It’s no exaggeration (and certainly not breaking news) to say that the publishing industry is being rocked by a number of trends. To name a few: the continual movement of book sales away from bookstores to online retailers, the proliferation of new reading platforms and devices, the increase in the number of eBooks as a portion of total sales, and the inroads that self-published authors are making into the marketplace.
Consider the following:
- The demise of Borders in 2011 was instrumental in pushing more readers to online retailers when compared to the prior year.
- This year, for the first time, eBook sales have surpassed hardcover in the U.S. Book sales at brick-and-mortar stores were down 13% in the last year.
- Seven of the books on last month’s New York Times bestseller list were self-published. This wouldn’t have been possible even a few years ago.
While some may fear the unknown consequences of these changes, authors and publishers have an unprecedented opportunity to tap into the openness of the web and take advantage of direct reader connections as a means of selling and promoting books.
The problem is that publishers and self-published authors are investing significant time and resources building followings on social media, marketing and promoting books through advertising and word-of-mouth, and driving media attention. Yet, when it comes time to capitalize on these efforts, they have one primary option: driving sales to big online book retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple.
To be clear, these retailers are of tremendous value when it comes to increasing a book’s discoverability and offering consumers a familiar retail experience. But in the new and constantly evolving publishing landscape, the authors and publishers who will be most successful in the long term are those who find new and innovative ways to maximize the returns on their own marketing and promotional efforts.
Here are a few steps that authors and publishers can take to survive and thrive in this changing landscape:
1) Start promoting across the web in a consistent way
There are dozens of places an author or publisher can promote books across the web: from websites, to Twitter, to blogs, to Facebook, and more.
This raises a few questions: How can a small publisher, for example, quickly and inexpensively set up their website, the author’s website, a Facebook page, blog, Twitter account, etc. so that they’re making the book look good, convincing the audience to buy, and offering that audience the option to get it from the retailer of their choice?
Moreover, authors and publishers pour their passion and resources into developing their books’ brands, obsessing over every detail from fonts, to colors, to images. How can they make sure that potential buyers experience the book’s brand as it was conceived?
2) Start building long-term relationships via direct access to readers
Currently, buyer information (email address, demographics, etc.) is captured by retailers at the point of purchase and, unfortunately, not shared. But authors and publishers are learning that however influential their efforts were in driving sales to a retailer, their long-term success depends on being able to develop a relationship with readers. The ability to capture buyer information is essential to those efforts.
Put another way, wouldn’t it be great if there were a simple way to maintain a dialogue with readers, promote new books to them, or just keep them interested through additional content like preview excerpts of upcoming books? Instead, authors and publishers are generating interest and then giving up these relationships. It’s a bit like catching a golden goose and then being forced to set it free.
3) Find ways to capture a larger portion of revenues for interest they generate
Major retailers like Amazon, B&N, and Apple take a 30-65% cut of sales, leaving the rest to be split amongst publishers, agents, and authors.
Let’s say a publisher is coming out with a new eBook. They’ve spent months putting their blood, sweat, and tears into producing it and making sure that people know about it. They decide to price the book at $5.99. At this price point, they’d earn in the range of $3.89-4.19 per book (65-70% of the retail price).
If they’re successfully driving traffic to the author’s website, Facebook page, blog, and other web properties that they control, don’t they deserve significantly more of the $5.99 sale price?
4) Coordinate book giveaways or other promotions across multiple retailers and devices
There’s no better way to start building buzz around a book than by giving it away for free or even offering it at a discount. Sadly, because of the scattered landscape of e-readers and their corresponding retail channels, this sort of control over a promotional campaign is impossible.
Let’s say a publisher wants to give away the first 1,000 copies of an upcoming eBook for free to a select group of recipients. Since each of these recipients has his/her own preferred reading device, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee accessibility to every consumer through a single promotion.
Moreover, the online retailers are still pretty inflexible with regard to giving away free content. Giveaway capability is either limited in quantity through some retailers, or nonexistent through others, leaving authors and publishers to pay heavily to gift each copy that they’d like to give away. Why should they have to pay a significant portion of the retail price to give away content that they own?
At Ganxy, our goal is to put more power into the hands of those who own and create content by breaking down the barriers between them and their audiences. If you’re selling eBooks, music, or any other product, our platform gives you the flexibility and control you need to successfully promote and sell across the web.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be providing you with more details to round out some of what’s described above, so come back and visit us!
— Joshua Cohen, Ganxy Business Development