Inspiration for Your Next Book Launch

Some authors simply decide within themselves or with their family that their book is officially launched and ready. Some, either on their own or with their publisher's help, have some sort of book launch event. I've done both.

For my first book, Publishing Possibilities I basically decided it was available, posted an announcement, sent an email and that was that. For my new book, Creation Inspirations, I was blessed to be able to have a small book signing event after services at my church. What is done as a kick off depends a fair amount on your personality, the type of book and, of course, your budget.

When I do my next launch, I'm considering something along the lines of what Mitch Albom is doing, but on a smaller scale because I'm no where near as connected as he is. In an interview on Good Morning America this morning he basically said authors sometimes have parties, why not do something to benefit charity at the same time. You can read more about it on his blog I think it's a great idea, wish I could go, but speaking of budgets it's not happening this time around. I wish him all the best though and appreciate the inspiration.

Have you held a similar style book launch? If you could do anything for your launch what would it be? I hope you'll share so we can all be even more inspired today.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


What If? Distribution Part 7

Last time we talked about some of the costs of full service distribution which you'll recall is one of the ways to get books into bookstores. I also shared with you that at this time, getting into a full service program isn't right for me and my book. Down the line though who knows?

Maybe that's not the case for you. Maybe after going through this series so far, getting your books into stores seems like a logical, doable option. What if you're ready financially to get your book into bookstores, or you want a traditional publisher and you want to work toward getting in even the bigger chains? What then?

As I've mentioned before, it's not get it on the shelf and they will come buy it. While it's true, a few people will come in, browse and buy, that strategy won't sell a ton of books. It may not even sell enough to require a re-order or to prevent returns.

So what do you do? Bottom line, you have to have a plan-a marketing plan to be specific. In fact, to submit to be carried by some distributors or store chains, you need to tell them what your plan is as part of the application/submission process. You read that right, you have to tell them before they'll even agree to stock your product, you aren't going to count on them to promote once it's there.

My suggestion-don't even think about pursuing a distributor, or even a traditional publisher, unless you have a good promotion plan because again, distributors get your book into stores, publicity and marketing gets it into the consumer's hands. It is often said, writing is an art, publishing is a business and it could not be more the case in the area of distribution.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


What Does it Cost? Distribution Part 6

Throughout this series on distribution we've talked about what it is and many of the tasks a distribution program or company can help you with as an author. Some of you may have felt that all sounds good, how do I get started? Before you jump in, there's definitely another piece of the puzzle that needs to be considered and that is of course, cost. The companies who perform these services certainly don't do it for free and they are in business to make money just like any business.

I have personally researched a couple of full service companies in the last couple of months as I was curious to see if it would make sense to try it for my new book or not. Right now the answer is "not". Though it might be beneficial to be in stores this time, the cost is prohibitive at the moment for full service. Even though the two companies vary in their fee structure, the end profit works out to be similar. Here's how one works:

Set up fee $495 (they actually both have this and why it's so high, I'm really not sure)
Wholesale discount 55%
Distributor fee 30%
Warehousing $.03 per book per month

So here's what it would look like for my $12.99 book if a store buys it to stock it

$12.99 - 55% discount so I get 45% put in my account = $5.84
From that they invoice me their fee of 30% = $1.75
I also need to subtract my print cost which is between $2 and $3 depending on how many I've printed but to be cost effective 500 is probably the minimum.

So that leaves me with around $1 give or take per book, again depending on printing costs.

As you can see, this is where larger publishers (or smaller ones with huge budgets) have an advantage. They can get the print costs down further generally and if they handle distribution in house, the costs probably vary from the 30%. However, they may also have more overhead so overall, I'm not sure they really make much more (which partially explains the dire straights some are in right now).

You can probably also see why authors who go the traditional route only get 6, 7 maybe 8% in royalties. and remember, there's often an agent taking 10-15% out somewhere in the mix too.

If you're like me, one of the first things people ask is are your books going to be in such and such bookstore. Right now, my answer is people will be able to special order most of the time but they won't be stocked. Down the line, who knows. BTW, the website for the new book in case you are curious is www.creationinspirations.com

Have you considered full service distribution, have you used it? Please share your thoughts.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Who Are they? Distribution Part 5

In previous posts in this series, we defined full service distribution and digital or online distribution. It's definitely important to be clear on the differences so that you can either pursue the appropriate company, or understand what's being offered in a particular package. Today, let's talk about what types of companies handle/provide full service distribution.

First, if you go the traditional route and are blessed to be picked up by a major publisher, it is likely they'll handle all, or at least some, distribution. Because they offer so many books, they have enough for an in-house staff to offer bookstore/retail store buyers throughout the selling seasons.

Next, there are specific book distribution companies. Many of these companies only work with publishers with multiple titles and the budgets to print hundreds or thousands of books at a time. Ingram is one of them. Their full service program requires a publisher to have 10 titles before they can be considered (as we talked about last time though, they also offer a digital program for those with fewer titles).

If you are traditionally published, you don't have to worry about this part of the process. It's all very much behind the scenes and most consumers wouldn't have a clue as to the distributor, nor do they need to.

Acquiring distribution is tricky for independent publishers often because of the requirements noted above. It is possible though as there are still a few companies who offer it, even if you only have one book. Atlas Books and Blu-Sky are two of them.

For the last group, those published by fee-based/POD publishers, full-service distribution is rare, if not non-existent.

Questions, comments?

