and soon after, the book was on the New York Times bestseller list. There’s a huge advantage independent publishers have, a flexibility in the marketplace. The key is teamwork. Many don’t understand the complexity of publishing, there are all these different parts, and they have to be working in conjunction with each other.
What does a distributor do?
A good distributor is a company that proactively sells your book … it’s not making your book “available,” Tanya says. You want a distributor with a sales force to sell your book, and handle packaging, shipping returns, etc. A distributor handles all of the logistical aspects of the book.
Can every publisher be a distributor? Tanya says it depends on the quality of the content. At Greenleaf, they work with authors from idea inception to publication, but do have cases where they only handle distribution.
Distributors do all the things in publishing that no one else is willing or able to do, adds Eric. Most people don’t know what salespeople do, or the logistics of a warehouse. Authors should visit Ingram’s distribution center if they are getting into publishing. It’s an engineering marvel – their job is to get a book from A to B in the fastest amount of time at the lowest cost.
Eric says his company will take single-title book publishers. They’ve had success stories. It goes to the quality of the books. They assess the salability of any prospective title.
What is important to know about the submission process?
Once authors fill out the application form and send Eric and his team whatever they have (manuscript, proposal, etc), they can quickly assess if it’s a fit. What can help get a foot in the door? The secret with me is knowing somebody I know, Eric says. He would take an applicant much more seriously if he or she was recommended by someone he knows, over someone just coming through the door. Or if someone in his company has seen something, that’s very influential.
At Greenleaf, they also assess marketability and the author’s platform. Tanya says another vital factor is an author’s willingness to work. If somebody comes to us from a publicist, I know they’ve made that very important step, that’s very influential. We’re looking for differentiated content and a platform, as well as who will approach this as a partnership.
Does an author need a strong social media presence?
Tanya says it depends on where the audience is … for some content, having a strong social media platform makes sense. We don’t expect to see a strong social media presence with certain other types of content. Platform overall is huge, but what that’s comprised of should vary from project to project, based on where primary audiences are.
Eric says in the hierarchy of publishing we live in a realm of celebrity… whether they are a businessperson, from Hollywood, or a TV person, they have a huge following of some kind that can express itself through social media. Eric makes exceptions when they have an author come to them without a social media presence – but possessing a lot of drive. I would hate to put up criteria of a social media platform of 4,000… no, I look at what they can build. Sometimes we don’t have much to build with. We can harvest what authors have already done, that’s what distributors do. Big publishers are almost trapped by needing to have books by celebrities because they need bestsellers. I love the world we live in, our world filled with energy and possibilities.
What should a publisher expect from a distributor?
Old truths remain true, says Eric: It’s a relationship business. I think it’s a judgment call and an experiential kind of business. What they should expect from us is a total commitment from our company to them on a relationship basis. We have to stop talking once in a while and we have to listen – often authors are your best salesperson. Listen, be involved, be connected, that’s the key to our continued growth and success.
So much involves managing expectations, says Tanya. We try to give ballpark ideas to publishers on what they can expect sales-wise based on what we hear from retail chains. Transparency is also important, such as the online sales reporting that Greenleaf provides to clients. They should also not expect to NOT do any work. They still have to pound the pavement, especially as the author becomes a brand. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to get the name out there, the book out there.
The most important thing a new author has to think about is what’s best for them – it might not be finding an agent and trying to get published by Viking, it may not be the best route, Eric says. Sometimes it’s going to CreateSpace via Amazon and saying, I’m going to start out modestly. The beauty of that is it limits the investment, and if something good happens you can move out of that realm. It is a potential way of getting published on a very modest scale.
As an author, your first book may not be the most amazing success you’ve ever had. Your dreams have to be circumscribed by the reality of the enormous competitiveness of this business. I always say: the world is not waiting for your book. What I mean by that – we help the world care, we get the world to stop long enough to say “I want to buy that,” but it takes an enormous amount of work, energy, blood, sweat and tears to make that happen – because the world is essentially passive in nature when it comes to the next book coming out, he adds.
What are the biggest pitfalls?
Not doing your homework, says Tanya. It’s vital to understand the business of publishing.
Eric agrees that not doing homework and understanding how publishing works is a huge issue. Not knowing what a sales person does, for instance. They don’t make bestsellers, they have a relationship with people at B&N and are a conduit through which books pass from our outlet into the stores. They aren’t predicting success, but estimating the possibility of success.
Also, less is more when comes to first printings. Large publishing houses operate on a short runway, and need a big press run, which loses steam quickly. With a long runway there is no timeline for a book to take off, it could be 1 year, 2 years or more before a book gets the word of mouth it needs. That’s the huge advantage smaller publishers have.
Predictions for book publishing in 2011:
At Greenleaf, Tanya says they’ll keep trucking along doing what they do well – they see changes in retail channels, but have been insulated from some of it due to relationships they’ve built. Ebook sales are up for Greenleaf and don’t seem to cannibalize print sales.
The ebook phenomenon is very real and they aren’t necessarily cannibalizing traditional book sales, Eric says. Ebook sales might have more impact on paperbacks, but that’s only a theory. There may be changes in companies in 2011. But if you’re running a tight ship and being realistic about the economy, it should be a good year.
You can download the full show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepublishinginsiders/2011/02/09/smart-self-publishing-series-part-2-becoming-your-own-publisher.
Please join us Feb. 22, 2011 for the Smart Self Publishing Series, Part 3: Making Money with Ebooks
Ebooks currently make up almost 10% of book sales, and their stratospheric growth is expected to continue. With the various devices out there – Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iPad, among others – and the formatting issues, how should you even begin? More importantly, several indie authors are making significant money by selling ebooks. What are their secrets? We’ll discuss these issues and many more with our special guests, authors Karen McQuestion and Tony Eldridge.
About our guests: Karen McQuestion’s essays have appeared in Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, Christian Science Monitor and several anthologies. She is the author of six books self-published on Amazon’s Kindle, one of which, the novel, A Scattered Life, caught the attention of an L.A. based production company and became the first self-published Kindle book to be optioned for film. Five of her previously self-published books will now be published by AmazonEncore. McQuestion lives with her family in Hartland, Wisconsin. Learn more at http://www.karenmcquestion.com/.
Tony Eldridge is the author of the award winning action/adventure novel, The Samson Effect, which Clive Cussler calls a “first rate thriller brimming with intrigue and adventure.” He is also the creator of Marketing Tips for Authors, a site that publishes free tips and videos to help authors learn marketing techniques for their books. You can read the serial release of The Samson Effect at http://samsoneffect.marketingtipsforauthors.com/.