- Schedule and manage e-book price specials. For a publisher with a number of books, it’s hard to do well. For you, with just your own books, you’ll have the incentive to keep right on top of the sales figures and understand which promotions helped a lot, and which didn’t.
- Set up signings in bookstores and libraries. (Something you need to do no matter who published your book.)
- Local marketing at craft fairs, etc. (Ditto.)
- Get your print book into your local bookstores.
This last one merits more explanation. A small press can’t get your book stocked in Barnes and Noble the same way Simon and Schuster could. It’s a matter of economics.
The problem is that the big five publishers print large runs of their books using offset technology, at a low cost per book. The system that pays the bookstores assumes this low cost.
Here’s how. Bookstores expect a deep discount from the retail price. It’s how they make their money and stay in business. And if the book doesn’t sell after a few weeks, they’ll want to remove it from the shelf–leaving you as the one paying for the printing and return. You can quickly lose money this way. With relatively higher Print On Demand (POD) costs, the system is not sustainable. It costs more to send a book to a bookstore and have it removed if it doesn’t sell, than to never even print it up. And since its shelf life is only a few weeks, it’s likely to get returned.
Most, if not all, indie authors and small presses opt out of the bookstore book-buying system.
But you still see indie books in bookstores. This is because the author may ask a local bookstore to take a few books on consignment. Depending on the arrangement, it might work for you. Or you could ask to hold a book signing with a stack of books provided by you. Many local bookstores like to encourage local authors. Find out if yours do.
See last week’s post: What a small press can do for me that I can’t do myself.