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PostPosted: January 16th, 2005, 11:17 am 
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Miranda Prather, Executive Director of PublishAmerica, doesn’t feel lack of bookstore placement is a problem “It's a common myth that bookstore placement equals sales.” ( http://sacurrent.com/site/news.cfm?news ... 4045&rfi=6 San Antonio Current June 24, 2004) Total book sales in the US for 2003 is estimated at 27.8 billion according to Book Industry Trends 2004. About 40% of book sales take place in bookstores, both chains and independents according to Book Industry Trends, and just a little over 10% take place online.

Dee Power

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 Post subject: Online sales
PostPosted: January 16th, 2005, 12:08 pm 
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Joined: December 1st, 2004, 5:15 pm
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Location: So. Cal.
I've seen figures in the 8% range. Online book sales are increasing slowly, but ain't anywhere near 57%. And a statistical point to remember is that most folks go online to get the best price for a particular book, not to browse.


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PostPosted: January 16th, 2005, 12:24 pm 
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Joined: May 17th, 2004, 12:17 pm
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Location: Over here, under the books
Victoria, the poster stated 57% of all books. If one included antiquarian and used copies found through AddALL, ABE or ABAA, could the 8% that you quoted--and that I believe is right--be higher? And is that 8% just those who order online using credit cards, or does it also include those who search out a book and then send a check to the dealer?


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PostPosted: January 16th, 2005, 12:39 pm 
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Location: Massachusetts
If one included antiquarian and used copies found through AddALL, ABE or ABAA, could the 8% that you quoted--and that I believe is right--be higher?

Possibly. I believe that BISG and others only recently started tracking the sales of used books. Even so, I doubt it would be anywhere close to 57%. And used book sales are irrelevant for an author trying to promote his or her just-published book, because they don't generate royalties. As Dee said, far and away the greatest numbers of new books are sold in bookstores. For most authors, bookstore placement is essential.

- Victoria

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 16th, 2005, 12:51 pm 
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Joined: October 24th, 2003, 11:55 am
Posts: 107
I just can't see the majority of book buyers not wanting to pick up the book in their hands, flip through a few pages and do a random read of a paragraph or three to see if they like the story. You know, read the reviews on the back; check out the author's other books and the like.

You just can't simulate this on Amazon or other online stores, no matter what you try. Sure, you can have a certain amount of pages viewable, and it's a great start, but the problem with the majority of POD books is that a) they don't have this feature online and b) they're priced at least five dollars over and above other books in their genre.

Sure, you'll take a chance and pre-order Harry Potter because you're a fan. But are you prepared to lay out the cash for a fiction book who has no background and you can't even see inside it?

If the online world were doing so well bookstores would be closing left and right - I don't know about the rest of you, but my local stores are doing just fine and darned busy most weekends. Most of them don't even HAVE a computer or are wary about ordering anything online, even books.

Again, the problem lies with the no-return policy - which PublishAmerica does NOT tell anyone about. Check the PA boards and see how many new authors are dismayed to find out that their local bookstore won't order in any copies because of the no-return policy - and that's not mentioned ANYWHERE in the contract nor on their website.

Sure, PA tells you to promote yourself - but does that extend to harassing the bookstore manager to order in a copy or two against corporate policy? Or maxing out your credit card to put some books in there on consignment? There's nothing in the PA contract about that, and there's horror stories galore with PA authors spending literally thousands on publicists and the like to promote their book, only to hit the wall when the bookstores refuse to put them on the shelf - not because of any bias against small publishers, as PA would want you to believe - but because of the no-return policy.

And THAT'S why people are upset with PublishAmerica - they were told that they would see their books on the shelves, Period. They weren't told about the no-return policy or the overpricing and all the promotion in the world can't overcome a lousy reputation that has been generated by PA publishing everything that crosses their desk. You may have a great book, but having the PA label on it pretty well condemns it from the start.

as usual, jmo - ymmv.


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 Post subject: Placement
PostPosted: January 16th, 2005, 3:17 pm 
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Joined: November 21st, 2004, 2:20 pm
Posts: 39
Location: California
Of course Miranda Prather doesn't have bookstore placement. She may very well be holding out for a real publisher while shilling for the Meiners, but based on the short story I read I doubt she'll get there.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 16th, 2005, 5:03 pm 
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Joined: September 9th, 2004, 11:02 am
Posts: 51
Cathy C wrote:
Uhm, sure -- but why is this an issue? The point is to get the reader excited enough that they're willing to order the book and wait. It happens every day. Heck, people are already ordering the next Harry Potter. If they aren't excited about your book -- why not??

