Category Archives: Ebooks

Learn at Your Own Pace: Online Courses in Writing, Publishing, and Selling Books

With the help of Udemy‘s online learning portal, you can build on your book writing, publishing, and selling skills from the comfort of your home at your own pace. Here are just two of the courses that can help you with every aspect of your next book project from start to finish:


Writing A Book: The First Draft
Learn your style of writing and get that first book out of your head

  


Self-Publishing Success in Bookstores and Online!
Everything You Need to Know All in One Place: Writing, Publishing, Distribution, Marketing, Selling, Printing, and MORE!

  

Check them out today! Just click on the above two pictures to be redirected to Udemy.com where you can enroll and start learning immediately. Good luck and enjoy!

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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.

Why Do We Use Social Media Marketing? What’s the Point?

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

As you know, I’m a strong proponent of social media marketing and am always telling my authors to use it in conjunction with blogging so they can sell more books. You may be asking yourself why. You may be one of the many people who ask, “How do you monetize it? How do you make money using social media marketing?” If you’re one of these people, then you need to read this blog entry because it will clarify a few things for you.

There are experts out there who will teach you specifically how to earn money using Twitter or YouTube or whatever other social media platform … and I share some of those with you in this email campaign. But I personally use these websites in a different context. I use them as advertising tools. I use them to drive more traffic to other e-commerce sites where I sell my books and various other services (e.g. personalized and customized sales coaching for authors).

I want to give you a couple of examples to help explain. Take a look at PPG’s Twitter page here. And take a look at my personal author Twitter page here. Every single day, one or two different tweets are sent out to our respective Twitter followers from these pages. Sometimes, events are being promoted. Other times, positive book reviews are being shared. We post our blog entries and links to the opt-in pages for our email campaigns here. And, occasionally, a link to where our books can be purchased online are being tweeted, too. It’s a mixture of everything, and it’s done on a daily basis.

Consistency is key. Regular advertising is all about creating top of mind awareness—staying in front of your prospective readers/customers so that, when they’re in the market to purchase what you’re selling, they’ll recall you (your book, your services) above all the rest.

We live in a wonderful world where we don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to achieve this anymore. Where we used to have to buy expensive newspaper, radio, or television ads to reach our target markets, we now have the Internet which allows us to reach an unlimited audience free of charge. All it takes is the time you have to build your subscribers, followers, likes, et cetera, on the various social media platforms.

Why do companies with prominent brands such as Coca Cola and Disney and Nike advertise regularly? Because it works! It allows them to stay top of mind for you—their prospective (possibly repeat) customer. And that’s what social media marketing can do for you and your book over time.

Go ahead and follow us on the two above-mentioned Twitter pages so you can watch how we do it. It may provide you with some inspiration for your own Twitter page.

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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.

Let’s Start a Revolution to End Returnability!

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

Through this blog post, it is my goal to open up a sincere dialogue between everyone involved in the book supply chain from authors, agents, and publishers of all kinds (trade, vanity, hybrid … from the smallest independents to the corporate giants) to the printers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers that help us create, move, and sell our books to the masses. I want to talk specifically about book returns.

SOMETHING’S GOT TO GIVE

One of the most costly and troublesome practices in the world of book publishing is an archaic book return policy that detrimentally affects net profits for both publishers and authors alike. When a publisher marks its books as “returnable” for wholesalers and retailers, it is giving them the right to return those books, at any given time, for a full refund if they’re unable to sell them—regardless of whether those books are stickered with price tags or a bit scuffed from being handled by various people. 

This practice has always bothered me, right back to the days when I worked for a small literary publisher in Canada over twenty years ago. I’ve never understood why things were (and still are) done this way, so I went in search of an answer and came across a well-researched book by John B. Thompson titled Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century that provided an answer. Here is what John’s research found:

“The practice of allowing booksellers to return stock for full credit has a long history in Europe but was used rarely and half-heartedly by American publishers until the Great Depression of the 1930s, when publishers began experimenting seriously with returns policies as a way of stimulating sales and encouraging booksellers to increase stockholdings. In spring 1930, Putnam, Norton and Knopf all introduced schemes to allow booksellers to return stock for credit or exchange under certain conditions, and in 1932 Viking Press announced that orders for new books would be returnable for a credit of 90 per cent of the billed cost. …The practice of returns subsequently became a settled feature of the book trade and marks it out as somewhat unusual among retail sectors.

