At the BAIPA Meeting: Questions and Answers

POSTED ON Feb 13, 2010

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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BAIPA meeting Feb 2010

Pete Masterson fielding questions from the crowd

I wasn’t sure what kind of turnout we would have at today’s monthly meeting of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. After all, just 20 minutes away the San Francisco Writer’s Conference was a sell-out, so we had schedule conflict.

But the meeting was one of our biggest of the year, with many new faces. As usual the first hour was devoted to questions and answers, moderated by President Pete Masterson, author of Book Design and Production for Publishers.

And just as usual, it was a mixed bag of questions, which I present here for your enjoyment. The answers are from Pete and members of the audience, smashed up here for brevity:

How can I set up presentations to schools for my educational play books?

Contact the principal’s office at the school, or try to connect when the school is running a book fair. Don’t try to sell the parents through the kids. Offer to donate a percentage of sales in a specific event to the school. Brand the worksheets you give out with your publishing information and website URL. Write an article for a local paper on the value of your products and use it as leverage with the school.

Do you need reviews before you can sell on Amazon?

You may be thinking of prepublication reviews. Although your book shouldn’t be for sale during the prepub review period, you can sell pre-release copies on your website, and you can set a publication date and sell through Amazon Advantage, and Amazon will take advance orders on the book.

Any suggestions for selling a military memoir to the firms that supply on-base stores?

Give talks to veteran’s groups, try to locate the many military libraries, and look for a distributor who already sells into those retail outlets. Let them know about your book and how they can order it.

I sell my book for $37, but I do not sell to Amazon because I choose to support independent bookstores. How does the book end up on Amazon for $84?

You should list your book on Amazon. There are sellers that use automated programs to capture data from distributors like Ingram, and these same sources may be selling the book tomorrow for $40. Instead, join the Amazon Marketplace program even though your listings only last 3 months, because it’s a free program and you get a reminder to renew your listings. There was also a discussion of how discounting works from distributors to Amazon.

Discussion forums on Amazon don’t allow you to pitch your own book. What to do?

Go to Gmail and set up an account in a different name. Use this name to comment in forums and, as long as you also recommend other, complimentary book, you can also recommend your own book in a “soft sell” way.

I was screwed by a big subsidy publisher and now what do I do about my book?

iUniverse, xLibris, AuthorHouse, Lulu are not self-publishing companies, they are all subsidy publishers. iUniverse CEO once stated that only 86 books out of 17,000 published had sold more than 500 copies. They make their money from authors, not book sales. And bookstores don’t want books from the subsidy publishers anyway. Disengage from the company:

  1. Read the contract and terminate it
  2. Check to see if the company has copyright on your cover
  3. Re do the book and publish it yourself.

Does Bowker have a monopoly on selling ISBNs?
Bowker is the US administrator for the ISBN agency. It has also licensed a few others to sell individual ISBNs. Lulu and CreateSpace were discussed as places to publish with your own ISBN or to get cheaper proof copies than are available at Lightning Source.

A discussion of the lack of promotion on the part of traditional publishers ensued, and it was pointed out that the total promotion budget on a book for which the author received a $3000 advance was likely to be $300, about enough to cover the cost of one press release. You can do more for yourself.

What about selling to academic presses?

Because of budget cuts, academic presses are becoming more open to popular books, so if you can find a good match in subject matter, it pays to approach them.

How to transfer copyright after you pass away?

Have a publishing contract with your publishing company. Specify an individual who will receive complete rights to your book in your bequest. Copyright is property, and transferable. Or, as Pete said, print a huge number of books and tell your heirs that, if they want their inheritance, they will have to sell the books to get it.

How to publish training materials that are downloaded via PDFs without them getting stolen?

If you know of a specific example, write them a “cease and desist” letter with a threat to sue, and they will likely stop. However, there is no effective way to make files that can’t be copied, so make sure you brand every page and try to turn it into a marketing opportunity. Dan Poynter sells many $3 – $5 download reports, but many need updating and that precludes a lot of copying.

Can you stop people from downloading your images off your website?

Although you can’t stop it entirely, you can make it more difficult. Check with your webmaster to see what they offer for protection.

Well, that’s it for this month. Next month is BAIPAs annual Publish It! Institute at Dominican University, on March 13. This is an all-day affair with lunch, speakers, break-out sessions, and lots of people to meet and network with. If you’re in the area and you have an interest in self-publishing, it’s well worth the investment in time and money. Here’s a link: Publish It! Institute.

On Monday I plan to post about the speaker at today’s meeting, so watch for it.

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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