Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Market Your Book: Working with Booksellers

I’ve written before about finding the right home for each book, and how sometimes a small press makes more sense for a particular project than a big one.

The same follow for distribution. Amazon is the Big Boy of connecting readers and books. But in all the buzz over algorithms and bots and rankings, let’s not forget the importance of independent bookshops, where actual human contact and word-of-mouth work quietly and effectively to connect readers with books they’ll love.

Don’t be that author who shows up with a bunch of books printed on CreateSpace and expects a bookseller to host a signing or take titles on consignment. That’s like showing up at a family-run restaurant with your bag of McDonald’s takeout and demanding a table where you can eat your French fries for free.

To build relationships with independent booksellers, you’ll need to make your books available through vendors other than Amazon. For e-books, that means foregoing KDP Select, or foregoing the program after a 90-day run or two, and uploading your book to https://www.kobo.com/writinglife.

In the same vein, you’ll want to have softcover (or hardcover) editions available from sources besides Amazon’s CreateSpace. Ingram’s Spark (for authors) and Lightning Source (for small presses) are affordable print-on-demand options if you’ve chosen not to warehouse a large inventory of your books. You’ll need an ISBN; these can be bought in batches from Bowker.

For the “tree book” editions, you’ll want to upload bibliographic information to IndieBound, which is maintained by the American Booksellers Association (ABA). My thanks to my fine local bookseller David Cheezum of Fireside Books for providing these instructions for authors:

1) Log in to IndieBound.org using your personal account.  If you don't have an account on IndieBound.org, create one at http://www.indiebound.org/join

2) Search for the 13 Digit ISBN (no spaces or hyphens) of the book to see:

        If it’s already listed in the database (go to 3c)
        if it needs to be added (go to 3a)
        if it's just missing a cover (3b)

3a) For missing books, go to: www.indiebound.org/addabook
3b) For missing cover art, navigate to: www.indiebound.org/addabook/cover
3c) To edit a book description, go to: www.indiebound.org/addabook/ISBN 

4) Enter your data, attach an image, and submit

5) Allow time for approval by someone at ABA.  You will receive an email when your image is approved.  Once approved, it can take up to 24 hours for your book cover to appear in search results and on IndieBound.org.

Once you’ve created indie access for your titles, be sure to link to Indiebound as well as Amazon from your website, newsletters, etc. You can even become an Indiebound Affiliate and receive a referral percentage from the sales generated by your links.

Now you’re ready to connect with indie booksellers in a way that builds positive, long-lasting relationships.