Boosting Global Sales

Book selling is becoming an increasingly global market. The Internet and ebooks have driven this trend. Globalization is great for authors and publishers as it means a wider audience and more book sales.

Global Sales

Any author with an ebook on Amazon or Kobo knows that International sales of your book are not only possible, they have probably already happened. According to Code Mantra, the six largest book markets by country are (in order):

1. United States
2. China
3. Germany
4. Japan
5. France
6. United Kingdom

All these countries have English readers who purchase books.

If you collect email addresses from visitors to your website or blog, you may already be aware that not all the visitors to your site are from the country you reside in. Even on social media, all your followers are not from your country of residence. After all, I am fully aware that that not everyone reading this blog post lives in the United States.

Global reach can present a problem when promoting a book. If you send out an email to your list of customers containing a link to buy your book or if you put up a social media post with a link to buy your book, often this link is to your own website where you sell the book or to Amazon’s website in your country of residence. However, if a consumer in another country clicks on that link, they are not going to buy from Amazon in the United States if they live in China.

If you have a rather large global following, this issue can be of concern to you. Fortunately, there is a free solution to this problem.

A service called SmartURL can help you point your potential customers to an online store in their country of origin through the use of one single URL. SmartURL was originally designed for music sellers. It allows music sellers to create a single URL that directs people to the correct online store (Apple or Google Play) to purchase music depending on the device they are using to access the URL.

SmartURL will also allow you to direct someone who clicks on your purchase link to a specific online store depending on what country the person is accessing the Internet from. In essence, with SmartURL, you create a unique URL that sends everyone to a destination URL that you specify to purchase your book. With this same URL, you can direct people from various countries to the appropriate online store in their country to purchase your book.

If you are concerned that you may be losing sales due to globalization of readers, I encourage you to check out SmartURL and try it out for your next book sale marketing push. With this free tool, you can direct your potential customers to an online sales site selling your book in their currency.

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Sales Data Worth Mining

Smashwords, the largest ebook self-publishing and distribution platform for independent authors, has access to a large chunk of sales data for ebooks that the company shares each year. The company examines real sales data each year to extract potential insights about best practices to indie authors and publishers improve their practices to reach more readers and increase sales.

data-miningIf you are an independently published author or small publisher producing and selling ebooks, you can use the information in Smashwords’ yearly report to improve your strategies. After reading the report, I found four nuggets that I think are worth sharing.

1. The Power of Free has Fallen
In the four years that Smashwords has conducted an annual study of sales figures, free downloads decreased dramatically. In 2012, Smashwords found that free books were downloaded 100 times more than paid books. In 2013, free books were only downloaded 91 times more than paid books. In 2013 that number was down to 39 times, and in 2015, the result was up to 41 times. Blame the glut of free ebooks. However, free is still an option when trying to reach new readers for your books, especially if you have a series.

2. Best Price
Smashwords reports that $3.99 is the sweet spot for fiction ebooks. For the third year in a row, authors sold more units and earned more overall income with books priced at $3.99. However, if you are going to price your ebook below $5.00, then avoid the $1.99 price. Pricing at $2.99 or $.99 is better. You will reach more readers and sell more books.

3. Building Sales
Smashwords found two powerful tools for building sales: preorders and offering the first book in a series free. While not many Smashwords’ authors offered preorders, those that did earned the about three and one-half times more income than those authors who simply put a book up for sale the day of its release. Preorders with an aggressive marketing campaign are a powerful tool for building sales. Smashwords also found that those authors offering the first book in a series free to readers earned 66% more than those who did not. So, if you have a series of books, offer the first one free to hook readers.

4. Building Readership
All the best-selling authors on Smashwords are active on Facebook and Twitter and have a blog. Enough said.

As we move into 2016. Consider how you can begin incorporating free offers, pricing, preorders, and more social media presence into your overall marketing strategies for your ebooks.

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Develop a Global Strategy

To develop a global strategy is a vital move for indies if they want a profitable future. With the media so globalized, and readers all over the world able to find and buy books online, independent publishers can be ‘much more confident and active’ in global markets.” ~Sandy Grant, CEO of Hardie Grant Publishing

Sandy Grant is right. To maximize sales and profits, publishers and independent authors should move to the global market.

A new Pew study backs up this strategy. The study found that Internet use in emerging and developing countries is highest among younger, more affluent, better educated users who read English. The study also found that people who read or speak English are more likely to access the Internet overall (irregardless of other factors). This is significant for English-language book publishers. English-speaking people around the world are the most likely to use the Internet. This means that these people are also more likely to purchase ebooks.

eBook subscription services are aware of the profit potential in global access. Oyster is already beginning to expand internationally and Bookmate (a Russian-based digital subscription reading service) has launched its service in Singapore.

