Author Archives: Kim Staflund

About Kim Staflund

As a book publisher, Kim Staflund works with businesses and individuals around the world to produce superior quality ebooks, paperbacks, and hardcovers. As the founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG), she has extensive experience with the traditional (trade), vanity, and supported self-publishing business models as both a service provider and an author. Kim built her company from the perspective of the author—taking the best practices from each business model to create a company that puts its authors first, while ensuring a professional, saleable result. Think of PPG as a skilled project manager for self-publishing authors. Using the supported self-publishing business model, the company assists authors in producing truly professional books by guiding them through the entire process from conception to publication. PPG helps both individuals and businesses to publish quality books and provides them with online distribution opportunities throughout the world. In addition to her writing and book publishing background, Kim has a substantial sales and sales management history that includes new business development, both inside and outside account management of all types and sizes of companies, and personnel management and leadership experience within unionized and non-unionized environments. Add her firsthand knowledge of records management, process management, and project management into the mix and you have everything that is required in a professional book publisher to help authors everywhere succeed. Kim’s number one priority in each of these roles has always been, and will always be, to earn (and keep) the trust of each of her clients by providing honest, ethical, and thoughtful customer service that meets or exceeds their expectations.

Don’t Call Procrastination Laziness. Call it Fear. (PART TWO)

In part one of this two-part blog series, we talked about the difference sections of the human brain—the reptilian brain, the limbic brain, and the neocortex—and how they each affect our decision-making processes. We discovered that our unconscious, compulsive, automatic fear of things unknown is created in the reptilian portion of our brains. And we discussed that any of the irrational concerns we may have about book publishing, sales, and marketing are variations of the exact same thing: the reptilian brain’s unconscious, automatic “fight or flight” survival instinct triggered by its fear of the unknown.

Instinct is a good thing that serves a valid purpose in our lives. God gave us all an instinct for a reason, and we should pay attention to it; but, whenever your fear of the unknown has you avoiding potentially advantageous opportunities simply because they’re new to you, then it’s time to consult with your more evolutionarily advanced neocortex—the logical, rational portion of your brain—by writing your fears down. Articulate them to yourself in writing. Read them out loud to yourself. When you do this, you’ll begin to see just how irrational many of those fears really are.

Fear #1: What if it’s a bad idea?

I can’t tell you how many authors I’ve sat and had a coffee with who have sheepishly shrugged their shoulders and said, “It’s probably a stupid idea. Maybe I shouldn’t do it.”

To which I always reply, “How long have you been thinking about this idea? When did it first come to you?”

For many of them, the answer is, “Several months.” For others, the answer is, “Several years.”

I always tell them the same thing: “An idea is a life form of its own that wishes to be expressed. It wants to be given life, and it has chosen you as the conduit for its life. That’s a gift . Accept this gift and use your God-given talent to give it the expression and life it craves. The fact that you’ve been thinking about this idea for several months or years tells you that it’s not simply a fleeting thought. It’s a real living, breathing thing.”

As an entrepreneur starting my own book publishing business, and writing and selling my own books, I had my moments when I thought to myself, “Maybe this is a bad idea.” I’m just like you. What I did, in those moments, was seek out inspiration from other people who had succeeded before me, to help me push through that fear and self-doubt. I read books. I watched videos. I used whatever tools I could find to help myself move forward.

One of my most cherished sources of inspiration is a video of Sara Blakely (2011), the founder of Spanx, Inc., speaking to a group at The Edge Connection in Atlanta, Georgia, about how she built her hosiery company from a mere $5,000 initial investment into a billion dollar empire in a short ten years. Very early in her presentation, she describes listening to a speaker at a convention who stated that he would prove to the room, in only four words, that there is no such thing as a bad idea: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES! Sara herself eventually went on to prove to the many early doubters, in only two words, that there is no such thing as a bad idea: FOOTLESS PANTYHOSE!

I highly recommend this video of Sara Blakely to all authors who doubt themselves and their current ideas—whether it’s a book topic idea or a sales idea you have for an already-published book. It is a beautiful example of what’s possible when one pushes past that instinctive, reptilian-brain fear and perseveres in the achievement of a goal—any goal. For those who love humour, you’ll enjoy this video all the more. This woman is not only inspirational; she’s downright hilarious. I truly admire her on so many levels.

Fear #2: What if nobody reads it?

Well, then nobody will read it. And you’ll be no further behind nor any further ahead than you are today. You’re surviving right now, right? Fear busted.

Fear #3: What if people read it and don’t like it?

First of all, if people are reading it, that’s a good thing! That’s the ultimate goal!

Second, accept the fact that you’re entitled to your own opinions— and so is everyone else. Once you can do that, you’ll experience a freedom you’ve never experienced before.

When I published my first book, everything was quite new to me, and I had an expectation (possibly an unfair one) that my friends and family members should support me 100 percent and compliment me on my book, no matter what they thought of it. Luckily, that did happen with my first book. Everyone around me was very supportive.

Unfortunately, when my second book came out, it was a different story. I received an unexpected criticism from someone dear to me that left me shocked, hurt, and unsure how to react. I’ll be honest; it took me a couple years to come to a place where I was willing to put myself out there again. During that time, I had to rethink my expectations of those closest to me and find a way to remain confident in myself and my craft regardless of others’ opinions.

In retrospect, I’m glad I experienced that criticism so early in my publishing career because it taught me a valuable lesson about how I should measure the true merit of my work. A few times, I’ve had to ask myself the question: What is the truth here? Is it the joy and enthusiasm I felt when I held a printed copy of the book in my hand for the very first time? Or is it the self-doubt I felt when someone criticized it later on? Which one of those two moments will I use to determine the value of my book?

A wise woman named Lisa Nichols once said:

Oftentimes, you give others the opportunity to create your happiness, and many times they fail to create it the way you want it. Why? Because only one person can be in charge of your joy . . . and that’s you. So even your parent, your child, your spouse—they do not have the control to create your happiness. They simply have the opportunity to share in your happiness. Your joy lies within you.

A beautiful sentiment, don’t you think? I believe the same can be said for self-confidence and faith.

I’ve gone into every book project since then with a new set of expectations that take the pressure off both me and those around me. It’s always nice when people acknowledge a new book with a hearty congratulation, but I’ve decided that’s where their obligation ends. I no longer base a book’s worth on whether others read it, agree with it, enjoy it, or discuss it with me after the fact. The truth I try my best to hold onto is the joy I felt when I held that first printed copy in my hand. I hope you will do the same for you. I hope you will find a way to hold onto your enthusiasm even if you come up against any criticism along the way—whether it’s from friends, family members, reviewers, or anyone else. Keep writing! Keep the faith!