For decades, by continuing on with this practice, we’ve inadvertently trained the traditional wholesalers and retailers that they call the shots with regard to how (and at what price, in some instances) we should sell our books. As a result, it is next to impossible to convince any bookseller to carry even a small physical inventory of our books in their stores unless those books are marked as returnable and/or priced ridiculously low.

FEEDING “THE GODDAM BEAST”

To be blunt, I won’t play this game. I mark all of PPG’s authors’ books as non-returnable (my own included) to protect them from the crippling financial repercussions that are caused by returns; and, instead, I now teach authors how to sell audiobooks, ebooks, paperbacks, and even hardcover books online so they can better control their net profits. As I read more of Thompson’s book, my own views and policies in this regard were vindicated by the realization that other English language trade publishers, both large and small, in both the UK and the US, share my frustrations:

“…even if the book sells well, they are likely to be faced with high returns, at least 20 per cent, possibly as high as 50 per cent, which will be credited to the retailer and deducted from their receivables by their distributor, though they still have to pay the printer’s bills. ‘We call it “feeding the beast”. You have to feed the goddam beast and it just doesn’t work.’ As the returns come back they undo much of the gain they thought they had achieved with a book that seemed to be selling well… High returns are costly for publishers. Not only is a great deal of time and money wasted in packing up and shipping books that are never sold, and then packing up and returning them to the publisher’s warehouse, but printing books that are eventually pulped is wasteful and expensive, and the cost of writing off unsold stock goes directly to the publisher’s bottom line, depressing still further a profit margin already under pressure. …high returns which put downward pressure on margins is the price paid for adhering to this traditional distribution model. Improving supply chain capabilities and the ability to forecast consumer demand are important steps forward in the struggle to deal with the problem of returns, but they are really tinkering at the edges. ‘The physical side of the business is as broken and inefficient today as it was 15 years ago,’ commented one COO who joined a large house in the mid-1990s and has spent much of his time since then trying to deal with this problem. …there is much about this dynamic that could be regarded as illogical, irrational and inefficient, not to mention wasteful.” 

If so many publishers feel the same way as I do about this antiquated book return policy, then why are they still playing the game? Isn’t it time to stop?

THERE’S MORE TO DIGITIZATION THAN JUST EBOOKS

Booksellers, we as publishers and authors need you. And you need us, too. We’re all essential components of this evolving book supply chain that is increasingly influenced by digitization. Thompson discusses this in his book, as well:

“…the same trade house that had seen ebook sales grow by 50 per cent in 2007 now saw its ebook sales leap by 400 per cent in 2008. This was a sudden and dramatic change. … The upward surge in ebook sales both continued and accelerated throughout 2009 and 2010. …Will ebooks become 30 per cent, 50 per cent, even 90 per cent of publishers’ total sales in the next few years? The truth is, no one knows. Most people have an opinion but no one knows a thing. ‘I wish I could give you wisdom,’ said one CEO in 2011, speaking with unusual frankness, ‘but I have no idea. The consumer will act to define this – it won’t be defined by Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Apple or us…” 

It is possible that, one day, ebook sales will dominate over paperback and hardcover sales. But it is important to understand that “digitization” refers to much more than simply ebooks … and this will affect traditional wholesalers and retailers just as much as it affects publishers and authors.

The truth is, with the advent of short-run digital printing (SRDP) and print-on-demand (POD) technology, it is less and less necessary for publishers/self-publishers to print large runs of books or carry any physical inventory whatsoever. We can simply offer a link to the digital files of our paperbacks and hardcovers on various ecommerce sites around the world so that, when a consumer clicks on that link to purchase the book in whatever quantity, that triggers the site’s digital printer to print, bind, and ship that exact number of copies straight to the consumer’s designated ship-to address.

Times have definitely changed in the book business, and they continue to change at a rapid rate. Perhaps now is the time to start a revolution to end returnability once and for all by asking our traditional wholesalers and retailers to partner with us in different ways. Change your incentives! Adjust your current co-op programs to encourage consignment book signings and launches for authors inside your stores rather than using these programs for in-store placement of returnable books. Improve your ecommerce sites! Help us sell more of our books through your stores’ websites rather than forcing us to look for other online solutions due to unreasonable return policies. 

