Tag Archives: Kim Staflund

For the Love of Making Money on Your Books, Read This One!

This content first appeared on the Innovative Editing blog and has been republished here with permission.

Every month, Innovative Editing features a creative writer or non-fiction writer who caught its editorial eye. These authors can be self-published or traditionally published, Innovative Editing clients or outside recommendations.

Just, one way or the other, they do stand out! If you think you do too, then reach out right here.

This month, I have an author whose featured work is relevant for so many writers. How to Build a Loyal Readership So Your Self-Published Books Get Picked Up by Literary Agents and Trade Publishers is incredibly useful in unearthing industry secrets about writing, publishing and marketing that can put your book in the spotlight.




I would recommend this guide to any creative writer or non-fiction writer who’s even considering the self-publishing route… even if it’s just as a step toward being traditionally published.

January’s Author of the Month: Kim Staflund
Featured Title: How to Build a Loyal Readership So Your Self-Published Books Get Picked Up by Literary Agents and Trade Publishers
Genre: Business Non-Fiction

Age Appropriate: All

Jeannette: Kim, I’m just going to come right out and say how informative your book was. It definitely taught me a thing or two about marketing, and you have a lot of great tips and tricks to tell about writing as well. What inspired this book idea, and what is its main purpose?

Kim: I consider myself a “sales coach for authors” more than a book publisher because my greatest goal is to help authors sell more books. I’m constantly researching and utilizing the latest book sales and marketing tactics that will give authors the greatest edge.

In 2017, I found two articles that profiled two different fiction authors and how they had earned six- and seven-figure incomes selling their books online. Then I personally spoke to two other fiction authors using the same tactics to sell literally thousands of books on a consistent basis.

That had me wondering: If it can work for fiction, can it also work for non-fiction? I asked a couple of “author marketing consultants” what they thought of this, and both were skeptical. In their opinions, it couldn’t work for non-fiction authors because they don’t typically offer multiple book products to the same pool of readers.

Hmmmm… Something inside of me disagreed with their logic. My gut was saying it would be just as easy, if not easier, to do this with non-fiction books. And sure enough, I researched some more and found two non-fiction authors using the same tactics to sell thousands of books online. That made me smile, and it inspired me to begin writing how-to guides tailored specifically to various non-fiction authors.

But, again, the process can also work for fiction authors too.




Jeannette: Okay. Let’s dive right in then! You write that “… the most successful authors are the ones who treat book writing, publishing, sales, and marketing as their own business. They don’t only write; they sell their books.” I don’t want to give away all of your secrets here, but can you expound on that concept a little bit?

Kim: Even before I wrote this book, that was true. I’ve been saying it for years. The most successful authors are entrepreneurs. Always have been. Always will be.

For those who disagree, I highly recommend you read this blog post where the Big Five trade publishers themselves – Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster – discuss how much time they actually spend selling their authors’ books for them. You’ll be enlightened.

Jeannette: You’re spot-on with that blog post. Authors-in-the-making too often have a utopic idea of what being traditionally published looks like. They have no idea they might be working just as hard to market themselves as if they were self-published.

I know you address this directly in the linked article above. But let’s talk about it here too since, in your book, you brought up at least one example of a self-published author who got picked up by a traditional publisher after she marketed herself well enough.

Would you say that’s a publishing world trend at this point, where the big guys want to know writers can pull their own weight before they offer anything on their end?




Kim: This is not only a recent trend. It’s always been this way for the majority of authors/writers. I strongly recommend that people read the above-mentioned blog post so they can have their eyes wide open when approaching trade publishers.

Trade publishers are looking for authors that already have their own platforms, and this book can teach you how to build yours.

Jeannette: That it can! But like I said several questions ago, I don’t want to give away all of your secrets, so let’s switch focus to the book-writing phase you also address in How to Build a Loyal Readership. As a book-writing coach myself, I cheered when you said that a writer’s “sole purpose” in writing out their first draft was to actually get it written.

I’ve had too many students and clients start out absolutely awesome stories, only to fall prey to the editing bug well before they should be editing. And so they never finish their first drafts, much less ever get published.

Click here to sneak a peak inside!

Kim: I’ve talked about this type of procrastination in all my books because it’s such a common issue for authors. There’s so much more to procrastination than simple perfectionism. It goes much deeper than that. It’s about fear.

