I got an email this week from a reader asking about my three tenets of New Publishing. She pointed out that I never posted the third part of the multi-post arc. I was pretty certain I had; only after checking into it did I realize she was right. Part III was still sitting on my hard drive. So, with my sincere apologies, here’s the final installment.
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The third and final aspect of New Publishing that I want to address is availability. The key to a sale nowadays is by making any purchase as frictionless as possible. The fewer clicks between consumer and product, the better. Amazon has a one-click pay system, as does Apple; Barnes & Noble too has its “Express Lane” for ease of use. By streamlining the payment process, consumers are likely to spend more.
Of course for that to happen, you must have your book on sale in as many avenues as possible, including your personal website. Once your book has worked its way into the distribution chain, it’ll pop up in secondary markets like those found at www.gettextbooks.com. Your primary outlets will remain the biggest chains: Amazon, B&N, Apple. You’ll sell a handful of copies through others like BAM, Smashwords, Sony and Kobo. Don’t overlook those markets just because they’re smaller.
I think it’s only fair that if someone buys an e-book, he or she should be able to read it on any e-reader. The digital file should be easy to transfer from one electronic device to another, so I’m steadfast against DRM. Digital Rights Management is more hassle than it’s worth, and it’s nice to see some major publishers coming around to that same conclusion. DRM is easy enough for any savvy hacker to break in no time, while simultaneously frustrating to your average reader.
You want your work available in multiple formats across multiple platforms. I don’t just mean the Kindle vs. Nook vs. iPad. E-books are important, yes, but you’ll also want to offer a print version for those who don’t own an e-reader. Look to Createspace or Lulu to fill those needs. I can’t speak for Lulu because I have no personal experience with them; Createspace, however, has been a joy to work with.
And don’t forget about your local libraries. Have your book distributed by Ingram or Baker & Taylor to reach that market. Libraries can receive e-books as well, handled largely through Overdrive.
Something that I haven’t yet done is audio books. Many people enjoy listening to stories on the go. To reach that audience, try ACX or Podiobooks. You can either narrate and produce the finished product yourself (and keep the majority of the money) or take bids for a producer and actor to fill those roles (and share the proceeds evenly with them).
The only format you likely won’t be able to reproduce is foreign editions. You can hire out a freelance translator and go that route, but I guarantee you won’t make back your investment. In lieu of that, another option is to split the profits with your translator . . . but a freelancer probably won’t take that deal unless your book’s already a bestseller. Technology and pricing are still too cost prohibitive to make this work; give it another five or ten years and I’m confident that authors will be able to reach those untapped markets overseas.
Not only does wide availability give your readers more options, it gives you more revenue streams. Some will be but a trickle, others a steady gush, but together they add up. I’ve discovered readers only care about getting a good story at a fair price. If you can meet those modest standards, you’ll be able to compete with the largest publishers in the world. Any criteria beyond that tend to be subjective “rules” from publishing insiders, sometimes misleading and often contradictory.
These three tenets are no guarantee of fame and riches, of course, but by following them you can best position yourself to garner success along the way.