In the past, publishing a book usually involved a traditional publishing house, an elite team of agents and publishers, and many high slush piles. Thankfully, that picture has evolved. There are now more independent publishers than ever, which gives more authors a chance to publish a book and to realize their dreams of sharing their books with readers worldwide, giving authors and independent publishers opportunities to grow professionally and reach more people. Here are few ways to expand your reach as a self-publisher.
Clean & Quality Book Metadata
Much of how you sell books today depends on book metadata. Metadata sounds like a big technological word, but in reality, you know it when you see it. Book metadata is the information that authors, publishers, and readers use to interact with a book. It helps authors determine what they want their books to say, publishers determine whether they want to represent the book, and readers determine whether they want to buy it.
On its most basic level, book metadata is the title and author of a book, plus the publisher, imprint, and supplier on record. It also includes several important features such as the BISAC subject codes, page count, trim size, and international standard book number (ISBN). Pay particular attention to these; they help people figure out which genre your book fits into, and streamline your ordering and selling process. The ISBN in particular helps direct readers to specific books, helping them navigate any books they might otherwise encounter with the same title.
Today’s book sales also depend heavily on book marketing. Like writing itself, book marketing continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Today’s authors are not simply authors – they are business owners who want to forge connections with readers. Today’s book marketing is about more than shelf space; it’s about appealing to a variety of readers and employing various means of creating impressions for your book. You may utilize traditional book marketing tactics and a mix of digital marketing and book publicity.
Familiarize yourself with the methods publishers use to sell books, from endorsements, book reviews, social media, blog tours, and giveaways. Then, use as many of these as you are comfortable using. Just remember that not all authors are comfortable with all mediums, and that's okay. Just pick a few.
Work with Booksellers
Of course, your journey isn’t over once you publish a book. As a publisher, you need to know how to work with a bookseller.
- Be a customer. In order to build rapport with booksellers, you have to visit their stores, whether brick-and-mortar or online, and show interest in their products. Browse bookstores for your own reading material, but think about your books as you shop. Ask yourself where your book might fit, and what other titles it would share shelf space with in this store. Check out book pricing as well. Use it to determine what your books should sell for and how much you'll need to sell before getting a return on investment.
- Build rapport. Your approach should always be respectful; never demand that a bookseller take your books, even if you sound friendly and enthusiastic doing it. Ask if you can set up author events. Talk to the bookstore staff about their jobs, what they are reading, and the titles they like most.
- Tell booksellers where to find you. Write a tip sheet for your book that provides a bookseller with the most pertinent and selling information about your book, how they'd purchase it, and details about your wholesale discount and returns. You have to give booksellers a reason to take a chance on your book. So be sure you accentuate what value your book has for them and for their store.