Seeking Authors to fill my retail space with their books.

Hello All,
I am a LuLu publisher who is opening a consignment store in Port Jefferson, NY this Spring and would like to invite other LuLu publishers to sell their books and participate in book signings and readings at the store.  If you are interested in having your book(s) be part of our book nook then visit www.VisitTheShelf.com or email me at [email protected] 
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Comments

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    They can be found via the ISBNs, titles, or authors' names. Readings and signings can turn out a tad expensive too. I  live in the UK for example :)
  • What a cute looking shop! Good luck with your new business.
    Tim Reinholt Author of Pow, a ski bum heist adventure
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    It is a nice looking physical local shop, but it's never a good idea to publish a website until it is fully finished. People take a look, see little there, then rarely return. And yes, good luck all the same.
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited February 12
    A good idea. It won't make anyone a best seller on its own but getting a few books into a bookstore, especially one aiming for an off-the-beaten-path cachet in a college town like Port Jefferson, is always a good move. And it offers authors a nice little niche, a good place to launch, or boost, one's career from.

    Port Jeff is an interesting town on the north shore of Long Island in New York. It used to have a few interesting bookstores and I would make it a point to stop by and spend a couple of hours in them whenever I passed through. Parking's a little tough (though as I recall there are some lots), at least in the warm months, but the retail community is quaint and somewhat hip.

    If the proprietor(s) of this shop is looking to gain an edge over more mainstream bookstores, lesser known self-published writers like many of us here can offer a range of books which buyers would be unlikely to find in more traditional or commercial stores. But the proprietor is going to have to be selective in what he or she decides to carry if he or she wants to build the shop's cachet.

    The idea of book signings is a plus because you could get some local coverage for your work that way (Port Jeff or other Long Island based papers) and maybe even build a small following. Great idea, although I wonder how long they can make this thing fly. They'll need some really good offerings and/or some other angle to really catch on: a smattering of works from local professors, perhaps, or other local writers? Some hip avant garde stuff? A co-located tea shop . . . after all, coffee and sandwiches has already been done by the biggies like Barnes & Noble!

    Another good Long Island bookstore, which is more established is the Book Revue in Huntington. They buy used books (like The Strand in Manhattan does) and highlight local authors, host book signings (though they get some heavy hitters) and even offer a few tables of self-published works which, I think, they still take on consignment. They also have review copies (editions of books sent to reviewers for free who sell them to local stores for a few books), thus augmenting their inventory with relatively new commercially published books at a discount from the going rate in more traditional bookstores.

    I hope The Shelf makes a go of it! 
  • So, here's the thing.

    "The Shelf and the consignee agree that The Shelf’s commission is to be 40% of the after tax sales price, regardless of the retail price of the works."

    Caveman Apologetics costs $11.69 retail, + NYST: 4% = $12.16 *.6 = $7.30 (my cut)

    Per unit + shipping FOB Port Jefferson = $9.35, My cut less my cost = ( - $2.05 )

    Now I could leverage this by using 10% codes and buying in bulk for %15 off and so forth, but I would, in essence, be paying someone to give away my money.

    I could also raise the price of the book to $100 MSRP, +TX = $104, *.6 = $62.40, less cost = $53,.05 but short of making it a mandatory text for a class, I can't see it selling at that price.

    There is also a rather strict (imho) policy regarding the returns window; books not removed are charged a steep rate as "storage," and thus any value remaining is eaten up quickly. If you lived near Port Jefferson and thus could easily retrieve your books at the end of a contract, it might be worthwhile as far as the returns policy. For that matter, you could use Lulu Xpress to generate a fairly large number of your books cheaply, to make it potentially profitable at the 40% commission rate.

    So I'm not saying that *you* shouldn't do this. I am saying that I will not, and thank you for the generous offer.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    swmirsky said:
    A good idea. It won't make anyone a best seller on its own but getting a few books into a bookstore, especially one aiming for an off-the-beaten-path cachet in a college town like Port Jefferson, is always a good move. And it offers authors a nice little niche, a good place to launch, or boost, one's career from.

    Indeed it is, but one assumes entirely at our own cost, rather than the store owner ordering them, as is normally the case. Or even just listing them for sale on the site, then ordering one to fill the order, via Pod. Hence why I suggested obtaining them via an ISBN search, or whatever, or even just looking on Lulu for books to order.

    Port Jeff is an interesting town on the north shore of Long Island in New York. It used to have a few interesting bookstores and I would make it a point to stop by and spend a couple of hours in them whenever I passed through. Parking's a little tough (though as I recall there are some lots), at least in the warm months, but the retail community is quaint and somewhat hip.

    'Hip' is the in thing right now, but the beards can be hard to keep clean.

    If the proprietor(s) of this shop is looking to gain an edge over more mainstream bookstores, lesser known self-published writers like many of us here can offer a range of books which buyers would be unlikely to find in more traditional or commercial stores. But the proprietor is going to have to be selective in what he or she decides to carry if he or she wants to build the shop's cachet.

    Quite so, and hopeful of being able to sell books that will be way above the mass-printed books in his shop. I wonder if he realised that when he made his offer here?

    The idea of book signings is a plus because you could get some local coverage for your work that way (Port Jeff or other Long Island based papers) and maybe even build a small following.

    Well, yes, for writers that live near to there. And known names that may attract people in.

     Great idea, although I wonder how long they can make this thing fly. They'll need some really good offerings and/or some other angle to really catch on: a smattering of works from local professors, perhaps, or other local writers? Some hip avant garde stuff? A co-located tea shop . . . after all, coffee and sandwiches has already been done by the biggies like Barnes & Noble!

    'Local' books sold in local shops are often about local subjects.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=17&v=meF7NmfnXZ0

    I hope The Shelf makes a go of it! 

    Indeed, but it may work better also stocking used books.



  • oncewasoncewas Librarian

    Skoob, you have just laid bare the shortcomings of print on demand. It only works if you can get a decent enough cut and you don't involve yourself with the physical handling of books i.e. your book is in a store and people order it directly from the store. There is only one channel where everything comes together and things work in the author's favour. Anything outside of this will simply lead to frustration, unless you are lucky enough to be able to sell enough books directly to members of the public to cover the production cost of the books and of having them shipped to you.


  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited February 13
    Yes, POD has certain built-in obstacles that hinder self-publishing authors seeking to compete with traditionally published authors. That's just the way of things so our job is to find innovative ways to compete despite those barriers. Online book selling is the best venue for POD (because of the high cost of production in the POD domain) but if an author wants to parlay his or her writing into something more significant than what can be had through online sales alone (which is to say into the kind of visibility that leads to broader sales and publication and maybe even those always coveted film deals) then he or she needs to try new things and innovate.

    So here's someone offering Lulu self-publishing authors a berth in a bookstore. No it's not a big box store with tons of traffic and high visibility and it's not nationwide let alone worldwide. It's small and its local. But it looks like it's in a well situated place (Port Jefferson is a hip, culturally sophisticated college town). My guess is no one participating in this store's opening or any of its envisioned events is going to get rich or become an international best seller. But as the old Chinese saying goes, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." (Of course the original uses "li" not "miles" but I wanted to make it more amenable to our English-based comprehension!)

    So what's needed here are 1) a few interested authors with well written books to offer; 2) cooperation from Lulu to enable those authors to secure copies for this purpose at a discount sufficient to make this viable both for the author and the bookstore; and 3) enough vision to do this right (e.g., perhaps a couple of us who are local enough to participate can represent others here who are too far away for that while also representing ourselves . . . perhaps we could even prevail on the store owner to create a Lulu corner where the company as well as some of its authors, like us, could give a little presentation along with showing off our wares).

    This is the kind of thing I have often brought up here: find new ways to offer our books in a manner which makes them available to readers who might actually like what they see. This start-up bookstore is a perfect case in point. It just remains for us to take a flyer and do something instead of merely venting here!   
  • That still sounded like a better cut than you get from an Ingram purchase
    Tim Reinholt Author of Pow, a ski bum heist adventure
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited February 13
    oncewas said:

    Skoob, you have just laid bare the shortcomings of print on demand. It only works if you can get a decent enough cut and you don't involve yourself with the physical handling of books i.e. your book is in a store and people order it directly from the store. There is only one channel where everything comes together and things work in the author's favour. Anything outside of this will simply lead to frustration, unless you are lucky enough to be able to sell enough books directly to members of the public to cover the production cost of the books and of having them shipped to you.


    Indeed.

    The phrase "Print on Demand" explains its primary benefit: a book doesn't need to exist before it is purchased. It is a system that is not really designed for stocking shelves in bookstores, where a book needs have not only a physical presence but be immediately available in some quantity. That sort of thing is probably best left to books produced through traditional printing. 

    So...there really is no reason for an author to " try new things and innovate" since the self-published author has already at hand an established avenue available if they want to sell their books in quantity in bookstores: traditional printing. Certainly, traditional printing requires an upfront investment, but this would be the case regardless if a large order is required. Up to a point, the per unit cost of traditional vs POD printing is about the same, but this drops dramatically as the number of books increases. For instance, for an order of up to 500 copies or so of a trade paperback the average cost of traditional printing and POD is about the same: roughly $6 per unit. But for an order of, say, 1000 copies the unit cost of a traditionally published book might be just $3 or even less. 

    So, as swmirsky rightly points out, POD is ideal for online bookselling, where it excels.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • oncewasoncewas Librarian

    Ron, I should have said self-publishing rather than print on demand (although, for the most people using this platform, these terms are interchangeable) but what you say of POD is true. It makes me sad when I see authors desperately trying to get their books into physical bookstores. It is almost as if they believe that will increase their chances of making sales.


  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited February 13
    Ron writes: "That sort of thing is best left to books produced through traditional publishing."

    Yes and no. It's true that traditional publishing is better for selling in stores. But most self-publishing authors use POD because it provides them a chance they have not been able to realize through traditional publishing.

    It gives them the opportunity to produce a published volume of their thoughts, words, stories, etc. Unless one just wants such a volume as a souvenir, a vanity project to show off on the home shelf, the point of putting this stuff into print is to get readers for it. And the point of writers writing for readers is to achieve some level of attention in the world . . . and, for some of us at least, to actually make some money as published writers.

    So while POD at this stage, with all its drawbacks, isn't going to be suitable for selling lots of books in stores, it certainly can provide some of us with a platform from which we might be able to reach a higher level of readership, notoriety and maybe even access to traditional publishing and the holiest of holy grails these days: film! One way to leverage POD is by taking advantage of the kinds of opportunities offered by the person who started this thread.

    It's easy to nay-say every idea and potential innovation. But is that really helpful? We all know POD books are more expensive to produce. The point is to find ways to work around that problem or to minimize it.

    Let me once again offer my own experiences. After my book, The King of Vinland's Saga, came out in 1998 I got the idea to email Amazon book reviewers who had reviewed books similar to mine (historical fiction, adventure, viking tales, medieval fantasy, fictional tales about native Americans and even Westerns). I found that was a massive undertaking but, in those days, Amazon included its reviewers' email addresses and so it was doable. So did Borders.com and BN.com by the way! So I found and emailed people who fell into the categories mentioned above across the "world" of online booksellers.

    As I have said here before, that  first book of mine ended up selling 1300+ copies (I no longer recall the exact number!) and earning me royalties well in excess of the cost to publish. That was as a result of my efforts to find and notify readers that my book existed. I didn't want to invest in advertising given how expensive that is and the low likelihood of a significant return. But the large number of sales (and eventually online reviews the book garnered) also resulted in my making contact with a viking ship reenactment group trying to organize an international event called VikingSail 2000. They said they had no coordinator in NYC and asked if I'd help out. So I did, setting up three days of sailing events around the city for their little fleet. I think we sold 30 of those 1300+ books mentioned above at those events. Not much but a fun effort for me plus it resulted in other contacts and a track record for me as an organizer.

    Some years later (2007 I believe) I decided to parlay that sailing event by doing something like it again although I was no longer actively promoting my book. With some locals in my community we organized the Rockaway Literary Arts Festival, inviting other writers (traditionally published and self-published) booksellers, publishers and POD companies (Xlibris and iUniverse) to participate in a day long event at which discussion panels of different issues were held and a book store was set up on the grounds. We also had music and some painters selling their art. It was pretty successful so we did it again the following year (though I was too burned out to do it for a third year I'm afraid).

    All of that led to book sales for many participating authors and contacts for me with editors and agents and book sellers. We also produced a book, using Lulu by the way, showcasing the writing of local kids for sale at the festival as a memento of the second year's event in the makeshift bookstore.

    So there's more to writing than just writing . . . or being published. If your aim is just to sell a million books, then Ron is right, POD ain't the way to do it. Nor is traditional publishing for the vast majority of authors. But if your aim is to be part of a writing community, to dig into and participate in the writing life, then it's kind of silly to sit on  your hands when an opportunity like this new bookstore owner is offering comes along. 
  • swmirsky said:
    Ron writes: "That sort of thing is best left to books produced through traditional publishing."

    Yes and no. It's true that traditional publishing is better for selling in stores. But most self-publishing authors use POD because it provides them a chance they have not been able to realize through traditional publishing.

    No one is debating that.

    It gives them the opportunity to produce a published volume of their thoughts, words, stories, etc. Unless one just wants such a volume as a souvenir, a vanity project to show off on the home shelf, the point of putting this stuff into print is to get readers for it.

    To be fair, there are other reasons to self-publish via POD. For instance, a book might have too small a potential audience or be of too specialized an interest.

    And the point of writers writing for readers is to achieve some level of attention in the world . . . and, for some of us at least, to actually make some money as published writers.

    Agreed.

    So while POD at this stage, with all its drawbacks, isn't going to be suitable for selling lots of books in stores, it certainly can provide some of us with a platform from which we might be able to reach a higher level of readership, notoriety and maybe even access to traditional publishing and the holiest of holy grails these days: film!

    As has already been discussed elsewhere, there are more direct and effective ways to do these things.

    One way to leverage POD is by taking advantage of the kinds of opportunities offered by the person who started this thread.

    It's easy to nay-say every idea and potential innovation. But is that really helpful? We all know POD books are more expensive to produce. The point is to find ways to work around that problem or to minimize it.

    But one has to ask "why?" There is no need to "work around that problem or to minimize it" if a viable alternative already exists. This sounds like reinventing the wheel. Sure, one could go to a great deal of time and effort to discover ways in which POD printing might be more economical viable...but in that same time one could have had their book printed traditionally and sitting on shelves. 

    So there's more to writing than just writing . . . or being published.

    Again, agreed. There are as many goals as there are writers.

    If your aim is just to sell a million books, then Ron is right, POD ain't the way to do it.

    Well, a million books could certainly be sold online via POD. The issue here is really sales of hard copies through bookstores and similar outlets.

    Nor is traditional publishing for the vast majority of authors. But if your aim is to be part of a writing community, to dig into and participate in the writing life, then it's kind of silly to sit on  your hands when an opportunity like this new bookstore owner is offering comes along.

    Absolutely! And, let me reiterate, taking advantage of such an opportunity is something you would want to do immediately, not after spending goodness knows how much time trying to (and again I reiterate) reinvent the wheel. 

    If an author is interested solely in displaying their books in a single venue such as the one being offered---or perhaps just a handful of outlets---where perhaps only hundred or so copies might be sufficient, than POD is certainly the way to go. But if the goal is to get a thousand or more copies in circulation and on shelves in a large number of venues and to do so economically, then the means already exists.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited February 13
    We are probably in general agreement on most of these issues, Ron, but perhaps we disagree on attitude. And on the potential for reinvention.

    I think there's room to do more with POD than the current system is set up for. There's room for a hybridized approach (online sales plus bookstore sales where these can be leveraged into more active involvement with the writing/reading community for authors). This hybridized approach offers the possibility of enhancing one's position as a writer AND the possibility of expanding one's platform from POD to other venues of value to writers.

    So I tend to be enthusiastic when I see proposals like this and to advocate for developing more of them.

    I also think a closer partnership with a POD outfit like Lulu can help, i.e., by making it possible to get books at a discounted rate for events like this.

    Since the store in this case takes 40% of the retail price, the books would have to be produced at a percentage of the retail price that allows authors to make a bit of a profit from their own work too, and to offer their books at a commercially viable retail price.