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Don’t Call Procrastination Laziness. Call it Fear. (PART ONE)

From the very beginning, one of my primary goals has been to ensure that all authors have access to professional-quality book publishing, sales, and marketing—even those who can’t easily afford these services. Every year, I’ve offered this opportunity to them in the form of simple contests and free giveaways. But, far from helping more authors transform their dreams from the invisible into existence, this exercise has instead provided me with some very interesting insight into the mind of an artist. It has made me rethink my whole strategy and tweak my focus so I can help these people in hopefully more effective ways.

In part one of this blog series, we’ll take a closer look at the experiment, the result, and the subsequent conclusion I came to regarding what is stopping people from moving forward with their books. In part two, which will follow in a few days, we’ll look at some effective strategies an author can use to work with his or her own brain rather than battling against it. Success as an author is just around the corner once you can conquer this.

The Experiment

The first year, I took out a specialty insurance policy which allowed PPG to offer authors a chance to win $100,000 in cash if they referred aspiring authors to us who ended up purchasing one of our book publishing packages, if they purchased one of our book publishing packages toward the publication of their own book, or if they could prove they sold fifty copies of their already-published PPG book in a bookstore consignment deal. Long story short, there were very few entries into this contest and nobody won. I deemed this experiment unsuccessful because it didn’t drum up anywhere near the new business I had hoped for; and, I attributed that lack of interest to the fact that it required people to invest a significant amount of time or money upfront for a chance to win, and that it was only a chance instead of a guarantee that at least one person would win.

So the next year, I offered a chance to win $5,000 toward a professional PPG publishing package to all Canadian adults aged eighteen years or older with a guarantee that one person would win. This time, no one had to pay any money upfront. People could qualify for more than one chance to win in various ways: by liking our Facebook page; by following us on Twitter; by subscribing to the PPG Publisher’s Blog; or by joining the PPG Writers Forum. I figured there would be much more interest across the country—and there was—but something curious happened. Despite the fact that we had quite a few contestants and one seemingly solid winner, a book was never published as a result of this contest.

The Result

Despite being given the opportunity—the written guarantee!—to have a professional-quality book published free of charge, in which 100 percent copyright ownership of both the written words and the artwork produced for that project would remain with the author, our winner still procrastinated on publishing the book for several months. Halfway through the year, we had a conversation about this. I expressed to this author that the prize was to have a book published within the year; and if we didn’t begin the publication process within the next month or two, it would be impossible to have it completed within the year, which would render the contest null and void. I provided a deadline that the winner agreed to meet; and it was also agreed that if we didn’t begin publication of the book by that date then, out of fairness to the other contestants, the contest would be re-opened to them.

The winner procrastinated some more . . . right past the agreed-upon deadline. So, a letter was sent out to all of the contestants (including the winner) offering everyone one more crack at this prize. (This letter was also posted publicly on the PPG Facebook Page.) Due to the lateness in the year, everyone was given two weeks to submit their properly-formatted manuscripts and artwork to PPG in order to qualify, otherwise the contest would be deemed null and void. Four of these contestants (including the first winner) expressed a solid interest and said they had books ready to go, so it was hopeful for one gleaming moment in time that we might have ourselves a winner. But guess what happened? Everyone procrastinated past the deadline. No one submitted their work. The contest was deemed null and void.

I can vividly recall one of these contestants using the excuse of limited time. “It’s going to take me four hours to put together everything you need in order to submit my book to you. I don’t have that kind of time right now.” I’ll admit I was not only shocked by this but also a little annoyed. I didn’t respond to the comment. I didn’t know how to respond to that, because I found it so perplexing that someone would abandon $5,000 in free cash for only four hours of work. It was the equivalent of me paying that person $1,250 per hour to do what needed be done to get that book ready for our professional publishing process; and yet, this contestant still wouldn’t (couldn’t?) do it: nor would any of the others.

The Conclusion

I’ve come to realize that an author’s procrastination has very little to do with him or her being too frugal to invest the amount of money that is necessary to produce a professional quality book; because, even when given the opportunity to do it for free, many people still can’t bring themselves to do it. And it has even less to do with simple laziness. This is about fear. Only an intense fear of something can prevent an author from publishing and selling his or her book. But a fear of what? That’s the question.

Or maybe a more accurate way to word that question would be, “What exactly causes fear?” And perhaps the answer is simple genetics—a surplus, irrational “fight or flight” survival instinct that is still present in the human brain even after thousands of years of evolution. According to an article titled The Brain from Top to Bottom, written by Bruno Dubuc and posted on McGill University’s website,

The first time you observe the anatomy of the human brain, its many folds and overlapping structures can seem very confusing, and you may wonder what they all mean. But just like the anatomy of any other organ or organism, the anatomy of the brain becomes much clearer and more meaningful when you examine it in light of the evolutionary processes that created it.

Dubuc goes on to compare the three components of the human brain: the reptilian brain; the limbic brain; and the neocortex. Of these three components,

The reptilian brain, the oldest of the three, controls the body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. Our reptilian brain includes the main structures found in a reptile’s brain: the brainstem and the cerebellum. The reptilian brain is reliable but tends to be somewhat rigid and compulsive.

Your unconscious, compulsive, automatic fear of things unknown is created in the reptilian portion of your brain. It’s purely instinctual, just like reptiles. They don’t “think” or “rationalize” things through. Nor do they have any sort of emotional response to things. Reptiles simply react out of their natural survival instinct. When they are faced with a common situation that’s known to them, they either live in/on it . . . or they eat it. When they are faced with a potentially threatening (unknown) situation, they run and hide. Theirs is a pretty simple, straightforward existence.

Instinct is a good thing that serves a valid purpose in our lives. God gave us all an instinct for a reason, and we should pay attention to it; but, whenever your fear of the unknown has you avoiding potentially advantageous opportunities simply because they’re new to you, I encourage you to consult with your more evolutionarily advanced neocortex—the logical, rational portion of your brain—by writing your fears down. Articulate them to yourself in writing. Read them out loud to yourself. When you do this, you’ll begin to see just how irrational many of those fears really are.

There are the fears that come up before you’ve published your book, and then the ones that creep in during the publishing process itself. And if that’s not enough, once you get past those and actually publish your book, then there’s the fear of book sales and marketing to contend with—the anxiety you feel at the idea of exposing yourself publicly. Julia Cameron put it best in her book titled The Artist’s Way when she wrote:

Do not call procrastination laziness. Call it fear. Fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not finishing. The fear of failure and of success. The fear of beginning at all. There is only one cure for fear. The cure is love. Use love for your artist to cure its fear.

