Archive for the ‘Publishing FAQs’ Category

Publishing FAQs | Week 6: What Does The Amazon Ranking Mean in Terms of Sales?

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Frequently asked questions. Every industry has them and publishing is no different. Ambassador International has the pleasure of working with many new and upcoming authors. Many of these authors come to us with lots of questions. Publishing your first book (or your 10th!) is exciting! There are many details to work out and decisions to make. Over the course of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry addressed questions that he is asked almost daily by new authors including:

  1. What is the best publishing option for me?
  2. Do I need an agent?
  3. Will I experience success if I get my book into stores?
  4. What else do you expect me to do?
  5. How does a distributor work?

publishing FAQsWhat Does The Amazon Ranking Mean in Terms of Sales?

This is probably the question I am most frequently asked so I figured it would be a good one to end my Publishing FAQ series. Perhaps you’ve found yourself looking at the ranking of your title or other titles and wondering how many books must be selling to see that ranking? Amazon presently has over 8 million titles listed. This is a lot of competition but at the same time this is what is known as the long tail, many of these title may not even sell one copy in a year.

Making Sense of Your Amazon Ranking

The Amazon ranking is made up of the number of books on Amazon and shows your place on the sales list. If you’re book is in the 2 million+ range and holding there consistently you’re likely only selling a couple copies per year. For titles ranked this high it is said that Amazon’s algorithm reviews ranking every 30 days unless of course you have a spike in sales. For a title ranked this high, five books sold in a day can mean a drop in hundreds of thousands of points.

As you get to the low hundred thousands Amazon monitors daily sales traffic then as you move to the tens of thousands and below your ranking can move several times throughout the day.

Deciphering Your Sales Figures

It is difficult to put exact figures to ranking bands as there are many variables so daily sales listed below are based on a title holding steadily in a ranking for a number of days/weeks.

  • Top 100 books are selling 1000+ copies
  • 100-10,000 selling in in the hundreds
  • 10,000 – 50,000 selling in the tens
  • 50,000 – 250,000 selling in singles

As you climb higher you’re likely no longer seeing constant daily sales. Amazon’s algorithm is complex so again this is just a based on my experience watching rankings and how they correlate to sales.

 

Tracking Sales with Amazon Author Central

The best way to keep track of your sales is by setting up an Amazon Author Central account. This will track your print sales. With an Amazon Author Central account in place you can see how effective your social media and marketing promotions are. Did your blog post turn into sales? As with all marketing, if it does not work the first time, tweak it and try again until you see the results you’re hoping for.

I hope this series of Publishing FAQ’s has been helpful. If you have a question I didn’t answer you can reach me direct via email: tlowry(at)emeraldhouse.com

Publishing FAQs | Week 5: How Does a Distributor Work?

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Frequently asked questions. Every industry has them and publishing is no different. Ambassador International has the pleasure of working with many new and upcoming authors. Many of these authors come to us with lots of questions. Publishing your first book (or your 10th!) is exciting! There are many details to work out and decisions to make. Over the course of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry will address questions that he is asked almost daily by new authors. He started with the question “what is the best publishing option for me?”, continued with the question “do I need an agent?”, and discussed “will I experience success if I get my book into stores?” Last week he answered the FAQ, “what else do you expect me to do?” This week his series continues with the question:

 

publishing FAQsHow Does a Distributor Work?

For many authors the behind the scenes logistics of a book are an unknown, at times the process seems unusual or it is wondered why books cannot simply be shipped to a store direct. The logistics behind a book are huge, there are many moving parts and numerous hands that touch your product to take it from an idea or a manuscript to a book on store shelves. You can break the logistics into four main categories:

 

  • Publishers
  • Printers
  • Distributors
  • Retailers

Within each of these categories there are many departments that are involved in making your book happen.

 

A Distributor’s Role

A distributor is the key middle man between a publisher and a retailer. Distributors receive higher discounts from the publisher giving them the margin to sell to retailers at their needed price.

Retailers typically favor buying from distributors as they can consolidate titles from many publishers and have it shipped as a single order, they also have pre-established discounts and terms. Distributors also allow for easy returns which is sadly a major part of doing business in the book industry. If a title is not returnable retailers are less likely to pick it up.

A traditional publisher with good distribution is not to be undervalued. When it comes to self publishing distribution is a weak point — distribution is typically at its best when working with a traditional publisher with the right partners in place.

 

Making it Easy for Retailers

When a title is first set up the title metadata goes to distributors and retailers allowing them to populate their systems. As a title comes out it ships into the publisher and distributor. When a retailer searches the title they’ll see that it is with the distributor, how many units they have on hand and what warehouses it is available from.

