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Posts Tagged ‘book sales’

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Why isn’t my book selling?

From a client: 

My book is getting great reviews in places like Foreword Magazine, so why isn’t it selling better?

My answer:

There are two kinds of marketing - push and pull. Anything that is primarily for "the trade" (publishing) is "pushing" your message into the channels so that they know about it, can put it in their system if desired, and even stock it in the stores if they feel that there is/will be consumer demand. That includes most reviews, ads in trade publications, shows like BEA, etc. 

The other side of the equation - pull marketing - is marketing to the consumer so that they will "pull" the book through the trade channels. You have to have both types of marketing to the target buyers in order for your book to have robust sales.

The other parts of the puzzle are distribution (which you have), the product itself has to be done well (which you have) and it has to be priced right for the buyer - most people buying books today in your genre aren’t expecting a hard cover book and a higher than $20 price point, so that slows sales.

So you need to get the consumer to know about your book more widely - and that takes continuous exposure for as long as the book is selling.

So the question for you is what are you doing each month on an ongoing basis to create the consumer demand? There are lots of avenues to do that - radio, lifestyle stories in print or online, stories about parts of your book in article banks online, interviews in print, broadcast and online, live appearances and more.

Make yourself a calendar of your activities each month that are media related - make sure your distributor knows about all the media you are doing each month so they can tell the stores. If you have 2-4 things every month that are national or strongly regionally focused, you will see sales increase.

 

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Is Distribution for POD an Oxymoron?

Recently a question was posed to me about distribution for POD books. While I believe that is really an oxymoron, it does cause considerable confusion, even among authors that do traditional off-set book printing.  Distribution in the traditional sense, implies book stocking at some level - either at a warehouse or in a retail location. With the advent of print on demand, the idea is to eliminate warehousing and provide just-in-time delivery to the consumer. So how can you have both? Or should you want to? Here is my reader’s question:

In your opinion, if trade distribution doesn’t work well for the POD publisher, what do you think is best to get your books sold and distributed? I’m a little confused by the statement that stores ’seldom stock’ books from LSI. Do they order from them or not?

Here is my answer:

You have to understand the difference between “available nationwide” and “in store stocking”. In a BN (or other large store) there are approximately 80,000 titles at any one time – out of several million books, that isn’t many. And those titles have approximately 6-8 weeks to prove themselves, or they are out of there! 

What LSI gets you (through Ingram) is availability – BN has access to it in their system via the Ingram database as “available” for order if someone comes in and asks for it. If they get enough requests, they may actually put it in the BN system, vs having to look it up on Ingram’s system and their stock.  If BN (for example) decides to “stock it” or “carry it”, the first level of doing that is to have it available in their (BN) warehouse vs through Ingram’s warehouse. If that goes well, they may try store stocking in a few stores where the demand is coming from. If that does well, then they may try it in other similar stores, etc.

 To get regular store stocking, you have to have one of two things. A distributor that has enough confidence in your ability to promote your book regionally or nationwide as apprpriate (and therefore be “worthy” of store stocking) or enough people coming in and asking for it because of publicity that you have done to generate the buzz and demand for your book (see above).

 So when I say “seldom stock” I mean that the only way a POD book will be stocked is via the first method above. To have a trade distributor, you must have stock in the distributor’s warehouse (usually hundreds, if not thousands of books or it isn’t worth the distributor’s time) and that model does not fit a POD model. If you are going to print thousands of books for a distributor to sell, then you must have an off-set run to make it viable financially – and then you have to be confident in YOUR ability to “pull through” the consumers to buy the books, or you will end up with those books back in the distributor’s warehouse and eventually back to you because the didn’t sell through.  Something no one wants to see happen. You have to plot your marketing strategy very carefully to know what will work for your book.

 That is why my first question to a prospective client is always “what are your goals for your book and how will you reach those goals?” A goal of a few hundred books in a local or nationwide market has a much different marketing and distribution plan than a client who wants to sell 50,000 this holiday season. I’ve had both clients this year.

 So to answer your question, it depends upon what your sales goals are for your book and do you have the time, money, know how and other resources to make it happen.

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The Decade of Mobile Publishing

This is a guest post from a fellow Linked-In member - very insightful about the coming decade.

 

Whether it will be the Apple Kindle killer or someone else’s tablet computer, mobile publishing will have a huge impact in the next decade with serious consequences for the print industry. Printers who choose to disregard this phenomenon will do so at their own peril. Print production will rapidly become a subset of multimedia production. Folks with knowledge of print production will retain their value only if they also augment their skill set with a thorough knowledge of video, flash, html authoring and other multimedia skills.

Many have argued that formats like the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and other electronic content delivery systems will never have the look, feel and flexibility of the printed page. In some cases they are probably right, but in the vast majority of cases, that point of view is simply wishful thinking.