All of your concerns about book publishing, sales, and marketing are variations of the exact same thing: the reptilian brain’s unconscious, automatic “fight or flight” survival instinct triggered by its fear of the unknown and coupled with its inability to feel love. That’s it. That’s the cause right there.

My goal in writing this blog entry is to do my best to put your reptilian mind at ease so you can use your neocortex more effectively in the successful publishing, sales, and marketing of your book. In fact, you’re going to use more than your logical neocortex. You’re also going to learn how to put your emotional limbic brain to good use so you can appeal to others’ limbic brains to get them to buy your book after its been published.

As Zig Ziglar, a well-known and often-quoted American author, salesman, and motivational speaker, so aptly stated, “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” The most effective salespeople appeal to their customers’ emotions to sell their products and services. I hope to teach you some effective ways to do this so you can publish that book at long last and enjoy more commercial sales success as an author. That is my intention.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

How to Market and Sell Your Book in Only One Hour Per Day

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

For some, the idea of authors selling their own books may seem to be an impractical notion cooked up by contemporary publishing gurus who lack the same influence within the book supply chain as the traditional trade publishers have. For some, the belief is still held that, as purveyors of the greatest literary writers, trade publishers will do (and always have done) all the work for their authors because they’ve carefully selected only the crème de la crème … the sure sellers that will guarantee a profit for them.

In his 2013 Forbes article titled How To Market And Sell Your Book In Five Steps, Nick Morgan, comments that:

…most authors – naturally enough – are focused on the book, not on what happens after completing it. It’s enough to get the book over the finish line, the typical author thinks, let the publisher worry about marketing and selling the book. That’s human nature and it makes sense, but it’s not enough in the world we live in now. There are simply too many books published each year – a million or more in the US alone – to rely on destiny, or fate, or even good word of mouth to get your book the attention it deserves. And you certainly can’t rely on the publisher.

He nails it right on the head … except for the “in the world we live in now” portion. The truth is, it was always this way for the majority of authors. Even back in the day.

The Myth Debunked by Trade Publishers Themselves

For those who balk at the idea of self-promotion because they believe it is their publisher’s sole responsibility to promote their books on their behalf—and that all traditional publishers will take care of it for them all the time—think again. Even the Association of Canadian Publishers will tell you otherwise:

Many publishers have a publicity department that will handle this while the book is on the front list. However, once the next season is published, or you have published the book on your own, the job of getting publicity exposure for the book falls to the authors themselves.

And Canada isn’t alone in this. Not by a long shot. Even the Big Five—Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster—admit they focus primarily on their front list titles; and, once those books fall to the back list, the responsibility of continued promotion falls to the author.

Based on the common twice-yearly publishing schedule followed by most trade publishers (spring and autumn), I figured that the average book would be considered a front list title for only six months which means it has a shelf life of only six months. After that, the author is on his or her own to continue selling it. I’ve since learned that my six-month guesstimate was actually quite idealistic after picking up a well-researched book by John B. Thompson titled Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century. He delves even deeper into a trade publisher’s publicity, sales, and marketing budgets than I did in my last three books:

Today more than ever, a writer’s career is always hanging in the balance, rising and falling with the sales of their most recent books and always at risk of being curtailed by a disappointing track. Careers cut short and writers cut loose are among the prices to be paid for the logic of the field. They are the human costs of an industry where numbers rule in the end and where short-term growth and bottom-line profitability have come to assume more and more importance in the practical calculations of the major houses.

You would think that the major publishing houses with the larger budgets would be able to spend more money on promoting and selling all their books; but, the fact is, they are under even greater pressure from their parent corporations to watch their spend and focus primarily on what they consider the “big books” (which do not necessarily equate to “great literary works”) that can generate the most profit for them. The result, according to Thompson’s research, is an even shorter shelf life for the majority of books by the majority of authors:

As soon as a book shows signs that it’s going to take off, the sales, marketing and publicity operations mobilize behind it and look for ways to support it with extra advertising, trying to get more radio and TV appearances, extending the author’s tour or putting together a new tour to cities where the book is doing particularly well, and so on. … the sales, marketing and publicity operations are geared and resourced in such a way that, when they see that a fire is starting to ignite, they are able to pour generous quantities of fuel on the flames. … But if further appeals fall on deaf ears and sales fail to pick up, then the marketing and publicity effort will be wound up pretty quickly – ‘In two to three weeks we might pull the plug,’ … So how long does a book have out there in the marketplace to show signs of life? How many weeks before it becomes a dead fish that will be left to float downstream? … I would say the life of a book today is about six weeks. And quite frankly it’s even shorter than that, but you probably have six weeks and that’s it.

So we’ve gone from a six-month shelf life to a six-week shelf life with the larger, corporate publishers. Then the ball is back in the author’s court. Yikes! Scary stuff. There has to be a better way, right? I believe there is, and I’ve made it my life’s mission to help authors take control of their own book sales and marketing efforts so they can enjoy more commercial success.

Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors

Not all authors are introverts, but all authors can benefit from online marketing. And it only takes one hour per day, six days per week, to get the ball rolling. That’s it, that’s all. Truth.

Whether a book was self-published or produced by a traditional trade publisher, there are some effective ways the author can boost its sales that will fit well with both introverted and extroverted personality types. And here’s the best news yet: it’s possible to successfully market and sell your book using nothing more than a comfortable chair in your favourite writing room, a laptop, an Internet connection, and your own God-given talent to write.

So, what is stopping authors from moving ahead with this? That’s the question I asked myself when I wrote my most recent educational resource guide to complement my sales coaching for authors classes. Maybe you will recognize yourself in this chapter: Is this you? If it is, that’s okay. We’ll work together to overcome your fears and teach you how to sell your own book. You may just surprise yourself with what you’re capable of once you start this sales coaching for authors program.

I sincerely hope you will give it a try. I created the program specifically for you.

Educational Resources for Authors

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

A New Year’s Resolution for Authors

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

With January 1, 2017, fast approaching, many of us are thinking ahead to our New Year’s Resolutions. What better time is there for authors to set their book sales and marketing goals?

Make this commitment to yourself today: “I’m going to dedicate at least one hour per day, six days per week for the next full year, toward the advertising, sales, and marketing of my book. No matter what happens, I will spend a minimum of six hours per week, every single week for the next full year, toward the advertising, sales, and marketing of my book. I promise this to myself.” This is a small commitment of time that is totally doable. Agreed?

Attach Emotions to Your Goals

I set goals for every single one of my books, and I attach strong emotions to each of those goals. Why do I do this? Because the only way to reach a destination is to first figure out where you’re going; and if you give yourself a compelling enough reason to get there that really excites your senses, you’ll be that much more committed to making it happen. The rest (the hows) always seem to fall into place once you’ve made that firm decision inside your mind.

