Self-Publishing News: 3.5.2018 – The Company Files!

march

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically news from or regarding self-publishing companies!

Starting with some positive news today, we recommend you check out this press release courtesy of Outskirts Press and Benzinga, a premier source for the latest in information on the self-publishing industry (among others). At the heart of this story … well, a lot of heart. A lot of love! Because it’s almost that time of year, isn’t it? And Outskirts Press is determined to ensure that those authors choosing to self-publish this year have the best possible Valentine’s Day ever! This self-publishing company, which has a history of both fantastic deals and long-term contributors to this blog, will be giving authors twenty percent off in a flash sale on its popular Full-Color and Ultimate publishing packages. That’s a pretty sweet deal–almost as sweet as the real and genuine care which this company is reputed to take with those works which pass through its expert services. Of course, we’re a little biased. But Outskirts Press has been voted #1 Publishing Company by Top Consumer Reviews, several years running!

Computing, a scrupulously reputable news engine dedicated to technology (particularly in the UK) is now reporting on further developments in the case against Amazon, which recently shuttered many of its CreateSpace services. Elizabeth covered those earlier developments in a separate blog (which you can read here) several weeks back, but it’s worth noting that the company is rapidly moving from treating its author base poorly to being downright disreputable, and that criminals have found a way to exploit the website without Amazon taking decisive action to shut them down. It’s a complicated story, and one we’ll be following closely. We highly recommend you check out Computing contributor Nicholas Fearn’s full article at the link.


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As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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In Your Corner: Who fills the void left by CreateSpace? Think about Outskirts Press

CreateSpace recently announced plans to soon eliminate positions in its editing, marketing and design divisions. While job cuts are an unsavory step for any company, this move is likely intended to streamline operations and shore up financials.

But what will this mean for self-publishing authors? CreateSpace will continue to print books and authors will still be able to upload and sell their books, but with these cuts there will no longer be the option to purchase copyediting, book formatting, book cover design, marketing or any other professional creative services for authors publishing via CreateSpace. Suddenly, CreateSpace authors will need to navigate the process alone or seek out other self-publishing service providers for help.

Here’s where a self-publishing company–like the one I work for, Outskirts Press–comes in.

Based on company-wide conversations already taking place, I’m confident that Outskirts Press will work diligently to accommodate all writers negatively affected by the service cuts at CreateSpace. We’re proud to have been named the #1 self-publisher by Top Consumer Reviews multiple years in a row and will continue the tradition of excellence for all CreateSpace authors who require more than just an upload. In addition to our printing and ebook publishing services, we provide independent authors with all the same services discontinued by CreateSpace, and then some. Our services include:

  • Professional writing and editing services: Our service to independent authors starts long before publication! Whether you need help starting or finishing the manuscript, or require just the final read-through, we can match you up with a talented professional ghostwriter or editor to help you achieve a professional book.
  • Professional book formatting: A wide selection of the most popular book formats and interior formatting options.
  • Custom cover design: Our talented book cover designers will ensure that you get a cover that sells.
  • Book marketing: A broad menu of marketing options to promote your book your way today.
  • All-inclusive packages: Comprehensive publishing packages that include everything you need to polish, format, publish and market your book successfully.
  • Affordable and flexible: With us, you can start the self-publishing journey for only $35 down!

Are you, or is an author you know, left stranded by the void left by CreateSpace’s cuts? You can find out more about how my coworkers at Outskirts Press can professionally publish your book, distribute it globally (yes, even on Amazon) and support you with affordable options at the same time by visiting our website at www.OutskirtsPress.com.

You know, it’s not every day I am compelled to write a “hard sell,” but when it comes to recent events, I feel the need to be honest: what CreateSpace has done will leave many authors feeling abandoned mid-project, or worse, unaided from start to finish. Self-publishing has (and will) continue to thrive and evolve to provide better services due to the diversification of options available to you, the self-publishing author; watching any company in our industry go through the layoff process is not, in the end, a cheerful experience. We feel for those who now find themselves looking for work, and hope that they, as well as you, find that next good thing speedily.

