Monthly Archives: October 2016

How many paperbacks and audio-books will you sell this Christmas?

Christmas Quick Tips → Diversity → Promoting Multiple Formats

I’m delighted, but not at all surprised, to hear how many indies are reporting increasing percentages of their revenue is coming from formats other than ebooks.

With the recent slump in ebook sales on Amazon, now pretty much confirmed by the latest Author Earnings Report, many indies are even reporting revenue from “other formats” is exceeding their ebook revenue.

And it begs the question – would that percentage be even higher if we took time out to take format diversity seriously?

Yes, I know, we indies sell more ebooks than any other format, therefore we should focus on ebooks, blah, blah, blah.

But as I’ve said many times, this is an artificial construction. A corner we have painted ourselves into.

We spend all our time and energy writing and promoting our ebooks, and on those occasions when we do manage to put together a print version or an audio book we mention it once on FB or twitter with an embarrassed smile and the go right back to focussing on our ebooks.

Of course we sell far more ebooks than any other format.

But what if we were to divide our attention more equally across all our formats? What if we tried cross-pollinating our different formats?

For example, how many of us even mention, in our ebook back-matter, that our titles – including, and perhaps especially, the one the reader has open on their device – are also available in print and audio-book versions?

Cross-pollination is essential to our organic growth. Not just of ebooks but of all formats.

Here’s the thing.

When a reader on Amazon loves our ebook they can tweet, FB, email, or otherwise tell all their friends about this great book. Personal recommendation is – or should be – our biggest driver of sales. Word of mouth matters.

But when our Amazon reader tells their friend who uses Kobo or Nook or Apple or Google Play or OverDrive or Scribd or whatever, and that friend rushes to their preferred retailer or digital library or subscription service to get this highly recommended book and finds it’s not available because we’re in Select, or we couldn’t be bothered to get in it digital libraries, or decided subscription services were a waste of time, then we’ve just lost not only that one sale but also the future sales from all the other titles that reader might have bought afterwards.

It works both ways. Our excited Google Play or Apple or OverDrive reader tells their friend using Amazon, Kobo and Nook and they rush off to download our book.

Just to repeat part of that. Our excited Google Play or Apple or OverDrive reader tells their friend using Amazon…

In other words, going wide doesn’t just bring us more sales from other outlets, It also brings us more sales on the Big Gorilla itself.

It’s cross pollination.

Now lets extrapolate this to formats.,

Our ebook reader on Amazon or Kobo or Google Play or wherever loves our book and raves about it to their friends.

But what if that book is only available as an ebook, not in print or audio? Those friends who want to read it in print or listen to it having heard about it on social media are going to be disappointed. We’ve just lost not only the one print or audio-book sale but all the other print and audio sales we might have picked up for our other titles.

But perhaps our excited reader isn’t a social media person but still likes to personally recommend titles to friends and family.

If we have a note in our back-matter saying this books (and others) are available in format X, Y or Z then that reader can make a judgment about who to recommend or indeed buy that other format for.

“I so loved this book and I’m sure Mum would, but she doesn’t read on a screen. It’s Grandpa’s birthday next week and he would love an audio-book. What a shame this book isn’t in audio format. And dear Aunt Nelly is really struggling to find books she’d like that are in large print,but there are so few to choose from…”

Lost sales, folks.

This is particularly important with Christmas approaching.

Yes we can, with some effort, on some retailers, gift ebooks. But seriously, what kind of gift is a digital download? Try wrapping that up with a pretty ribbon and a “love You” tag and popping it under the Xmas tree.

But supposing we have, in our ebooks, a little message at the back saying something like,

“If you enjoyed this book, why not share the pleasure and give the print or audio version as gift to a loved one? Also available in large print.”

For those of us with email lists now is the ideal time to be putting together that email promo reminding our followers that not only our all our titles available in ebook format, but also in print, large print and audio versions that they can give to their friends and family.

But don’t – please, please don’t – just say “It’s available on Amazon” it it’s in fact wide, because you’ll be sending out a clear message to everyone that doesn’t shop at Amazon that the book is not available anywhere else.

List the ISBN (print and audio) and tell folks they can simply Google the ISBN and up will come everywhere the audio or print version is available.

In the USA some 70% of all book sales are in print. And before we roll out the “Life’s so unfair – we indies can’t get into bookstores” excuse again do bear in mind that a) that’s not true, and b) half of all print sales happen online anyway.

Print isn’t dying. Audio-book sales are soaring. Large print is easy to add to our portfolio,and shouldn’t be seen as just for those books that will appeal to mature readers. Lots of younger readers also have challenged vision. (Lots more on large-print opportunities in a future post.).

Amazon’s CreateSpace and ACX aren’t the only options, but they do offer a quick and easy foot in the door for indies wanting to take those first steps into multiple formats.

If we indies aren’t getting a decent share of the print and audio action like trad pub is then, sorry folks, but we have only ourselves to blame.

And sometimes the fixes can be as simple as letting our ebook readers know other formats are available.

As I post this it’s 27th October. Christmas is literally less than eight weeks away. Just enough time to nip in, update our ebook back-matter, update our websites, and send out our newsletters to tell the world we’re not embarrassed to be multi-format and yes, we have regular and large print paperbacks and audio-books available! (And maybe hardbacks and special editions too).

How many print and audio-books will you sell this Christmas?

♦ ♦ ♦

This post first appeared in the International Indie Author Facebook Group.