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Frequent Contributor
Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
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Re: Question: Getting a Published Book to Readers

Paul,

Your publisher is correct. Retailers won't consider stocking your book unless it is available through a U.S. distributor. More importantly, you'll have difficulty finding a distributor unless you have a solid marketing plan--authors are expected to drive people into the bookstore to buy their books.

Think again about trying to getting stocked in Wal-Mart or the warehouse clubs. Generally, these outlets demand bigger discounts. Althought they purchase lots of copies, returns can be very high. And, unless a book is a sure-fire best seller, they're not likely to be interested.

Susan
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
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Paul_Ulrich
Posts: 12
Registered: ‎06-17-2007
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Re: Question: Getting a Published Book to Readers

Thanks for your reply, Susan.

I've a few more questions. At $9.95, my novel is a mass-market paperback, but it seems that many distributors won't distribute those. They say the margins aren't big enough. Is that why? And is it true that accounts like Wal-Mart or supermarkets will return unsold books after just 6-8 weeks on the shelves? Do they expect a quicker movement of inventory than bookstores?

Can you suggest any distributors that specialize in getting mass-market paperbacks into the bookstores like B&N, Borders, or the online retailers (Amazon, etc)?

Also, now that printing costs are lower overseas (e.g. in Asia) than in the U.S., do many of the bigger distributors have international consolidators? My publisher and I are based in Hong Kong, so if distributors are used to consolidate shipments and handle overseas markets in addition to the U.S., that would mean we wouldn't be at such a disadvantage to U.S.-based houses. Or is my logic wrong?

Regards,
Paul
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Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
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Re: Question: Getting a Published Book to Readers

Paul,

You're asking questions that are beyond my expertise, but here's what I can tell you: a distributor earns its money from commissions received on the sale of each book. The commission percentage depends on the list price of the book; in my experience, most distributors are looking to make about $4. on each book shipped. (If this sounds steep, remember that they have to warehouse the book, process orders and returns, handle order fulfillment and shipping and help with inventory management.) In order to net a $4. commission on a list price of $9.95, you'd be charged a 40% commission rate. Most distributors cap at about 28% and after that it's not profitable for the author/publisher--so yes, the margins aren't big enough for you or for the distributor on a $9.95 book. The reality is that there are many more U.S. published books than there are retailers and distributors to handle them, and if you're published overseas then the odds are practically nil.

If you're publisher is willing to allow you to do so, you might consider publishing a U.S. version via print on demand. Your book will be available online and for order through bookstores and you won't have to worry about inventory, printing and warehousing.

Susan
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
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Paul_Ulrich
Posts: 12
Registered: ‎06-17-2007
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Re: Print on Demand and Retail Price

Thanks for your prompt and helpful reply, Susan. What you said makes sense. I had heard that distributors tend to get about a 15% margin off the retail price, so if a hardback sells for $25 a copy that would equal about $4.

If we don't get a U.S. distributor, my publisher's fallback option is to go with a print-on-demand version in the U.S. However, I'm afraid that approach could nearly double the retail price.

I'd rather keep the book affordable and widely available, even if it means razor-thin margins (ie royalties) for me. I suppose going print-on-demand puts the book into the trade-paperback category of about $15 or more per copy. Or have you heard of any print-on-demand novels that sell in the $10 range?
Frequent Contributor
Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
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Re: Print on Demand and Retail Price

In my opinion, print on demand is best for trade paperbacks--not for mass market titles.

Good luck to you!
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
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doeyeou2
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎04-24-2007
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Re: Print on Demand and Retail Price

Susan,

I am seeing a trend in the B&N workshop that has me wondering. Since you have dealt with a lot more writers that I've even known exsisted, I'll ask you. Are most writers so insecure? Or is it just the small sample size we have here? I've talked with a couple and they just seem so defensive about their work. I KNOW I'm just learning the trade but I at least want to listen to the ideas of others. Just wondering....
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ElizabethP
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎07-11-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

