Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Indie Publishing: Let's Talk Sales

For the indie author, once your book is printed, another hurdle remains: how to sell it.

But before we get into those details, I just had to talk about one of a book's great selling points - the cover. The cover of a book is like that inviting stranger across the room - you're drawn in, or curious. You like what you see on the outside and you wonder whether it's worth it to find out more. The cover is important; most book buyers won't immediately be able to judge whether you're a brilliant storyteller without sampling the writing, but they do make assumptions based on the quality of your cover.

For indie authors, great writing and a terrific cover are only part of the consideration in how to sell the book.  The pressure is on, if only to recoup what we've spent. How have Gemi, Michelle, Peter and Kristina made their beautiful books available among the millions of available titles?  

Gemi: "Since my book is print-on-demand through Lightning Source, this is all taken care of via Ingram. The majority of my sales are carried out online through the various Amazon outfits and Barnes and Noble. I do have a small supply of books for signed copies that I can mail directly, but for the rest I don’t ever have to physically handle a book that I’ve sold. The biggest difficulty I’ve encountered is that various components (like the cover image, the product description and Amazon’s Search-Inside feature) go up in bits and you do have to keep track of where and how to follow up on them. Aaron Shepard’s POD for Profit was particularly helpful in that regard. I’ve recently uploaded The Crown in the Heather to Kindle and will also make it available in other e-book formats."

Michelle: "I used Lulu’s distribution package (ISBN, entries in Bowers Books, listing the book on Amazon, etc.). In order to get a copy in our local library, I had to donate a copy and it’s in the local authors section, but I don’t know how visible it is."

Peter: "Available through Amazon, and IndieReader. I signed up for the Amazon service that distributes to bookstores, but I don’t think it works very well. It also took Amazon some time to integrate the paperback and audiobook listing, but that’s solved."

Kristina: "My book is currently only for sale through I have a direct link on my website,; otherwise a search has to be done on Lulu using my name and/or title. I have had difficulties with other distribution channels. If I were to use another channel it would be for the sake of getting my name out there, but it’s much more profitable per book to sell it through Lulu.

I did have a few books placed in a local bookstore, but by the time my eight week contract was up, they’d been moved to the very back shelf where even I couldn’t find them!"

As for me, On Falcon's Wings is now available exclusively through Amazon; the Kindle version began selling on June 25 and the paperback will be ready shortly.  I've made links or the book available on my blog and website. The Kindle publishing was a logical step - digital books are the future. Last night, I was bemoaning this with Michelle via email. I see electronic publishing as a wonderful and inevitable tool, but I will miss the printed word when it becomes passé. There's something about opening a brand-new book; the crisp feel of those pages in your hands. It's one of many pleasures for me whenever I read. I wanted the same feeling with my own paperback.

Self-publishing has been an exciting journey for me and my fellow indie authors, but also a learning experience. We gained valuable experiences as much by what we each did right, as the things that we did wrong. Later today, Gemi, Michelle, Peter and Kristina will blog about their most meaningful lesson - Indie Publishing: Lessons Learned

In the meantime, share your comments on book buying - where do you obtain most of your books; online or in brick-and-mortar stores? Are your books mainly in digital or paper formats? How do you feel about digital publishing?

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