Posts tagged discounts
1) FACEBOOK: Here’s the thing. You can amass huge numbers of ‘friends’ on Facebook. Maybe, as in my case, you have at least a vague idea why each of them is there, maybe you just clicked and clicked to get the numbers rolling. Either way, you are not going to be able to resist trying to sell books there, so here’s a good, and a bad thing about Facebook.
GOOD – All of those with enough interest to follow you will know when you have a new book out, and some of them will read, review, and buy it. Probably not very meany, because all 2,000 or so of THEIR ‘friends’ also have books, or etsy shops, or Kickstarters for videos of their cats with toy balloons, and they are busy marketing and socializing, just like you. (Note that tis “Good” is not all that good)
BAD – most of the people who will see your posts on Facebook already know you. They already know you write, they already know about your books, and have probably already made their decision about buying them. Each time you tell them AGAIN, the filter around your posts grows, and you fall further into the gray area. Facebook marketing, unless you spend a bunch of money on it, generally just markets to the same small group of folks, and in the case of authors mostly markets to other writers trying to market to you.
TWITTER: You may, like me, love the quick, witty banter of a service like Twitter. I’ve made some long-standing friends there, and I’ve been with the service for a very long time. Here are my good, and bad thoughts on Twitter marketing.
GOOD: – if you play your cards right, interact with a lot of people, build relationships and (holy grail of twitter) get onto the radar of people with real reach, Twitter can push the news of your new book a long way. A single post about your book from the right celebrity can send people scurrying to see why their idol suggested it. A simple retweet of a post asking to be retweeted has a lot less gas than one that actually originates with the celebrity I am NOT saying you should start pummeling celebrities … just that if you can get their notice, you can sell books.
BAD – barring the time spent building relationships and the celebrity connections, if you mostly tweet over and over about your book, new reviews of your book, new places to buy your book, etc… lots of links with the words switched around? No one is going to follow those links. No one likes impersonal advertising, and particularly on Twitter, where interaction is the name of the game, spammy, scheduled posts about books people have already seen a hundred spammy scheduled posts about are more likely to prevent sales than to win them.
FREE GIVEAWAYS: There was a time when this was a great idea. There have always been proponents of this method, and it doesn’t take much research to see that most of those really successful proponents were already well-known before they tried it. Like anything else, it works better for a popular author than an unknown.
GOOD: – If you make use of the sites that will announce your book, plan ahead for your giveaway to be sure it’s promoted far and wide – plan the dates carefully and make sure the book you choose has good reviews / etc. you can really spread the word about your work. If you are lucky enough to land a slot somewhere like Bookbub or Boookblast, the freebie can get real legs.
BAD: – Barring something amazing, follow-on sales are sketchy. At one time Amazon counted free sales as “something” but now they have separate lists. Once your free promotion is over, you go back to being ranked 650,000 that very second. If you get lucky, you might coast a while on sales from the curious who found your book through a free promotion, got to it too late, and bought it anyway, but the lasting effect of free giveaways is not what it once was, and not likely to spur huge sales. Also, if you get in the habit of doing these, interested readers just wait for each took to be free. Also, some of the best promotions for what I will talk abut next, sale pricing, will not accept a book that has been recently free.
THE GOOD – The .99, $1.99 and even $2.99 sale price is what the free giveaway used to be. This method can work wonders, if you handle it correctly, and if you are patient but according to the experts in Tampa internet marketing, you are going to need reviews. I don’t think it’s wise to start such a promotion without 7-10 positive reviews, and it’s probably better to have more. Plan your sale in advance. There are services like Book Gorilla, Book Bub, Book Blast, where you can request a promotional day far in advance. If they accept you, they cost money. Spend that wisely. Ranked in effectiveness, Book Bub has worked by far the best, but is the hardest to get into. Book Blast has worked well for us, and is also much more economical than either of the others. Book Gorilla seems not to have much affect on sales, but I have only been involved with it once, and have one friend who used it. Sales were not affected much. Note that Book Bub and Book Blast give you average download and sales numbers, while Book Gorilla – much like Kindle Nation Daily – only tells you how sales ranks changed, which can be accomplished with a very small number of sales. The idea of the sale price is to get a lot of momentum, move up the sales chart, and then go back to normal price and try to sustain those sales. The REALLY good thing about this is that whatever boost in sales rank you get – you keep it at the end of the promotion.
THE BAD – It doesn’t always work. If you don’t promote it well, no one will see it – because no one was seeing it before the sale price. If you try it as the sole means of promotion, you’ll just make less on the few sales you manage. No promotion is any better than the effort put into it and the reach of its visibility. Combining this with the first two, Facebook and Twitter, won’t help that much because – again – those people already know about your book.
BOOK BLOGS: – This is not a new thing, but it has grown into a PROLIFIC thing . A lot of people have set up shop reviewing books, talking about books, creating book clubs for group reads…here’s what I know about them.
THE GOOD – you can reach a solid network of readers if you can get your book into the right book blogs. There are book bloggers with huge followings, not only on their blogs, but in their entire social media networks – you tube channels, Twitter, FB, Google +, etc. They can really create a buzz if your book catches their attention.