There are so many things we could do to help each other survive (preferably THRIVE!) in these turbulent times. Because, at the end of the day, the survival and future success of the traditional wholesalers and retailers depends as much upon us as we have always depended upon them. 

Related reading (even some traditional booksellers agree that “…Any rational business person looking at this practice would think the industry has gone mad.”): Quest for best seller means lots of returned books (2005)

Related reading: Why All Books Should Be Non-Returnable – By Angela Hoy (2005)

Related reading: Why All Books Should Be Non-Returnable – By Angela Hoy (2015)

Related reading: How to Price an Ebook

KOBO eBooks: Great For Value-Based Selling and Price-Based Selling

Available around the world through KOBO

Available for sale all around the world through KOBO

There are several ebook file formats to choose from; and there are even more software programs and hardware devices designed to download and view them. To keep things simple, PPG automatically produces an Adobe PDF/DRM ebook of all our authors’ paperback/hardcover books and makes it available for sale online through ecommerce sites such as KoboBooks.com and eBookMall.com, to name only two. (DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, which protects the copyright of the PDF ebook by preventing people from copying, printing, emailing, or sharing it with others free of charge.) The benefit of this ebook format is that we automatically produce it free of charge for the authors who publish paperbacks/hardcovers through us, and it is available for sale all around the world. The one notable limitation of this ebook format is that it isn’t available for download on ereader devices themselves. Your customers can only purchase it through websites for download on computer desktops.

For our authors who want their ebooks available in even more online markets and, more importantly, want them to be downloadable on ereaders and various other devices, our ebook file conversion service can convert their Adobe PDF/DRM ebook files into any number of different file formats: http://shop.polishedpublishinggroup.com/eBook-File-Conversions_c29.htm. I personally recommend the .EPUB format, in particular, for a couple of reasons:

  1. The KOBO-friendly .EPUB ebook is available for worldwide distribution on eReaders, Tablets, IOS, Android, Blackberry, Desktop, and Windows.
  2. Publishing an ebook through KOBO gives you 100% flexibility and personal choice regarding how you will set your own retail price (as opposed to publishing on Kindle which pretty much forces you to price your book at a ridiculously low price). If you are marketing your book using price-based marketing, you may consider Kindle; but, with KOBO you get to choose. You can market your book using value-based selling or price-based selling. It’s entirely your choice as the copyright owner of your book—as it should be!

In order to take advantage of PPG’s ebook file conversion services, simply click on this link http://shop.polishedpublishinggroup.com/eBook-File-Conversions_c29.htm to place your order and then send us a copy of the eBook .PDF file we produced for you. The turn-around time to complete this conversion is usually only around two weeks, and then we’ll place it online for you. Fast and easy!

The War Over How to Price Ebooks: Kindle versus Hachette Book Group (Value-based Selling)

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

In addition to my book publishing background, I also worked in the world of print advertising sales for many years—a truly valuable experience for me on so many levels. Each of the companies I worked for were industry leaders within their own fields, and the greatest privilege I derived from working with them was a true understanding (and appreciation!) of the many benefits of value-based selling. I’m grateful to all of them for this education … thank you.

Excerpt from How to Publish a Bestselling Book … and Sell It WORLDWIDE Based on Value, Not Price!:

“…most people are already pretty comfortable with price-based selling (i.e., offering sales and discounts to try to undercut the competition’s price); therefore, we’re going to focus on value-based selling here, instead. It’s an important skill to master because, at the end of the day, anyone can sell on price. But here’s the biggest problem with that plan: if price is the only thing you’ve got, and then someone else with a similar offering comes in at a lower price than you can match, you’re done. You’re finished. You’ve got nowhere else to go. However, if you can learn how to sell based on perceived value right from the start, you’ll always be able to justify your price as it is. You can even increase that price down the road by adding even more value to your overall offering.”

How does this relate to Kindle and the Hachette Book Group? Well, as most people in the digital publishing industry are already aware, there is an ongoing battle between these two giants regarding how to price an ebook. And it’s a passionate war! It’s so passionate, in fact, that Kindle sent out a mass email to all its ebook publishers seeking support of its stance against Hachette, and containing the direct email address for Hachette’s CEO (ouch!), with the hopes we would all send him angry letters in support of Kindle.