Susan, can I "butt in" about conferences? There are so many of them in every state in the country--and most take place over the summer. One way to look them up would be to check SHAW GUIDES on line. The May issues of The Writer and Writer's Digest also list conferences, as does Poets & Writers. You just have to decide what you want from the conference. For example, if you're doing literary work, then you might want to go to Santa Barbara or Squaw Valley to polish your craft. To market your work, the Maui Writers Conference, over Labor Day, is great, as is the San Francisco Writers Conference on President's Day Weekend. And there are specialty conferences, such as the brand new San Francisco Writing-for-Change Conference which will take place Aug. 23--25, 2007 at Grace Cathedral and concentrate on nonfiction books that can or have changed the world, from the personal to the planetary.
Cheers! Elizabeth Pomada
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waldorph
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Registered: ‎07-13-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

Is there a subject area or genre which you feel is being neglected by writers?
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waldorph
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎07-13-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll



Jessica wrote:

Do you have a question for Susan, not related to any of the other discussion topics on the board? Reply to this message to start the conversation.



Do you have any thoughts/opinions on a co. named Publish America?
Frequent Contributor
Susan_Driscoll
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Registered: ‎03-09-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll



waldorph wrote:
Is there a subject area or genre which you feel is being neglected by writers?




Waldorf,

There were nearly 292,000 new books published in 2006 alone (and there are 2.5 million books in print) so it's hard to argue that there are areas being neglected by writers. I think that the more relevant question is what subjects or genres are being ignored by publishers. It's a fact that publishing is cyclical; for example, true crime was once very "hot" but right now isn't as popular. Chick lit was hugely popular a few years ago but, because the field is now crowded, publisher interest is waning a bit.

I think that new writers have the best chance to succeed by focussing on niche markets or regional publishing. This is true even for fiction--a well-written book set in a resort area will likely sell very well in the local bookstores, and an author can rack up a large and steady following in a very specific location.
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
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atlantic1018
Posts: 22
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Hey!

Hi! I'm 16 years old and I have written two and a "half" novels. One is a mystery and two are based in Asia (fiction). What's the next step? I need help!

A million thank-yous!
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skipster56
Posts: 65
Registered: ‎07-23-2007
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Re: Hey!

Hi! I'm 16 years old and I have written two and a "half" novels. One is a mystery and two are based in Asia (fiction). What's the next step? I need help! Million thank-you


You say you have written 1 1/2 novels. That's a very good start for a 16 year old. The road to publishing can be a very long one and, depending on the work, could be very expensive for you. First, when you write a novel, and complete it, the next step, and lengthy step, is to edit your work. You wrote it, people read it. A reader will find mistakes you miss and that takes away a reader's thought process of the book. In editing, punctuation is also very important. Once you are over that phase, you can do one of 2 things. Search for a reputable agent that will see light in your writing and accept your offer to present it to a commercial publisher. A commercial publisher is one that pays you up front for your work, then pays you a very small royalty on the sales. Remember, they pay everything up front and take the gamble that it will sell. If it doesn't, they lose a lot of money. The second, and expensive, is self publishing or P.O.D. Print on Demand. There are a lot of POD publishers out there and one of the most reputable is Outskirts Press, in Parker, CO. The average cost of publishing with a POD publisher, if you want your book in stores, is around $1,800 USD. It could be more also, depending on what program you choose. It is very important to know one very crucial fact of publishing. You sales. Commercial publishers, very seldom, take on an unknown author. That's the gamble aspect of the business. If you go with a POD publisher, they will publish your work for a fee, but if the book sells well, you stand a better chance of a commercial publisher picking up your next novel. They base everything on what they think or see. Publishing can be a very rewarding career for you, but do not expect to make a living off of your first works, unless it's as good as the "Harry Potter" series. I am on my 4th book currently. If you need any help, please feel free to contact me through my e-mail address. Good luck in your adventure. Skip Stover, author
View the new web page for Dangerous Love at www.skipstover.com
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skipster56
Posts: 65
Registered: ‎07-23-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll



waldorph wrote:


Jessica wrote:

Do you have a question for Susan, not related to any of the other discussion topics on the board? Reply to this message to start the conversation.



Do you have any thoughts/opinions on a co. named Publish America?