You can read more about the layoffs here.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Becoming an Amazon Bestseller

Not long after on-demand self-publishing hit the mainstream, and Amazon started putting every other company out of business (like Borders, CompUSA, etc.), a “marketing strategy” began circulating about a sales technique whereby a book could (at least momentarily) skyrocket to #1 on the Amazon bestsellers list.  Before this technique started becoming saturated, authors closely following this strategy often saw their books reach an overall Amazon bestsellers ranking of #1.  Then, as more and more authors followed the same steps, it became acceptable to call oneself a “#1 Amazon Bestseller” simply if the book reached #1 in a very specific genre-category on Amazon (which is still nothing to sneeze at).

Most of you have probably seen about or read about this strategy before, but just in case you haven’t, here’s a quick run-down of how it works and why it works.

HOW IT WORKS 

  1. Pick a specific day in which you will strive for “bestseller status” on Amazon. Make it far enough in advance to accomplish the rest of these steps.
  2. Create Joint Ventures with other authors and/or online marketers. A “Joint venture” is a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby you partner with another writer/entrepreneur to trade something of value (an eBook, for example) with one another in exchange for something else of value (each other’s mailing lists, or word-of-mouth publicity).  Many authors and entrepreneurs are open to being Joint Ventures on Amazon Bestsellers programs because they know you will actively promote it (which is necessary for success). Through that promotion, their eBook, or “product” will receive additional exposure they would otherwise not be able to achieve.  The best and easiest way to find possible Joint Venture partners is by looking at other Amazon Bestsellers campaigns (perhaps you’ve received an email), and following up with the same people.
  3. Contact each of your Joint Venture partners and introduce yourself and your book and ask if they’d like to help you with your marketing campaign.  Ask if they would be willing to give away something of value to your customers in exchange for some publicity, and/or a free copy of your book.  Some will say yes. Others may say no.  It rarely takes much of their time, since you are handling almost all the details, so this is a nice time when you receive more “yes’s” than “no’s”. All they have to do is donate the “free bonus” and offer to email their mailing list on the specific date you decided upon in Step #1.
  4. Once you’ve collect 10 or so Joint Ventures, you need to make a “Sales Page” on the internet.  There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, depending upon your proficiency with HTML.  The purpose of the “Sales Page” is to “sell” your book and, as extra incentive, offer your customers “Free Bonuses”, the combined value of which exceeds the cost of your book.  These free bonuses are compliments of all your Joint Partners; so your sales page also identifies and “sells” each of the Joint Venture products, too.  If your book costs $19.95, but you are giving away $200 worth of “free stuff” anyone with even a passing interest in your book may pony up the twenty bucks just to get all the extras.
  5. At the bottom of the Sales Page is the Buy Button. There are a variety of ways to do this, also, depending upon your HTML proficiency.  You can send them directly to Amazon and ask them to forward you a receipt (the manual process), or you can provide a Promotion Code which entitles them to automatic downloads of all the free bonuses (the automatic process).  Whichever method you choose, make sure your instructions and directions are very clear for them, so they know they’ll get everything you are offering.  If you go the “manual” route, be prepared to deliver upon your promises, even if thousands of orders come in (what a great problem to have!)
  6. Alternatively, you can create the “sales page” within the body of your email that you are sending out. The email still ends with the Amazon Buy Button directing each recipient to your Amazon Sales Page.  You must send your customers to Amazon, rather than selling the book directly yourself. After all, the whole point is to reach an Amazon bestsellers ranking, and that only occurs if your book sales are going through Amazon.
  7. At the date and time determined in Step #1, send your email to your mailing list.  Send out a quick reminder email to your Joint Partners to do the same thing. Provide them with the same email so they don’t have to write anything themselves.  Theoretically, the same email will therefore go to thousands upon thousands of people (when you combine your mailing list with the lists of all 10+ of your Joint Partners) all at roughly the same time, all promoting your book, and all offering hundreds of dollars in “bonuses” to your new readers.
  8. Depending upon the size of the combined lists, even if only a small percentage of people buy your book, it is often enough to “trick” Amazon’s algorithm into skyrocketing your book’s Amazon Bestsellers campaign.

