Tag Archives: self publishing

NEWS! Indie Authors in Barnes & Noble Stores

H.M. Ward at B&N Signing in New York City. April 2016.

H.M. Ward at B&N Signing in New York City. April 2016.

Since I started indie publishing my first book, authors have always wanted the opportunity to have their print books in brick and mortar stores.

For years, self-published authors have been hitting the bestsellers lists, but their books rarely surfaced in a physical location. For example, I’ve personally hit the New York Times bestseller list 21 times and unless a store manager decided to stock a title, it just wasn’t done. Bestseller or not.

Well, today B&N’s self publishing division, NOOK PRESS, made a major announcement.

  1. INDIES HAVE A CHANCE TO CREATE PAPERBACKS & HARDCOVERS AT NOOKPRESS.COM
  2. THESE TITLES WILL SHOW IN PRINT ON BN.COM WITHIN 72 HOURS.
  3. INDIES CAN GET THEIR BOOKS IN BARNES & NOBLES STORES.
  4. SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS CAN HAVE IN-STORE SIGNINGS AT BARNES & NOBLE.

The ability to have indie books on shelves is a topic that’s of supreme importance. For some, it’s a chance to level the playing field and get all the opportunities a traditionally published peer would have gotten. For readers, it means they suddenly have access to thousands of titles that they’ve not seen before. Many people are still reading print. This increases their choices while offering them great prices at a store they already frequent.

This open door is an incredible opportunity, and it doesn’t cost you a thing. Actually, Nook Press is offering new accounts a $25 e-gift card to try it out. You can see for yourself the print quality and hold the book in your hands.

H.M. Ward at B&N in NYC with the cover model and an amazing fan.

H.M. Ward at B&N in NYC with the cover model and an amazing fan.

I’ve had the opportunity to beta test the platform and user interface for Nook Press. The hardcovers are beautiful. I’ll post a picture in a few days after the reveal. The paperbacks are gorgeous. The user interface is easy to understand and has options for step-by-step directions. Or if you’re like me and have experience, you can enter the info, upload the files, and be done in a snap. You can get print proofs (use that coupon code and grab a few for free), and they ship quickly. Can you say easy?

Here’s the thing that everyone has been asking me about–the opportunity with B&N stores. Not only can you see your printed books on a shelf, but they’re able to offer in-store events. You can sign at your local B&N and meet your fans! For many self-published authors that’s been a pipe dream. For those at the top of their game, we had to pry the doors open and shove through. That was the only way deals happened, and it was only for the select writers who sold millions of books and had huge cahones with matching budgets. I’ve sold 12 million books since 2013. The jaws of life wouldn’t open some doors, even for me.

In April, I had a signing and Q&A at the B&N in New York City. The cover model flew out and I had an amazing time chatting with fans that evening. I got to see my books in the store and take a look at the promotional material that announced my event. It was really cool.

Now, these options are open to every writer who can meet a very reasonable set of criteria. You don’t have to sell millions of copies to be considered. Nook Press made the opportunities available starting at 500 copies of a single title sold in a year. The completed details are listed below in the official press release that came out this morning.

The fledgling author will sell about 200 copies of their book. This isn’t a door that’s open for them at this point. However, for authors who work hard and meet these very significant milestones, you now have options to spread your wings and fly. Selling 201 books is a huge accomplishment. It means you did it. You got out there and got started. 500 and 1000 copies are huge achievements. It means you defied the odds and now you’re in the top tier of professional writers. It shows you’re serious and that you have a product people want. Working hand in hand with a bookstore that has the ability to increase your visibility is a tremendous achievement. In my opinion, that’s a game changer. It’s a great time to be an Indie author!

PRESS RELEASE:

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS), the nation’s largest retail bookseller and a leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products, today announced that NOOK Press, NOOK’s innovative self-publishing platform, has launched the NOOK Press print platform to provide NOOK Press authors with an easy-to-use, self-service program that enables them to create hardcover and paperback books for customer purchase. Through the new print platform, eligible* NOOK Press authors have the opportunity to sell their print books at Barnes & Noble stores across the country on a local, regional or national level, and online at BN.com. Authors can also qualify** for the opportunity to participate at in-store events including book signings and discussions, where they will be able to sell their print books and meet fans.