We have seen stock shipped from our South Carolina warehouse to a distribution base in Tennessee only to see it shipped back to a store here in the Carolinas. It seems a little backwards but the ease of ordering through a distributor and the logistics make this a much simpler process for retailers.

Publishing FAQs | Week 4: What Else Do You Expect Me To Do?

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Frequently asked questions. Every industry has them and publishing is no different. Ambassador International has the pleasure of working with many new and upcoming authors. Many of these authors come to us with lots of questions. Publishing your first book (or your 10th!) is exciting! There are many details to work out and decisions to make. Over the course of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry will address questions that he is asked almost daily by new authors. He started with the question “what is the best publishing option for me?”, continued with the question “do I need an agent?” and last week discussed “will I experience success if I get my book into stores?” This week his series continues with the question:

 

publishing FAQsI’ve written the book, what else do you expect me to do?

If you’re hoping the answer is relax, step aside and let the publisher run with it you’re going to be disappointed. New York Times bestseller Jon Acuff said it well in his blog post Don’t Write A Book saying, “OK, next time don’t write a book. Write a diary. It’s a lot easier and you don’t have to promote it at all.”

This post as Jon shared can sound harsh but it really is true, author involvement in the marketing is crucial — do not write a book to set on your nightstand.

 

Easy Ways to Build a Platform

There are so many easy ways you can work to build your platform and spread word about your book:

  • Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, use these free tools to build your fan base and promote your title. Keep your fans posted of how, when and where to buy your title. Share about events, keep them posted on your progress. Make them feel like they are part of your journey.
  • Talking about your title: Can you work your content into a presentation? Can you teach your skills in a workshop?
  • Create a presence online: Besides just social media do you have an online home base? This is a website or a blog that fans can visit. You will want it to point them to everything related to you and your book. If have a website or a blog are you keeping it updated?
  • Connect with local stores: Talk with bookstore managers in your immediate area — this is your home market. Introduce yourself and your book, let them know why they need to have it in stock, point traffic and sales to that store. Make yourself available to them for signings and local author days.

Publishers expect their authors to be passionate about their books and doing all they can to help make it a success. If you cannot get excited about your book why would you expect anyone else to?

If you want to work on your platform check out our author bootcamp videos.

Publishing FAQs | Week 3: Will I Experience Success If I Get My Book Into Stores?

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Frequently asked questions. Every industry has them and publishing is no different. Ambassador International has the pleasure of working with many new and upcoming authors. Many of these authors come to us with lots of questions. Publishing your first book (or your 10th!) is exciting! There are many details to work out and decisions to make. Over the course of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry will address questions that he is asked almost daily by new authors. He started with the question “what is the best publishing option for me?” and continued with the question “do I need an agent?” This week his series continues with the question:

 

Will I Experience Success If I Get My Book Into Stores?

For many authors that is it, you have made it! Your book is on shelves at Barnes and Noble, everyone will see it and and big sales will happen. Getting in stores like Barnes and Noble is a great achievement, however, will your book take off just because it is Barnes and Noble? Sadly, just being in the bookstore and on shelves does not mean your book is sold or that it is going to sell.

publishing FAQsConsignment Orders

The majority of retailers order on consignment or a sale/return bases, this eliminates the majority of risk for them on taking in a title and allows easy stock turnover. A Barnes and Noble contact shared with me that BN stores only carry around 2% of any given titles published in a year. This makes retail shelf space highly competitive and for many chain store corporate offices they need to see a product generate a certain level of revenue per spot or they’ll box it up and return it to the publisher.

Marketing and Retail

As an author you need to think about your marketing and retail. Amazon.com is the largest book seller in the world. If you struggle to push contacts and sales through online retail then you need to figure physical retail is going to be harder as it requires a greater level of commitment for someone to respond to your call to action. You need to have the platform, market recognition, title demand and ability to push the sales along with the publisher or it may hurt the title more than help it.

The benefit of a traditional publisher is that they can help you scale retail in the appropriate way.

Publishing FAQs | Week 2: Do I Need An Agent?

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Frequently asked questions. Every industry has them and publishing is no different. Ambassador International has the pleasure of working with many new and upcoming authors. Many of these authors come to us with lots of questions. Publishing your first book (or your 10th!) is exciting! There are many details to work out and decisions to make. Over the course of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry will address five questions that he is asked almost daily by new authors. Last week he started with the question what is the best publishing option for me? This week his series continues with the question:

 

publishing FAQsDo I Need An Agent?

