As part of the Business Development and Consulting teams, I’m the go-to gal for anyone who calls into the office with questions about publishing. I’ve been asked almost every question about publishing that you can imagine, from the mundane to the truly bizarre. I have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions, which I will share in this series. Let’s start with the most basic inquiry:
How are publishers and distributors different?
Most people assume that publishing and distributing a book are one and the same. However, publishing and distributing a book are very different challenges that require different skills and working relationships. Here’s what publishing and distributing really mean:
• When you publish a book, you’re simply creating it. The publishing process typically includes editorial development, layout and design work, and manufacturing. If you’re publishing a physical copy of the book, the book is manufactured when it is printed; if you’re publishing an ebook, the conversion of the file to the appropriate file type could be considered the manufacturing process.
Once the book is manufactured, you’re published!
• When you distribute a book, it is released into the supply chain. This means making the book available online or in brick-and-mortar stores like Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, and airport bookstores.
If you were only distributing a book, you wouldn’t need an editor or designer; those skills aren’t a part of the distribution process. Instead, distributing a book requires solid relationships with book buyers or an understanding of how to use the Internet to make your book available to consumers, whether through a third-party seller like Amazon or through your own website.
Think of publishing as the first step of getting a book to market and distributing as the second.
Some people assume that, once you secure a publisher, you also have a distributor. This assumption probably comes from the fact that the big New York publishing houses, who were the only real players in the industry until recently, are both publishers and distributors. Now, with so many different publishing options available to authors, this isn’t always the case! Make sure whichever publisher you decide to work with can provide the distribution you need, as well.
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The Kindle MatchBook program has been abuzz in the publishing industry since its launch in October 2013. The program allows readers to bundle the strongly discounted (or free!) eBook edition of a physical book they’ve purchased through Amazon. Authors can select eBook prices ranging from free to $2.99. The list of available books spans from new releases in the marketplace back to books sold in 1995 when Amazon first began selling books. The MatchBook program began with an impressive 70,000 books enrolled in its library, and now includes more than 100,000 titles.
This program is beneficial not only to readers, but also to authors. If a reader has already purchased the content of your book in physical form, then why not give them that same content in digital form? By allowing readers access to digital copies of books for free or at a heavy discount, authors are fostering the opportunity for readership growth. Readers who own a copy of an author’s eBook are then able to share that print book with friends, thereby multiplying an author’s readership. The rewards of the program for authors are far greater than any of the perceived risks or “losses” of giving content away for free. The fact of the matter is the readers already have the content in print, and MatchBook just makes it accessible to them in another format.
Of course, the impact on sales and royalties will be of particular interest to authors considering this program. The good news is that if you choose to list your eBook at a discounted price, you will still earn the same royalty percentage of the new price. And, the discounted price is at the author’s discretion and can be changed at any time. Rest assured, the program will not jeopardize your royalties on your content.
Since the program allows for so much author control, it lends itself to being an excellent marketing tool with minimal risk involved. Kindle MatchBook is a particularly good program for backlist marketing. If authors are looking for a way to boost their backlist titles, providing free or discounted digital copies could lead to a spike in sales and even a revitalization of interest in the print version.
Benefits of the MatchBook program are numerous and varied. Though it may take authors time to warm up to the program, it is definitely one that will be an asset to them. The process of writing a book may seem long and, at times arduous, but the process of keeping it relevant after publication is an equally important and never-ending responsibility. Programs like Kindle MatchBook can help authors with the challenge of keeping readers engaged with their books in an increasingly saturated market.
Check out the Kindle MatchBook FAQs page to learn more about the details of the program.
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All of us at Greenleaf Book Group send congratulations and best wishes to our authors who have books launching in April.
Starting Up Silicon Valley by Katherine Maxfield
Heartlander by Dick Herman
Positive by Michael Saag, M.D.
Lifeguard, Babysitter, Executioner by Daren Fristoe, J.D., and Julia McKee, J.D.
