Writers as Publishers
Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 13, 2011
Shannon Aviles from More Than Publicity gave a talk at a recent meeting of Florida Romance Writers advising authors who self-publish their work to think like publishers. This means authors have to “pull your vision out of the box” where we’ve sat for so long while agents and the Big Six publishers tell us what to do. “Think broader and wider.” She advises authors to do brand marketing, which is what drives sales. “Learn how to become CEO of your own business.” She says technology drives consumer power and predicts that e-book sales will supersede print sales. Authors should take back whatever rights they can get. Brand marketers are also trend watchers. Keep an eye on world news, the economy, upcoming films. Bench marketing is another term Shannon discussed. It means watching what the competition is doing.
Authors believe self-publishing is as simple as putting a book up on Amazon, but read the fine print. Amazon is telling you how to price your product. They control the terms and can change them on a whim. Authors on Amazon become little fish in a big sea. How do you get noticed? “Don’t put all your balls in Amazon’s court because they have a big game plan,” and you’re not in it. Now they’re even loaning books out for free.
Meanwhile, distribution has narrowed as distributors, chain and indie bookstores have gone out of business. However, Lightning Source through Ingrams has worldwide distribution so this is better than Createspace for self-pubbed authors who want to offer their books in print. But you’ll need to get an EIN number for Ingrams (business tax number).
The Big 6 publishers use the agency model to price their ebooks, while smaller presses and epubs use the wholesale model. In the agency model, the publisher sets the price.
Shannon advises choosing a professional name for your publishing company and registering it as an LLC. You should come up with a brand for your house. Work out a business plan and a long-term strategy. Consider your launch week but aim for longevity. Make adjustments as necessary along the road.
An author’s goal should be long-term sustained selling, not an immediate focus on a quick sale by lowering the book price to $.99. Long-term gain is what matters, not constantly offering your books on sale for short-term hikes in rankings and numbers. “America is a sales hog.” We’re used to everything being on sale. But focus on your long-range plans. If one strategy isn’t working, change it. Always reassess your status and make adjustments accordingly. For example, launch your book at the regular price and watch the sales velocity for a six week period.
Books-A-Million is growing and launching new stores because they have a marketing strategy.
Publicity, promotions, public relations, and media relations do not drive sales. Press doesn’t make you famous unless you’re already famous. Don’t waste your money on press kits and tchotchkes. DO send your book, with a professional cover, to reviewers.
Disclaimer: This is my interpretation of what I heard. It may not be totally accurate but it’s my best conclusion from my notes.