WHY IT WORKS 

Well, that’s why the word “trick” is in quotation marks.  Amazon’s Ranking algorithm tabulates quantity of sales within periods of time. So a book that normally sells 1 book a month that suddenly sells 10 books an hour will “trick” Amazon’s algorithm into thinking it’s selling like hotcakes (because, relatively speaking, it is!).  This is why it’s important for the sales email to be sent on the same day by all the Joint Partners, and ideally all within the same short period of time.  Recipients who act upon the email, and buy your book, will do so within a condensed period of time, which will probably catapult your Amazon Sales Ranking.

Will your ranking last?  No (so be sure to watch Amazon throughout the day and take screen shots). But “#1 Amazon Bestsellers” have never worried too much about divulging the fine print.

amazon bookstore


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

From the Archives: Creating a “So you’d like to…” Guide for your Self Published Book

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: September 1, 2008 ]

If you are promoting your self-published book, hopefully by now you have created a few “listmania” lists. If you were poking around your Amazon “Profile” page, you may have also seen the “So you’d like to….” guide section.

Writing a “So you’d like to…” guide is nearly as easy as creating a listmania list and will probably yield even better results, simply because the number of guides on Amazon is less than the number of lists. Why? Because guides are more work to create. But not for you! You’ve already written a book, and you can turn excerpts of your book into guides.

In fact, you can basically cut and paste a selected section from your published book and create a guide out of it. Just follow the steps on Amazon.com by clicking on the “Create a So you’d like to… guide” link in the “So You’d Like to” section of your profile page.

To get there, sign in to your Amazon.com account from http://amazon.com/connect then click on your personalized “Store” tab the top, and then click on “Your Profile” from tab menu.  If you have not set up an Amazon Connect account yet, you can read more about doing this here: Using Listmania to Promote your Self-Published Book

Again, like with the “listmania” lists, the real power of the guide is adding OTHER books that will spark people’s interest in reading your guide.

Good luck and have fun!

As we’ve mentioned in the intervening years since my first post, Listmania has … gone to list heaven. But it hasn’t left a giant gap in our normal ways and means of doing things, as by and large its primary functions were usurped by Goodreads’ superior tools.

And boy, do we love Goodreads. I mean, I. I love Goodreads. A lot.

So what if it’s been bought by Amazon? Goodreads has Listopia. Goodreads has “best of” lists. Goodreads has twenty different functions that I haven’t even begun to explore, but love the idea of. (Giveaways! Recommendations! Blogs! News & Interviews! It seems endless.) Just so long as Amazon resists the urge to do more than place banner ads on every page (which we’re more than used to with Facebook, anyway) I will love the gift that is Goodreads.

It’s not just good for readers (and it is good for readers). It’s good for authors, too. Reviews on Goodreads consistently show up in the first three or four items indexed in any given Google search for a book. They probably shook hands under the table somewhere, but it certainly benefits self-publishing authors.

Get yourself on Goodreads. Explore Listopia. Explore the relics of Amazon’s “So You Want To…” guides, but be aware: a lot has changed in the past eight or nine years, and a lot will continue to change as we adapt to an ever-changing digital future. The key is not to hold on tightly to any one tool or service (I know, I know, I need to lighten up on my love for Goodreads then!). The key is to be willing to pick up new ones when they become useful, and to let the old (and beloved) ones fade away into obscurity.

Sometimes, self-publishing is about saying good-bye.

RIP, Listmania.

rip listmania

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Self-Publishing News: 5.15.2017

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this week in the world of self-publishing:

Beginning in March, Amazon began a policy which allowed third-party sellers the right to purchase the “Buy Box” for new books being sold on Amazon. Why is this such a big deal? Traditionally, by default, the “Buy Box” has always been something that belonged to the original publisher of the book. That way, when you purchase a book, 45% of the profits go back to the publisher, and in turn, help pay authors. “This contributes to authors’ royalties,” says Brook Warner, “and also means that your purchase is supporting the entity that published the book, namely the publisher.” Warner suggests that this policy not only favors the largest third-seller parties, but it drastically affects publishers and authors.

Warner is affiliated with the publishing industry, so she has seen first hand the negative impacts of this change. One of the authors published under Warner’s press called her to inform her that her book was no longer being offered at all on Amazon from her publisher. If someone were to search for the title of her book, the only available purchase options were from third-party publishing companies. “Amazon’s policy states that ‘eligible sellers will be able to compete for the buy box,’” says Warner, “but in this case, we had been completely wiped off of Amazon as an eligible seller in any capacity, without being notified.” After more investigation, Warner found that some books published by a company she used to work at, Seal Press, were only offering copies from third-party sellers.

