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I've worked for over 25 years in advertising, promotions and sales, and spent nearly 2 years as a motivational speaker for a major international company. Currently a bestselling novelist and 'shameless' promoter, I've shared my experiences and techniques as a Book Marketing Coach for nearly a decade.

Whether you're published or unpublished, I can help. My last publisher called me a "marketing guru" and "whiz", although I prefer to think of what I do as teaching, or coaching.

"Dare to Dream...and Dream BIG!"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Self-Publishing Tips from an Independent Bookstore Owner

Here's an informative article I found on Jerry D. Simmons' wonderful newsletter--TIPS for WRITERS from the PUBLISHING INSIDER...

Self-Publishing Tips - by Josie Leavitt posted in Publishers Weekly (Excerpts from the article)

As the owner of an independent bookstore, I get approached at least twice a week by self-published authors asking me to sell their books. The world of self-published books has changed a great deal since we've been open. The quality is vastly improved -- even Kinko's can produce a handsome book. The challenge becomes how to distinguish your book from the multitude we see a year.

I've amassed a list of what I'd like to see happen to make this growing area of bookselling as beneficial as possible for both parties. I've had some great success with self-published books. So if you're an author, don't despair, you can almost always get your book on the shelf. One thing I've changed is that now I'll take one copy of any self-published book on consignment. This involves no risk on my part and it allows your book to spend some time on the shelf. Just know that shelf space is at a premium. If after three months, the book hasn't sold, it may wind up in the back room until there's more room on the shelf.

One cardinal rule: if you want me to carry your book and you live locally, you should make an effort to shop at my store.

Do: Make your book look as professional as possible. Don't: Have a spiral wire binding (unless it's a church cookbook), laminated pages or folders.

Do: Send an email with details about your book. I love emails; I can't misplace them and I can quickly refer to it when I need to. And they give me an easy way to contact you. Don't: Come to the store unannounced and expect me to drop what I'm doing to review your book. There's nothing that puts me off more than this. Respect my time and I'll be much more disposed to look favorably on your book.

Do: Call to follow up on the email you sent. This reminds to review the email if I've missed it. Don't: Be hurt if I don't remember your book right away. We see lots of books. My lack of memory means nothing, other than I just don't remember. It's not a condemnation of your book.

Do: Try to leave a reader's copy if you want me to carry a novel. I do try to read them and if I like the book, I'll happily take several copies. Don't: Get mad at me for asking for a copy to read. I know it's expensive to have extra books; if you can't have a copy for me to read, then maybe an excerpt would be good. I can't just have things on the shelf I know nothing about. So give me so info that can help me sell your book.

Do: Try to price your book within the market ranges. I know picture books can be expensive to print, but a $25 paperback picture book will be hard to sell. Don't: Not listen to your local bookseller's advice. No one knows the market better than your local indie. Listen to their hesitations about carrying the book. See what you can do to modify the price. We had one self-published book that was really overpriced; we recommended a different printer and she got a much better price. As a consequence of the lower price we were really able to sell the book. I think by the time the print run ran out, we'd sold over 200.

Do: Think regionally. You're much more likely to get your book placed if it's got something to do local region. We've had good results with a book about boxers in Vermont. Don't: Expect a Vermont bookstore to carry a book about California ponies.

Do: Have an invoice for consignment available when you want me to carry your book. In a perfect world, I would have my own form, but sometimes we run out, and it's really helpful if you can keep track of the paperwork. Don't: Expect me to buy three copies of your book. It's not personal; it's business. Better to have the book on the shelf than not at all. We sold thirty copies of a Chapbook on consignment and it worked out well.

Do: Tell your friends and the press (if you live locally) that your book is available at my store. Don't: Not tell me if you're going to be featured in the local paper. Nothing is more frustrating than getting caught by surprise by not having a book on hand that's been featured in the paper.

On the whole, the future looks bright for self-published books. With the increase in quality, the stigma of self-publishing is going away. Remember to make your book look as professional as possible and be patient. We want you to succeed and nothing is more exciting than seeing a self-published book take off.

(This article was printed here with permission from the author, Jerry D. Simmons and WritersReaders.com


Louise Wise said...

Brilliant advice. I'm so glad I found your blog. I'm self-published, and although I've had some success at Waterstones other bookshops are sniffy when I mention it's a SP.

Cheryl Tardif, author and book marketing coach said...

Thank you, Louise. Congratulations on self-publishing your book and on your success! :-)

As for bookstores or people that have issues with self-publishing, on one hand I'm sure you can understand why they have issues--most self-published books are written badly and poorly edited. I'm just sayin' it as it is.

One thing writers can do for themselves, if choosing to self-publish, is to hire a professional editor. Yes, it'll cost you, but just imagine how much better you'll be received if you can say to the store manager, "My novel was professionally edited by a New York editor"(or similar). :-)

Writers can now hire professional editors straight from some of New York's most prestigious publishing houses, since so many were laid off last year due to merges and cutbacks.

Check out: www.GumboWriters.com


NetBizSavvy said...

I was searching for some reference about this particular topic, glad that I found your article in google. Great insight.

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