Well it’s that time of year again when we get to celebrate our authors’ successes in the annual Global Ebook Awards! This year’s congratulations go to (click on the author’s name, book cover or title to find out more):
Many of our new authors ask the same question when they’re near to releasing their first title: ‘How do I get my book into bookshops?’ The simple answer is, ‘You don’t.’
I realise this is counter-intuitive to what many of us have grown up with, and for people over a certain age, having their book in a bricks and mortar bookshop means it will sell – but it doesn’t! Getting it into bookshops doesn’t guarantee sales. Think about this:
When was the last time that you walked into a bookshop and bought a book you’d never heard of by a writer you’d never heard of? How often have you done that in the last six months? And how many books and authors in your local bookshop have you never heard of?
Now flip the tables – how often do you think other people have walked into your local bookshop and bought a book they’ve never heard of by someone they’ve never heard of in the last six months? And if they did, what would the chances be that they’d buy your book when there’d be so many other books and authors in that shop that they’ve never heard of?
But what if you really, really want to get your book into bookshops? Here’s what you have to do:
Buy a stock of books – so tie up money in unsold books.
Get at least one or more bookshops to agree to take your books on.
Negotiate a number that you can supply to them. This will likely be less than five (5) books unless they know you and know that you can ‘sell’ these books for them.
Negotiate a retailer discount for them. Most retailers are going to want an average of 50% off – some will want as much as 60% off the RRP (recommended retail price, also known as the list price).
Negotiate a payment arrangement – will they pay you in advance and then ask you to collect the unsold books and you refund them the money on those that haven’t sold? Or will they take them on consignment and only pay you if the books do sell? And how long will they keep them for?
Raise an invoice to the bookshop – you’ll need an ABN to do that. But you won’t be registered for GST unless you’re likely to earn more than $75,000 per year from your writing, so your invoice will be without GST in it – and you need to make it clear on your invoice that you’re not registered for GST and that the price doesn’t include GST.
Arrange for the books to be delivered to the bookshop, or take them there yourself. (Delivery/postage expense vs your time and transport expense.)
Monitor how many books have been delivered to which bookshops and under what arrangements.
Collect unsold copies and potentially refund the stores six to twelve months down the track if they don’t all sell.
Seriously? Why bother? Why do all that work to take such a financial risk?
If you’re publishing your book the smart way – the 21st century way using print on demand technology and the internet as your distribution chain – then you don’t need to rely on bookshops to sell your book. All you need to do is raise awareness of your book and let the systems take care of sales, printing, distribution and paying you your royalties.
And if bookshops start getting enquiries for your book – they can stock it buy contacting the print on demand supplier for your book, and you don’t even have to lift a finger! Sure, you may wait a couple of months for your share of the deal to flow through to you, but that’s economically smarter than tying up valuable funds in printing and distribution in the hope that your copies sell.
So do it the easy way – focus on raising awareness of your book (i.e. get marketing!) with blog posts, interviews, social media posts, library talks, giveaways, connecting with others who might benefit from or enjoy the content in your book – and let the distribution chain take care of supplying your book for you.
It’s a good job helping people publish their books, and it’s wonderful when you see them achieving success and winning awards. For many years now our authors have been entering the Global Ebook Awards, and in 2020 we’re thrilled to announce that seven of our authors have managed to snare ten awards between them! Our congratulations (in alphabetical order) go to:
If you search the internet for tips on book cover design, you’ll be inundated with blog posts telling you how important the cover is and why you have to spend good money on it yada, yada, yada. Sure, a crap cover will likely turn people off from investigating your book further, but I don’t care how fancy your cover is – if the book isn’t a good read, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on the cover, you’ll never save it. So, first things first, write a good book! Then, when you’re thinking about your cover, don’t just focus on something glitzy and eye-catching. Consider your genre and the reader you’re trying to attract.
One of our authors, Helen Laing, has given us permission to re-use her name and book title to help illustrate what’s really important about your cover – and that’s conveying the message of what your book is all about! Helen’s book is called Circles of Fortune, and here’s the cover here:
What do you think Helen’s book might be about? If you’ve got good eyes or can zoom in, you’ll find the subtitle will probably give you a clue, but at first glance you’d get the idea that it’s about something historical. If you’re into history and of a time period suggested by the gentleman on the cover, then you’d possibly investigate more closely based simply on the cover, right?