The average PA book sells about 100 copies, most of them are sold to the author him/herself. Without a returns policy, bookstores are not going to stock your book, because they'll risk losing money.

Very few people are willing to go to a bookstore and special order an expensive book by an unknown author, unless they happen to be friends with, or related to, that author. Aside from getitng friends and family to order the book, you might be able to get a few people to order it off the net, if you have a snazzy webpage and some good excerpts.

Harry Potter sells online because people love Harry Potter. Getting people that excited about a new book from an unkown writer just isn't possible.

Quote:
But what I was trying to say (and apparently not doing very well) is that you can't DEPEND on the publisher being excited enough to print 10,000 copies, or even 1,000, or even 100. You'll never see it as a contract clause that they MUST print ARCs. You can only hope and presume. I'm saying DON'T just hope. Be proactive.

Or, instead of doing it all on your own, you could actually ask your publisher/editor who they're seinding ARCs too, and put a few suggestions in if their list is not to your satisfaction.

Quote:
Oh, I agree, Johanna. I'm not really big into the book signings, unless it's with other authors in a group. With some national marketing and buzz, it might be okay, but I prefer the more stealthy route of marketing. So far, it's working! :D And again, buying retail, so they have no issue with us.

I have a big issue with authors buying and selling their own books, and doing national marketing and gathering pre-orders. If you're only giving out booksmarks and that kind of stuff, I guess it's innocent, but if you're seriously buying your own book and selling it, and doing most of the marketing, I think they should start paying you a salary. Maybe you're just a bit naive about what your publisher is really doing for you "behind the scenes", but the way you talk it sounds as if you're being taken advantage of.

Quote:
Hmm, don't quite agree with you, St. George. Being on the shelf is good to snag the casual shopper, that's true, but on-line sales now account for 57% of ALL BOOKS SOLD in the U.S.

I doubt it. Are you sure it didn't say 5,7%? While a lot of textbooks and non-fiction might be purchased off the net (my brother orders a lot of gaming books and such from the US, for example), only about 8-14% of all fiction-books are sold online. That percentage might be given a boost for a while when the new Harry Potter and similar books are released, but all in all your best bet is a bookstore. Unless you count ebooks. The thing is, with on-line sales, people already know what they want to buy when they're logging on.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 16th, 2005, 6:35 pm 
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Joined: January 12th, 2005, 7:08 pm
Posts: 116
Location: Texas hill country
Hahaha. Hardly naive, Johanna! Merely a realist.

Quote:
Getting people that excited about a new book from an unkown writer just isn't possible


I do have to disagree with this statement. We were unknown writers. We wrote a new book for a new line with a publisher who had never published in that particular genre. That book has sold through over 70,000 copies in the one month that it's been on the shelf. Pre-orders accounted for 30,000 copies through internet booksellers and brick-and-mortar stores from as far back as six months in advance of publication (in four different countries.) The publisher had to nearly double their anticipated initial print run to handle the pre-orders. The book placed for five weeks on Amazon's Top 100 Early Adopters in Science-Fiction and Fantasy, ahead of King's Dark Tower. I know that the marketing department didn't make it happen because they SAID they didn't. They didn't even have the marketing budget approved and in place yet. The marketing came from me, I can assure you.

But we'll have to agree to disagree. I'm confident it can be done because I'm living it.

I'll try to find the issue of PW with the article about internet book sales. I suppose I could be mistaken, but I was surprised enough myself that I read it twice.

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Cathy
Road to Riches, Western Reflections (5/03)
Hunter's Moon, Tor Books (12/04)
Secrets-Fact or Fiction, OxCart Press (4/05)
Moon's Web, Tor Books (8/05)
Touch of Evil, Tor Books (1/06)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 16th, 2005, 7:57 pm 
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Joined: October 24th, 2003, 11:55 am
Posts: 107
was your book returnable?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 17th, 2005, 1:28 pm 
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Joined: January 12th, 2005, 7:08 pm
Posts: 116
Location: Texas hill country
Yes, but that had no bearing on the 30K pre-orders. The readers would have no way of knowing. I remain confident that it can be done.