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Would You Be Interested?

Buzz. Word of mouth. Publicity. We all want those things for our book. We want it to get noticed. And if any of that can go viral, we'll definitely be doing the happy dance. But how do all of those things get going? One thing is for sure, it's not "write it and they will come". It will take some effort on your part as we talked about last time.

The good news though is that effort doesn't necessarily need to be herculean nor does it need to cost a fortune. One such strategy is simple, but often at least partially overlooked-simply asking for people to lend a hand.

Even though I've asked for help in a variety of ways throughout both my book projects, I'll admit I didn't really think of doing what Mary DeMuth did recently (Scroll down to 9/1/09 and 9/7/09.

Mary is a respected author published by a major publisher (Zondervan) with an established audience. Even so, she didn't take for granted her fans would help spread the word about her new book. She flat out asked them to help get the word of mouth going. As you'll see in the 9/1 post, she kept it short and to the point and then later added a few other options. Nothing complicated, just "would you be interested?"

I'll also admit that the strategy caught me off guard at first. As I mentioned, she's got a good following, and she has at least some help from her publisher's publicity department as well. I just didn't think of someone like her asking for help with promoting, but it does make sense if you think about it just a bit. No one likes to be taken for granted, even loyal fans. Also, giving people direction makes it easier for them to participate, they don't have to wonder how they can help you if they desire to, and many are waiting to be asked.

How many responded to Mary's requests? I don't know. How many will respond to yours? I haven't a clue though I'm pretty certain you'll get some yes's and some no's and a few will ignore you. But even if it's only one or two in the yes column, it's more than you had if you didn't try to ask at all.

Have you asked for help promoting your book and received an unexpected yes or more than you asked for? Please share with us.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett

P.S. More on distribution coming soon!


You'll Have to Market Your Book

It can't be stated more simply than that. If you want your book to sell, you'll have to participate in the marketing process. There's no way around it, you cannot rely 100% on anyone else. And yes, this is true even if you are traditionally published though there are some who would like you to believe otherwise. If someone says you get to sit back and write, you either have a very unusual situation being taken into consideration or they're lying. The industry just doesn't work that way anymore. It can't afford to.

What is true is that the degree to which you need to participate can vary if you have a traditional publisher. They will (or at least should) have contacts and relationships with the media to an extent, and some may help with an overall plan so you may not have to reinvent the wheel.

But if you're a new author (which most of you reading this are), don't expect to get the bulk of their PR people's attention, especially if it's a bigger house and they carry big name/well established authors too. There simply aren't enough hours in the day or enough money to go around to treat everyone and every book the same. Want to tip the scales in your favor? Be prepared to be the best team player you can be.

Want more proof that you've got to pitch in? Agent Chip MacGregor says it as it is at his blog this week too.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Distribution Part 4 - How Do Wholesalers Fit In?

If you delve into the topic of distribution, you'll most likely come across the term wholesaler (or sometimes wholesale distribution). Wholesalers are an important piece of puzzle, so let's jump into this topic today.

The main difference between distributors and wholesalers that you need to grasp is that wholesalers do not have reps that contact buyers (stores and libraries); marketing is not their function and most do little beyond having information about titles and maybe telling buyers what's new. They are not in the business of getting stores to place orders-they fill the orders. They serve as a supply point (think "w" wholesale & warehouse). They stock physical copies of books for hundreds if not thousands of publishers. In the case of print on demand, they may just have the title in a database and can get the book from the print source whenever there's an order.

In the U.S., the two major wholesalers are Ingram and Baker & Taylor. While they both serve many outlets, each has a focus. Retailers, including independent bookstores, generally turn to Ingram and B & T serves the library system.

Can your book be in the database or warehouse of a wholesaler if you are not working with a a full-service distributor? Yes. If you print or publish with certain vendors, your package may include a listing. In addition, you can apply to be a book supplier via an application on the B & T website. I don't know exactly how stringent the requirements are, but I am aware that independent publishers with as few as one book can appear in their system.

A couple of other items to note:
1.Ingram also offers full service distribution (and you must have at least 10 books to qualify), it is not the same program as what we're talking about today.

2. Wholesale orders and companies are part of the general concept of distribution which is getting books to the seller or end user. B & T refers to themselves as distributors on their website, however, they also state that they do not provide "distribution services" to their suppliers.

Again, to keep things straight on the most basic level, distributors try to get bookstores and other outlets to order books from publishers and wholesalers fill those orders.

To get a real world glimpse of what the process looks like check out Amber Polo's blog. It talks about author's expectations and interactions with independent bookstores and discusses some of the ordering process. Be sure to read the comments as well for more info.

More on distribution soon.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Distribution Part 3

In parts 1 & 2 I talked about the basic definition of distribution and about full-service distribution which generally involves sales reps and other strategies to get store buyers to place orders. This time let's touch on the other kind of distribution known as digital or online distribution.

First, the big difference is evident in the name itself-digital distribution. It means your books are not typically stocked physically in stores, but they are available virtually-in a database along with tens of thousands of others.

Generally, digital distribution programs make your book available for special order in brick-n-mortar stores, appear on most, if not all, major online sites (like Amazon, B & N) and in the main database libraries use for acquiring books.The goal of distribution is to get books to customers, and online programs do satisfy that need, it just isn't in the traditional sense of how it has worked in the past.

Still to come: what kinds of companies provide distribution, pros & cons.

Questions, comments?

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett.