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Archive for April 5th, 2012

IndieBound can help you find indie booksellers to expand your book sales

I was just moving to Phoenix in December 1999 when an iconic store on Tempe’s famed Mill Avenue announced its closing. Tempe is a Phoenix suburb and home of Arizona State University. Mill Avenue was the street with all the eclectic little shops you used to see near so many college campuses. Now, it’s gone the way of many university neighborhoods, with corporate chains taking over many of the formerly locally owned stores.

From what I understand, Changing Hands Bookstore wasn’t just a locally owned shop – it was an institution in its own right. I’m sorry I missed it. All I got to see was a nearly vacant store with remnants from its going-out-of-business sale. The good news is that Changing Hands had a second location – and in spite of all the bad bookstore news of late, location #2 still seems to be doing pretty well.

Which brings us to today’s theme for the Ultimate Blog Challenge:

Today for inspiration, go browse an interesting online retailer and see what pops into your head.  Here are some to try if you aren’t sure where to start:

My thought process in navigating these options: Amazon doesn’t need any further help from me, so I left them alone. ThinkGeek looks like a cross between Brookstone and Spencer Gifts. I’m already quite familiar with Etsy – my husband and I purchased our wedding bands through one of their retailers (see pic to the right). HyenaCart had too much multi-colored yarn for my taste. And Soul-Flower, while cool enough, is a clothing catalogue, and I’m just not in a clothes-shopping mood. That left one site that drew me in: IndieBound.

According to the site, “The mission of the IndieBound Community is to help people across the United States share and find independently owned businesses. By connecting indie-conscious people with local businesses, we’re working to strengthen the health of Main Street ecosystems across the United States. Learn more about the community’s philosophy here.”

Ah – a cause and site near and dear to my heart. You may remember my Arizona Centennial post that included a mention of Local First, Arizona’s movement to champion shopping local. I included a list of 10 local bookstores and publishing-related businesses.

As self-publishing authors looking to market and sell books, it’s foolish at this point in the evolution of publishing to overlook local shops as outlets for your books. Yes, it’s more work than selling to one larger conglomerate (which often do not buy self-published books anyway), but the benefits of working with independent owners would seem to far outweigh the drawbacks.

As always, my first caveat is MAKE A QUALITY BOOK. Do your due diligence and put all the pieces together:

  • Professionally designed cover and layout
  • Professional editing
  • ISBN and bar code
  • Page numbers
  • Headers and footers
  • Table of Contents
  • Index, where applicable
  • Publishing company logo on the spine

If you think any of these is me stating the obvious, you’re ahead of the game and haven’t seen many self-published books lately.

As Patricia Fry writes in her post, 6 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Your Book into Bookstores, there are other considerations, as well:

Show an indie owner that you can bring in customers and he or she will carry your book. Be willing to leave your books on consignment and the deal becomes even more attractive to a bookseller.

Approach booksellers in person. Visit those within your community, throughout your county and then up and down your state. Travel to nearby states for access to more independent bookstores. And always stop in to show off your book to booksellers whenever you’re traveling.

Follow up in two ways — by doing your part to initiate sales in these areas and by checking back frequently with the store manager to monitor sales and payment.

Of course, you needn’t stay local to go indie. Hit up the IndieBound site to find indie bookshops in areas close to you and plan a road trip. Reach out to the shop owners ahead of time, giving them some idea when you will/can be in their area. If the timing works out, see if you can plan a signing/reading while you’re there. Let them know how you plan to promote your appearance through traditional and social media. If possible, do a radio interview in the area, too!

Your books aren’t going to sell themselves. The good news is that partnering with an indie bookseller can be mutually beneficial for you and the bookseller. You just have to make a plan and get busy!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Guess who’s participating in an Ultimate Blog Challenge?!!

[Updated Friday, April 6.]

Funny thing about Ultimate Blog Challenges – there seem to be quite a few of them. I could say something snarky about the meaning of “ultimate” – but it’s a cool word, so who can blame multiple people for using it as the moniker for their blog challenges?

The one we signed up for is created and hosted by Michele Scism, a business strategist best known as “The Results Lady,” and Michelle Shaeffer, a work-at-home mom who loves to share the tips and strategies she’s learned to help other home based business owners.

This all came about because I was inspired by my friend Michelle Hawkins. She wrote yesterday on her Wirequeen blog: “Today’s theme for the Ultimate Blog Challenge is ‘Rainbows.’ When I got the email I thought, ‘What the heck?’ Smile. So I closed the email and let the idea percolate.” This is how I first realized there are many UBCs. (No, I didn’t really read through all the Google results – just signed up for the first one. Another reason to rank well with your SEO!) Unfortunately, I only signed up yesterday, so I cannot find the prior days’ themes anywhere, but based on the posts, the theme clearly was something other than rainbows. 🙂 [I stand corrected. There was Michelle Hawkins on this UBC’s Facebook page this morning! I guess people just wrote around the rainbows on Wednesday. That’s a nice thing about this challenge – the hosts provide writing prompts, but you’re free to write on any topic.]

The rules for this UBC are to post 30 times in April – not necessarily 30 days in a row, because you can do two posts in a day, as long as your total by April 30th is 30 posts. There’s an unspecific rule that says, “Each post must have text (so don’t just grab a video–you have to add your own pithy thoughts).” They do not indicate how much text qualifies as “having text.” All posts must be PG (not a problem for us), and each participant is encouraged to use their social networks to promote their posts and also those of other participants.

We’re already doing a fairly kickass job with our blog (if I do say so), so why would we go and sign up for something like the UBC? Here are a few reasons:

  • We like to put our money where our mouths are. If we’d encourage you to do it, we feel we should act on our own advice. We encourage you to find a UBC and get going!
  • While we don’t really need motivation to blog, we’re taking this for the kick in the pants it is to do something we’ve never done – post 30 days in a row, so we’re altering the rules for ourselves just a bit. We actually have to begin with yesterday’s post, since a frightful cold has left us 2 days behind already. And we will hit adhere to the UBC rules as well with 30 April posts – so look for a couple days of double-up in the future.
  • We never pass up an opportunity for greater exposure! Each participant is featured on the UBC site, and all posts are shared with the UBC Facebook group. You should see the variety!
  • We’re thinking about creating our own version of a UBC for Authors, so we thought we’d try one out first to see how we want to set ours up.
  • There are lots of tips and advice for anyone still a little wobbly about getting their blog off the ground.
  • Again, we don’t necessarily face challenges for topics, but when you sign up to take the UBC, you receive a daily e-mail with an idea for that day’s blog post.

Today’s UBC theme:

Today for inspiration, go browse an interesting online retailer and see what pops into your head.  Here are some to try if you aren’t sure where to start:

Bonus theme, contributed by a participant:

Share a story or a list of social media pet peeves. I know we’ve all got some. I personally hate when people use social media for personal arguments or feuds. No need to air out in social networks.

Guess I’ll write a separate post on today’s theme to help kick in my 30 posts by the end of April!

In the meantime, what are you waiting for? Find a UBC that works for you, sign up, and get posting! Then come tell us about your experience here.

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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