THE BAD – Just like with any good marketing source, there are a limited number of book blogs with the reach to really help sell books, and in those blogs, there are a limited number of slots for book promotion. Most reviewers and book bloggers have policies on submission of titles, and most of the really good ones have become difficult or impossible to get into if you weren’t part of their network early on – or don’t manage to become part of their network later on. Some have even grown into big book sites, with hundreds of thousands of followers. Just like getting a celebrity to endorse your book – good luck getting into one of the important book blogs. It’s not impossible, but is’t not easy. The sad fact is that, while you might get another good Amazon review out of a blog post about your book – and that’s a valuable thing in combination with other promotions – most blogs are still fighting to find an audience. A good gauge of how much reach you can get from a blog is to check the average number of comments they receive on posts. I’ve been blogging here forever. My traffic is (theoretically) pretty good. No one ever comments. Well, almost never. They might today, since i’m talking about book marketing again…
When I have finished it, I will blog about my blog tour – still ongoing. The jury is still out on this… You can be part of it by checking out all the posts, and interviews, and reviews that have accumulated this far. Today I have a post over at FIERCE DOLAN’S blog – about romance in books, the erotic, and the subtle. You can read that post by CLICKING HERE….
ALSO – for those interested, I have posted a story here from my collection Etched Deep & Other Dark Impressions. I wrote it when I was sort of caught up in the edges of the literary fiction scene… the poseurs and the literati, the infighting for a slot in the oh-so-posh pays not a cent hip ‘zine of the day. It’s titled “Pretty Boys in Blue With Long Hair Dangling,” and it’s available from the Short Fiction Excerpts menu at the top of the page.
THE TOUR SO FAR:
Read about Genres & Why I hate them : ==> AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE
I spent some time on the phone with a lady this morning that runs one of the bigger groups for independent booksellers in the south. It was one more in a long string of conversations that have led to this post. My goal here is two-fold. One, I want to educate everyone, readers, booksellers who might not know, and authors, on the mathematics of a POD book and why the current situation sucks. The second goal is to reach out to all of those same groups of people and work to find a solution. Here toes nothing.
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to use one of my own novels – Heart of a Dragon. This book is available in hardcover and in trade paperback, so I can show you the realities of pricing and distribution.
Out books are printed and shipped through Lightning Source. Lightning Source, of course, is associated with Ingram, but we’ll ignore that for now. Numbers:
Heart of a Dragon – Cover price $12.99 Trade paperback.
Heart of a Dragon – Cover price $24.99 Hardcover
Lighting Source has been very good to us. There is a calculator on their site where you plug in the type of book, the number of pages, and then experiment with prices and discounts so you find a point where you can make a little money and your author also makes money. It’s easy to use.
We have been discounting our books at 40 percent, hoping this would encourage independent bookstores to order from us. I know most of them use Ingrams or Baker & Taylor, and so, I thought giving this discount would at least help. On the above book:
$12.99 – 40 percent discount – we make $3.98 a book. This is split 50/50 with our authors. The rest, we split among the company and the book designer we work with. in other words. Not much.
$24.99 – 40 percent discount – we make $4.53 a book. Same deal.
That is what we make if we manage to sell a book through Ingram. What I’ve been told is – they do not pass this discount on to booksellers. They short discount it – probably no better than 15-25 percent in any case. Why? Because we don’t allow returns. To explain that. If 100 books are ordered, and we accept returns, and only 30 are sold, the other 70 are returned to Ingram, probably damaged at least lightly, and shipped to us, and we have to buy them all at cost. We have no warehouse. It’s a problem. So, we don’t allow returns.
The reality is that Ingrams WANTS you to discount your books 55% and accept returns. If you don’t accept returns, and still manage to get up to 55% you might start to see some bookstore returns, but here’s the thing. For us to make the same amount on the books prices have to go up considerably.
HC – $32.99 – 55 percent discount we make: $4.39
TPB – $17.99 – 55 percent discount we make $4.29
Then, if we were to take returns, we risk having a pile of these laying around….
If people order directly from us, we can offer the deeper discount to THEM. There may be a point in the middle where all this meets up. We may have to raise prices slightly to give bookstores 50 percent without returns. Currently, what we have done (effective the end of June) is to lower our discount to 20 percent, cutting out ANY sales to bookstores through Ingram, but lowering the cost at B&N and Amazon and directly through us and raising the amount per sale that our authors will receive. We don’t want to be for sale only on the Internet, but that appears to be where we’re heading.
What will fix all of this? A Network of independent publishers creating a single source for booksellers to order from that is simple in the way ordering from Ingram is, but that does NOT cost a chunk of the profit to use. Also, and those of you who have published through NYC know this, if we offer returns we have to change our accounting. We have to keep a “reserve against returns” on print book sales for at least six months, meaning you wait longer to get paid for your books, and if they are returned, don’t get paid for them at all. Then we have to have big “damaged book” sales and try to unload them at $5 – $10 a copy to cover print costs.
Another possibility is to make the information on POD books – cover art, description, price available in stores for customers willing to wait for delivery to their store. Maybe laminated product cards?
It’s ridiculous that we can’t find a better way for this to work in this digital age. Print on Demand has changed the availability of books, simplified the math and shipping – but not addressed the distribution. The old model is designed to work well for people using standard, off-set printing, where you pay huge chunks of cash up front, order print runs in larger numbers, dropping the per unit cost, and allowing that 55 percent discount and returns, hope to do better than break even. The really big companies can drop their per unit ridiculously low – and do – by printing literally hundreds of thousands of best-selling books that end up deep discounted, and still make money (while killing thousands of trees) Those of us working through Print on Demand channels need a new method of aggregating the available titles and making them available to libraries and independent book stores in a way that does not inconvenience them out of the game. Dealing with each of us separately does that.
We also need a way to get people into those stores requesting the books, because, in the end, that is the only way to get them to take the extra trouble – and who can blame them for that? I’m open for suggestions, and would love to hear from other publishers using Print on Demand – how you work it, if you take returns, how bad has that been? If the higher prices don’t matter – I would love to know that too. I am trying to make this print line a success..
I don’t know if what we need is a joint catalog put together by independent publishers, a network of e-mail and direct mail programs reaching out to bookstores, raising our prices and caving in…but I aim to find it.