To have their print books considered for in-store placement on a local, regional or national level, eligible NOOK Press authors can submit their print books for review by Barnes & Noble’s Small Press Department and one of the company’s corporate category buyers. To participate at in-store events, top-selling NOOK Press authors are eligible for an event review from a Barnes & Noble store manager. They can contact nookpressauthors@book.com for more details.

“Barnes & Noble is proud to be the first to offer coordinated, national distribution for self-published authors who will benefit from in-store placement at Barnes & Noble stores and online at BN.com,” says Fred Argir, Chief Digital Office at Barnes & Noble. “No one else can offer self-published authors a retail presence like Barnes & Noble can, and we are thrilled to lead the movement to innovate the self-publishing industry by leveraging our stores nationwide. We look forward to seeing how the new all-in-one platform will increase the success of our authors!”

Many NOOK Press authors share Barnes & Noble’s excitement for the new NOOK Press print platform, including New York Times bestselling author H.M. Ward:

“I think the NOOK Press print platform is going to be a tremendous success,” said Ward. “For authors, being able to have their books available in print and digital is huge. For readers, they suddenly have access to more bestselling titles at great prices. Barnes & Noble and authors can make self-published books available in stores and at events, which is something the competition can’t do. This is a game changer and shows that Barnes & Noble has the capability to change the self-publishing model in a way that no one else can.”

The NOOK Press print platform is for anyone who wants to make a professional-quality print book of his or her work. Any self-published print book can be made available for sale on BN.com in about 72 hours of being uploaded to the NOOK Press platform.

The NOOK Press print platform walks self-published authors step-by-step through the print book creation process. All they need to get started are print-ready PDF or Word documents of their interior text and cover. NOOK Press provides authors with all the tools and resources needed to help create print-ready files of their work. For more information, authors should visitprint.nookpress.com.

*Opportunity available for those print book authors whose eBook sales [of a single title] have reached 1,000 units in the past year.

** Opportunity available for those print book authors whose eBook sales [of a single title] have reached 500 units in the past year.

About Barnes & Noble, Inc.

Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) is a Fortune 500 company, the nation’s largest retail bookseller, and a leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products. The Company operates 640 Barnes & Noble bookstores in 50 states, and one of the Web’s premier e-commerce sites, BN.com (www.bn.com). The NOOK Digital business offers a lineup of popular NOOK (www.nook.com) tablets and eReaders and an expansive collection of digital reading and entertainment content through the NOOK Store®. The NOOK Store features more than 4 million digital books in the US plus periodicals, comics, apps, movies and TV shows, and offers the ability to enjoy content across a wide array of popular devices through Free NOOK Reading Appsavailable for Android, iOS® and Windows®.

General information on Barnes & Noble, Inc. can be obtained by visiting the Company’s corporate website atwww.barnesandnobleinc.com.

Contacts

Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Mary Ellen Keating, 212-633-3323
Senior Vice President
Corporate Communications
mkeating@bn.com
or
Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Alan McNamara, 212-633-3379
Director
Corporate Communications
amcnamara@bn.com

 

The Roses are Still Dead (Why NY Publishers are 2 Steps Behind. Again.)

HM Ward, the roses are dead, publishing industry 2016,Four years ago, I began writing shorter works for the sole purpose of capturing the reader who doesn’t like to read. It was an odd thing, to realize there are readers who don’t enjoy the process of reading. It could be due to anything from time constraints, to education, to visual impairments. The point is, they don’t want to settle back into a book and admire the words. They want the story told in a way that’s evocative, engaging, and provides a sense of instant gratification.

According to a New York Times article, “no one has tried to do a bite-sized commercial fiction model, at least not in any sustainable way.”

Let me introduce myself:

I’m no one. I’ve had 21 New York Times bestsellers in the past three years. I’ve hit the USA Today list over 30 times, too. I was #1 at Digital Book World. I hit the Wall Street Journal list. I’ve been on the cover of the New York Times and featured in articles in HuffPo and Forbes. I’ve sold over six figures annually in paper (without a New York publisher), most of which are bite-sized books containing roughly 125 pages of text. These titles sold so well in the US that AmazonCrossing bought the rights to sell 20 of these novellas in Germany in paper and digital. Sales there are echoing the same principles seen in the US – there’s a thirst for shorter works. Give it to Amazon to step outside the box and color outside the lines with me. They’re not a traditional anything, but then that’s been part of the problem–a lack of change.