The problem with this new policy, according to Warner, is that it affects publishers’ backlist for books “(typically meaning any book that’s six months or older).” To someone buying the book, it appears as though the third-party seller is the only available purchase option, and if they did click the “more buying options” button, it would only alert them to cheaper versions of the book, not the one for sale by the publishing company which is listed as “sold by Amazon.com,” with no nod to the publishing company at all. Because small publishing companies are especially dependent on backlist sales, and because Amazon is the main source for backlist sales, Amazon is making it look as though a lot of these books are out of print with their publishing companies when in fact, they are not.

What are the biggest takeaways from this new policy by Amazon? For Warner, it is that they are trying to further drive down the value and cost of books, something they’ve already done with their ebooks by encouraging authors to sell their books for under $10 by giving the incentive of better royalties if they do so. Further, this makes it so that authors can’t earn royalties for the sale of their books. Amazon has suggested to people who are upset about the “buy box” competition that they should keep their books in stock which is problematic for self-published authors or backlist authors whose books are only available by print-on-demand, which are only printed to order, i.e. out of stock. “This new third-party seller policy is potentially terrorizing,” says Warner, “in that it can and will literally result in publishers selling fewer copies and ultimately being forced to declare backlist books out of print.”

In order to counter this effort by Amazon Warner suggests supporting indie bookstores, avoiding third-party sellers and always considering how your purchase will affect the authors, especially if you yourself are an author. Driving down the cost of books means driving down the value of your creative and intellectual property, which as authors we should all value very highly.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

In Your Corner: Optimize your Amazon presence!

Amazon is, for all intents and purposes, the powerhouse when it comes to the book distribution process.  It doesn’t seem to be a temporary thing, either; authors and publishers alike simply must acclimate to the fact that to sell a lot of books, they first must tailor their Amazon presence to be an attractive one.  And Amazon seems to have good intentions insofar as providing resources goes: its architects have dedicated incredible resources to creating better ways to connect authors with their readers.

There are a lot of ways to promote your book on Amazon, and since sales through this website may very well account for a large percentage of your overall book sales, it’s worth making sure you’re aware of all of the options!

amazon warehouse

The first step, of course, is to figure out what you’re doing right.

To do this, locate your book listing on Amazon by searching the title or ISBN.  Once your book listing is fully loaded, make sure your cover is showing.  If it isn’t there yet, make sure to upload a quality image for your readers to view–preferably at a high resolution.  Double-check that all of the information on display is accurate, and check back every few weeks to make sure it stays up-to-date and glitch-free.  This all is predicated on the assumption, of course, that you already have your book for sale on Amazon … but what if you don’t?

Create an Author Central account.

This account differs from the normal customer account you may already have on Amazon as a result of buying something (or many things).  An Author Central account allows you to better manage your books, and the process is free, so there are zero reasons not to create one.  To begin, navigate to authorcentral.amazon.com and register your profile, following the on-screen prompts to add your books to your bibliography, create a blog, edit or revise your online descriptions, and use a number of other tools on offer.

Returning to your book listing page, it’s vital that you include only relevant and compelling sales information with a positive marketing slant that will increase both your exposure and the number of people who actually buy your book.  That’s money in the bank!  Streamline your page to avoid the clutter of white noise (information that distracts from what’s really important) and reassess regularly.

Go for those reviews.  Go for them.

Amazon rewards activity on your Author Central profile page and on your book page listings, to the more reviews you have–the more people who will be directed to your book via Amazon’s search algorithms, and the more people who will buy and review your book.  Interesting Factoid Alert: This is the definition of a positive feedback loop!  You want your book’s activity to outweigh the activity on all other books of comparable genre, content, and publication date–so in a sense, it is a bit of race to rack up the reviews.  To get these reviews, it’s a good plan to:

  1. Write online reviews for other books.  This gets your name out there, establishing you as an authority, and will occasionally be reciprocated by those authors you review.
  2. Entice people you know to review your book.  And if you don’t yet know a host of eager reviewers, consider hosting giveaways or offering discounts to potential reviewers.
  3. Mark positive reviews of your book as ‘helpful.’  There’s a link attached to each review on your book that allows other viewers to gauge the review’s usefulness (and accuracy).  You can ask your other friends and followers to do this, too.