It’s not for me to advise you what your goal should be nor why you should want to achieve it. That’s a very personal thing that is different for every person and every book. It’s entirely your choice. My intention is simply to plant some seeds of possibility in your mind, to get you thinking about where and how you might increase the sales of your book. Achieve one goal for yourself, and you’ll be fearless about setting and achieving more in the future because you’ll know you can do it. You’ll have proven it to yourself.

Four Sample Goals for Four Imaginary Authors

On that note, here in an excerpt from my recent book titled Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors discussing four sample books published in four different formats by four different imaginary authors. I’ve set unique goals for each author, along with his or her own compelling “why,” to help get you started on yours by awakening the creative flow within.

  • SAMPLE NON-FICTION BOOK GOALS

    Self-published ebook cookbook titled The Cheesecake Doctrine

    This ebook was self-published on KoboBooks.com with worldwide geographic rights (meaning it is available for sale around the world in Kobo’s .EPUB format through any of Kobo’s various applications and devices such as desktops, ereaders, tablets, IOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows). The royalty rate the author can expect to earn from KoboBooks (Kobo, 2015) is 70 percent of the listed retail price she has chosen for her book, so she has set it at $34.99 CDN for an expected gross profit of roughly $24.50 CDN per book. (She has converted that price to match the currency in each country where she’s selling this book: for example, it sells for $28.99 USD in America, £18.77 GBP in the United Kingdom, and EUR 25.83 in France based on today’s market prices.)

    As a Canadian girl who sets her goals in Canadian prices, she plans to sell 20 copies of this ebook every month this year so she can earn the equivalent of $490 CDN per month in gross profit (for a total sale of 240 ebooks at $5,880 CDN for the year). She plans to use this extra income to pay for a long-desired tropical vacation in Bora Bora next year. She’s wanted to go to Bora Bora since she could remember!

    Self-published paperback self-help book titled Quick and Easy Hairstyling Tips for Teens

    This paperback was self-published on Amazon’s CreateSpace.com for distribution on Amazon.com throughout the United States alone. The royalty rate the author can expect to earn when pricing this book at $8.99 USD is $2.34 USD per book after the distributor’s cut and other fees such as POD printing costs are first deducted (CreateSpace, 2015).

    This author plans to sell 100 copies of this paperback every month this year so she can earn $234 per month in gross profit (for a total sale of 1,200 paperbacks at $2,808 USD for the year). She plans to donate this income to her local youth homeless shelter to help provide the basic necessities of life for its teenage residents as they struggle to complete their educations. She’s always been grateful to the family who provided these things to her while she went through hairdressing school, and now she wants to pay it forward.
    . 
  • SAMPLE FICTION BOOK GOALS

    Fictional novella audiobook titled The Path Less Worn

    This fictional novella is based on an inspirational true story about a thirty-year-old man who overcame incredible odds to build a successful health supplement business from humble beginnings as an underprivileged orphan. It was originally produced as a professional quality pocketbook paperback and ebook by a supportive self-publishing house on behalf of its author. The same company has now helped him convert it into audiobook format, complete with a professional voiceover and high definition soundtrack, and has published it nonexclusively to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes via ACX, an Amazon Platform that will pay royalties for any copies sold (ACX, 2015).

    The original 4.37 x 7-inch novella was designed to be carried in one’s coat pocket for easy accessibility to inspirational reading even when travelling. Due to the pocketbook format, the author set a “pocketsize” retail price to match it: $4.99 USD per copy for both the ebook and the paperback version. For consistency, the audiobook is priced the same. Based on the publishing agreement in place, the gross profit the supportive self-publishing house, Polished Publishing Group (2015b) will earn by distributing this book online on behalf of this author is 25 percent of the list price, for a total of $1.25 per book. The author, in turn, will take home 40 percent of the $1.25 for a total gross profit of 50¢ per book.

    Luckily, because this author published through a supportive self publishing house, he has retained 100 percent copyright ownership of his entire end product (the words and the artwork produced for him in all formats of the title) which allows him more control over where he sells his books and what retail price he chooses to sell them at. As such, this author has also decided to produce and sell CD copies of this audiobook direct from his own website, which is why he granted ACX only a non-exclusive contract rather than an exclusive contract through his publisher. If he had granted them an exclusive contract, then they would be the only ones who could sell his book online. Not even he, himself, could sell them direct elsewhere. By contrast, because he has retained his right to sell his audiobooks direct through his own website’s storefront, he will take home 100 percent of the profits from the directly sold copies: $4.99 per book. No middlemen to pay.

    What a difference in gross profit on the copies he sells direct! A much better margin, indeed! But it always helps to have extra distributors (particularly distributors with trusted brands) to help sell one’s books. Having an audiobook available for sale through Apple iTunes definitely lends even more credibility to the book, and the author recognizes that.

    On that note, this author has a goal to sell 1,000 copies of this audiobook every single month: He will sell 50 percent of them through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes at an expected gross profit of 50¢ USD per book, for a total of $250 USD per month; he’ll sell the other 50 percent of them direct at $4.99 USD per book, for a total of $2,495 per month. The grand total per month for those 1,000 books is $2,745 USD in gross profit. (The grand total per year for those 12,000 audiobooks is $32,940 in gross profit).

    This author’s compelling “why” is that he would love to continue working as a travelling health supplement salesman, inspirational speaker, and author, living life on his own terms rather than being chained to a nine-to-five desk job. This book is yet another new revenue stream for a business he loves and feels so passionate about and that allows him to inspire and empower others to achieve their own dreams, just as he and the protagonist in his fictional novella did.

    Limited edition hardcover children’s book about adoption titled A Family for Bailey

    This limited edition hardcover book was originally published and printed by a traditional trade publisher 10 years ago. Because it was trade published, the publisher owned the copyright of the book and paid this author only a small 8 percent royalty on the list price of $25 CDN, for a total of $2 CDN in gross profits per book for that author over the past decade. The copyright ownership of this title has now reverted back to the author, as per the original publishing contract. Five hundred unsold copies of the original 1,000-copy print run have been returned to the author from the publisher’s warehouse, and he is storing them in his garage. It’s now his responsibility to sell them. Luckily, because 100 percent copyright ownership has now returned to him, he will also enjoy 100 percent gross profits on all the copies he sells direct.

    These are high-quality, limited edition hardcovers—priceless keepsakes for adopted children and their adoptive families to commemorate their special bonds. This author has decided to sell the remaining books at the original recommended retail price of $25 CDN each (for a total of 500 hardcovers at $12,500 CDN for the year), and he plans to put these profits into savings for his own cherished adopted child to use toward her college education.