    Say we have a $29.95 book to sell. That means it would have to be produced at somewhere under 60% of the retail price. In this example, the book store's 40% would amount to $11.98. So, with shipping and handling, the Lulu printer would have to produce the book at no more than 50% of the retail price ($14.98) to leave something for the author ($2.99). I believe current Lulu pricing for book production puts this at 53% before shipping costs. With shipping factored in the price likely goes up.

    So, given a standard like this, much will depend on shipping costs which are affected by timing issues (how much extra must be paid to receive the books on time for the store opening?).

    I think Lulu would want to work with its writers on issues like this to make this feasible for all, especially because being highlighted in a literary community like the one at Port Jefferson is good for Lulu's own visibility as well as for that of its writers.
  • Well, as I said, doing something like this would certainly be of advantage to Lulu, there seems to be no question about that...but, as I also said, authors already have a means to create books in quantity at potentially even less cost to them per unit than you describe. So why, as I also said, reinvent the wheel? But perhaps we are talking at cross-purposes to a degree. If an author only needs enough books to fulfill a commitment to "events like this" (by which I presume you mean the bookstore we have been talking about), then POD is certainly the most viable course to take since the author only needs as many books at any one time as might be required...and most bookstores probably wouldn't want more than half a dozen copies at a time anyway.  

    In my reply, however, I was thinking more about the author who is interested in seeing their book in bookstores and other venues from coast to coast, in which case we are talking about print runs of at least 1000. At a typical traditional book printer, 1000 copies of a 250-page hardcover book would cost about $6 each (this would drop to about $4.50 each for a print run of 2000; 2000 copies of a 500-page book would be about $5.50 each; the price does not double since most of the cost in traditional printing is in the initial set-up). The cover price of a typical hardcover novel is between $18 and $25.

    Of course, the author (as publisher) is responsible for both warehousing and shipping, which must come out of their own pocket, but there are already existing businesses who will take care of these things---for a price, of course, but they do all the work.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    swmirsky said:
    Ron writes: "That sort of thing is best left to books produced through traditional publishing."

    Yes and no. It's true that traditional publishing is better for selling in stores. 

    Stores will not stock items they believe will not sell. Such items take up valuable shelf space. As Ron has already pointed out in this thread, POD is expensive, add to that the at least store's 30% markup (and nowadays VAT) and it makes the POD book very expensive compared to the mass-printed books they have on their shelves. But worse still, trad publishers offer Sale or Return.

    But most self-publishing authors use POD because it provides them a chance they have not been able to realize through traditional publishing.

    Even so, that does not make them any more attractive to any store who wants to stock physical copies. (Many do in fact have areas on Amazon where they list POD books as well as their physical stock.)

    It gives them the opportunity to produce a published volume of their thoughts, words, stories, etc. Unless one just wants such a volume as a souvenir, a vanity project to show off on the home shelf, the point of putting this stuff into print is to get readers for it.

    Indeed. But not only is POD expensive, but so is shipping, that's why most of us leave it to ISBNS and Global Reach.

     And the point of writers writing for readers is to achieve some level of attention in the world . . . and, for some of us at least, to actually make some money as published writers.

    I don't hold my breath. Imagine accounting for the time it takes to create our wonderful wares, at £10 an hour. I do not pay myself an Advance  :)

    So while POD at this stage, with all its drawbacks, isn't going to be suitable for selling lots of books in stores, it certainly can provide some of us with a platform from which we might be able to reach a higher level of readership, notoriety and maybe even access to traditional publishing and the holiest of holy grails these days: film! One way to leverage POD is by taking advantage of the kinds of opportunities offered by the person who started this thread.

    It is only an opportunity to people local to him, or those willing to pay shipping on, say, 10 books. That's another advantage trad publishers have. Massive discounts on bulk distribution.

    It's easy to nay-say every idea and potential innovation.

    A book shop is an innovation? How's that then? It would be more of an innovation if it had a POD machine that could print out books to order via an ISBN someone wanders in with. Just as was promised years ago with the Expresso book machine, but never happened.  https://www.xerox.com/en-us/digital-printing/digital-presses/espresso-book-machine

     But is that really helpful? We all know POD books are more expensive to produce. The point is to find ways to work around that problem or to minimize it.