Hi Jessica. As a published author, I have gone through many agents. I think it would be a good idea to have a message board discussing literary agents and their criteria and possibilities. Skip Stover
View the new web page for Dangerous Love at www.skipstover.com
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Cup_of_Joe
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎07-12-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

[ Edited ]
Susan,
Do you see any problems with an author posting a few chapters of his/her unpublished novel on their own website? Will this affect their chances of getting published? (i.e. is it considered already published if a certain percent is being shown to the public for free?) Is there a maximum percentage of the book that could safely be shown? For example, I was thinking of showing the first 3 chapters, which is exactly what I am sending to publishers and agents. Any thoughts on this?

Joe

Message Edited by Cup_of_Joe on 08-01-2007 08:17 AM
Frequent Contributor
Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
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Re: Hey!



atlantic1018 wrote:
Hi! I'm 16 years old and I have written two and a "half" novels. One is a mystery and two are based in Asia (fiction). What's the next step? I need help!

A million thank-yous!




Atlantic,

I agree with Skipster that you're to be congratulated for actually completing your novels. There are definitely ways to get them in print, but I think it's important to start by answering three questions: what are your goals?, what books are most like yours/compete with yours, and who are the people who are most likely to be interested in/readers of your book? If you're willing to respond online, we'll all pitch in to guide you.

Also--have you allowed other people to read your novels? Have you received any feedback?

Thanks for posting and I hope you'll write again soon!

Susan
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
Frequent Contributor
Susan_Driscoll
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎03-09-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll



Cup_of_Joe wrote:
Susan,
Do you see any problems with an author posting a few chapters of his/her unpublished novel on their own website? Will this affect their chances of getting published? (i.e. is it considered already published if a certain percent is being shown to the public for free?) Is there a maximum percentage of the book that could safely be shown? For example, I was thinking of showing the first 3 chapters, which is exactly what I am sending to publishers and agents. Any thoughts on this?

Joe

Message Edited by Cup_of_Joe on 08-01-2007 08:17 AM




Excellent question. There are many people who believe that sharing your book with the world is the best way to develop a fan base and a very easy way to get honest feedback. Interestingly, Pete Townshend is currently posting his memoiro on his blog for all the world to see: http://www.petetownshendwhohe.blogspot.com/

The theory behind posting your chapters is that fans will spread the word and that most people will actually want to buy and read your full book. I happen to be a supporter of that theory. What's key is keeping track of your Web site hits and your unique visitors. If you're not drawing traffic publishers won't care that chapters of the book are posted.

Will posting some chapters affect publisher interest? The answer may seem counterintuitive: publishers will be VERY interested if you're drawing a lot of traffic to your Website. They care only that you have a "platform"--that is, a group of people who are likely to buy your book if they publish it. If people are reading your chapters and recommending them to others, that's a very good thing and will improve your chances of getting published. However, publishers are interested in thousands of web hits so casual traffic won't be of interest to them.

A suggestion: post one or two chapters, and then try getting people to subscribe in order to receive more. Doing so will enable you to build a mailing list, and the size of your mailing list is important to publishers. Even better would be to use the Web to get comments which might help you improve the book and/or your writing.

Finally, it might help to take a long-term view. You might post your first book in order to build a fan base. Those fans will then be buyers of your next book(s) which you might advertise on your site (or in mailings to your subscriber list).

Good luck!

Susan
Susan Driscoll
President & CEO
iUniverse
Contributor
Cup_of_Joe
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎07-12-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll



Susan_Driscoll wrote:


Cup_of_Joe wrote:
Susan,
Do you see any problems with an author posting a few chapters of his/her unpublished novel on their own website? Will this affect their chances of getting published? (i.e. is it considered already published if a certain percent is being shown to the public for free?) Is there a maximum percentage of the book that could safely be shown? For example, I was thinking of showing the first 3 chapters, which is exactly what I am sending to publishers and agents. Any thoughts on this?

