I was prepared for the effort of taking my manuscript and creating a book from it, but despite all the help I had getting books produced and the ease of which they magically appear on my doorstep, it still fell to me, as a first time indie author, to get the shops to carry them. It wasn't easy, but here are some of the things that worked for me.
More and more, Amazon and Amazon companies are encouraging or requiring authors and publishers to use them exclusively. CreateSpace offers free ISBNs and design services for authors, Kindle offers KDP Select that allows for extra marketing options, ACX will allow budget-restricted publishers/authors a chance to get an audiobook created and produced for free in exchange for 50% of the profits. All of these options give authors opportunities that they would otherwise have to work harder for, but in exchange, they require that the publisher/author agree to work with them exclusively.
I own an independent bookstore, and I hear a lot of pitches from a lot of writers, and most of them aren't very good. In addition to working in my bookstore, I'm also an indie author. This gives me a unique insight from both sides of the pitch.
The term special sales is commonly used to describe sales opportunities outside of bookstores. Also referred to as non-bookstore (or non-traditional) marketing, it can be a profitable source of new revenue.
Your book is finished, and hopefully the orders are ready to start rolling in, but you aren't sure how the ordering process works. Well, there are two ways you can order your book yourself, either specifically for you or for your customers. And the third way your book can be ordered is by booksellers, retailers, and libraries directly from Ingram to sell on your behalf.
A highly important aspect of your book marketing plan is to determine how to price your book. Before you can do that, you should consider your publishing goal. Is it to make as much money as possible? Do you just want to reach as many readers as you can? You will have to take this big question seriously and think strategically about setting your price in your book metadata, but pricing is less overwhelming when you consider a few basics.
Thanks to Print-on-Demand (POD) technology, the costs associated with maintaining inventory for independent publishers have all but vanished. Because POD allows you to print anywhere from 1 to 10,000 copies of a particular title, depending on demand, independent publishers are off the hook when it comes to determining how much to invest in an initial print run. In fact, there are numerous benefits for indie publishers who incorporate POD into their publishing plans.
Historically, publishers grant booksellers the right to return overstocked copies of books. These books are considered “returnable”. Although, online retailers are less selective than brick and mortar stores in regards to whether a book is returnable, typically, brick and mortar stores will not order a book unless it is returnable, so IngramSpark supports standard industry conventions by allowing publishers to designate whether or not their titles can be returned.
While Chanticleer Reviews was exhibiting books vetted by our reviewers and writing competitions at several Independent Bookseller Association trade shows, I was able to observe (a marketing habit of mine) how professional booksellers buy books in action. Their traits were consistent with what they were seeking to fill their shelves. Also, I was able to ask the book buyers what they were looking for in particular to make their book buying decisions.
Authors unfamiliar with the book publishing industry can sometimes stumble on the path to publication by not understanding the definitions and roles of people in editing, production, distribution, and sales. By having clarity on the function and purpose of service companies and freelancers, authors can be smarter about hiring the right help.