A few weeks ago, I attended Book Expo 2018 in New York City. It was my first visit in two years, having missed the Chicago show of 2017, and I was struck by the size and quiet on the floor. The Expo may not have the same value as it used to for traditional, mainstream publishing. However, in the continuously emerging indie publishing industry there is a lot to see and learn. Here are some of the things I brought back to share with the indie world—authors, publishers, and those who serve them.
1. Bar Codes: I recently heard from some book professionals that it was imperative to have a price in the bar code on the back of a book. I took the question to the highest authority on the subject at the BISG (Book Industry Study Group). His answer was that the bar code is the identifier for the book, generated off of the ISBN and nothing else should be displayed in or on it. He mentioned that there is discussion in the industry about not putting prices on books at all. What other product comes with a price engraved on itself?
2. Distribution: POD (Print-on-Demand) is used by many businesses in the indie publishing world, but this method often makes distribution to brick-and-mortar stores difficult to achieve. I spoke with several different distributors at Book Expo 2018, including IngramSpark (a POD distributor) to find out how an indie publisher might be able to work with them. In general, distributors are looking for publishers who release at least ten titles per year. While there are exceptions to every rule, the increase in small publishers has encouraged companies to be more efficient and choosy about which ones they represent. A few distributors to mention are: NBN; Consortium; Independent Publishers Group; and Baker and Taylor.
3. Fulfillment Options: Many indie publishing companies are selling books through multiple channels. IngramSpark/POD is one channel, but you can also order copies in quantity and set them up for fulfillment by a third party. One of these is Amazon Advantage. The shopping cart on your site can link to your Amazon Advantage account, which allows you to have copies stored at an Amazon warehouse. Customers will click the “buy” link on your site and Amazon will fulfill the order behind the scenes. You can still sell on Amazon through the POD channel, and also set up an Advantage account to sell direct. Amazon Advantage also allows you to utilize many advertising opportunities that can help move copies.
Check back in the coming weeks as I go through my notes from Book Expo 2018 and bring you more insight into what’s going on in the indie publishing world!
You’ve written a book and published it — but the sales just aren’t happening. The biggest likely reason for this is that no one knows that you or your book exists, even if it’s been uploaded to Amazon. There are thousands of authors on Amazon vying for people to buy their books. That’s why authors need to create visibility so that they can stick out from the crowd.
It can be really tough to put yourself out there and talk about yourself and your work, but if people don’t know who you are, then they won’t buy your book!
Here are some ideas for authors to create visibility for their books:
Visit your local bookstore, retail stores, or library. Dropping by and leaving a copy of your book for the bookseller or librarian will help them learn who you are as a person and give them the chance to look at your book before deciding to purchase. Many indie authors shy away from selling books on consignment, but sometimes it’s the best that your indie bookstore can do, especially if your book is not available through the proper distribution channels or is unavailable for return.
Have a release party or event. Invite friends and family to celebrate your new book at your house, and have them purchase copies there. Or you can have it at a restaurant where you can incorporate the plate price with the price of the book, so everyone who comes is guaranteed a copy. You can also see if your local bookstore will have an event for you, if you are positive you can get enough attendees to come. (Read more about authors events in this blog post.)
Ask family and friends to review on Amazon or BN.com. Supposedly, those with more reviews on Amazon are more likely to be included in the company’s email newsletters and receive more visibility overall–although to be honest, nobody but Amazon knows how their algorithm works. It’s still worth having friends and family post reviews so that it will generate interest for others to read your book. Books with no reviews whatsoever will likely be passed over by shoppers.
Put yourself out there at festivals and conferences. Start visiting local book festivals and writers conferences and hand out cards or copies of your book. See if any of them will put you on a panel. Many festivals have the option for author signings, although you most likely have to pay for that privilege, at least in the beginning.
Make sure it’s easily accessible for purchase. Even though Amazon is the most popular online outlet to purchase books, readers do have other shopping preferences–whether it’s a local store or a Barnes & Noble. Make sure that your website, blog, and social media pages have links to these sites and to Indiebound, so that your audience can purchase through their favorite indie bookstore.
It’s important to get yourself out there in some way, shape, or form to create visibility–whether it’s by putting yourself out their physically or through online channels. You may not sell hundreds of copies at first, but you’ll be on your way to make yourself known. The readers will come–you just need to put your foot out the door.
If you’re an indie author, do you use any of the above ways to create visibility for your books? Tweet about it to us @McKinneyPR!