I dedicated a full chapter to uncovering what I believe causes fear – and how to overcome it – in my recent paperback Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors. Midwest Book Review touted it as “…a critically important instructional reference … informed, informative, and thoroughly ‘user friendly’ from beginning to end … a mandatory study for every novice author seeking to establish themselves in an economically supporting career…”

You can find that whole section in:

They complement what you’ll read in How to Build a Loyal Readership. If you combine the advice between the book and those two blog posts, you’ll be able to overcome your procrastination much more easily.

Jeannette: If it’s okay with you, I’ll out one aspect of that advice right here: rewarding yourself along the writing way. What’s the best incentive you ever set for your writing accomplishments?

Kim: It depends on where I am in life. I’ve rewarded myself with everything from a new pair of shoes to a trip to Europe! I think we should spoil ourselves once in a while. Because writing a book is a true accomplishment.




Jeannette: And such a worthwhile one too! Oh, and speaking of worthwhile…

For the record, I know that’s a horrible transition. But I really want to squeeze this second-to-last question in here. You mention that you prefer Microsoft Word rather than Scrivener. I’m with you there, but you do know “them’s fightin’ words” for a lot of writers, right?

Kim: Lol. Yes, I think you’re right. And that’s why I invite anyone who reads my book to add a review/comment to it afterward on whether they agree or disagree with anything that’s been said. I may have 25 years’ experience in this industry, but I don’t know it all and I’m a lifelong learner. I read the comments because I’m open to other people’s opinions. I think we can all help each other.

Jeannette: That was definitely another aspect I appreciated about How to Build a Loyal Readership. Too many people in the book writing industry – editors included –  are very snobbish about their opinions. But you give so much amazing, insightful and honest advice in your book.

Is there one piece of information you think stands out as being more important than all the others? Or is this one of those systems where each part builds off of the next?

Kim: There are a lot of moving parts to this type of book sales and marketing. All these things work together, and it has to be done on a consistent basis in order to see any real traction. The only one piece of advice I have is what I’ve been telling authors for years: Whether you’re self-published or trade published, authors are entrepreneurs.

Jeannette: Beautifully stated!

Kim: Jeannette, thank you so much for the opportunity to speak to your subscribers. I’m very grateful for it. And thank you for the guest post you did for the PPG Publisher’s Blog, too: Do You Really Have What It Takes to Write a Book?

Jeannette: That was such a fun article to write! So thank you, Kim. I had a blast putting it together.

And Innovative Editing readers, here’s the short list of e-books Kim has written, starting with the oh-so-helpful Author of the Month feature. Oh yeah, and the second two are free!

An Independent Author’s Checklist: What You Need to Have Ready for Ghostwriters, Editors, and Graphic Designers

NOW AVAILABLE through Amazon’s Kindle, Kobo, and E-Sentral for FREE! Download it today!

As an independent author (a.k.a. “indie author”), you are the project manager of your own book’s production from start to finish, from conception straight through to publication. This may include hiring a freelance ghostwriter (if you choose not to write your book yourself), an experienced editor, and even a professional graphic designer for best results. It all depends on the type of book an indie author wishes to produce.

For example, there are different components involved with designing a paperback book than an ebook of any kind; and there are even more components to consider if that indie author wishes to publish and print a hardcover book. An Independent Author’s Checklist includes an important list of questions indie authors will want to answer for a graphic designer, ahead of time, to ensure the book is completed properly and professionally the first time around. This type of preparation can save time and money for both project stakeholders because it can prevent complete do-overs in cases where the designer was unclear about the indie author’s original vision.

Communication is so important throughout this process—not only with your graphic designer. An indie author will also want to have certain things prepared ahead of time, in certain ways, for both the ghostwriter (if applicable) and the editor. As such, it’s often helpful to have a checklist at your disposal that makes this entire process run as smoothly as possible—particularly for the indie authors who are new to the whole publishing business. That’s why I created An Independent Author’s Checklist and decided to publish it online for indie authors everywhere. I want you all to have as much helpful information as possible at your fingertips, so you all have a positive publishing experience coupled with the best possible chances of success. That is my wish for you.