PG_15.03.11_Internet-Access_640px_WebThe Pew study found that Chile, Venezuela, Russia, and China have Internet access rates higher than 60%, with the United States having an Internet access rate of 87%. Many developing countries rates are still under 50%.

The study noted that once online, Internet users in emerging and developing nations have embraced socializing as their most preferred type of digital activity—with most saying they stay in touch with friends and family online. Many also use cyberspace for getting information about politics, health care and government services. Less common are commercial and career activities, such as searching or applying for a job, making or receiving payments, buying products and taking online classes.

So, while Internet access and activity is increasing around the world, buying products (including books) online is still lagging. However, as Internet activity continues to increase, buying of ebooks will also increase. Making your books available worldwide may not reap immediate profits, but the global strategy is one that will need to be embraced as we move into the future.

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Kobo’s New Book Report

Kobo is one of the world’s fastest-growing e-reading services. The company’s online bookstore offers more than 4.2 million ebooks and magazines to millions of customers in 190 countries. Recently, this company released an inaugural report revealing e-reading trends in 2014. around the world Currently, the ebook market makes about $14.5 billion in sales globally and is expected to reach more than $22 billion by 2017. Following are a few of the findings from the Canadian-based Kobo Book Report:

  • Self-improvement books, including cookbooks, health, and self-help books, are more popular during the month of January than at any other time of year. More self-improvement books and books overall were downloaded in January than any other month.
  • While Sunday would seem the most popular day of the week to finish a book in Canada and around the world, it’s interesting to note that in 2014, 70% of books were actually completed during the week – Monday to Friday.
  • Children’s titles, available at the Kobo Kids’ Store offering 100,000 titles, made up more than 7% of Kobo’s overall 2014 book sales.

In the United States, sales of eBooks represent between a quarter and a third of the consumer book market. According to a recent survey by Nielsen Books, ebook sales made up 23% of unit sales for the first six months of 2014, while hardcover’s accounted for 25% and paperbacks 42%. While the overall ebook market continues to grow, the years of double-digit sales growth for ebooks seems to be over—at least for the United States and Canada. Some experts still believe that exponential ebook sales can still be expected in countries around the world, especially Asia. eBooks allow authors and publishers to reach readers around the world without having to ship print books or find foreign publishers to print the books.

If you are producing and selling ebooks, make sure that your ebooks are available worldwide on a variety of platforms. One study in 2014 showed that Kobo and Amazon were tied for International ebook sales reach. So, if you are interested in making sure your ebooks have a wide-reach globally, don’t just depend on Amazon.

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eBook Bundling

One recent study found that 23% of male adults and 33% of female adults in the United States read ebooks. While this is still far from the majority of individuals, ebook reading is growing and with it, services for selling ebooks grow.

From time to time, I come across a new ebook service that I think is worth giving some attention to. One such service is BitLit.

bitlit

BitLit is a new free mobile app that allows readers to obtain free or discounted ebooks of printed works they already own. Similar to Amazon’s Matchbook program that allows Kindle owners to get a Kindle ebook for free or a discounted price when they purchase a print version of the book, BitLit is offering free and discounted ebooks to customers who have purchased a print version of a book.

With BitLit, customers who want to obtain the ebook version of a book they already own simply have to take a picture of the book’s cover and a picture of their name clearly written in ink on the book’s copyright page. The customer then sends the images to BitLit through the BitLit app. The company uses computer vision algorithms to verify the book and the customer’s name and then emails the customer a download link to the ebook, which can be read on any device.

BitLit believes bundling provides an incentive for customers to buy a book. The company has run several pilot programs with bookstores to determine whether books marked with an “Includes FREE eBook” sticker sell better. The early results indicate that they sell almost twice as well as books that don’t include a bundled ebook.

Any publisher can sign up to have their ebook part of the BitLit program. Signing up is free and can be done on the company’s website at www.bitlit.com/publishers/#. BitLit takes a small commission on each sale. There is no commission on free bundled ebooks. However, the service does require that you are able to send your metadata via ONIX feeds.

A number of ebook services have started and crashed. Other have taken off and become popular. I don’t know if BitLit will be a hit or not. However, since it is free to use, and since bundling is a great sales incentive, BitLit offers you one more avenue to promote your books.

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