Self-Publishing & Merchandising : Extras & Special Editions

Last week, I launched a new blog series on the ins and outs of merchandising with a quick definition.  (“Simply put, merchandising is any and all practices and methods which boost product sales in a retail environment.”)  And definitions are great and all, but we’re here to talk shop.  To get under the skin of merchandising, to inhabit the world of successful merchandisers, we have to tackle each and every aspect of the process–in depth.  This week, we’ll be taking a closer look at two of these aspects: “extras,” and special edition releases of your books.

What are “extras”?

“Extras” are anything you send out into the world related to your work that is not (quite) your book.  Or at least, it’s not your book as most people know it.  They’re the fiddly bits, the sweeteners, the “guess what I got this week?” element of book marketing.  The no-frills approach to book sales is to put your book, and only your book, into the hands of your ideal readers.  But we all know the process is more complicated than that, if we want to make profitable sales.

Identifying our ideal readers is one complicated conglomerate of issues unto itself, and connecting the dots between book and reader yet another (seemingly) hopeless tangle, and transforming the market so that more readers become ideal readers is … well, you get the picture.  The creation, distribution, and controlled availability of “extras” is one highly effective way to unpick some of these knots.  Why?  Because they make your ideal readers feel privileged and affirmed in their good taste, while also serving as a siren call to new readers–a declaration that you, the author, are willing to go the extra mile to bring others alongside you, into the world of your book.  And I’m not just talking about fictional worlds, here: every good book is a world unto itself, a universe even, that enwraps its readers in a shared sense of wonder, urgency, or belief.

“Extras” come in every possible form we can imagine, and sometimes figuring out what “extras” suit our books and our needs best is the larger task.  But simply identifying them can be a challenge, too, so here is a short list of some of the more effective extras that leap to my mind:

  • creating swag, like bookmarks or postcards or tee-shirts, etc, to give away or raffle off at book readings and signings;
  • putting together a regular newsletter, physical or digital, to distribute to eager readers;
  • orchestrating giveaways, scavenger hunts, and other participatory contests to boost interest;
  • offering limited-offer “buy a physical book and unlock free digital content” sorts of specials;
  • publishing select chapters online for free, using interactive services such as WattPad; and
  • hosting quizzes, ask-and-answer sessions, or other author-centric material online using social media networks such as Tumblr.

(This is just to name a few.)  As you can see, many of these “extras” fall into two loose categories: the physical fiddly bits, and the digital fiddly bits.  It’s worth noting that, while focusing our talents into bundles that seem all of a kind–say, pairing a digital “extra” with an ebook release, or a physical “extra” with a physical book launch–may be an effective use of our time, it may not be the sole best way to boost our sales.  Many readers who are highly engaged on social media will treasure a physical book or a physical “extra,” while many readers who hold fast to their physical libraries are ready and willing to branch out and experiment, if they’re invested in you, the author, and your vision of your world.  Strategic cross-fertilization may be the best approach, so make sure you’re providing “extras” on both sides of the digital/physical divide–if possible.

Oh, right, I mentioned special editions too.

That’s right–I haven’t forgotten.  The reason I save this second aspect of merchandising for after my discussion of “extras” is simple: many of the same rules apply.  We’ve written about releasing special editions, whether ebook editions or other kinds of editions as a kind of promotional venture, before.  We’ve even written about releasing special editions for holidays and for Kindles, respectively.  The simple distillation of all of these prior posts might be to say: “The more editions we put out there, the more accessible our books, the more people who will hear of our books, and the more books we will sell.”  The parallels between special editions and “extras” are fairly clear–just substitute “extras” for “editions.”

The key to successful merchandising for the self-published author is to make our readers feel special!  We can make this happen with strategic bundles of “extras,” or by releasing new editions of previously published books.  Both of these merchandising methods are built upon creating and distributing new access points to our works.  Generating special offers that are limited in some way–in respect to time or quantity–whether on swag or giveaways or special editions–heightens the competitive edge to what we’re offering, and makes our books a topic of conversation.  We want to balance ubiquity of our works–making it is available to as many people as possible–with an urgency to acquire it in certain incarnations or circumstances.