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Cathy
Road to Riches, Western Reflections (5/03)
Hunter's Moon, Tor Books (12/04)
Secrets-Fact or Fiction, OxCart Press (4/05)
Moon's Web, Tor Books (8/05)
Touch of Evil, Tor Books (1/06)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 17th, 2005, 5:21 pm 
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Joined: September 9th, 2004, 11:02 am
Posts: 51
Cathy C wrote:
I do have to disagree with this statement. We were unknown writers. We wrote a new book for a new line with a publisher who had never published in that particular genre. That book has sold through over 70,000 copies in the one month that it's been on the shelf.

You were talking about Harry Potter. 70,000 books sold is nice and all, but the latest Harry Potter books had over 5 million copies in its first edition.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 17th, 2005, 5:49 pm 
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Joined: June 2nd, 2004, 5:20 pm
Posts: 14
What is wrong with you people?? Cathy C seems to have done one heck of a job with her book. Why does everyone keep berating her and arguing with her? From what she's said here and from what's on her website I admire her greatly. We should all listen to her success story instead of letting jealousy cloud everything.

You go, Cathy! I for one am paying attention to what you're doing to get your book out there.

Christine


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 17th, 2005, 5:52 pm 
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Joined: January 12th, 2005, 7:08 pm
Posts: 116
Location: Texas hill country
We misunderstood each other, then, Johanna. I merely said that people are ordering Harry Potter. I wasn't comparing a new book TO Harry Potter. I just meant that marketing can be done on a book many months ahead of publication and have people pre-order without regard to whether a store normally stocks it or if it can be returned. The number of books wasn't what I was indicating, but you must have taken my statement to mean that.

The point was that I was comparing my situation to what others said about any PA book only selling a hundred copies ever. 70,000 is quite a few more achieved by marketing, and would certainly be enough in a month to interest an agent or an editor for a large house in the manuscript or a sequel. That was my point.

But I doubt there will be a single thing I could say about it that won't be disputed by several people, though, so I'll ring off the subject. :D

(ps -- thanks, Christine...)

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Cathy
Road to Riches, Western Reflections (5/03)
Hunter's Moon, Tor Books (12/04)
Secrets-Fact or Fiction, OxCart Press (4/05)
Moon's Web, Tor Books (8/05)
Touch of Evil, Tor Books (1/06)


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PostPosted: January 17th, 2005, 6:13 pm 
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Joined: June 23rd, 2004, 7:00 pm
Posts: 112
I agree with you that marketing plays an important part in the success of any book. And I commend your efforts. However the success you achieved with your book is not possible with a book published by PublishAmerica, no matter how much the author promotes.

And that's the point here. It doesn't matter how hard a PA author works, the book won't achieve any measure of sales. The business model for PublishAmerica is set up to sell books to their authors, period.

You said that you had 30,000 preorders. That's great. But I would bet that amazon.com offered your book at 30% off. PA books are not offered at any discount. When you preorder a book from amazon.com your credit card isn't charged until the book is available. PA books have to be prepaid. If a PA book is ordered from the PA website there is a 3 to 4 week delivery time. Many of the PA books on the online bookstores have a surcharge above the retail price and won't be delivered for a week or so.
PA books have to be back ordered by bookstores and many just won't do that. PA books do not have a library of congress catalog description so libraries won't buy them.

There are no galleys of PA books. PA sends out at most two review copies, which in a way doesn't matter because newspapers usually do not review POD titles, and they consider PA books publish on demand.

There is a huge difference in the success potential of a book when it is published by a small press versus PublishAmerica.

Dee

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Co-author of "The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories from Authors and the Agents, Editors and Booksellers Behind Them,"
http://www.BrianHillAndDeePower.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: January 17th, 2005, 10:29 pm 
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Joined: September 4th, 2004, 8:22 pm
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Location: http://anotherealm.com/prededitors
On top of all that, keep this in mind. Miranda Prathers, one of the top PA staff members, has stated at one time that manuscripts at PA do not go through a spelling and grammar check. Another time, she stated that manuscripts do not go through a copyedit. Yet PA claims that their editors make 35,000 corrections every day on manuscripts that they publish.


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