To discover how each of these authors will reach their book sales and marketing goals, and for help in developing your own effective plan, you can order in the above-mentioned book from any bookseller in your area. Or you can visit PPG’s website to sign up for the next Sales Coaching for Authors session that works best with your schedule.

Whatever you decide, I wish you every success with your book and a very Happy New Year! Thank you for visiting the PPG Publisher’s Blog.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Ten Questions To Ask Yourself Before Publishing Your Book

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s BlogWhere to Begin?

Where to Begin?

Every author who wishes to sell his or her book commercially is an entrepreneur. Your book is your business.

As a business owner, doing one’s due diligence is especially important when it comes to finding a suitable partner to help you publish that book. In this day and age, so much information is out there on this topic that it can be quite overwhelming and more than a little bit confusing. What road should you take? Which choice will bring you the best return on investment? Who can best help you to achieve your goals?

Well that all depends. What are your goals? The very first thing that everyone should do—individuals and businesses alike—is to sit down with a pen and paper and make a list of the reasons why they wish to publish their books and what exactly they wish to gain from doing it. This is the first step in determining which avenue to take toward fulfilling your goals.

Ten Questions to Ask Yourself Before Publishing Your Book

  1. Who am I? What image do I want to project with this book (i.e. do I offer the best value or the best price in my field)?
  2. Who is my target audience? What demographic group am I after (i.e., what gender, what age, et cetera)?
  3. What is my deadline for this project? Do I need this book completed quickly (within around six weeks, give or take), fairly soon (within three to six months), or can I afford to wait up to two years for the final product to be printed?
  4. Am I willing to invest my own time and money into this project or do I want it published free of charge?
  5. Do I want to earn a profit from this book?
  6. Do I want to produce this book as a paperback, hardcover, audiobook, or ebook—or all four formats?
  7. Do I want to have complete creative control over the design of my book, do I want to collaborate with a professional over the design of my book, or am I willing to give up majority creative control to the publisher?
  8. Would I prefer to work with a knowledgeable project manager who can guide me through the book publishing process from start to finish, including arranging all the contracts and dealing with the various vendors (editors, designers, et cetera) on my behalf, or am I fine with (and have the time for) doing the bulk of this work myself?
  9. Do I want to keep 100 percent of the copyright ownership of my story (words)?
  10. Do I want to keep 100 percent of the copyright ownership of my book cover (artwork)?

After deciding which of these points is most important, the next step is to prioritize your choices. For example, the authors who value both a quick turnaround and profit should now decide which of those is most important and put it at the top. From there, you should move down the list and compare the remaining questions until you have created a personal hierarchy of values. Then it will be time to look at the various book publishing business models to determine which model best matches your personal list of needs.

To learn more about each book publishing business model, click here.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

How to Utilize Book Reviews to Increase Your Following

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Different types of book reviews are available to help authors sell more books: unpaid traditional book reviews, and paid online book reviews. Each has its own unique pros and cons. Both are effective tools that can be used by authors to sell more of their books.

UNPAID TRADITIONAL BOOK REVIEWS

A common custom among trade publishers that really should be adopted by self-publishing authors is making sure to send out a few complimentary copies of your book to various relevant book reviewers in your area. This is a great way to generate some extra publicity for your book. The upside is that these reviews are free of charge in the sense that your only cost is the copy of your book and the postage to send it; however, the downside is that you’re not guaranteed a review after sending it. It’s at the discretion of the reviewer.

Two types of unpaid traditional book reviews are available: one is the review that you send out ahead of time, known as an advance reading copy (ARC), to stir up interest in the book before publication; the other is a published review copy of the actual, final edited version of your book.

  • Advance Reading Copies (ARCs): These unfinished review copies can be printed and mailed out as hard copy galleys or emailed as .PDF files. It is important to ensure they are stamped with the words “Advance Reading Copy (ARC)” on the front cover, and possibly also on every few pages of the interior, to ensure that the reviewer understands the copy is unedited so he or she takes that into account.
  • Published Review Copies: When sending a final published review copy to an editor, whether mailed as a hard copy or emailed as a .PDF, make sure to stamp “Review Copy” on the front cover of the book so it cannot be resold for profit. This also ensures that it will get to the right person at the newspaper or magazine to which you’re sending it for review.
A prize endorsement of How to Publish a Bestselling Book in the highly respected Midwest Book Review!

A prize endorsement of How to Publish a Bestselling Book in the highly respected Midwest Book Review!

A great book review written by a highly respected reviewer within the literary community can do wonders to help boost your book sales in much the same way as other forms of publicity can. When shared via social media, a prize endorsement such as this can catch on as quickly as wildfire. It’s definitely worth the cost of a complimentary book or two.

Additional book reviews for How to Publish a Bestselling Book ... and Sell it WORLDWIDE Based on Value, Not Price!

Additional book reviews for How to Publish a Bestselling Book … and Sell it WORLDWIDE Based on Value, Not Price!

PAID ONLINE BOOK REVIEWS

Paid online book reviews are a fantastic advertising tool for authors. They can aid you in your efforts to direct traffic to the storefront where your book is currently for sale, thereby increasing the chance of a sale. They can also provide you with relevant content that you can share via social media to further promote your book to your followers.

The upside to these types of reviews is that whereas you’re not guaranteed a review when you send a book to a traditional book reviewer, you are guaranteed a review when you pay for one from a non-traditional book reviewer. The downside is that you must pay for it.

A prize endorsement of Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors in MBR's Jim Cox Report!

A prize endorsement of Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors in MBR’s Jim Cox Report!

When completed by a reputable organization, these paid reviews are still unbiased reviews—which may be good or bad. Once the review is complete, you are given an opportunity to decline or approve it to be published online for all to see. If you decline it, you won’t get your money back; it simply won’t be shared publicly at your request. But if you approve it, it might be posted to that reviewer’s high-traffic website, posted to your book online, and/or shared with various wholesalers and retailers all around your country (and possibly other parts of world, depending on where you have the book reviewed).

A complimentary paid book review can boost your sales in much the same way a traditional review can. It is definitely worth the investment.

Additional book reviews for How to Publish a Book in Canada ... and Sell Enough Copies to Make a Profit!

Additional book reviews for How to Publish a Book in Canada … and Sell Enough Copies to Make a Profit!

