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Book Promotion

Book Fairs, Book Promotion, Book Publishing, Book Reading, Book Signing, Featured, Marketing, Self-Publishing, Writing

Thoughts on Buying Books

September 19, 2016

If you are not a writer or an aspirating writer, this post will likely bore you. It’s about buying books for signing events It’s targeted to indie and self-published writers, primarily, who travel to book festivals, who stand in the heat and cold, who talk to current and prospective readers for hours on end.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of where to buy your books, I need to ask you why you wrote and published your them. Did you focus on your friends and family? Will they be your likely readership? Did you write a book with a broad sweep where your reach is beyond a limited circle? Did you write something geographically focused where you will find most of your initial readership in one area of the country?

These questions are important because they should be used to inform your choice of where to buy books in bulk for those important speaking engagements and festivals. If your focus is mostly on friends and family, your best place to buy books at discount will be your publisher. Many indie publishers offer large discounts, sometimes at cost or at 40-50% off list price. The writer makes more money per book sold; the publisher gets his money up front and does a good deed for authors who have very few books in them. The writer can’t return unsold copies, because she didn’t go through one of the wholesalers like Ingram or Baker and Taylor. Once the books are in the author’s possession, it is her responsibility to sell them or hide them under spare beds.

Createspace offers a different look at bulk purchases. Indie authors who self-publish through Createspace can buy bulk shipments nearly at cost. My local writers’ group, which is literary arm of the local arts council, produced three anthologies. Each book listed for $10. The writers’ group purchased them at $3 per book, leaving a nice profit of $7, which was applied to a scholarship fund.

Amazon owns Createspace. Amazon’s goal here is to put as many books in print (and I’m writing about print copies only) as possible. Bulk orders are not reflected in Amazon rankings. The one who benefits here is the author, who keeps more money per book. No one receives royalties except for books sold through the online outlets.

But what about those writers who have aspirations of reaching a wider audience, of attracting a larger publisher, of rising in the Amazon ranks, and who are published by a small press? I suggest these writers look at distributors who resell at higher rates per book but who report all such sales through Bookscan, the Neilsen organization that tracks all paper book sales. It’s what publishers look at before taking on a newish writer, at least new to them. It’s what gives writers viability in Amazon’s rankings.

I use There are others, but this site puts books on my porch usually within a week of ordering. I pay a percentage based on the number of books I order. Each book ordered is reported in bulk to Bookscan. This is important to me, because I believe my books have a broader reach than family and friends. My publisher picks up book sales from Bookscan, as well as from Amazon, Ingram, and Baker and Taylor when he calculates my royalties. If I bought directly from him, I’d receive no public acknowledge for the sales. I’d receive no royalties, because his discount is in lieu of royalties. I wouldn’t make a dent in my Amazon rankings.

The choice is up to the individual author. If you are more interested in point-of-sale income, go with the least expensive option. If you are interested in public acknowledgement, royalties and Amazon rankings, look into one of the discounters. Check to be sure that all sales are reported to Bookscan.

From the looks of this box, I’d better reorder…

Book Promotion, Brand management, Featured, Marketing, Uncategorized, Writing Life


May 23, 2016

Many readers of this blog are also writers. And like my fellow writers, friends recommend books on how I can be a better writer, how I can write [fill in genre here], how to publish and how to sell books. You can imagine my skepticism when a respected friend recommended How To Sell A Crapload of Books. Yeah, I thought. I know how to sell a crapload of books. Write a book and give it a title of How To Sell A Crapload of Books.

To be polite, I accepted the book. I expected to scan the table of contents, skim a couple of chapters and thank my friend for his thoughtfulness. Instead I found a well-written book that, while not offering many new revelations on book selling/promotion/author branding, made cogent arguments for building an author brand, leveraging connections you didn’t know you had and creating an executable promotional plan.