Next week, I’ll be examining merchandising through book and jacket design.  I’d like to open the floor to you, dear reader.  If you have any thoughts to share on the topic of merchandising, or questions you’d like answered, send them my way via the comments box below!  I want to hear from you, and I love nothing more than a good excuse to do a little research if I don’t know something off of the top of my head.  Jump on in!

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.

Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) New Writers Awards Accepting Submissions

Book contests are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain credibility and exposure. Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) New Writers Award for poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction is currently accepting entries. Here is what you need to know:

  • The work must be a first published volume.
  • The work must have been published between Spring 2013 and Spring 2014.
  • GLCA will also accept galley proofs for works to be published in late spring or early summer of 2014.
  • Winning authors tour several GLCA’s member colleges to give readings, lecture, visit classes, conduct workshops, and publicize their books.
  • All entries must be postmarked no later than July 25, 2014.
  • Winning authors will receive an honorarium of $500 from each of the colleges they visit. Travel, lodging, and food expenses will be reimbursed.

The Benefits of Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) New Writers Awards

  • Credibility — This award reflects outstanding literary achievement in the judgment of a committee of scholar-critic-writers who have professional and personal commitments to excellence in literature and the encouragement of creative writing. It is a mark of distinction that confers recognition to both author and publisher in promoting the book.
  • Publicity — The winning authors’ visits to the GLCA colleges, with the attendant local promotion and publicity, should serve to stimulate sales in this Midwestern area.These campus visits expose the authors and their works to large numbers of students through readings, question and answer sessions, and possibly workshop class sessions.

For more information on submitting an entry, visit http://glca.org/programs/new-writers-award.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Self Publishing Author Contest: Reader Views Literary Book Award 2012

As a self-publishing author, it is important to constantly market your book and improve your credibility. One of the best ways to accomplish both of those tasks is entering your book into contests. Winning awards shows potential readers that your book is worthwhile and that you are a serious author, and it often results in great publicity as well. One of my favorite book award contests for self publishing authors is the Reader Views Literary Book Award. Here are all of the details.

What is the Reader Views Literary Book Award?

The annual literary awards were established to honor writers who self-published or who had their books published by a subsidy publisher, small press, university press, or independent book publisher.  POD books are accepted.

Who is eligible?

Reader Views Literary Awards are open to all authors  regardless of residency; however, the books must be published in the English language and targeted for the North American market. Works published by major book publishers are not eligible.  Books must  have a 2012 copyright date.  Submission for more than one category or more than one title is acceptable.  Books that have racist themes will be not be accepted.

Three finalists will be chosen in each fiction and non-fiction category. First and second place winners will be awarded in each category. Third place will receive an honorable mention. One finalist, the top score in each area, will be chosen in each regional and global category. Each winner will receive a certificate.

Finalists will be announced in Reader Views’ weekly e-mail newsletter on March 4, 2013 and the winners on March 25, 2013.

For more information, visit http://readerviews.com/Awards.html.

I’d love to know, have you entered your book into the Reader Views Literary Awards before or are you planning to do so this year? Tell us about it in the comments below.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Contest for Self Publishing Authors: 2013 Global Ebook Awards

Contests are one of the best ways for self-publishing authors to promote their book and improve their credibility. If you want to increase your book’s exposure and prove that you are an accomplished writer, check out the 2013 Global Ebook Awards. This contest does more than just offer an award sticker to put on your book’s cover; it is truly a great way to market your book and self.

By entering your ebook, you will receive the following benefits:

• An official Nominee “sticker” on your ebook cover, website, Amazon page, and promotion materials

• A free listing in Publishing Poynters Marketplace, offering copies of your book for reviews on prestigious ebook dealers’ sites such as Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and others

• The Global Ebook Awards comes with a six-step publicity program. Each week, they show you how to publicize your ebook.

• Media coverage for your book and you

• Winners and finalists will be listed on the official Global Ebook Awards site.

• Winners and finalists are eligible to receive Global Ebook Award certificates attesting to their honor.

• Winners will be announced to the media in news releases.

