All of us at Greenleaf Book Group send congratulations and best wishes to our authors who have books launching in May.
<Super Performing At Work and At Home by Robert Cerfolio
Lifeguard, Babysitter, Executioner by Daren Fristoe
Start You Up by Steve Jones
With Love and Quiches by Susan Axelrod
How Do I Keep My Employees Motivated? by George Langelett, PhD
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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 am sharing in this series. Today’s question is as follows:
Why shouldn’t I self-publish?
Self-publishing has made great strides over the past few years and can be a great option for authors whose needs it can meet. However, it does have some limitations when it comes to being an author in a very large, crowded marketplace.
One major difficulty with self-publishing is that self-published books cannot be stocked in most bookstores. Bookstores like Barnes & Noble, the largest U.S. chain bookstore, will only stock books if they are fully returnable. Many book publishers accept returns from bookstores whereas self-publishing service providers do not. They reduce their cost by printing books on demand; a single book is printed when ordered by a consumer. These books are not returnable -- you can’t put them back in the printer -- so bookstores will not order or stock them.
The second difficulty? Bookstores don’t order straight from publishers; they order through an intermediary called a wholesaler. Wholesalers will only play ball with publishers who can meet a minimum amount of sales, which self-publishers cannot.
Self-publishing can also put you at a disadvantage when it comes to marketing and promoting your book. Unless you're a book-marketing expert, you'll need to hire some third-party help. Publishers have these experts in house; some even have special relationships with influential industry organizations that can ultimately boost sales of your book.
The quality of the final product may also be questionable. Self-publishing provides fewer opportunities for thorough quality control when it comes to editorial, layout and design. If you want the quality of your self-published book to compare to that of a traditionally published book, you’ll want to hire a reputable, qualified editor and a professional designer.
Again, self-publishing can be a great option for authors who want to keep the rights to their work, reduce their financial investment and tackle one market at a time. Self-publishing is also a good way to “test the waters”—you can dip your toes into the industry without committing a huge amount of resources (time, money, energy) and begin to get a feel for your audience.
Authors can also use self-publishing as a way to build up a reputation before pitching their books to publishers. If you can show a publisher that you’ve got sales under your belt (they can check these numbers—don’t hyperbolize!) and have created an audience, it makes a very compelling argument for them to publish your next book!
Click here to read Part 1 of this series!
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About a month ago, tens of thousands of people descended on Greenleaf’s hometown of Austin, Texas for SXSW interactive, film, and music festival. For 10 days, the only thing busier than the streets of downtown Austin was the Internet chatter about the event. Plenty of people walked around in an over-stimulated haze, and I did a bit of that myself.
I also took SXSW as a chance to supercharge my platform, meeting people in person who I previously only knew through social media and connecting with new people, both online and off, who I wouldn’t have met without this event.
That kind of opportunity is open to everyone, and is an especially important opportunity for authors and speakers. The great thing about an event is that it serves as a focal point for a very specific audience whose interests and energy overlap your own. That means a great opportunity to connect. With a little preparation, anyone can use an event as an incredible chance to supercharge and amplify their platform.
Platform Development Before an Event
Here are a few ways to supercharge your online platform in the weeks leading up to an event:
1. Polish your Profiles. Make sure your profiles are up to date with current contact information, bio, and image. If you are making noise on social media, people will find you from all over. If you’re not sure about yours, read up on our online bio guidelines.
2. Send Word. Spend some time on the event’s website to learn what organizations are involved, who is speaking, and who else is attending. Find business and individuals to connect with and reach out over social media. For example on Twitter, this could be through @messages or the event #hashtag.
3. Share the Love. Once you have a good idea of who you want to connect with at or around the event, start sharing recent content from their blog or YouTube channel. Do the businesses or people you want to talk to have content they are trying to promote? Help them out as a way to break the ice and get on their radar.
4. What You Bring To The Table. One of the great things about an event is that everyone is getting excited about the same general topic. That means you have a chance to put out highly targeted content aimed at an audience already thinking about it. If you’re speaking about a topic or doing a book reading, create a teaser video where you introduce yourself in a fun way. If you’re attending a conference, create an interesting Top Ten list on your blog that’s hyper-relevant to that event and promote it for 2 weeks leading up to the event.
5. What Are you Doing? As people get ready for an event, one thing we tend to wonder at some point is, “What are other people doing?” If you’re going to a large, multi-track event, posting about your planned schedule is a great, proactive way to connect with people. Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of Wine Library TV and author of Crush It, posted his schedule (http://garyvaynerchuk.com/my-schedule-at-sxsw/) to his blog, inviting anyone to connect with him throughout the event. If the event is smaller, letting people know that you’ll be arriving early or staying late to get coffee or a beer and would love to chat with them is a great way to be a leader of the relevant conversation.
Do you have other ideas that have worked for you? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.
Soon we’ll be looking at how to leverage your platform during an event. All of this is leading up to our webinar in May that will look at using your platform before, during, and after an event. Join the Greenleaf mailing list for fresh publishing insight, including a chance to sign up for that webinar.
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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.