An Independent Author’s Checklist includes helpful information for indie authors regarding effectively communicating your book’s vision to a ghostwriter. Although some indie authors are both qualified and have the time to write their own books, you might choose to hire someone else to help you create that compelling narrative. Both are acceptable ways to produce a book. That said, when hiring a ghostwriter to help pen your book, it is important for indie authors to remember that ghostwriting is an ongoing, collaborative process (much like the entire publishing process). To make things run smoother, you should be prepared ahead of time.

An Independent Author’s Checklist also includes important guidance for indie authors regarding how to submit one’s manuscript to an editor so that it contains all the information you want edited. For example, some indie authors will only have the main body of their book interiors professionally edited. In that case, often any front matter, back matter, and back cover copy that is added after the fact is riddled with all kinds of spelling errors and typos, diminishing the professional quality of the book. But for indie authors like you who follow the guidelines in this checklist, you’ll avoid these issues and end up with the best possible result.

WEEK SIX: LAUNCH YOUR BOOK | Pre-order the Fourth Installment Today!

WEEK SIX: LAUNCH YOUR BOOK | PUBLICATION DATE NOVEMBER 28, 2017

BOOK PUBLISHING SHORTCUTS FOR ONLINE MARKETERS
Six Weeks to Creating a Book Series that Earns Passive Income from Several Sources

Week One: Outline Your Book
Weeks Two to Four: Write Your Book
Week Five: Refine Your Book
Week Six: Launch Your Book

“Lather, Rinse, Repeat!”

Now online marketers can learn the method today’s most successful authors are using to sell THOUSANDS of books online per year!

* * *

More and more, I come across people who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, fulfill a lifelong dream, commemorate a special occasion, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. These are the people (e.g., the online marketers) who would rather utilize algorithms to grow their readership than spend any amount of money on traditional forms of book promotion. These authors also want full control over their own creative processes and release dates, and they’re fine with selling their books online only. A perfect example of this type of author is today’s email marketer who is producing an “information product” (their lingo for “ebook”) as part of an ongoing email marketing campaign.

Today’s most successful online marketers know that ebooks, emailing marketing, and affiliate marketing are just as legitimate sources of passive income as real estate investment trusts and high dividend stocks are. They also know that the best way to grow one’s readership (e.g., subscribers list, followers, online fan base of any kind) is to provide genuine and consistent value that is highly useful to those readers.




Ebooks are probably one of the most effective tools in an online marketer’s arsenal. An ebook is a portable business card that can be delivered instantaneously, anywhere in the world, for free or for sale, via email, blog, website, or ecommerce site. An ebook can be read in the comfort of one’s home or office, during a commute by train or by plane, or even when standing and waiting in line. Ebooks are easily searchable documents that can be hyperlinked to an online marketer’s blog or other important information sources, providing even further value to readers. Ebooks are quite easily updateable which is especially helpful to online marketers who wish to keep their information relevant and stay on top of the dynamic Internet. Best of all, there are hundreds of thousands of affiliate marketers out there who are more than happy to help online marketers promote and sell their ebooks all over the world. It’s like having a massive sales team without having to pay them an upfront salary!

Many online marketers are now turning their previously-written blog posts into ebooks rather than starting from scratch to write a whole new document. It’s a great way to produce and share an ebook quickly which is what this series is all about: “rapid release” publishing. This “rapid release” publishing technique is used by many of today’s most successful online authors to grow their respective readerships quickly. It has produced seven-figure incomes for some and six-figure incomes for many others. Done right, it can work for online marketers, too.

 

WEEK FIVE: REFINE YOUR BOOK | Pre-order the Third Installment Today!

WEEK FIVE: REFINE YOUR BOOK | PUBLICATION DATE OCTOBER 24, 2017

BOOK PUBLISHING SHORTCUTS FOR ONLINE MARKETERS
Six Weeks to Creating a Book Series that Earns Passive Income from Several Sources

Week One: Outline Your Book
Weeks Two to Four: Write Your Book
Week Five: Refine Your Book
Week Six: Launch Your Book

“Lather, Rinse, Repeat!”

Now online marketers can learn the method today’s most successful authors are using to sell THOUSANDS of books online per year!