• Discounts on video trailers for YouTube, Amazon, and your website

• Discounts on other services for authors and publishers

• And much more…

To be eligible, your book must have been released anytime in 2011, 2012, or 2013. The application deadline is March 12, 2013, but it is recommended that you submit your ebook as soon as possible.

To learn more, visit http://globalebookawards.com/.

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order 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, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

First Call: The 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award

Contests are a great way to gain positive publicity for your book and increase your credibility as an author. One of my favorite awards for self-published authors is The Eric Hoffer Book Award. Here is all of the information you need to enter.

The Eric Hoffer Book Award recognizes excellence in publishing. A single registration gives you six ways to win: by genre, press, the Montaigne Medal, the da Vince Eye, the First Horizon Award, and the Hoffer grand prize. There is a category for every book.

Award/Benefits:

* $2,000 Grand Prize (The Eric Hoffer Award for Books)

* Winner of the Montaigne Medal for the most thought-provoking books

* Winner of the da Vinci Eye for best covers

* Winner of the First Horizon Award for debut authors

* Winner and First Runner-Up awarded for every category

* Honorable Mentions for every category

* Individual Awards for Micro, Small, and Academic Presses, as well as Self-Published Books

* Coverage in The US Review of Books (www.theUSreview.com) and on http://www.HofferAward.com

* Gold Seal Certificates

* Worldwide Exposure

> Categories: Art, Poetry, General Fiction, Commercial Fiction, Children, Young Adult, Culture, Memoir, Business, Reference, Home, Health, Self-Help/Spiritual, Legacy Fiction, Legacy Nonfiction, E-book Fiction, and E-book Nonfiction.

Submission Guidelines:

  •  Entry deadline is January 21, 2013.
  •  Awards are open to academic, independent, small press, and self-published books that were released or copyrighted in the last 2 years, including unique books with small print runs. (Books over 2 years old may enter the Legacy Fiction or Legacy Nonfiction category.)
  • For each entry, submit the book, entry form, and $50 fee (check, money order, or Internet payment receipt) to Hopewell Publications, LLC, PO Box 11, Titusville, NJ 08560. Be certain to specify award category and press type. Registration will be confirmed via e-mail. In May, all entrants will be notified of winners. Submissions must be postmarked by January 21, 2013.
  • Judges may include authors, editors, agents, publishers, book producers, artists, experienced category readers, and health and business professionals. Note: The contest is closed to the staff of Hopewell Publications and previous WNBA winning entries. At the low entrance fee, it is not feasible to provide judge’s critiques for each entry.

To learn more and enter your book, visit  www.HofferAward.com.

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order 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, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

18th Annual CIPA Book Competition

The deadline to enter the 18th Annual CIPA Book Competition 2012 CIPA EVVY Awards is only a few short weeks away. The CIPA EVVY is an internationally recognized book competition for independently published books. Winning an EVVY award is proven to help increase your book sales. CIPA EVVY award winners also receive recognition by displaying CIPA EVVY WINNER stickers on their books and website as well as through participation in various CIPA programs such as the Honors Recognition Program and the Douglas County Libraries E-Book Program. Here is a quick overview of the entry rules and guidelines:

1) Only CIPA Regular or Associate members in good standing can enter.
2) Entries must be independently or self-published and contain a minimum of 48 pages. (Children’s Pictures Book entries don’t apply to the 48 page rule.)
3) All books must have an ISBN and a 2011 or 2012 publication date. (Legacy category is an exception.)
4) Each title may be entered in as many categories as desired. A separate entry fee must be paid for EACH category entered.
5) All Entry fees must be paid prior to or simultaneously with entry submission. No entry will be accepted without payment of entry fee.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Balcones Fiction Prize

The Creative Writing Department at Austin Community College is committed to recognizing outstanding works of literary merit through its Balcones Literary Prizes. The program is currently accepting submissions for books published in 2011. The deadline for submission is January 31, 2012.

Last year’s winner, Linh Dinh, was awarded $1,500 and was flown to Austin, Texas for a public reading. Congratulations Linh Dinh!

For more information on how to enter, please visit http://www.austincc.edu/crw/html/balconescenter.html.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.