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors

Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors by Kim Staflund | Your Choice Between a Full-Day Intensive In-Person Workshop or a Two-Hour Basics Webinar

Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors by Kim Staflund | Your Choice Between a Full-Day Intensive In-Person Workshop or a Two-Hour Basics Webinar

Your Choice Between a Full-Day Intensive In-Person Workshop or a Two-Hour Basics Webinar

What if I told you it’s possible to successfully market and sell your book using nothing more than a comfortable chair in your favourite writing room, a laptop, an Internet connection, and your own God-given talent to write? There are some easy, effective ways to boost sales in only six hours per week!

COMPELLING POINTS
• The reputable Midwest Book Review endorses Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors as “a critically important instructional reference” and mandatory study material for every novice author.
• This book/workshop teaches authors how to advertise, market, sell, and publicize their own books.
• This is EASY! All it takes is six hours per week for authors to sell more copies of their books. With a reasonable time commitment such as this, anyone can do it.
• This book and its corresponding workshop/webinar sessions were created by a professional bestselling author, TESOL certified sales coach, and book publisher with over twenty years’ experience in the North American English book publishing industry. Add her substantial corporate sales and advertising background into the mix, and you have a serious mentor in front of you who can help you achieve better commercial success as an author.

Program Proposal: click on this link and turn the pages to view more information regarding each session along with pricing, itineraries, positive book reviews, and testimonials from past workshops. (Of course, each program is flexible and can be repurposed to meet your unique requirements.)

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

How The Secret Changed My Life … New Book Due Out October 4, 2016

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

A little under a year ago, I wrote a blog entry titled How Gratitude and Visualization Can Help Authors Sell More Books and announced that my personal story was being featured as the “Story of the Week” on TheSecret.tv website. Earlier this month, I was informed that this same story will also appear in Rhonda Byrne’s upcoming book titled How The Secret Changed My Life: Real People. Real Stories. which is due out on October 4, 2016.

I’ve been aware, for a while now, that my story may appear in this new book because I gave permission to The Secret team to publish it when we spoke about it last year. I was also aware that it would undergo some light editing (as it should!) if they decided to include it in their book. Since the lightly edited version is slightly different from the original version I sent them, I’ve decided to share the original with you here. Enjoy!

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My Three Greatest Dreams Came True … Plus A Few More!

I was a single parent for over 20 years. As a single parent, finances were always a stressful area of my life. I rarely traveled anywhere, nor was I a home-owner. I rented for a long time. One of my greatest desires and promises to myself was that one day I would travel to the UK. I’d never left North America before. I wanted my first trip abroad to be to London, UK. I also wanted to be a home-owner, and I wanted to feel a sense of financial comfort and ease in my life. But, for many years, I saw no way this could ever happen for me.

In addition to these common desires that many people share, it was also always my dream to become a bestselling author. I had self-published three books by the time my son finished grade twelve; but they weren’t selling as well as I had hoped they would.

I first came across The Secret in early 2007. I loved it because it inspired me and gave me hope that I could improve my situation once and for all. (It is also what inspired me to write my second book.) Following that, I bought The Power and then The Magic, and I began focusing on what I love and on practicing gratitude every single day. I started watching subliminal videos and listening to subliminal tapes to help me reach my very core, so that I could really infuse my subconscious thoughts and beliefs with these new messages of love and gratitude and personal empowerment. Another thing I did was watch Rhonda’s videos The Secret to Riches, The Secret to You, and Planet Earth Forever at least once daily for several weeks straight. I really wanted to saturate my body, mind, and spirit with love, gratitude, and the belief that I could improve my life. Something in me knew repetition was the key … just keep reading these books, keep practicing gratitude, keep watching these videos, keep strengthening my belief.

Long story short, it worked. It still brings me to tears, sometimes, when I think about just how well it worked for me.

I really increased the intensity of my gratitude and visualization exercises in September 2013, around the time I published my fourth book. I began doing my exercises twice a day, first thing when I woke up every morning and last thing before I fell asleep every night for 30 days straight. The result? From November 2013 through to July 2014, the following amazing improvements happened in my life:

  • My fourth book was listed as a bestseller on Amazon.ca in November 2013.
  • In December 2013, that same book was also listed as a bestseller in the Calgary Herald online.
  • My son graduated from university that December, got the job he wanted at the company he wanted to work for, and moved into his own home. What a wonderful additional reward to see him so healthy, happy, and successful in his own life.
  • The annual income at my full-time job increased by $35,000 that year, and I also earned additional income through my sideline business as a book publisher and author.
  • I was approved for a mortgage in December, bought myself a brand new condo with many luxuries (safe and secure underground parking being one of them), and moved in.
  • I booked myself a trip to visit London and Paris which was on credit card and would be paid off within six months due to my increase in income.
  • I gave my son all my old furniture and was able to easily afford to buy myself new furniture for my new condo which was to be financed over three years.
  • I bought myself a new jeep which was to be financed over six years.
  • I was also FINALLY able to afford to pay back my two brothers and one of my cousins for money they had lent to me years ago when I’d been in a rough financial spot. (GOD, that felt good—to hand them each a cheque along with a heartfelt THANK YOU. I was finally free of the emotional burden of this personal debt that I had carried in my heart for years! It’s not that they had ever made me feel bad about it. Quite the contrary. But it felt like a burden to me. I had always planned to pay them back.)

Needless to say, things were going so well for me on so many fronts. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and joy … which seemed to attract even more things to feel grateful and joyful about. More good news followed. More money followed. It was absolutely amazing.

In March 2014, my mother won $1.15 million in a lottery! I was so excited for her! All of us were! Of course, my very generous mother shared part of her earnings with her children and other family members which completely paid off my remaining debts including the trip to London and Paris, the new jeep, the new furniture, everything! I was completely debt free (other than the mortgage on my new condo) with additional savings put away and even more spending money at my disposal than I already had due to the salary increase. So, I decided to also take a long-desired trip to New York City in July, too!

Not only did my mother win $1.15 million dollars in a casino lottery in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, that year … which is, you would think, a once in a lifetime event that we were all thrilled about. But then, around two months later, my uncle (who happens to be my God father) then also won $1.4 million is a separate casino lottery in Medicine Hat, Alberta! (I enjoyed teasing my cousins that their dad seemed to be trying to one-up my mom. We all had a great laugh out of that.)

What an amazing few months for me between November 2013 and July 2014! Not only did pretty much every single wish I had for myself come true, but even more wonderful things came my way than I could ever have expected. And the best part of it was that I got to see my son, my mom, and my uncle enjoy success and joy in their own lives, too. That was the icing on the cake, for sure!

My life continues to be so fulfilling to this day. I continue to earn a great living and travel. I continue to have a wonderful relationship with my son and watch him have success in his own life, too. It’s wonderful. I also continue to have increased success as a bestselling author, book publisher, and sales coach for authors. Life is sweet.