Books without reviews are like books no one is buying–Amazon’s algorithms tend to leave them out of search engine results and “If you like this, you might also like this” recommendations.  It’s unethical (and fairly easy for others to spot) to give your own book a five-star review, but you shouldn’t shy from asking others to.  The worst they can say is ‘no,’ and there are plenty who will say ‘yes.’

Share your book using Amazon’s built-in features.

Picture this: sending an Amazon-branded email to all of your friends and acquaintances.  Imagine that the email contains a large image of your book cover along with its retail price, star rating, and an enormous inviting button saying “Learn More”!  Well, this option exists, is free, and is almost ridiculously easy to use.  All you have to do is locate your book on Amazon, look at your sales detail page, find the “Share” button (usually on the right-hand column).  Click “Share” and crack open your list of email contacts.  You can enter the email addresses for anyone you know who might like to know about your book, following the on-screen prompts to enter up to four hundred people at a time.

Amazon also makes it easy to share your book listing on social media.  You don’t have to copy the link manually; just click the Twitter, Facebook, and other social media icons on your book listing page–and again, just follow the prompts to log in and post the link to your followers.  Easy peasy!  And the best part is … every ‘hit’ on your book listing page boosts your online presence and optimizes your Amazon page within their complicated system.  Give yourself a leg up and explore all of your options!

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You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

From the Archives: “Self-Publishing Authors Can Get Their Books on the Shelves of ‘Traditional’ Bookstores”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: April 27th, 2011 ]

Even with the recent changes in the book publishing industry, a “traditional” bookstore presence should still be a goal for authors who want this. Why? Well, with this presence, authors are able to target an audience that is passionate about books. Think about it — people have to leave behind the comforts of their own home to go into a bookstore. Most likely they are there to purchase a book. If your book is on the shelf, yours may just have a chance at being the book they buy.

How can you work toward getting your book into that bookstore, though? Is it a matter of luck? Can self-publishing authors make the cut? The good news is that even if you’re not necessarily on a “lucky streak”, it’s still possible to successfully target placement in “traditional” bookstores. However, you must have a solid plan in place for doing so. Here are a few action items to put on your list as you get started:

  • Make sure your book is fully returnable. If your book cannot be returned, there is great risk involved for the bookstore. For example, if they stock 10 copies of your book and only 4 sell over the course of a year, they are losing money. If the book is returnable, though, the store can simply send the book back that doesn’t sell. Think of this return-ability as a type of “insurance” for your book.
  • Offer a sufficient trade discount. What’s sufficient? Typically that will be around 50-55% (or higher). Of course this does cut into your profits, but a higher retail margin gives the bookstore more incentive to stock your book on their shelves. No incentive? No cigar.
  • Build proof that your book is desirable. This is probably the most difficult (though not insurmountable) part of it all because authors often have a bias view of their book. However, the best indicator of a desirable book is exponential sales figures. If the amount of books you sale doubles, triples, quadruples, etc. month-after-month, that is something that can work in your favor. If you aren’t a professional marketer, you may want to seek the services of a book marketing consultant. Make sure they are able to help you draft a marketing plan and go forth on planning your publicity.

After you’ve done all of the above, you must put together a proposal to submit to bookstore contacts. You can find others specifically on their websites, but Barnes & Noble can be reached here:

The Small Press Department
Barnes & Noble
122 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011

Other bookstores can be found through Google. Another popular site for locating independent bookstores is Indie Bound.

Do you know of any other bookstores that are small press/self-published friendly?

by Wendy Stetina

When Wendy first posted this article back in 2011, the publishing industry looked rather different––and in many ways, it looked to be stumbling down the path to utter self-annihilation.  Borders, once a behemoth of the bookselling industry, went out of business in 2011, leaving many readers and authors questioning what––if any––place the brick and mortar bookstore held in the future of their industry.  In the heated discussion that followed in the post’s comments section, various Self Publishing Advisor subscribers pointed out the rise of online retailers as the cheapest and most effective sales platform for indie authors.  In response, SPA moderator Elise L. Connors wrote that “[T]his post wasn’t written with the intention of persuading authors to go after bookstores. It was actually written to let authors who are going after that avenue know that they shouldn’t give up on that ‘dream’ because of the current landscape of the industry.”  (The italics are mine.)

