The Book Distribution Conundrum

The big news this month is that Baker & Taylor announced that they will no longer sell books to retailers as of July 15, 2019. This is industry-changing news.

For years, there have been two wholesale companies that sell books to retailers and librarians—Ingram Content Group and Baker & Taylor. Of the two, Baker & Taylor was a small publisher’s friend.

The Distribution Conundrum

Historically it has been very difficult for a small publisher to get their books stocked in Ingram (and in Spring Arbor, the Christian book division of Ingram). Publishers must have at least 10 titles and meet a set annual sales figure in order to place their books directly with Ingram for sales to retailers and librarians. If a small publisher does not meet these requirements, then they have to use a distributor who stocks their books in Ingram. Some of these book distributors include Anchor (Christian books), Independent Publishers Group (IPG), Consortium Book Sales, and Baker & Taylor Publisher Services (formerly BookMasters).

Using a distributor has benefits as well as pitfalls. A distributor is a middleman, so a distributor takes an additional 15% or more of each book sale—over and above the 55–60% discount that the wholesaler (Ingram) requires. Additionally, distributor’s vet the books they represent. So, a publisher has to pass the additional requirements of a distributor in order to be represented by said distributor.

Baker & Taylor, on the other hand, was small-publisher friendly. Small publishers could open an account with Baker & Taylor and have their books stocked directly so that retailers and librarians could place orders for these books.

With the cessation of Baker & Taylor’s sales to retail stores, only one wholesale book company is now selling books to retailers—Ingram. Some in the industry are concerned about what this will mean long-term for retailers and publishers.

 

Baker & TaylorIf you are an independently published author, Baker & Taylor’s decision to cease distribution to retailers will most likely not affect you. Sadly, it will affect a number of small publishers.

Independent authors have been able to make their books available for sale to retailers and librarians through Ingram using one of Ingram’s print-on-demand (POD) services (IngramSpark or Lightning Source) or Kindle Direct Publishing’s expanded distribution service. You may wonder why the loss of Baker & Taylor is such a big deal since small publishers can also use the POD sales route.

Here is what most independent authors do not understand: Retailers rarely order print-on-demand books to stock the shelves of their stores. Print-on-demand titles have a special code in the wholesale system that retailers can spot. As a result, if you are actively trying to get bookstores to stock your title and your book is only available print-on-demand, you have an uphill battle. If your title is listed as a Kindle Direct Published book, you have an even harder climb to get a retailer to stock your book, since retailers consider Amazon their direct competition.

Bookstore

Small publishers understand that they need to have print copies stocked (not POD copies) with wholesalers to increase their chances of book sales to retail stores. This is why the loss of a small- publisher friendly wholesale option for small publishers is a big deal.

While over 50% of books are purchased online, a good percentage of books are still purchased in stores, including bookstores. Savvy publishers know that they must have their books available in multiple locations to garner the most sales. Therefore, access to a wholesale sales option is important for these publishers.

If you are an independently published author, you can take a lesson from small publishers. Having your book available in Amazon alone is not enough. Not everyone shops on Amazon, and, for certain, libraries and retailers don’t order books from Amazon.

Related Posts:
Amazon Is Not a Distributor
Distribution Is More Important Than You Think
Awareness Is Not Enough

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of Samuel Zeller.

 

Are You Riding a One-Trick Pony?

Scrolling through the apps on my smart phone the other day, I noticed an app called Turo. I did not remember what the app was for, so I opened it to see. Then I remembered. I had seen an ad for Turo on television and wanted to remember the service, so I downloaded the app as a way to help myself remember. My strategy worked.

Are You Riding a One-Trick Pony?

Turo is the latest installment in the new sharing or access marketplace—the move away from organized businesses and toward people providing services to one another. Services like Airbnb, Uber, and Takl all are revolutionizing the way business is done. Turo allows individuals to rent their vehicles to one another, bypassing car rental companies.

One exposure is not enough for us to remember something new. I knew that I would forget the name of the service that allowed people to rent their personal vehicles, but I wanted to remember it. So, I downloaded the app to remind myself. It worked.

The same is true for any new product or service. Reading or hearing about a new product once rarely leads to a purchase of that product. Instead, we need to see and hear about a new product multiple times before we remember it, and before we are convinced that it might be worth an investment of our money.

Most people hear about a new product or service from an ad, radio or television show, or a friend. Often, in our busy lives, we forget about the new product or service, until we stumble upon it again—often a few times. Just like I did with Turo.

Sadly, too many authors fall for the one-trick pony method of book marketing. Instead of realizing that people need to see and hear about their book multiple times and from different sources before they remember and make a decision to purchase, these authors hop onto the hot new marketing idea and think that it is the trick.

Over the years, I have seen numerous hot book marketing trends that are pushed on authors as the “new” way to sell books. These have included:

  1. Blogging
  2. Email Marketing
  3. A Social Media Presence
  4. Facebook Ads
  5. Podcasting
  6. Amazon Ads

Each of these are good marketing techniques. However, any one used exclusively will not be effective in selling large quantities of your book.

Marketing experts know that a good marketing plan involves a well-rounded strategy. In other words, marketing is not a one-trick pony. You have to perform numerous different marketing activities to have the best results.

Book Launch Marketing Checklist

Don’t fall for the latest one-trick pony. Develop a marketing strategy for your book that includes numerous channels where people can see and hear about you and your book. If you need guidance in developing a good marketing plan, here are two options:

  1. Read my book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books. A bonus to the book includes a link to download a free Book Launch Marketing Checklist that provides marketing activities from six-months prior to launch to on-going marketing activities to engage in.
  2. Join Christian Indie Publishing Association and download the Book Launch Marketing Checklist that is available for Members of the association.