New York is a city where change thrives. It’s a living breathing thing that can’t be denied. New York City is a place where you can walk down the street and find anything and everything. There are no limits, and no end to innovation except when it comes to publishing. Traditional NY publishers never cease to amaze me with their sloth-like movements and overall aversion to change. It took four years of watching authors like me, who have grossed over 8 figures a year, to decide it might be worth a look. Suddenly our bamboozle of tastelessness is re-branded as ‘new’ and ‘never been done before!’

That clause that they added to the end of the sentence should cover the anomalies out there. The Hugh Howey type that writes WOOL (those were novellas that NY repackaged into novels) is a rarity. But lightning doesn’t strike twice. Oh, wait…Hugh got struck more than twice.  The man’s a pioneer, a visionary and he’s not the only one, thank God, but we are few and far between. Needless to say, it gets lonely out here when you do everything backward and upside down from the mainstream way of publishing, especially if it is done on purpose.

Very few see the intentionality at the heart of these decisions. It wasn’t luck. There’s no way luck would have struck over 20 times and landed me on the New York Times list, which is the gold standard of which books are being consumed most rapidly at this current week in time.

If it’s not luck, then what is it? Simple. That’s the market pulse and until now traditional publishers have been flat-lining it with big fat books.  I’ve been glad that traditional NY publishers didn’t notice this ‘little’ market hole. I’ve been quite happliy camping out here since 2012. There are a few friends here as well. We’re the ones that ruffle feathers because we did something unusual and it worked.

Welcome, New York Traditional Publishers. Pull up a chair, and don’t lose your nerve when no one understands what you’re doing. Up until now you’ve only catered to readers. Guess what? The people who don’t normally read for pleasure have a different set of expectations. They don’t follow the rules, they don’t care about traditional guidelines, and they’re remarkably demure. They assume that these books aren’t for them. They think authors create their works for the people who are the literary connoisseurs of our day. The novella, bite-sized crowd is too meek to realize they matter. They’re too humble to suspect that someone might actually care about their needs and desires. They’re sick of mass consumed fast food type of reads and ‘rags.’ They want the steak, and they would have taken it years ago if you stopped trying to shove a 32oz porterhouse down their throat. Sometimes a reader just want canapes. They can enjoy them easily, one-handed, with a baby on their hip. They can sneak a story on the train on the way to work and get the grin of satisfaction before they step off onto the platform.

This battle is about so much more than the length of the book. It’s taking a market segment that’s been ignored for decades. They were marginalized. These readers have been made to feel inferior because their desired attributes didn’t line up with what New York Publishers were dishing out. No one wants to consume the same thing, the same size, every day at every meal, so why would we think readers should? Reading is a way to feed the soul. It ignites the imagination and sparks hope within weary hearts. It’s a lifeline that’s been denied to far too many, largely because bigger books mean bigger profits in the traditional world.

What happened to books like The Lion the Witch and Wardrobe? Peter & Wendy? The Wolves of Willoughby Chase? Those fit in my pocket and cost less than $5. I could afford them when we were broke. I could finish them before my eyes betrayed me and a migraine blurred the words. I found magic, adventure, and hope in a compact size. The act of reading isn’t this complacent act that’s lazy and lounging. A good read makes you feel alive, and these shorter works can do that in a sustainable way that’s not possible with longer books. Sustain that.

I’m disappointed that New York hasn’t caught up yet. They’re always two steps behind, or in this case, roughly four years. Hat off to Indie authors and AmazonCrossing for forging new roads and plowing through the propaganda to find out what readers really want and then having the guts to give it to them.

 

Author Tips: Book Bombs, Release Days, & Other Good Free Marketing Tips

NYTdamagedarrange6I thought I’d share what a typical release day looks like. Some things have changed since I started in 2011, but most are still the same.

Each novel has a release date that is announced on the website, blog, and social media pages a few weeks prior to release. I tell ppl when I start a new book/ series and do a cover reveal, so by the time I announce the release, they have been looking for it.

For serials, I give the readers a rough idea of when the next one will come out so I give myself enough time to write it. The cover is posted a few days prior to the release of the serial so everyone can see it and get excited. Then as soon as I get it back from editing I publish it.

What the heck is a book bomb? Define: Book Bomb=bombarded in this case with the hope that using multiple marketing channels, simultaneously, the book will be more visible for a short window. During that window you will get a higher influx of readers. More visibility=more sales. Generally speaking, that’s true. People can’t buy the book if they don’t know its there. A book bomb makes it very clear its there and how to get it.