Joe

Message Edited by Cup_of_Joe on 08-01-2007 08:17 AM




Excellent question. There are many people who believe that sharing your book with the world is the best way to develop a fan base and a very easy way to get honest feedback. Interestingly, Pete Townshend is currently posting his memoiro on his blog for all the world to see: http://www.petetownshendwhohe.blogspot.com/

The theory behind posting your chapters is that fans will spread the word and that most people will actually want to buy and read your full book. I happen to be a supporter of that theory. What's key is keeping track of your Web site hits and your unique visitors. If you're not drawing traffic publishers won't care that chapters of the book are posted.

Will posting some chapters affect publisher interest? The answer may seem counterintuitive: publishers will be VERY interested if you're drawing a lot of traffic to your Website. They care only that you have a "platform"--that is, a group of people who are likely to buy your book if they publish it. If people are reading your chapters and recommending them to others, that's a very good thing and will improve your chances of getting published. However, publishers are interested in thousands of web hits so casual traffic won't be of interest to them.

A suggestion: post one or two chapters, and then try getting people to subscribe in order to receive more. Doing so will enable you to build a mailing list, and the size of your mailing list is important to publishers. Even better would be to use the Web to get comments which might help you improve the book and/or your writing.

Finally, it might help to take a long-term view. You might post your first book in order to build a fan base. Those fans will then be buyers of your next book(s) which you might advertise on your site (or in mailings to your subscriber list).

Good luck!

Susan




Susan,

Thank you for such an informative--and lengthy--reply!
My site only receives around 30-40 hits per day, so I don't know if that will impress anyone :smileyhappy: However, I am going to consider your suggestion of creating a mailing list, and see what that gets me. By the way, the site showing the prologue and first three chapters of my novel "Cyberdrome" is www.Cyberdrome.net. There is also another site which contains other versions of Cyberdrome (comic, illustrated novel, game, etc)--that site is www.Cyberdrome.org

Thanks again for the suggestions!
Joe
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BackbayZona
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎01-28-2007
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Self-Publishing...Writer Wrong?

[ Edited ]
HELLO, MY NAME IS JOE AND I’M A RECOVERING TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED AUTHOR WANNABE. ACTUALLY, THAT IS NOT ENTIRELY TRUE. MY MYSTERY/SUSPENSE NOVEL (TITLE AND WEB SITE BELOW) IS IN THE PRODUCTION PHASE OF SELF-PUBLISHING AND SHOULD BE RELEASED BY THE END OF THIS MONTH. TO BE FAIR, I NEVER ATTEMPTED TO GET IT TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED BASED ON A LOT OF HARD RESEARCH, AND MY PERSONAL GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS. I JUST DIDN’T HAVE THE TIME OR ENERGY TO “FIGHT” THE SYSTEM OR TO WASTE READING REJECTION LETTERS (MOST OF THOSE HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR BOOK BUT REFLECT THE FAILINGS OF A BOTTOM LINE INDUSTRY IN THERAPY). I AM A FORTYSOMETHING RETIRED AIR FORCE OFFICER CURRENTLY WORKING FOR THE DOD IN MY SECOND CAREER. I LIKE TO WRITE AND WE’LL SEE WHERE THAT TAKES ME. INSTEAD OF SPENDING MY FREE TIME SENDING QUERY LETTERS AND DRINKING HEAVILY AS I READ REJECTION LETTERS, I WORK ON MY SECOND NOVEL AND SPEND THE TIME MARKETING MY FIRST ONE.