Related Posts:
10 Daily Book Marketing Activities for 2019
Does Your Book Have a Firm Foundation?
Marketing is a Mindset

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of Christine Benton. 

Book Marketing Bingo

Eight out of every ten products launched in the United Sates are destined to fail.

I recently read this statistic in the book Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom. He went on to say:

Roughly 21,000 new brands are introduced worldwide per year, yet history tell us that all but a few of them have vanished from the shelf a year later. In consumer products alone, 52 percent of all new brands, and 75 percent of individual products fail.

That’s a whole lot of products that don’t stand the test of time. In other words, they don’t sell enough for their makers to keep producing them.

Authors, you have the same uphill battle for your books. The average traditionally-published book sells less than 500 copies and the vast majority of indie published books sell less than 200 copies.

There are many factors that help books sell. However, just as a cake won’t rise without baking soda, your book won’t sell without some marketing.

I love this Marketing Bingo board that John Kremer developed. Check it out. Have you done enough marketing to win a bingo on the board?

Marketing Bingo Card

Related Posts:
Marketing Is a Mindset
Overcoming Roadblocks to Marketing
Do You Need Marketing Confidence?

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Author: Do You Believe?

If you want to start a new habit or change an old habit, what is the one ingredient that makes the difference between failure and success?

Are you cultivating this habit?

According to Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit, that key ingredient is belief. Charles reports that all habits follow a similar pattern:

  1. A cue
  2. A routine
  3. A reward

He asserts that no matter what habit you are trying to change—drinking too much, quitting smoking, eating healthier, or exercising more—that you must change the routine. Changing the routine writes a new habit over the old habit. The cue and the reward stay that same, but now a new behavior is accessed for the old cue.

Someone who wants to eat less may note that they eat when they are bored. The cue is boredom. The routine is eating something. The reward is not feeling bored. To change the habit, the person needs a new routine. It might be that they decide to go for a walk when they feel bored instead of eating. If they change the routine to a walk, they have written a new, healthier habit over the old habit.

However, for the new routine to actually stick and work, the person has to believe that they can change. Without belief, we have trouble changing a habit. Instead, we fall back into the old routine when things get tough. So, for someone to kick an addiction, lose weight, or get in shape, she has to believe that she is capable of doing it.

What about you? Do you believe:

  • That your book makes a difference?
  • That some people need what you provide in your book?
  • That your marketing efforts will have some success?
  • That the time you spend marketing is meaningfully spent?

If you want to get into the habit of spending time each day marketing your book, then first and foremost, you must believe that your time will be well spent, that it will introduce people to your book, and that your sales will increase as a result. Belief is required for you to develop a daily marketing habit.

Once you believe that your marketing efforts can actually make a difference for your book sales, then the next thing you must do is develop a cue to help you remember to engage in marketing activities. Maybe you decided you will do one or two marketing activities on your lunch break. Then lunch will be your cue to engage in marketing.

Develop a list of marketing activities that you can do each day. That way, you are prepared. If you need ideas, check out the ideas in “Are You Willing to Commit?” and “10 Daily Book Marketing Activities for 2019”.

Developing a marketing habit is not easy, but it is a habit that can improve your book sales. However, you must believe that marketing will make a difference for the habit to stick.

Related Posts:
Do You Have This Habit?
Are You Marketing Effectively?
Are You Lacking Motivation?

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of Alexas_Fotos.

5 Free Tools Every Author Can Use

Limited budgets. Most of us live on them. We have limited dollars to spend on publishing and marketing a book.

The good news is that publishing a book is now very affordable, and promoting a book does not need to cost you a fortune. Here are five free tools to help you be a more successful author without having to spend a dime.

1. Get a Free Website

Every author needs a website. I am still surprised at how many independently published authors don’t have a website. In today’s world, you don’t exist if you don’t have a website. A website is one of your most important marketing tools. If you don’t have a website, you can create one easily and for free at Carrd. Now you don’t have any excuses. Go get a website.

2. Create Free Visuals

Every author needs to engage in marketing—promoting your book. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to do this is on the Internet through your own website and through social media sites (think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.). To grab people’s attention, you want to create interesting visuals for your website and social media posts. One website that lets you create all sort of visuals for free including blog graphics, social media pictures, infographics, and web banners is Canva.

3. Host a Free eBook Giveaway

Any author with a book on Amazon Kindle can host a free ebook giveaway through Amazon. However, doing so only gets your ebook into the hands of readers. It does not allow you to capture emails of interested readers so that you can continue to communicate with them. Instead, host your ebook giveaway right from your website using Instafreebie.

4. Track Your Business Income and Expenses

When you publish your own book, you can now call yourself a sole-proprietor and begin using this to your advantage come tax time. If you choose this route, you will need to carefully track your business income and expenses. You can do this easily using the free online program provided by Wave.

5. Never Forget a Password

If you are using the Internet to publish and promote a book, then the number of websites where you have to remember a password increases. These include the sites where your book is published, the sites where your book is sold, your own website and social media accounts, as well as the resources listed here. Now you can use this free resource to never lose a password. Generate strong passwords and store your login credentials, securely, and locally at LastPass.

Related Posts:
Book Cover Design Tools
What Successful Authors Do
Do You Have the Wrong Expectation?

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of LUM3N on Unsplash.