RELEASE DAY MARKETING:

1. Blog Post – include links to all retailers, description, trailer (if I have one), release date, and cover. The blog’s RSS feed is a hub to connect/ send info to Author Central and Goodreads. Connect your accounts. You need a central hub for all data/ information.
2. Update Blog Widgets – add cover image to blog sidebar with link to book in Kindle Store.
3. Update Goodreads – make sure release date is in bold and change it to TODAY and sale price.
4. Add book to Author Central (on Amazon).
5. Add bold text, reviews, and the about the author section via Author Central.
6. Create mass email to get sent out on release day with links to ppl on the newsletter list.
7. Create social media images to be used as teasers on release day & week (hot link to book).
8. Post reminders on Twitter and Facebook that the book comes out tomorrow. Link to 1st chapter on blog if I posted a teaser.
9. Add cover to Pintrest. The reader demographic for romance novels is close to a direct overlap with Pinterest. If you’re not over there, you’re missing out.
10. Add other images that pertain to story idea or creation to Pinterest. (e.g. cool tunes for hot nights)
11. Update links to book on website. Make it easy to find/ buy your book. Remember that 30% of your audience disappears with each click.
12. Dispense ARCs
13. Check in with Beta Readers (if used).
14. Active my blogger base. These are bloggers that requested HM Ward info so they have content for their blogs.
15. Post links to books on Twitter and FB. Encourage sharing to help other fans see the book is out. FYI: Most posts by biz pages are NOT seen by fans unless they are running paid ads. It sucks, but it’s the future. Get used to it.
16. Send mass text messages to those who signed up. (New in 2015)
17. Contact Book Reviewers that requested personal reminders on release days.
18. Send notification on the HM Ward app to notify readers of new book. (Coming Feb. 2016)
19. Go out and take the day off so I don’t watch the computer all day.

Original post from 2011, updated in 2013:

Most of this stuff is free. The only thing that I pay for is the email service so I can track stuff. It is time consuming, but its worked well for me.

-Amazon stats over the past 5 years-

2011: A good release day will bump one of my new books up into the top 3,000. A ho-hum day will be around 10,000.

2013: A good release day will bump one of my new books up into the top 100. A ho-hum day will be around 200.

2015: A good release day will bump one of my new books up into the top 125. A ho-hum day will be around 200.

Pre-orders decrease visibility and initial ranking spike. I use them sparingly.

Holidays, school, weekends, etc all affect release days. I try to launch the book when people will be around. There is usually an uptick in sale the two weeks following launch day as reviews start to come in.

Changes in 2014:

In addition to the things above, I might take out a paid ad if it’s the first book in a series. I plan promotions to kick in when the anticipated sales slump starts. I was hospitalized during one of my novel releases (DAMAGED last April), and by the time I woke up, that novel was already in the top 100. A ho-hum release now will hit a rank of about 200 on release day. A highly anticipated book will hit the top 10. I have over 40 books, about 1/2 novels, 1/2 serials. Some are YA and some are NA.

THIS IS STILL THE SAME: The best piece of advice I can give someone trying to boost their sales is this: MAKE IT REALLY EASY TO BUY YOUR BOOK! Don’t make people go looking for it.

And if you are selling to women/ girls: MAKE IT PRETTY! I use picture links a lot too.

fbbanner

This is a hype piece for a book that came out recently. I use it on facebook & twitter. Sometimes it’ll will appear on the blog as well.

The most sales I had in a single week was just over 100K copies, and the title came in #2 on NYT, WSJ, and USA Today. Dan Brown beat me. I beat Jame Patterson. That title hit #1 on Amazon and held for about 1/2 a week at $3.99. Not too shabby. One week in 2013 I had 4 titles on USA Today’s bestseller list. I think that’s a record for me. There might have been 5 a while back, but I was too busy writing to notice. I gotta dig back through and check.

I still do all this stuff. It works. Anything that makes your books easier for ppl to find and buy is a plus. That’s what all this marketing stuff is about at it’s core – making it easier for readers to find & buy your books.

If this seems overwhelming, just remember that marketing=making your book more visible and easy to purchase. Start there and it’s less head spinning. I started with 1 facebook fan, too. It’s one fan at a time, 1 foot in front of the other kind of brand building that grabs readers and helps them stick around. It didn’t happen over night. This way takes time, but it works.

Rock on, Indie Peeps!