In a nutshell, here is Kindle’s stance on how to price ebooks:

“Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year. With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores.…

…Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book.”

I replied to Kindle’s email and also cc’d Hachette’s CEO on that reply, at their request; but, perhaps, they were expecting a different answer than the one they got from me. I told them I completely disagree with them. I told them that when Kindle tries to control the price of an author’s ebook by saying is must be priced at $9.99 or lower, it is Kindle that is being unfair. For this reason, I won’t put my next book (the one named above) online in Kindle format. It will remain a paperback on the Amazon site along with various other sites, and an ebook on several other ebook sites such as Kobo.com; and it will be listed at $19.99 USD because that is the price I choose to sell it at. The content inside my book is definitely worth the higher price regardless of what format I’m selling it in. (On that note, for the avid Kindle authors out there who believe that a book sold online can only become a bestseller if it’s an ebook that is priced low or given away free of charge, think again. The POD paperback version of my book, How to Publish a Book in Canada . . . and Sell Enough Copies to Make a Profit!, became an Amazon.ca bestseller only a short month and a half after it was first published and was also listed as a bestseller in the Calgary Herald a short while later. The recommended retail price for that book is $19.99 USD.)

Let me put this into another context for you. Kindle’s stance that every single ebook should be priced at $9.99 or lower is the equivalent of saying that every single car should be priced at $20,000 or lower, whether it’s a Toyota Corolla or a BMW. That’s absurd, plain and simple.

Pricing a book is a very important component of your overall marketing campaign; and, you have to take many different things into consideration when you’re deciding on that retail price. You have to understand your demographic—your book’s target market—and create your marketing campaign around that. You also have to base your retail price on your own projected profit margins.

It will likely take you forever to make back the money it cost you to properly publish your book (the word “properly” referring to professional copy editing, design, and proofreading) if you set your retail price at $2.99 per copy. Not only that, but such a low price truly devalues your content. When you price a book that low, what you’re telling people is, “This is a cheap book full of cheap content.” It is what it is.

I was surprised to receive a reply from Hachette’s CEO. I figured my email to him would end up in some type of spam blocker along with the thousands of other emails he probably received after the crew at Kindle sent his email address to the world.

In a nutshell, here is Hachette’s stance on how to price ebooks:

“As a publisher, we work to bring a variety of great books to readers, in a variety of formats and prices. We know by experience that there is not one appropriate price for all ebooks, and that all ebooks do not belong in the same $9.99 box.”

Anyone who follows this blog and/or has read my books knows full well I don’t agree with everything the traditional publishers have to say. But I agree with this one wholeheartedly. Hachette understands value-based selling, and I think Kindle should rethink their stance on this. If Kindle truly wants to empower self-publishers in the sale of their own books, then let them set their own prices. Give them their freedom back.

Coming soon to the PPG Publisher’s Blog…

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

I’ll begin by saying there are times when I’m just as guilty as the next person for not keeping up with my blogging. Life gets busy, as it certainly has for the Polished Publishing Group (PPG) as a whole over this past year. All that said, I’m very grateful for all this busy-ness. It means the company is alive and well, and that’s a wonderful thing.

On that note, I have to admit that busy-ness is only part of the issue here. As I learn this new WordPress blogging platform, I also find myself battling far more spam messages than I did through our previous blog provider … over 300 spam messages per week! Yikes! I’m learning which Plugins I need in place in order to combat this type of annoyance; and, once I have this all worked out, I’ll allow for our valued subscribers to begin commenting regularly again. I’ll also be posting more regular entries once again. Thank you in advance for your patience with this. (Life is a constant learning process, isn’t it?)

In any case, you can look forward to these three upcoming blog entries very soon:

And many, many more to come!

In the mean time, there are plenty of old (but still relevant!) blog entries to read through here regarding book reviews, editing, graphic design, indexing, copyright, et cetera; and you can also check out some of my newest sales and marketing advertorials on EzineArticles. Of course, you’re also encouraged to purchase one or both of these insightful books that will answer just about every single question you might ever have regarding how to write, publish, and sell a Book:

How to Publish a Book in Canada … and Sell Enough Copies to Make a Profit!

How to Publish a Bestselling Book … and Sell It Worldwide Based on Value, Not Price!

See you again soon! 🙂