Saleshood by Elay Cohen
A Leader's Gift by Barry Banther
Love Comforts Cards by Annie Greenleaf
Waking the Dragon by Pamela Martin
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This is the third installment in our series about getting a fresh start with your platform in the new year. In Part One, we talked about how important it is to ship a project and, in Part Two, we talked about streamlining your online bios. This third, and final, post focuses on establishing good social media habits.
The other day an author called me and asked a question I hear all the time, “Scott, I keep trying Twitter but it isn’t working for me. I think I’m going to close my account.”
“Let’s take a look at your account first…” I said.
When we did, it was apparent that the author had signed up for Twitter about 6 months ago, had used it for a few weeks, but then tapered off from 5-6 posts a day to maybe once or twice a week. Then, once a month, there would be a flurry of activity over 24 hours and the account would largely go silent again.
Whether it’s Twitter or any other social network, it’s not uncommon for authors (or anyone, really) to get excited about a new network, go all in, but then lose interest and stop using it. Rather than establishing a valuable presence and building meaningful relationships in a thriving online community, the account becomes a stale reminder of what could have been.
The solution? Better social media habits.
Here are 3 ways to cultivate better social media habits:
1. Watch and listen first, then dive in. When joining a new social media network, one’s first instinct is often to start using it right away. Next time, schedule 10-15 minutes a day to just read, watch, and learn. Before diving right in, see what other people who are established on that network are doing. What do you like or not like about what they’re doing? Also, look for people you know or whose work you respect. What do they do on that network?
2. Start slow and build. In our excitement, it’s natural to want to dive right in and use a new network like Twitter or YouTube as much as you can. But one of the most important things about establishing yourself on a social network is creating a consistent, recognizable presence. It’s more important to spend 5-10 minutes a day and post once a day or once a week than it is to block off hours at a time and post like crazy. Start with something small that you can commit to every day (on Twitter), every week (on your blog), or every month (on YouTube). Once you’ve stuck with that for a few months and you have a sense for what’s working, gradually increase your time commitment.
3. Value relationships. When we talk about social media, we talk about making connections and building relationships. It’s a lot like starting a new exercise routine offline—it can be hard to stick with it, and having someone else there can help motivate you. Social media often works in a similar way. When you first start using Twitter, or LinkedIn, or blogging, it can help immensely to cultivate one-on-one conversations or content-sharing partnerships with other users. Having someone else who is expecting to hear from you or who supports your content with shares or comments can be a huge boost in your opening stages of use. And treating your social media account as a communication tool from the start (rather than a broadcast tool) sets you up for long-term success.
Learn what works by watching, start slow and build from there, and create relationships early. These are all foundations for building great social media habits, no matter if you are starting out with a new network this year, or rebooting on an old one.
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We’ve already discussed determining your social media status and the dos and don’ts of social media, but what if you’re working hard to create and share quality content on your social media profiles but not seeing your platform grow? Do you feel like you’ve dressed for the party but just stuck in a corner talking to yourself?
Managing your social media is a big commitment that’s at the forefront of connecting you with your audience, so make sure you’re poised for success by considering a few easy fixes that may be holding you back.
- Who Are You? If a potential follower can’t glean 1.) Who you are, 2.) What you look like, and 3.) Where to get more information when they view your profile, then your odds of securing that connection plummet. The Internet is full of spam and it’s your job to make sure your profiles are complete, consistent, and on brand so people can confirm at a glance that you’re legit. If you need help, check out our blog post on streamlining your online bios.
- Self Promotion Social media is the place to position yourself as an expert by sharing relevant content, but take a step back and follow the 100/80/20 rule of promotion. 100% on topic, 80% about others, 20% about you.
- Engagement If you try to call someone and they never pick up the phone, how many times do call back before giving up? When someone follows you, Tweets you, comments on an update, or otherwise tries to leave you a message, answer the phone on the first ring! There’s no guarantee that they’ll call back if you don’t.
- Pay to Play The reality is that Facebook isn’t connecting you with readers out of the kindness of its heart; it’s trying to generate a profit, just like you are, so stay current on Facebook advertising changes and consider allocating budget to promoting your very best content.