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Publishing FAQs (Part 4)

May 27, 2014

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:


What are publishers really looking for?


The first thing publishers will look at when reviewing your manuscript is the core content.

 

For fiction, some questions publishers might ask are: Is the story compelling or imaginative? Are characters flawed in a way that is relatable? Does the story have a clear purpose or moral lesson (in the case of children’s fiction)? Can the author communicate emotion clearly?

 

For non-fiction, publishers may ask: Is the content of this book unique, presented from a different angle or explained in a new way? Is the information it’s delivering important to the audience? Is the content timely?

 

Publishers will also consider other, perhaps less obvious factors before they accept a manuscript. For example:

- What is the potential market for this book? Is the audience evergreen, or is the book written to match the current trends of the market?

- Does the author have the appropriate qualifications to be talking about this subject? This is very important for non-fiction books. Think about it this way: would you rather buy a book about resolving issues in a relationship from a licensed marriage counselor or someone whose profession is entirely unrelated to the topic, like an accountant?

- What is the author doing to bring attention to the book or to their brand? Marketing and/or publicity campaigns are always great to see. It shows you are committed to the book, willing to put your time and energy behind it to make it successful, and that it is more than just the outcome of a hobby. Remember: once you put your book into the market, your book is no longer just a hobby or form of expression. It is a business.

 

Publishers are also interested in seeing if you have an existing platform: an audience that is already aware of your brand and would be interested in your book. For example, a vegan food blogger with 5,000 active and engaged followers wants to write a cookbook. These followers are the blogger’s established platform, and it is likely that many of them will want to buy a copy of the cookbook. The blogger has also established credentials in the space, having updated his food blog regularly with meaningful content and become a resource for people who are seeking new vegan recipes.

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Publishing FAQs (Part 3)

May 20, 2014

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:

 

Do you accept XYZ genre?

 

When you begin searching for publishers, checking which genres they accept is the first step. You may want to go a step further and check to see if they have an official (or unofficial) specialty.

 

When you browse their catalogue (either on their website or on www.edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com), do you see a larger proportion of books of a certain genre? If you can find similarities in genre, content or background between a book already in their catalogue and your book, you can assume they’ll be comfortable with your book.

 

If a publisher states that they do not accept a particular genre, they do so for a good reason: most likely, they don’t have the relationships required to sell them successfully. Would you pitch a non-fiction book to a publisher who only works with fiction books? No. Even if they did publish your book, they’ll most likely not be able to sell the book at the volume you’re hoping for. 

 

Greenleaf accepts all genres.

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From The Archives: Getting a Jump on Sales with Preorders

May 13, 2014

Originally posted on July 11, 2011

Many authors begin the hard work of generating sales for their book long before the actual release date. There are many different options for collecting these preorders, as well as many ways to make the most of them, helping you meet your goals and priorities for the project.

One method of collecting preorders is to set up a preorder button on the book's website. During the preorder process, customers will be prompted to fill in their basic information and make a payment through the website for the book (or books) they order. Matching Amazon pricing or offering signed copies can be an added hook to get people interested.

It is also common to create a dedicated landing page for preorders, which you can utilize in your marketing initiatives, that drives consumers to a central location to make their purchase. This is a popular option when you are incentivizing customers by giving them access to extra content at no charge with an order. The landing page can host this content, and once the order is placed, the customer can be given a code to access the free content.

But collecting preorders can also be as simple as keeping a spreadsheet with all the information that you manually collect from customers as they place orders directly through you leading up to the pub date.

A different route is to simply send people directly to a retailer, such as Amazon, to place their order during a specified period of time, usually immediately following the release of the book. In this case, it's important for your publisher to know how many orders you expect to be placed at least three weeks in advance so they can ensure that adequate stock is in place in the supply chain to meet the rush of demand. (Also see our recent newsletter tip, In The Loop.)

Regardless of how you collect the orders, the idea is to have a complete record of all customers and their orders at the end of the preorder campaign.

Once all of the preorders are collected, you have to decide what your priority is for these sales. Have you generated all of these preorders so you can generate maximum revenue from your book right away? Or is your goal to have all of these sales count towards your retail track record? (Shameless plug: With Greenleaf, you have the flexibility to meet either goal, and we can help execute the orders or connect you with experts in the field that specialize in placing those presales in a strategic and planned way for maximum impact.)

If the primary goal is to maximize revenue with preorders, you’ll want to sell the books directly. Revenue generated through direct sales is not shared with a distributor or retailer, allowing for larger margins. Remember to bill the appropriate shipping charges directly to your customers if you want them to cover the cost.

If the goal is to drive retail sales as high as they can go, run preorder sales through a retail channel that reports to BookScan (the book industry’s go-to tool for measuring retail sell-through). This will make these sales a part of the book’s auditable track record. For bulk preorders, we work with a company called 800 CEO Read and they make this process very simple. Corporate customers (or your own company) can buy the books from 800 CEO Read, which reports sales to BookScan.

If you plan on generating thousands of preorders and want to use them to make a run at a bestseller list, we recommend working with an expert who specializes in handling this type of campaign. A campaign like this requires careful coordination and planning and the ability to process thousands of individual orders in a short time span.

What are your goals leading up to pub date? What’s worked to help you generate preorders? Share and discuss!

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Happy Pub Day!

May 6, 2014

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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Publishing FAQs (Part 2)

April 29, 2014

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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