I’m a firm believer in the power of gratitude, the power of love, and the truth of Rhonda’s messages in each of her books. I’m so grateful to you, Rhonda. You have helped me to change my life for the better. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

New Age Fiction by Kim S.

New Age Fiction by Kim S.

Include a “Call to Action” in Your Marketing Materials. Ask For The Sale.

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

I’ve received several emails via LinkedIn and other social media sites, over the years, from newly self-published “indie” authors who were advertising their books, trying to convince me to buy them. If you’re one of these authors, I genuinely applaud you for taking that important step toward self-promotion. Good for you! But now I’m going to tell you why I (and probably most of the other people you sent that email to) never bought your book … and my answer may surprise you.

MYTH: It’s wrong or rude to outwardly ask people to buy your book.

FACT: It’s okay to ask for the sale. The most successful sales people always do.

One of the most obvious, yet least utilized, components of every successful sales campaign is known as the “call to action.” Simply stated, a call to action is your very clear request to consumers to buy your book TODAY! Right now!

Sometimes, salespeople do an amazing job of convincing buyers that whatever they’re selling is a wonderful thing, but then they let those buyers walk away without actually asking for the sale while the opportunity is still hot. Don’t let that opportunity get cold! Come right out and ask for the sale right in the moment. It doesn’t work all the time, but it works a lot better than never asking—that much I can promise. If you get used to doing this, you’ll sell way more books over time.

Now to clarify…

There are special nuances and techniques to effectively asking for a sale that every author needs to understand. There’s more to it than simply sending someone an email that says, “I’ve just published a new book! Buy it today!” You need to communicate with your potential customers in such a way that creates both an emotional and intellectual response in their brains, and you need to speak to them in their preferred marketing language.

WIIFM: What’s In It for Me?

One of the very first acronyms I learned when I entered the world of sales was WIIFM, which stands for “What’s In It for Me?”. My sales coach told me this is what all our customers are asking themselves, whether consciously or unconsciously, whenever they consider making a purchase. As salespeople, we need to be aware of this acronym and be sure we’re answering that question for customers, in all our marketing materials, in a clear and concise manner that speaks to them in their language.

When I say “clear” I mean tell them what’s in it for them in a manner that addresses their needs directly. Will your book increase their joy? If yes, how? Will your book decrease their pain? If yes, how? (When you clearly address someone’s joy and/or pain, you are appealing to their emotional limbic brains more effectively.)

When I say “concise” I mean tell them what’s in it for them in as few words as possible. We live in an “instant soup” society, filled with customers that want quick and easy solutions to their problems. The only instance when anyone will take the time to read through paragraph after detailed paragraph of promotional material will be if they’ve picked up that material to read it by their own choice—not if they’ve been “interrupted” by it in an unsolicited email message. Fair enough? (When you are concise in your messaging, you are appealing to their logical neocortex more effectively.)

When I say speak to them in their language, I mean tell them what’s in it for them in a manner that they will understand and appreciate most. There are two different marketing “languages” you might choose from to communicate with your prospective customers in all your marketing materials (e.g. your blog, the back cover copy of your book, et cetera): price-based marketing and value-based marketing. Both have their time and their place, no matter what it is that you’re selling.

Price-Based Marketing

Walmart is one of the most common North American examples of a retailer that uses price-based marketing, also sometimes referred to as the “Everyday Low Price” pricing strategy, to sell its products. As soon as I use that retail name, most people understand what I mean without much further explanation. Price based marketing revolves around selling things for the cheapest price. It appeals to the audience that wants “the best deal” at the lowest possible price, regardless of its brand name or quality.

You speak to a price-based audience with phrases such as “Have what you want for less” and “The affordable solution for thrifty consumers.”

Value-Based Marketing

Prada, by contrast, is an example of a worldwide luxury retailer that uses value-based marketing to sell its products. As soon as I use that brand name, the concept is once again clear to most people. Value-based marketing revolves around selling things at prices commensurate with the highest quality. It appeals to the audience most concerned with workmanship, expertise, long-term durability, and image—and who can, and will, willingly pay more for it.

You speak to a value-based audience with phrases such as “Sophistication and classical style for discerning women” and “Crafted with care for the distinguished gentleman.”

These are two extreme examples, taken from one end of the spectrum to the next, to illustrate the differences between these two marketing languages. Not all price-based marketers will price things as low as Walmart does; nor will all value-based marketers price things as high as Prada does. In fact, the same concepts are used to sell many other things all along that spectrum, including coffee (Dunkin’ Donuts versus Starbucks), food (McDonalds versus Fatburger), and cars (Honda Civic versus BMW 3 Series Sedan). The main point here is that the wording you use to speak to a price-conscious audience will be very different from the wording you use when you speak to a value-conscious audience. The other point is that you can apply either price-based marketing or value-based marketing to everything and anything you’re selling—including all types and formats of books. It all depends on your customers’ wants and needs.

All Authors Should Create an “Elevator Pitch” for Their Books

What is an elevator pitch, and why should every author have one memorized and ready to recite at a moment’s notice? In short, it is a brief sales pitch that will help you to sell more books both in person and online. According to the Free Dictionary, “the name ‘elevator pitch’ reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.”

When delivered correctly and confidently, it often results in a sale right on the spot. At the very least, it will pique the interest of your audience for future reference so they will think of your book first when they are in the market to buy one on your topic.

An Effective Elevator Pitch Includes a Call to Action

An effective elevator pitch should encapsulate everything we’ve discussed up to this point: it needs to be clear and concise; it needs to answer the question “what’s in it for me?” in a marketing language your customers will understand and appreciate most; and it should confidently call your customers to action to buy your book immediately. Your call to action should be customized to match the format and audience of your book.

Authors are entrepreneurs. If you want commercial success, then you have to be an active participant in the sales process. It’s always been that way. And an effective “call to action” is a necessary part of that sales process.

An Effective Alternative to Returnability Where Everybody Wins

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

My last blog entry, Let’s Start a Revolution to End Returnability!, ignited a passionate debate over this decades-old book distribution model. Within the various industry LinkedIn groups where I shared it, fifty percent of people appeared to agree with my stance while another fifty percent steadfastly defended the practice no matter how many articles or books I cited showing other reputable publishers, authors, and even booksellers who view it as outdated, costly, inefficient, and environmentally unfriendly.

I asked myself, “Why?” And the only answer I could come up with is that change is often uncomfortable and sometimes causes fear—especially if the people promoting that change have neglected to provide a reasonable answer as to what we could possibly change TO that could be viewed as a better alternative for us all … and fair enough. So, the purpose of this blog entry is twofold: first, to further explain some of the intricacies of English language trade publishing that are at the core of my beliefs and business philosophies; and second, to provide an alternative to the current system that all of us could benefit from.