Here’s why. The next decade will see tablet PCs that are much more than electronic books. They will have gorgeous full-color touch screens that will come very close to simulating paper, but will have even more flexibility. You will be able to write on them, create art on them, shoot and retouch and edit photos and video on them, and of course connect with the Internet through WiFi and 4G networks. Phone, fax, notebook, notepad, still and video camera, voice recorder, calendar, LinkedIn, Facebook and a whole lot more all in one 6×9 package weighing a pound our less.

Would you honestly spend two or three times as much money for every book you buy when you can carry around a few dozen books everywhere you go and use the same device to replace your laptop, desktop, fax machine and more?

A few other things will almost certainly happen in the next decade. Solid state memory will probably replace existing hard drives because they are better suited for mobile computing. The ability to read SD cards is already a de facto standard in the PC market. CDs will fade in popularity because the devices for reading them are simply too bulky for tablet applications, and they will be replaced by SD cards. It’s a bit surprising that this trend hasn’t already started, though I suppose CDs are still cheaper than SD cards and the superior capacity of the cards is not a plus when you are selling music. Still, movies are not yet moving to SD cards either. I predict they will in the coming decade. The bulk and cost of adding CD/DVD read/write mechanisms to tablet PCs will make the manufacturers of those devices opt for smaller memory devices that don’t require any moving parts.

When a very good full color tablet PC hits the market, which may happen as early as next month if Apple rumors are correct, they will sell by the millions. Netbooks are already selling well, but they just don’t hit that sweet-spot of portability and capability that a Kindle-sized tablet PC will offer. The book sellers are ready to pounce on the market since they make most of their money on books and related offerings, not on the end-delivery product. Amazon and Barnes and Noble may try to keep pace with new offerings, but it seems likely a more full-featured machine will quickly eclipse the models currently available.

If you’re looking for a growth market, I’d suggest European-style men’s carry bags which will be perfect for the new tablet PCs. They’re too big for your pocket, but a heck of a lot easier to carry around than a laptop.

Authored by Stephen Beals  http://www.printoolz.com

 

 

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When do you Start Marketing Your Book?

Get your book really ready by following these steps:

1) You need a distribution strategy (whether POD or off-set - just the logistics are different) - how sad is it to create great buzz - and you don’t have your book anyplace where the trade and consumers can get it for your anxious buyers. Big lost sales and a waste of $$ on the publicist.

2) To engage a trade distributor (assuming you are doing print runs) you must have a written marketing plan for them.

3) You have to make sure that your product is top notch - or a publicist won’t take it - their reputation is on the line with every book they recommend to their media contacts. that is what you are really paying for - who they know.

4) You have to make sure that your price is competitive with other books in your genre or no amount of publicity will create the sales that you expect.

5) You need a good media kit for the publicist to use as a basis for the publicity she/he will create for you - or you can pay the publicist to do that work for you.

When I can "have it my way" - which isn’t often (<: - I prefer to work on the book at least 6 months ahead of the pub date - you really need that much time to get the marketing/distribution/pricing plans together, apply to distributors, get their paperwork done, get their sales team representing your book to the chains, the chains place their advance orders, you know how many to print and ship to them, they have to get them in stores - all prior to your pub date.

A website is another activity that should be done as early as possible - you can use it to begin creating advance buzz for your book, have a media room where the media can learn about your book (cover art, pictures from the book, pub date, etc.) and a place to post your media coverage as it comes in. You can post your Table of contents, a sample chapter, do a blog, and so on - lots you can do to start building that platform waaayyy ahead of the book.

You also need your publicist in place with your media kit to do pre-pub reviewers 3-4 months minimum before pub date (required time), get early copies out to large magazines with long lead times, and then when the time gets closer, do newspapers, blogs, websites, and short cycle magazines.

WHEW!!! See why it takes 6 months? Oh - and YOU have to follow-up on all this to maximize the impact.

My motto: No follow-up = no results

Of course all of this is predicated on your goals for your project, the amount of resources (time & money) you can devote to your book and any constraints that your life situation imposes on you (don’t want to do live appearances or maybe radio terrifies you, etc.).

So give your book a chance – start early and plan your marketing just as carefully as you planned your words on the page.

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Kindle Books Show Rapid Growth

 

In today’s New York Times, Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com, announced the Global Kindle, but what was most interesting was his statement at the end of the article:

 

"Mr. Bezos declined to offer specific information about Kindle sales. But he said Kindle titles were now 48 percent of total book sales in instances where Amazon sold both a digital and physical copy of a book. That was up from 35 percent last May, an increase Mr. Bezos called “astonishing.”

“This has grown much faster than any of us ever anticipated,” Mr. Bezos said."

 

Astonishing indeed.  Trees everywhere are breathing easier!  All one has to do is look at a selection of Amazon.com listings to see that many, many books (I think the number is around 600,000) are now available in Kindle format.

While my own sales numbers (48% are Kindle where both print and electronic are offered) don’t jive with his numbers, we are definitely seeing an increase in activity from the sale of Kindle books.

Here is the link to the full article: http://snipurl.com/sdzh2

 

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