Sunday, April 25, 2010

Self Publishing and Getting It RIGHT!

With the advent of new printing technologies, the internet and so forth, self publishing has become a much larger chunk of the book world in the past few years. First, what do I mean by self-publishing? in this case I’m referring to authors that pay a publisher a fee for printing the books, then are responsible for the sale of their own books to recoup their investment. In essence the author is now also the book tour coordinator, the publicist, the publisher relations manager, the sales representative, etc. etc. etc. We recently worked (and are still working with) at team of self published authors and illustrator, and they are a prime example of how to do it right.

We first met Susan in the Fall of 2009 (actually we really met before that, since she had shopped at our store, but that was before she was close to finishing a book). She and the illustrator of the book came to events and workshops at our first annul Lititz Kid-Lit Festival. They met with other published authors and illustrators and got an inside peek at the business. We then engaged in several preliminary conversations with them about carrying the book when they got it finished and printed.

Over the course of the next 5 ½ months we spoke with Susan about pricing, advertising, distributions, getting the book to reviewers, and hosting a launch party. Susan wisely used her local bookstore for guidance through the publishing process and as a resource to help promote the book before it hit the stands. We talked in detail about pricing- what was a good price for this area, for this type of book, what is too high what minimum would they need to make back their investment (all things a “real;” publisher does in-house, but self-published authors need to consider before the book is out). Then we shifted to where should it sell (oversaturation can make a book’s sales drop), bookstores report to BookScan (a weekly report of book sale numbers, that publishers use to decide what to by from an author, what to re-print, what to publicize etc.), gift stores do not; what other stores in town are a match- toy store- yes, soap store- no. Then we tackled how to release it- one day party at the store, then book available elsewhere the next day. We (the store) did the press releases for the event, and sent out newsletters, emails, and social media updates.

What did all this working together get this book? 2 large feature newspaper articles, one TV appearance, over 200 books sold in one day at one store (to compare, this year’s Pulitzer in fiction winner sold 7,000 in 10 months in ALL the book and online stores before it's big win was announced). It also brought author and bookstore together for what will be a multi-year relationship. It brought a community together to support a new book. It brought friends in from out of town that Susan hadn’t seen in years. It brought people into our store that work a block away and didn’t even know we existed. It was a win-win for everyone involved.

This was self-pubbing done RIGHT!

For more about Tugger, visit our FaceBook page to see pictures from the release party.  For more on the Do's and Dont's of working with a local bookstore, see our previous post "You Say You've Written a Book..."



  1. What a great story -- you bring up a lot of points that many self-publishing authors don't think about such as marketing and distribution. The time to start thinking about these things isn't after a book is printed, but ideally before you even begin the process. Thanks for a wonderful post!

  2. 唯有穿鞋的人,才知道鞋的哪一處擠腳......................................................