So, what if Helen’s cover looked like this?
If you were interested in history you’d skip straight past it, right? But if you were interested in a little romance? Or a bit of an adventure with a female lead? Again, a cover like this would encourage you to look a little more closely, wouldn’t it?
But … what if Helen’s cover looked like this?
Now, that’s my kinda book! Something probably business-y or finance-related. I’d skip past the first two covers and look more closely at this. How about you? 😉
Don’t try to attract the wrong readers
So the most important thing with cover design is not spending a fortune, but making sure that your book ‘speaks’ to its potential audience.
And a word of warning here – please don’t try to attract a different type of audience by cheating with a cover which mis-represents your book. This will only backfire on you. I have actually had an author ask for something which was unrelated to their book because they wanted to expose their thoughts to a different type of reader. Not on, not going to work, nope. You’ll only antagonise them even if you can get them to buy, and – the stupid thing – you’re missing out on an audience who probably would be interested in your book!
Compare the meerkats
When you’re thinking about your cover, hop online and see what other covers in your genre look like. You don’t need to copy them, and please be careful not to use the same stock image as every other cover in your category (there’s a certain man out there in a purple kilt who pops up on soooooo many romance covers … must be a busy fellow 😉 ), but do try to do something original that still communicates what the other covers in your category or genre are communicating.
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Helen’s ‘real’ Circles of Fortune, is the fictionalised story of Thomas Braidwood Wilson who made nine voyages as a naval surgeon on convict ships before settling down as a pioneer farmer in the southern highlands of NSW. It’s available from your favourite online retailer or The MoshShop here: https://themoshshop.com.au/products/circles-of-fortune-by-helen-laing
In this new world of self publishing, it’s important to understand the differences between traditional, self and vanity publishing. But first we should start with a simple definition: What exactly is publishing?
The simple answer is: project management. The slightly more complex answer is: project management with a view to making a profit.
In the past, ‘traditional publishers’ would license a manuscript from an author. They would project manage turning that raw manuscript into a published book and as part of that process, they would also wear the cost and the risk.
In today’s world, there are less and less traditional publishers and it’s getting harder and harder to secure a publishing contract, leaving most people to self publish. Ergo… if you self publish, you’ll be managing the project and you’ll be wearing the financial risk!
So what is vanity publishing? This term was applied to most self publishing ventures until around 2010 when a separation began to take place in the public’s minds. With the advent of the Kindle, iPad and print on demand, the Ordinary Joe began to have access to great (and not-so-great!) books well outside the traditional publishing industry’s catalogue. As the public began to consume more and more self-published books, they also began to understand that just because something had been self published that didn’t mean it was crap. On the contrary, the public began to realise just how much they’d had withheld from them because so many stories and authors just didn’t fit the ideals of traditional publishers.
And as more and more self published books were consumed, the reading public also began to notice the differences in quality between those books which had been published with care by the author (having been edited, proofread, properly formatted or laid out, cover professionally designed), and those which hadn’t had the same level of care applied. Consequently, those books which get released without certain standards being applied by the author are referred to disparagingly as ‘vanity publications’.
To publish a book with some level of care is costly – hence the void traditional publishing houses played in the past. But in today’s world, less and less traditional publishers can afford to take the risks they used to, so if you can’t get a publishing contract, it doesn’t necessarily mean your book is crap, it just means the publishing house can’t see a way to make money out of it. And while I have seen people riled up about not getting a contract, they seem to forget that these publishing houses are in business, and if they don’t make money, they’ll soon be out of business!
But at least today you have affordable options as far as self publishing goes. You don’t need to print 2,000 copies and try to ship them to bookstores – you can use print on demand supply chains with retailing via the internet, worldwide. Or you can skip the print part and just release an ebook. Or add the print version later if you find the ebook making money for you.
And you don’t have to go it alone. With businesses like IndieMosh you can have people do as much or as little as you need help with.
So welcome to the 21st century and to what I hope will be your self publishing journey, and not a vanity publishing one! 😉