Distinction

What makes a book stand out from the pack? The answer can be summed up in one word: Distinction.

Salt-Covenants-Cover-Final-Front-185x300

Recently, a BookCrash reviewer wrote the following about one of the books she had read:

You can almost always tell which books were published by little publishing companies because they look different. The covers have a different shine about them (and generally there is something vaguely odd about the cover art), the book is sized differently from your average book, the paper is a different color, and the font is always slightly different.

This is not the kind of distinction—being different, odd, or out-of-place—I am referring to.

Standing out from the pack in an odd way that looks out-of-place does not help book sales. Rather, the distinction that drives book sales is that of quality. In other words, a more excellent and grabbing cover design, an exceptionally beautiful interior layout, and, above all, attention-grabbing prose that presents a message in a new light.

Fortunately, the same BookCrash blogger went on to rave about the book she was reviewing:

The Salt Covenants was published by Heritage Books. It was a fantastic discovery. I can totally guarantee the quality of this book. It is AMAZING!

That is the type of distinction required for a book to stand out from the pack—marked superiority. For readers to exclaim “Amazing!” when they have finished the book should be the aim of everyone involved in the publishing process of a book.

Strive for the right type of distinction with your books. Make sure that the outward appearances of your book conform to industry standards, but then amaze your readers with distinction in your message or story.

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A Book Becomes a Tree

Books come from trees. Now trees can come from books.

jacaranda Tree

In an effort to promote environmentally friendly literature, an Argentinean publisher, Pequeño Editor, has created a children’s book that can be planted after reading and will grow into a tree. Using eco-friendly ink and acid-free paper that has been infused with seeds from the Jacaranda tree, the book will decompose in fertile soil, leaving nothing but the seeds to grow into a tree.

The book created by Pequeño Editor is for children between the ages of eight and twelve. It closes the loop in the tree-become-book scenario, bringing it full circle to tree-becomes-book, which becomes a tree again.

Watch this promotional video describing this innovative new book coming full circle.

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Do Your Homework!

In the era of self-publishing, publishing services for authors have sprung up everywhere. Amazon, the innovative giant that it is, saw an opportunity in the market for self-published ebooks. To capitalize on this opportunity, Amazon launched Kindle Direct Publishing.

Not to be left behind, Barnes & Noble followed Amazon and launched its own digital self-publishing platform, Nook Press. Then Kobo, desiring to remain competitive put into motion a digital self-publishing platform, Kobo Writing Life.

bam_publishing

Interestingly, a late comer has joined the fray. Books-A-Million has recently launched BAM! Publishing. This DIY platform goes beyond Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo. BAM! Publishing allows authors to create both print and digital books. In addition, they offer a wider sales distribution than just their own marketplace. Authors using the BAM! Publishing service can choose wider distribution to include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and others through their partnership with Ingram Digital Distribution Network.

You may be wondering if Books-A-Million is investing in printing equipment for this new service. Interestingly, they are not. BAM! Publishing will be offering print book services through Espresso Book Machines (EBM) located in a few of their physical stores. Authors ordering print books can choose to either go to a store with an EBM to pick up their copies or can have them shipped to them.

I find BAM! Publishing an interesting idea for Books-A-Million to capitalize on the Espresso Book Machines they have. However, BAM! Publishing is not inexpensive. After all, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo all allow you to upload a digital book and sell it on their site for free—no upfront cost to you. Not BAM! Publishing. If you would like to make an ebook available online through BAM! Publishing Marketplace and through the Books-A-Million website, the cost is $129. BAM! Publishing then pays a royalty rate of 80% of the Retail Markup amount for each ebook sold. The service is charging an even higher fee for wider ebook distribution (to Amazon, BN, etc.). This fee is $279 to have your ebook available in these channels for three years.

While Books-A-Million is trying to be innovative, I believe they may be pricing themselves out of the market. After all, savvy author and publisher understand that they can use Smashwords for free for a wide distribution of their ebooks, or they can choose to upload their books to the three major ebook sellers listed earlier via each’s self-publishing platform for free.

Additionally, those authors and publishers who have done their homework know that they can get their books listed for printing on any Espresso Book Machine for free via OnDemand Books’ ExpressNet SelfServe for U.S. Publishers. EspressNet SelfServe is the web-based interface that allows publishers to upload their titles directly to EspressNet, the proprietary software that connects the Espresso Book Machine (EBM) to a vast network of content, enabling EBMs to order and print books. Publishers uploading books through EspressNet receive a 25% royalty on the retail price of the book.

Just because a service is being offered does not mean it is competitive or worthwhile. Always do your homework. Book publishing and distribution does not need to be expensive. It can be very affordable if you take the time to learn the avenues available to you. Sadly, too often, authors seeking to see their book in publication jump on what they perceive to be the easiest route. However, often they end up spending more than they ever make back in book sales.

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The Book Cover That Judges You

I find all sorts of interesting inventions in the book industry. I have reported on many of them here on this blog over the years. I recently stumbled across a new invention for book covers.

Thijs Biersteker, a Dutch artist, has invented a book cover that judges the reader. The book cover is designed to detect how a reader is judging it based on a scan of the reader’s face. Using a camera and software to identify the emotion in the face it scans, the book cover is programmed to either unlock or stay locked.

Cover Judges You

This high-tech book cover scans for signs of judgement. If it identifies that the reader is over-excited or skeptical, then the book stays locked. If the reader’s face is neutral (no judgement) the book cover will unlock.

At my first glance at this, I thought that this newly designed high-tech book cover might be a useful tool in determining whether a book cover is effective in engaging readers or not. However, since this system only recognizes “judgement” vs. “non-judgement”, it would not be useful in this manner. If, instead, this high-tech book cover could distinguish between excitement, neutrality, and skepticism, then it might well be a good tool in determining whether a book’s cover would be effective or not. If the book cover only unlocked for those who were excited or neutral, an author could determine whether more people were drawn in or turned off by the cover.

What do you think of this high-tech book cover?

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A Bookstore Dedicated to Self-Published Authors

Two entrepreneuring authors have teamed up to open the first bookstore dedicated to books by self-published authors. Children’s author and illustrator Patti Brassard Jefferson and history author Timothy Jacobs decided to open a bookstore of their own after they became frustrated with the lack of opportunity for indie authors to showcase their works in existing bookstores.

Gulf Coast Bookstore

The two Florida authors opened the Gulf Coast Bookstore in Fort Myers, Florida. The store only sells books by indie authors. Currently, Gulf Coast Bookstore has around 50 local authors using the space.

Gulf Coast operates very differently from a traditional bookstore. Self-published authors rent shelf space for three months for $60, plus a $15 set-up fee, close to what they might spend to exhibit a single title at a day-long book fair. They also handle stocking and restocking of their books. In return, the authors receive 100% of every sale.

Gulf Coast Bookstore rearranges inventory every two weeks to keep the space fresh. The only criterion for authors using the store is that the author be “local.” Each author can display 10 copies of a single title or up to 10 titles with one copy each. With the rental of physical shelf space, authors are featured on the store’s website, and they can use the store for book signings.

What a fabulous idea! I am hoping that this concept will catch on and more large cities around the country will begin to host bookstores featuring only local authors’ books! If you are in or around the Fort Myers area of Florida, put this bookstore on your destination list.

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