I READ ALL OF YOUR POSTS IN THIS THREAD. MY POST ISN’T FOR EVERYONE, BUT I HOPE IT HELPS THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE IN A SIMILAR SITUATION AS MINE, THINKING OF WRITING A BOOK, OR WHO ARE THINKING OF DUSTING OFF A MANUSCRIPT AND GETTING IT TO MARKET. TRUTHBEKNOWN, I REALLY DID HAVE HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS OF FINDING AN AGENT AND A PUBLISHER. I BOUGHT ALL THE RIGHT BOOKS (WRITER’S MARKET, GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, ETC.) AND I READ ALL THE WRITE STUFF. I ALSO TOOK THE WRITER’S DIGEST WRITING COURSE WORKING WITH A PUBLISHED AUTHOR. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, I DIDN’T SUBMIT MY MANUSCRIPT OR QUERY PACKAGES TO ONE OF THEM. I WILL SELF-PUBLISH AS AN UNKNOWN AND MAYBE GET LUCKY WITH THE SECOND BOOK. I LIKE TO BELIEVE THAT I AM A PRODUCT OF THE NEW PUBLISHING WORLD. TRADITIONAL PUBLISHER’S JUST DON’T HAVE THE TIME AND MONEY TO TAKE A CHANCE ON AN UNKNOWN (UNLESS YOU ARE THE NEXT P.K. ROWLING OR JOHN GRISHAM). THAT SAID, IF YOU HAVE THE TALENT, THE TIME, AND THE THICK SKIN, I SAY GO FOR IT…

DID I SETTLE? YEAH, I GUESS…BUT THAT’S WHAT WORKED FOR ME, AND I WOULD DO IT AGAIN. HERE’S WHY: MY RESEARCH IDENTIFIED IUNIVERSE AS THE LEADER IN THE SELF-PUBLISHING INDUSTRY, AND THEY HAVEN’T LET ME DOWN. I PUT IN THE INITIAL COST FOR THEIR BEST PUBLISHING PACKAGE AND EDITORIAL SERVICE (THAT PROVIDED ME WITH SOME GREAT EDITING, CORRECTIONS AND SUGGESTIONS). THEN, THEY STARTED PUTTING SOME MONEY INTO MY BOOK! IT WAS AWARDED THEIR COVETED EDITOR’S AND PUBLISHER’S CHOICE AWARDS RESULTING IN A PROFESSIONALLY DESIGNED PAPERBACK COVER (ALSO COMES IN HARDCOVER WITH DUST JACKET) AND PROOFREADING. NOT ONLY DOES IT COME OUT IN A FEW WEEKS AND BE AVAILABLE AT BN.COM, AMAZON.COM AND THOUSANDS MORE ONLINE SITES, BUT IT WILL BE IN MY TUCSON, ARIZONA BARNES & NOBLE STORE (NEW RELEASE TABLE AT THE FRONT OF THE STORE) FOR AT LEAST TWO MONTHS (WITH A CHANCE TO GO REGIONAL OR EVEN NATIONAL). YES, AS A PERSON WHO NEVER IMAGINED HAVING A BOOK WITH MY NAME ON IT OUT IN PUBLIC…I AM EXCITED. MOST OF THE MARKETING IS UP TO ME...BUT I ALREADY HAVE THREE BOOK SIGNINGS, A LIVE RADIO INTERVIEW, AND A NEWSPAPER INTERVIEW SETUP.

SORRY FOR THE LONG POST (AND THE CAPS!), BUT I WANTED TO PROVIDE SOME HOPE TO THOSE OF YOU OUT THERE “THINKING” ABOUT PUBLISHING. JUST DO IT. MY BOOK MAY END UP BEING A BUST, BUT AT LEAST I GAVE IT A SHOT AND HAVE SOMETHING TO SHOW FOR IT. IF THAT HAPPENS, THEN MY NEXT POST WILL START WITH: HELLO, MY NAME IS JOE AND I’M A RECOVERING SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHOR.

JOE P.
SOLEMNLY SWEAR
WWW.JOEPORRAZZO.COM

Message Edited by BackbayZona on 08-05-2007 01:50 PM
Frequent Contributor
Luthien
Posts: 160
Registered: ‎06-30-2007
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

Although I'm writing a book, occasionally an idea for a short story will hit me. By now, I have several of these short stories, and I've been thinking about someday trying to get a book of them published. Do you have any advice or tips?
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BackbayZona
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Re: Questions for Susan Driscoll

Susan: I'm just curious wrt the business relationship between iUniverse and Barnes and noble...why doesn't the store stock a Publisher's Choice author's hardcover book in the store? Also, why do they frown upon book signings, I would think that would get more people in the store (have the signing off to the side so it doesn't intefere with the relaxed book browsing B&N culture)? Thanks, Joe