It’s true that Amazon has continued its meteoric rise to the top of the bookselling industry since 2011, and it’s also true that Amazon’s expanded offerings to self-publishing authors have captured much of the market and spurred much public dialogue about the world of indie publishing.  It’s true that Barnes & Noble’s online presence, the Apple iBooks Store, and a whole host of social media platforms and numerous self-publishing companies have sprung up in recent years to diversify and stabilize the market.  And while there have never been so many ways to buy and sell a book as there are in the year 2016, it is true too that ebooks and e-readers have done nothing to lessen customers’ appreciation for the pure tactile pleasure of a brick and mortar store.

Even Amazon has come around to seeing a street presence as importance, as evidenced by the launch of the first Amazon Books shop (in Seattle) last year.  Yes, it seems mostly a kind of marketing gimmick, but it’s one that works.  As one skeptical self-publishing expert learned, even the store’s critics often walk away with an Amazon Prime Membership or a physical book or two.  (These are true stories, people!)  There is, apparently, nothing that quite beats the “instant gratification” of beholding actual physical books on an actual physical shelf.  And while the jury’s still out on whether Amazon Books stores will do anything specifically geared to boost sales of self-published works––like installing Espresso Book Machines, for example, or offering curated collections of Print on Demand (POD) editions of Kindle favorites––one can’t help but notice the wide swathes of shelf space dedicated to Kindles in pictures of the interior.

amazon bookstore

And Amazon’s not the only company with a brick-and-mortar presence that can make a difference for indie and self-publishing authors.  In fact, many independent bookstores and even larger chains like Denver’s Tattered Cover go to great lengths to boost sales of local indie authors.  On my last visit to one of Tattered Cover’s several stores, I stepped inside the doors and made my way toward the coffee bar––only to find my progress impeded by a series of low bookshelves that blocked out the cafe’s seating area.  These shelves were the first thing every customer sees when walking in that store, and they were positively packed with self-published books, placed there on consignment.  (If you live in or near Denver and are interested in knowing more, visit their website.)

 

But ultimately, I’m not here today to defend the bookstore as a vital place to sell your books.  I’m here to help those of you who already know you want to get your book into a bookstore somewhere … to do so with the least amount of fuss.

To return to Wendy’s original post, most bookstores now either mandate her first point (“Make sure your book is fully returnable“) or take any guesswork out of the equation by relying on a consignment model (as with Tattered Cover, above).  And Wendy’s second point holds true: when an author is given the option, it’s a wise idea to “Offer a sufficient trade discount.

In many ways, however, Wendy’s third point is the most important.  Aside from keeping your name and work in the public eye, simply by virtue of placing your book in a bookstore, there are several ways you as an author can help “Build proof that your book is desirable.”  Most bookstores have stringent standards for the self-published books they stock: the title in question must dots its is and cross its ts in that it must have an ISBN, a cover that exudes professionalism and sound design sense, and so on.  Striving to meet these standards in order to appear on Barnes & Noble’s or Tattered Cover’s shelves can only do good things for the “desirability” of your book on a larger scale.  I guarantee you that an attractive, professional-looking book will sell better online as well as off the shelf.

Last but not least, a fantastic way to sell readers on the value of your book is by building relationships with them––and one of the best ways to make contact with your readers is to host events … at your local bookstore.  If you pursue hosting such an event, many bookstores will offer additional opportunities to feature your works within your stores, especially since good attendance at your event will likely translate into a solid spike in general sales for them.  (More foot traffic always equates to more sales when it comes to a brick-and-mortar bookstore.)  And the flipside of the coin is also worth examining: if you have already managed to clear a bookstore’s consignment standards, they are more likely to agree to partnering with you on hosting such an event.  Readings, Q&A sessions, and book signings are fertile ground for the indie author!  ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.