* * *

More and more, I come across people who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, fulfill a lifelong dream, commemorate a special occasion, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. These are the people (e.g., the online marketers) who would rather utilize algorithms to grow their readership than spend any amount of money on traditional forms of book promotion. These authors also want full control over their own creative processes and release dates, and they’re fine with selling their books online only. A perfect example of this type of author is today’s email marketer who is producing an “information product” (their lingo for “ebook”) as part of an ongoing email marketing campaign.

Today’s most successful online marketers know that ebooks, emailing marketing, and affiliate marketing are just as legitimate sources of passive income as real estate investment trusts and high dividend stocks are. They also know that the best way to grow one’s readership (e.g., subscribers list, followers, online fan base of any kind) is to provide genuine and consistent value that is highly useful to those readers.




Ebooks are probably one of the most effective tools in an online marketer’s arsenal. An ebook is a portable business card that can be delivered instantaneously, anywhere in the world, for free or for sale, via email, blog, website, or ecommerce site. An ebook can be read in the comfort of one’s home or office, during a commute by train or by plane, or even when standing and waiting in line. Ebooks are easily searchable documents that can be hyperlinked to an online marketer’s blog or other important information sources, providing even further value to readers. Ebooks are quite easily updateable which is especially helpful to online marketers who wish to keep their information relevant and stay on top of the dynamic Internet. Best of all, there are hundreds of thousands of affiliate marketers out there who are more than happy to help online marketers promote and sell their ebooks all over the world. It’s like having a massive sales team without having to pay them an upfront salary!

Many online marketers are now turning their previously-written blog posts into ebooks rather than starting from scratch to write a whole new document. It’s a great way to produce and share an ebook quickly which is what this series is all about: “rapid release” publishing. This “rapid release” publishing technique is used by many of today’s most successful online authors to grow their respective readerships quickly. It has produced seven-figure incomes for some and six-figure incomes for many others. Done right, it can work for online marketers, too.

 

WEEKS TWO TO FOUR: WRITE YOUR BOOK | Pre-order the Second Installment Today!

WEEKS TWO TO FOUR: WRITE YOUR BOOK | PUBLICATION DATE SEPTEMBER 12, 2017

BOOK PUBLISHING SHORTCUTS FOR ONLINE MARKETERS
Six Weeks to Creating a Book Series that Earns Passive Income from Several Sources

Week One: Outline Your Book
Weeks Two to Four: Write Your Book
Week Five: Refine Your Book
Week Six: Launch Your Book

“Lather, Rinse, Repeat!”

Now online marketers can learn the method today’s most successful authors are using to sell THOUSANDS of books online per year!

* * *

More and more, I come across people who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, fulfill a lifelong dream, commemorate a special occasion, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. These are the people (e.g., the online marketers) who would rather utilize algorithms to grow their readership than spend any amount of money on traditional forms of book promotion. These authors also want full control over their own creative processes and release dates, and they’re fine with selling their books online only. A perfect example of this type of author is today’s email marketer who is producing an “information product” (their lingo for “ebook”) as part of an ongoing email marketing campaign.

Today’s most successful online marketers know that ebooks, emailing marketing, and affiliate marketing are just as legitimate sources of passive income as real estate investment trusts and high dividend stocks are. They also know that the best way to grow one’s readership (e.g., subscribers list, followers, online fan base of any kind) is to provide genuine and consistent value that is highly useful to those readers.




Ebooks are probably one of the most effective tools in an online marketer’s arsenal. An ebook is a portable business card that can be delivered instantaneously, anywhere in the world, for free or for sale, via email, blog, website, or ecommerce site. An ebook can be read in the comfort of one’s home or office, during a commute by train or by plane, or even when standing and waiting in line. Ebooks are easily searchable documents that can be hyperlinked to an online marketer’s blog or other important information sources, providing even further value to readers. Ebooks are quite easily updateable which is especially helpful to online marketers who wish to keep their information relevant and stay on top of the dynamic Internet. Best of all, there are hundreds of thousands of affiliate marketers out there who are more than happy to help online marketers promote and sell their ebooks all over the world. It’s like having a massive sales team without having to pay them an upfront salary!