THE TRUE LIFE OF A BOOK IN THE TRADITIONAL DISTRIBUTION MODEL: ONLY SIX WEEKS!

Bookstores don’t sell your books for you, authors. You do. In my 2014 book on publishing, I went so far as to share the not-so-popular viewpoint that even your publisher doesn’t sell your book for you over the long-term. You do.

One of the biggest myths about trade publishers is that all of them are out there actively selling all of their authors’ books for them on a regular basis. Nothing could be further from the truth. Trade publishers focus primarily on their front list titles; and, once those books fall to the back list, the responsibility of continued promotion falls to the author. Based on the common twice-yearly publishing schedule followed by most traditional publishers (spring and autumn), I figured that the average book would be considered a front list title for only six months which means it has a shelf life of only six months. After that, it’s up to the author to continue actively selling it. It’s always been that way, contrary to popular belief.

I’ve since learned that my six-month guesstimate was actually quite idealistic. This past year, I picked up a well-researched book by John B. Thompson titled Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century where a trade publisher’s publicity, sales, and marketing budgets are discussed in more detail than in my own book:

“Today more than ever, a writer’s career is always hanging in the balance, rising and falling with the sales of their most recent books and always at risk of being curtailed by a disappointing track. Careers cut short and writers cut loose are among the prices to be paid for the logic of the field. They are the human costs of an industry where numbers rule in the end and where short-term growth and bottom-line profitability have come to assume more and more importance in the practical calculations of the major houses.”

You would think that the major publishing houses with the larger budgets would be able to spend more money on promoting and selling all their books; but, the fact is, they are under even greater pressure from their parent corporations to watch their spend and focus primarily on what they consider the “big books” that can generate the most profit for them. The result, according to Thompson’s research, is an even shorter shelf life for the majority of books by the majority of authors:

“As soon as a book shows signs that it’s going to take off, the sales, marketing and publicity operations mobilize behind it and look for ways to support it with extra advertising, trying to get more radio and TV appearances, extending the author’s tour or putting together a new tour to cities where the book is doing particularly well, and so on. … the sales, marketing and publicity operations are geared and resourced in such a way that, when they see that a fire is starting to ignite, they are able to pour generous quantities of fuel on the flames. … But if further appeals fall on deaf ears and sales fail to pick up, then the marketing and publicity effort will be wound up pretty quickly – ‘In two to three weeks we might pull the plug,’ … So how long does a book have out there in the marketplace to show signs of life? How many weeks before it becomes a dead fish that will be left to float downstream? … I would say the life of a book today is about six weeks. And quite frankly it’s even shorter than that, but you probably have six weeks and that’s it.

So we’ve gone from a six-month shelf life to a six-week shelf life with the larger, corporate publishers. Yikes! Scary stuff. There has to be a better way, right? I believe there is.

BOOKSTORES DISPLAY YOUR BOOKS FOR YOU. YOU SELL THEM.

As I mentioned earlier, bookstores don’t sell your books for you, authors. You do. They simply display them. And if you want prime real estate in a traditional chain bookstore, thus allowing you to benefit from impulse purchasing, it’s going to cost a lot more than you may realize. Thompson provided details on this in his book, too:

“The front-of-store area that is in your field of vision is a thoroughly commodified space: most of the books you see will be there by virtue of the fact that the publisher has paid for placement, either directly by means of a placement fee (that is, co-op advertising) or indirectly by means of extra discount. Roughly speaking, it costs around a dollar a book to put a new hardback on the front-of-store table in a major chain, and around $10,000 to put a new title on front-of-store tables in all the chain’s stores for two weeks (typically the minimum period). … Visibility does not come cheap. … As one publisher succinctly put it, ‘It’s become easier to publish and harder to sell – that’s the paradox. Any old sod can publish a book now, but actually getting it out to the public has become much trickier.’”

The fact is, if you want to sell more books, you need to create top-of-mind awareness for your book. You need to keep that book in front of people’s eyeballs so that, when they’re in the market to purchase a book such as yours, they will think of your book first. Very few authors (also very few of the small- and medium-size publishers, for that matter) can afford prime real estate within these traditional chain bookstores … which leads to an increase in returnability (if no one can find your book then no one will buy it, so the bookstore will return it to you for a full credit) … which leads to lost profits for those authors and publishers. It’s a vicious cycle. There must be a better way!

AUTHORS ARE ENTREPRENEURS

A gentleman commented on my last blog entry with a legitimate commentary and question for me regarding my motives in writing it. He said, …Your intro line depicts you as an author (‘best-selling’ even. Well done!), a publisher and as a sales coach for authors. Traditionally, these are all roles with a stack of ‘conflicts of interest’ in the broader publishing industry. Can you trust each other when the business agenda of each role works in competition for its rightful share in a finite commercial pie? Which character is promoting its own agenda when you offer comment, criticism or recommendation?

I told him I began my career as a writer with a personal goal of becoming a bestselling author. Along that road, I worked (as both a service provider and client) with various trade publishers and vanity publishers, and I saw many road blocks to my goal within both publishing models. So, that led to me becoming a book publisher over six years ago. I created a hybrid publishing company that combines (in my opinion) the best of both worlds: professional quality; non-returnability; retained copyright ownership for our authors of both their words and artwork we create for them; et cetera. As time went on, I learned more and more. My company’s service offering evolved further into me teaching authors how to sell audiobooks, ebooks, paperbacks, and even hardcover books for themselves so they can better control their net profits and have the best chance of commercial success. In other words, my three roles combined (author, publisher, and sales coach) all passionately believe that we need to end returnability once and for all. It hurts authors, it hurts publishers, and it is equally inefficient and time-consuming for booksellers.

WE ALL NEED TO WORK TOGETHER

Authors, can you imagine how much more profit you would earn if you knew how to effectively sell your own books? They would always be front list titles! Publishers, can you imagine how much more profit you would earn if your authors were out there actively selling their own books along side your own in-house publicity, sales, and marketing efforts? Booksellers, can you imagine how much more profit you would earn if you were using your co-op advertising dollars to support in-store book signings and book launches for the authors who are actively selling their own books and bringing that traffic straight to your store?

If we all work together, we can all make more money. But this is going to require a change because the current system works against authors and publishers. And the direct result is that more of us are moving online, trying to sell our books elsewhere, which could very well render our traditional booksellers obsolete sooner than later unless things change.

Let’s help each other. It’s in all our best interests to do so. Let’s start a revolution to end returnability … and teach our authors how to sell!