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Posts Tagged ‘Bookselling’

Hey Writers who Read this Blog!

My book marketing teacher mentioned a publishing company called PUSH. I went on the site, and now I’m really intrigued.

When I called self-publishing vanity publishing, someone commented that big publishers NEVER publish first time authors. But PUSH only publishes first time authors! Perhaps that’s exactly what we need: more publishers solvent enough to take a chance actually TAKING a chance and publishing a new writer.

Right now, I feel like publishing houses are putting themselves into a rut by publishing the same authors over and over. And let’s face it – an author might have one great book in them, but sometimes their second and third books aren’t as good as someone else’s first novel.

I understand the authors’ frustrations with this, just as I understand the publishing houses’ point of view: they want to print books that they know will make them money!

But, again, it might be nice if one or two of the big publishing houses, who have the money to take a greater chance, created imprints to publish first time authors. Then, they can keep those authors in-house with another imprint but new authors would have some hope of publication beyond paying their own way.

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I worked in a library for two years, in college, and so I always find the discussions about secure information and privacy very interesting. Personally, the only reason I wouldn’t want someone to have my reading/book buying history is because I’d have to be embarrassed about how many romance and kids books I read. But I understand, and support, the principle – there is no way, without strong evidence of CRIMINAL activity, that anyone has a right to anyone else’s reading records.

That’s why I was glad to see that Amazon is not lightly handing over purchasing histories to North Carolina(in this article). I can understand wanting Amazon’s financial data for tax reasons, but knowing the individual books for each person? There’s no reason for that. And while the library’s policy about not giving out any patron information is a little more comprehensible, as they are a public institution, Amazon seems to understand their duty to their customers too.

Amazon is suing North Carolina to insure that North Carolina cannot get those purchasing histories of individuals. While Amazon is a large company, that does not mean that the same principles of privacy shouldn’t occur at some level. In fact, I would argue, it’s even more important – those histories show the books that people found important enough to buy, not just borrow. I borrow books from the library all the time that I only read a few pages of, but I BUY books I usually already know I like (books that mean something more to me than a causal read). I expect that a lot of other people do the same.

Usually, the scope and expanse of the Amazon realm scares me (they have so much power over book buying!), but in this case, I’m supporting Amazon. Go AMAZON!

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According to the AAP (the Association of American Publishers), book sales fell about 1.8% in 2009.

Here’s the breakdown of the report:

Sales went up in 2009 for the following:
Adult hardbound books
Paperbound books for children and juveniles
E-books
Higher education books

Sales went down in 2009 for the following:
Paperbound books
Hardbound books for children and juveniles
Mass market paperbacks
Mail order and book club sales
Audio books
Religious books
Elementary and high school books

Stayed about the same:
Trade sales of adult books
Trade sales of juvenile books

I would like to point out, before the pessimists take over, that the publishing industry, according to the AAP, still saw $23.9 billion in sales in 2009. And the economy hasn’t been great, so the fall of sales was actually pretty understandable. And e-book sales went up about 700%.

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The Friends of the Library hold periodic sales to get rid of books the library doesn’t want anymore and to raise money for the library and its events.

Over the years, the FOTL have probably gotten over $200 out of me – and that’s pretty impressive considering books start at $o.50. But every time I go, I seem to leave with boxes (and I’m being very literal) and boxes of books. On average, I spend about $40.

And it’s so worth it. For example, I got the entire Ender’s Shadow trilogy by Orson Scott Card and the boxed set of the Chronicles of Avonlea last time I went. These aren’t crappy “no one’s read this in 30 years, and no one wants to now” type books. Nope, these are books I’d buy new at Powells or Amazon if I had the money. Instead, I save up my meager grad student money and gleefully run, cash in clenched fist, to the used book sale.

So, I will be at the Friends of the Multnomah County Library Used Book Sale this weekend. The sale is Saturday (11-6) and Sunday (10-4) at the Gresham Town Fair Shopping Center.

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I’ve already shown that I’m a fan of traditional publishing, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think that authors have a responsibility to market their own books. Books are increasingly associated with their authors – to the point that people buy books based on their author’s presence online or in the media. And while publishers are creating press kits and setting up interviews and events, there are other avenues that only the author can explore.

So, for all authors, here’s a list of things you can do to increase your visibility to readers:

1) Create a website/blog/Facebook account/Twitter  account (or all of the above)
2) Enter contests of all types
3) Publish articles in print and online about anything in your book. For example, if your mystery novel takes place in Eastern Oregon, write a fun travel article about the locations you used, send it to a travel site, and add just a little hook at the end about your book.
4) Give dynamic “readings,” interviews, and presentations. Reading from your book isn’t enough – you need to give an audience a good show. (See this article)
5) Send book to reviewers (ones that your publisher might not be considering)
6) Try to get a book club to read your work. Even if you have to create such a group, word of mouth is an amazing marketing tool.
7) If it’s applicable (which it often is for fiction books), create a book trailer and post it online.

These are all just ideas – but they can all work to your advantage. So go forth and market!

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I have to admit I’ve been very reluctant to join Twitter. It seems silly to post about everything and anything, in short spurts. As this blog shows, I usually have more than a couple sentences worth of whatever to say. But apparently, I’m wrong to doubt the effectiveness of Twitter  – it’s a great way to network according to Publishing Trends’ article “Twitter isn’t Stupid – But Publishers Need to Be Smart About Using It. Here’s How.”

According to the article, publishers need to develop a very personal presence on Twitter. People don’t want to hear about books, they want to hear about people. That makes sense to me, since I would never want to check a site that just talks about how great their books are. Also, a lot of people who watch/read Twitter also read blogs or write their own blogs. So why don’t I?

But this use of Twitter actually corresponds to my earlier post about publisher branding. I think if publishers can use Twitter effectively, people will begin to follow the publisher and then recognize the publisher’s books and buy them! Plus, even just stimulating conversation about the books is a good thing. So, I guess maybe sometime soon I’ll bite the bullet and join Twitter.

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Ooligan’s Acquisitions workgroup takes publishing into the classroom with the Young Editors Project (YEP), a fun way for kids to read and evaluate young adult manuscripts that are being considered for publication.

The Young Editors Project is just another way to bring publishing into children’s lives. In many of the projects described in Classroom Publishing, Ooligan’s most recent release, kids are encourage to publish their own creations, but evaluating the writing of others can be just as useful in understanding great writing. Ooligan’s YEP allows kids to look at novels and identify the strengths and weaknesses of an author’s story in a situation where their opinion matters.

Sometimes it’s difficult for acquisitions editors to decide whether or not to publish a manuscript they have received – there are so many factors to consider. One factor, of course, is whether the book will appeal to the target audience. Ooligan does publish young adult books, but sometimes we need help deciding whether young adults will really like the manuscript we are considering. For most of us, it’s been over a decade since we were young adults ourselves. And so, we turn to the source for help – we ask young adults to read the manuscripts and give their opinions. The name for this process is the Young Editors Project.

(more…)

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