Many online marketers are now turning their previously-written blog posts into ebooks rather than starting from scratch to write a whole new document. It’s a great way to produce and share an ebook quickly which is what this series is all about: “rapid release” publishing. This “rapid release” publishing technique is used by many of today’s most successful online authors to grow their respective readerships quickly. It has produced seven-figure incomes for some and six-figure incomes for many others. Done right, it can work for online marketers, too.

 

WEEK ONE: OUTLINE YOUR BOOK | Pre-order the First Installment Today!

WEEK ONE: OUTLINE YOUR BOOK | PUBLICATION DATE AUGUST 1, 2017

BOOK PUBLISHING SHORTCUTS FOR ONLINE MARKETERS
Six Weeks to Creating a Book Series that Earns Passive Income from Several Sources

Week One: Outline Your Book
Weeks Two to Four: Write Your Book
Week Five: Refine Your Book
Week Six: Launch Your Book

“Lather, Rinse, Repeat!”

Now online marketers can learn the method today’s most successful authors are using to sell THOUSANDS of books online per year!

* * *

More and more, I come across people who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, fulfill a lifelong dream, commemorate a special occasion, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. These are the people (e.g., the online marketers) who would rather utilize algorithms to grow their readership than spend any amount of money on traditional forms of book promotion. These authors also want full control over their own creative processes and release dates, and they’re fine with selling their books online only. A perfect example of this type of author is today’s email marketer who is producing an “information product” (their lingo for “ebook”) as part of an ongoing email marketing campaign.

Today’s most successful online marketers know that ebooks, emailing marketing, and affiliate marketing are just as legitimate sources of passive income as real estate investment trusts and high dividend stocks are. They also know that the best way to grow one’s readership (e.g., subscribers list, followers, online fan base of any kind) is to provide genuine and consistent value that is highly useful to those readers.




Ebooks are probably one of the most effective tools in an online marketer’s arsenal. An ebook is a portable business card that can be delivered instantaneously, anywhere in the world, for free or for sale, via email, blog, website, or ecommerce site. An ebook can be read in the comfort of one’s home or office, during a commute by train or by plane, or even when standing and waiting in line. Ebooks are easily searchable documents that can be hyperlinked to an online marketer’s blog or other important information sources, providing even further value to readers. Ebooks are quite easily updateable which is especially helpful to online marketers who wish to keep their information relevant and stay on top of the dynamic Internet. Best of all, there are hundreds of thousands of affiliate marketers out there who are more than happy to help online marketers promote and sell their ebooks all over the world. It’s like having a massive sales team without having to pay them an upfront salary!

Many online marketers are now turning their previously-written blog posts into ebooks rather than starting from scratch to write a whole new document. It’s a great way to produce and share an ebook quickly which is what this series is all about: “rapid release” publishing. This “rapid release” publishing technique is used by many of today’s most successful online authors to grow their respective readerships quickly. It has produced seven-figure incomes for some and six-figure incomes for many others. Done right, it can work for online marketers, too.

 

New Book Series Coming Soon! Book Publishing Shortcuts for Online Marketers

BOOK PUBLISHING SHORTCUTS FOR ONLINE MARKETERS
Six Weeks to Creating a Book Series that Earns Passive Income from Several Sources

Week One: Outline Your Book
Weeks Two to Four: Write Your Book
Week Five: Refine Your Book
Week Six: Launch Your Book

“Lather, Rinse, Repeat!”

Now online marketers can learn the method today’s most successful authors are using to sell THOUSANDS of books online per year!

* * *

More and more, I come across people who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, fulfill a lifelong dream, commemorate a special occasion, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. These are the people (e.g., the online marketers) who would rather utilize algorithms to grow their readership than spend any amount of money on traditional forms of book promotion. These authors also want full control over their own creative processes and release dates, and they’re fine with selling their books online only. A perfect example of this type of author is today’s email marketer who is producing an “information product” (their lingo for “ebook”) as part of an ongoing email marketing campaign.

Today’s most successful online marketers know that ebooks, emailing marketing, and affiliate marketing are just as legitimate sources of passive income as real estate investment trusts and high dividend stocks are. They also know that the best way to grow one’s readership (e.g., subscribers list, followers, online fan base of any kind) is to provide genuine and consistent value that is highly useful to those readers.