Vandehey and Aryal use humor to lay down some principles: “the PR you can afford is probably useless.” Rather than name everything a debut writer can’t possibly do, they offer things that worked for other writers whose careers is where ours are. If you write mysteries, consider a book launch that is a scavenger hunt, especially if you can launch your book where the action takes place. Leverage where you live, because more people know you where you live than across the country in huge cities. They advise not getting your heart set about book reviews by the New York Times in favor of concentrating on wooing your local newspapers. The louder the local buzz, the more likely you can extend outward in concentric circles to broaden your audience.

Because so much of life takes place online today, Vandehey and Aryal demand a writer learn how to use social media. That means more than a Facebook page where you do nothing except flog your books. Hint: This doesn’t work and pisses off potential book buyers. Learn what each platform can do for you. Twitter is great for reaching more potential buyers than most other outlets. Facebook is great for building your brand. Know the difference. Don’t waste time on social media networks or social media applications if your readership doesn’t hang out there. I know most of my readers have no clue what Instagram or Snapchat do. I don’t hang out there, but I know I’ll engage in great conversations on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and LinkedIn. Yes, even LinkedIn.

The authors share ten secrets for building an author platform. Rather like a 12-step program. the secrets walk a writer through suggestions they have tested and know work.

Regardless of whether you read this book, or one of the countless other books in print about book selling/promotion/author branding, first decide what your goals for writing and publishing your book really are. If you are a “friends and family” writer (i.e., most of your sales will be to friends and family and not to strangers), set you expectations accordingly. That decision will drive how much effort you want to put into building an author platform. If you want to rise beyond the friends and family level, determine how much time and effort you can devote to building that platform. Once the decision is in the bag, begin executing it. Consistently. Daily. Diligently.

What have your learned about bookselling that you can share with other writers?


 Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please follow me on my website, on TwitterFacebook and Goodreads.
Book Promotion, Marketing, Rachelle Gardner

Promoting Your Book

November 24, 2009

I was multitasking this morning — reading my favorite blogs and listening to the Today show with half an ear.

The Today show announced that Al Roker had written a novel. A mystery novel. So, okay, I thought. Then I listened to the story. Talk about promoting a debut novelist. The entire Today show team acted out the start of the mystery. It helps to have at least 60 seconds of air time, Matt, Meredith, Ann and the rest hamming it up and giving Roker a huge send up for his novel. Alas, all it takes is money, a big name, access to top morning show personalities, air time, etc. What the rest of us poor writers lack.

I turned back to my blog reading. Rachelle Gardner noted a brilliant trick one author uses at her book signings.

“Novelist Wanda Dyson puts yellow crime tape around her table when she does books signings. Do you think that attracts more readers than tables that have nothing interesting to draw a reader’s attention?”

I sent the idea to Sally Roseveare for her next signing. If she coupled crime scene tape with her large black lab (stuffed), everyone would stop to see what was going on.

Whaddya think, huh? Crime scene tape for those of us who write mysteries and who don’t have the access that Al Roker has?

Book Promotion, Lake Writers, Mystery, Shout Out

Shout Out to Sally Roseveare

July 11, 2009

My fellow Lake Writer, Sally Roseveare, is publishing her second Smith Mountain Lake Mystery next week!!! I was at her house two weeks ago when the last proof copy came in. Imagine two mature (all right, immature) women fairly dancing around her living room.

The book, SECRETS AT SWEETWATER COVE, is fantastic. It includes the same characters as her first book, SECRETS AT SPAWNING RUN. For those of us who live at Smith Mountain Lake, it’s like a tour of local places with a whole lot of mystery and danger thrown in. Aurora Harris, the protagonist of the first book, once again has to solve a mystery and save innocent people. But she doesn’t do it alone. She has King, her resourceful black Lab, and Little Guy, a neighbor’s intrepid Jack Russell terrier, to help.

If you are looking for something wonderful to read on the dock this summer, I strongly recommend both. I was honored to read the advanced copy and will definitely be at Sally’s first public reading.

Again, shameless promotion. Buy the book. You’ll get hooked on the characters.

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