As an author you’ve worked through your manuscript, you’ve written, rewritten, edited, fine tuned and you’re now ready to hand it over to a publisher but before you do you start thinking things over and asking “Do I Need An Agent?”

If your plan is to self-publish the answer is simple — no!

Deciding to Hire an Agent

For many traditional publishers an agent is not required however some traditional publishing houses will only take submissions from agents and to narrow it further some will only work with specific agents, this means you need to do your homework. Look for the publisher’s submission guidelines.

Should you decide you want to work with an agent think of it in the same way as pitching to a publisher. You will want to have a formal, comprehensive proposal that shows the agent you’ve got the writing skills, manuscript and platform that will make them want to go to bat for you.

Once you’re with an agent they’ll help you in fine tuning your manuscript and getting it prepared for them to present to their publisher list.

Researching Agents

When researching agents there are somethings to keep in mind:

  • Do they represent to the houses where you want to have your work presented?
  • Which authors and titles have they represented before?
  • What is their fee?
  • Will they take a percentage of your royalty and if they do what percentage?

There are many great agents/agencies out there.

Ambassador International works direct with authors and with agents — we’d love to see your manuscript!

Publishing FAQs | Week 1 : What is the Best Publishing Option For Me?

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Frequently asked questions. Every industry has them and publishing is no different. Ambassador International has the pleasure of working with many new and upcoming authors. Many of these authors come to us with lots of questions. Publishing your first book (or your 10th!) is exciting! There are many details to work out and decisions to make. Over the course of six weeks Ambassador COO Tim Lowry will address five questions that he is asked almost daily by new authors starting with:

publishing FAQsWhat is the best publishing option for me?

As an author this is a great questions to ask. It is an important question as it sets the tone and expectations for you and your book going forward. Before you decide what is best for you it is good to know what options are available to you and what they mean for you. To keep things simple lets look at the two most common routes to publication: Self Publishing and Traditional Publishing.

Self Publishing

Self publishing means the author takes the lead on all aspects of the project. Self publishing companies typically offer packages and services to help you along the way. I’ve seen packages range from a few hundred dollars to almost $25,000.

Packages can start with supplying the basics like an ISBN, cover design, interior layout and a few copies of the work through to robust editorial packages, promotional materials, websites and marketing. Very few of the self publishing houses are selling into national chains. Stores such as Barnes and Noble do not typically accept self-published titles except for special events or local author days.

Most of the big self-publishing houses will offer just about anything you can think for your book but when it is all said and done the success of your book when self published is 100% on you. I have talked to many self published authors and this is where they find the greatest challenge when they self publish — knowing what to do once they have the book.

I’ve found there are three common reasons why an author chooses to self publish:

  • The author has tried to go the traditional publishing route but with no response or the process taking too long they decide to go ahead and self publish.
  • It’s fast, can be easy and the price can be right.
  • The author wants to maintain full control of every aspect of the process.

Traditional Publishing

For most authors working with a traditional publishing house is their first choice. A traditional publisher uses a royalty-based contract arrangement put in place between the author and the publisher. The publisher handles all aspects of the book from editorial through to print and marketing. However, a traditional publisher is selective in what they publish. They weigh out projects before they take them on — they access the demand and risk. If an author does not have an established platform or the makings of a platform it is usually pretty unlikely that a traditional publisher will offer an advance royalty contract.

Traditional publishers can have varying contracts in place so do not be discouraged to approach them even if you’re a first time author. The benefit of being with a traditional publisher is that you get their expertise and professionalism behind you and your book.

Now that we’ve looked at the two most popular options you can ask: How do I know what is best for me?

Really there is no wrong or right answer to this. But the decision you make may determine your future success as an author. To know what is best for you, you can ask yourself some questions and the answers should help guide you:

  1. What is your goal as an author?
  2. What type of book are you hoping to have published?
  3. Who is your target audience and how do you plan to reach them?
  4. How are you with marketing yourself and your book?
  5. Do you have an established platform?

If after answering these questions you come to the conclusion that your goal is to publish a memoir in the hopes that your kids are going to read it and you’re not overly into the idea of having to promote yourself or your book than a basic self publishing package would be the clear choice.

On the other hand if your goal is to grow as a writer, you have a plan for your books, a target audience in mind and a plan of how you’re going to make it work then you should seriously consider the traditional route. This does not mean that you’re guaranteed a traditional contract. You may find yourself self publishing or some other method to scale your fan base but I’d strongly encourage you to keep pursuing traditional publishing as you do this.

If you’re not sure and would like to talk to Ambassador International please make a submission and we’d be happy to connect with you.