Ebooks are probably one of the most effective tools in an online marketer’s arsenal. An ebook is a portable business card that can be delivered instantaneously, anywhere in the world, for free or for sale, via email, blog, website, or ecommerce site. An ebook can be read in the comfort of one’s home or office, during a commute by train or by plane, or even when standing and waiting in line. Ebooks are easily searchable documents that can be hyperlinked to an online marketer’s blog or other important information sources, providing even further value to readers. Ebooks are quite easily updateable which is especially helpful to online marketers who wish to keep their information relevant and stay on top of the dynamic Internet. Best of all, there are hundreds of thousands of affiliate marketers out there who are more than happy to help online marketers promote and sell their ebooks all over the world. It’s like having a massive sales team without having to pay them an upfront salary!

Many online marketers are now turning their previously-written blog posts into ebooks rather than starting from scratch to write a whole new document. It’s a great way to produce and share an ebook quickly which is what this series is all about: “rapid release” publishing. This “rapid release” publishing technique is used by many of today’s most successful online authors to grow their respective readerships quickly. It has produced seven-figure incomes for some and six-figure incomes for many others. Done right, it can work for online marketers, too.

 

Content Syndication Welcome

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

A while ago, I shared a post with you regarding the differences between guest posting and content syndication, and how you can use both to improve your search engine ranking: [Guest Blogging and Content Syndication] T-Shaped Marketing for Authors.

In a perfect world, we would all have time to write and post fresh content on our own blog and someone else’s website every single day. If we did this, we would quickly see an increase in our traffic and search engine ranking as a result. But that’s not always possible, so a great way to keep one’s momentum going is through content syndication.

For those of you looking for some great content to post on your own blogs, but who are inundated with other work and just don’t have the time to write fresh content on a regular basis, I’m happy to share the wealth of information contained on the PPG Publisher’s Blog.

YOU CAN FIND EVEN MORE DETAILS ON CONTENT SYNDICATION BY CLICKING ON THIS LINK.

Feel free to use any of the posts you find here. Cut and paste whole or parts of whichever posts you would like to use. Just make sure to always attribute the original source so we don’t get dinged on the SEO front. That’s all I ask. You can do so by ensuring the following message appears at the top or bottom of your post:

This post first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog here:
[insert direct link to the original post]. It has been republished with permission.

Here is a great example of how Alexander von Ness of Nessgraphica used one of my Quora posts on his own blog. Note how he acknowledged the original post at the bottom and also included a direct link to it: Independent Authors Earnings – Three Independent Authors Who are Earning $150,000+ Annually.

One more option for you to consider: add our Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed to your blog/website. You can find a link to it below, on the bottom right-hand side of this blog. Or click here to access it: https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com/feed/.

* * *   * * *   * * *

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.



Guest Bloggers Welcome!

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

Hello fellow writers, authors, bloggers, and Internet marketers!

I do my best to balance the many daily tasks involved in my full-time work with writing/posting at least two quality entries on my blog every week. I could sure use some help to keep the content fresh and entertaining for my growing list of subscribers, and I’m more than happy to return the favour. I’m looking for guest bloggers. And I can guest post on your blog, too, if you’d like.

A little more about me to help you decide whether we’re a good fit for each other…

The purpose of my blog is to provide free tips to help aspiring (and already-published) authors with every aspect of the book writing, publishing, sales, and marketing processes from conception to publication. Since I’m a TESOL-certified sales coach for authors, my blog already contains a lot of post-publication content regarding book sales and marketing. I welcome more of that kind of content from those of you who have advice and success stories to share. More pre-publication advice, specifically tailoured toward helping writers complete their manuscripts, is also welcome. (Click here to view some examples of past guest posts.)

Of course, I’m also more than happy to help out a budding author by posting an excerpt of your upcoming book so long as you also provide a front cover and/or author photo along with a link to your blog. Whichever publisher you used/plan to use to publish your book makes no matter to me. I will also ensure your copyright notice is listed at the bottom of your excerpt.

If you think this is a good fit, then please send me a message. I hope we can help each other out, and I look forward to hearing from you.

* * *    * * *    * * *

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 same applies to the corporate world too. For example, an increasing number of businesses are embracing the digital revolution and striving towards a paperless office environment. To learn more about how document management software is helping businesses to thrive, go to FilecenterDMS.com.




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

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