    You remind me of a teenager who thinks they have the answer to all the world's problems and cannot understand why no one else can see the answers, but they have already been tried or still are tried.

    Let me once again offer my own experiences. After my book, The King of Vinland's Saga, came out in 1998 I got the idea to email Amazon book reviewers who had reviewed books similar to mine (historical fiction, adventure, viking tales, medieval fantasy, fictional tales about native Americans and even Westerns). I found that was a massive undertaking but, in those days, Amazon included its reviewers' email addresses and so it was doable. So did Borders.com and BN.com by the way! So I found and emailed people who fell into the categories mentioned above across the "world" of online booksellers.

    Amazon, for one, was dragged over the coals for having far too many reviews on, that had actually been paid for, so it made the reviews worthless. (A bit like bloggers etc now, being forced to admit they got £10,000 for saying how good someone's product is.) Amazon bought here >>  https://www.goodreads.com/  to get around the problem, but I am not sure how!

    As I have said here before, that  first book of mine ended up selling 1300+ copies (I no longer recall the exact number!) and earning me royalties well in excess of the cost to publish. That was as a result of my efforts to find and notify readers that my book existed. I didn't want to invest in advertising given how expensive that is and the low likelihood of a significant return. But the large number of sales (and eventually online reviews the book garnered) also resulted in my making contact with a viking ship reenactment group trying to organize an international event called VikingSail 2000. They said they had no coordinator in NYC and asked if I'd help out. So I did, setting up three days of sailing events around the city for their little fleet. I think we sold 30 of those 1300+ books mentioned above at those events. Not much but a fun effort for me plus it resulted in other contacts and a track record for me as an organizer.

    Some years later (2007 I believe) I decided to parlay that sailing event by doing something like it again although I was no longer actively promoting my book. With some locals in my community we organized the Rockaway Literary Arts Festival, inviting other writers (traditionally published and self-published) booksellers, publishers and POD companies (Xlibris and iUniverse) to participate in a day long event at which discussion panels of different issues were held and a book store was set up on the grounds. We also had music and some painters selling their art. It was pretty successful so we did it again the following year (though I was too burned out to do it for a third year I'm afraid).

    All of that led to book sales for many participating authors and contacts for me with editors and agents and book sellers. We also produced a book, using Lulu by the way, showcasing the writing of local kids for sale at the festival as a memento of the second year's event in the makeshift bookstore.

    So there's more to writing than just writing . . . or being published. If your aim is just to sell a million books, then Ron is right, POD ain't the way to do it. Nor is traditional publishing for the vast majority of authors. But if your aim is to be part of a writing community, to dig into and participate in the writing life, then it's kind of silly to sit on  your hands when an opportunity like this new bookstore owner is offering comes along. 


    Yes, we know.

  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited February 13
    This store is offering consignment space which means they put the book on their shelves and pay you after a set period for any that sold at the rate agreed to and return the books to you that haven't sold OR renew for a further consignment period. It's not ideal but if an author wants to sell into their market it's a fair deal and perfectly traditional. This store seems to be looking to find a special niche by offering books not typically available in the usual commercial venues.

    Kevin wrote:
    not only is POD expensive, but so is shipping, that's why most of us leave it to ISBNS and Global Reach.
    Okay, so do so.

    Kevin wrote:
     It is only an opportunity to people local to him, or those willing to pay shipping on, say, 10 books. That's another advantage trad publishers have. Massive discounts on bulk distribution.
    True. But there could be a way around that, e.g., for those of us who are local to represent our Lulu comrades on the ground. It would take a little extra coordinating but it is one possible way to go.

    Kevin wrote:
    A book shop is an innovation? How's that then? 
    A book shop looking to highlight self-published authors is an innovation. It can only work in an area where there are people interested in off-the-beaten-path books, e.g., like Port Jefferson. So, too, would be the kinds of logistics I alluded to above where authors cooperate to help rep each other's work in different venues. So there are two innovations for you.

    Kevin, who is never negative (oh, no, not him!) wrote:

    You remind me of a teenager who thinks they have the answer to all the world's problems and cannot understand why no one else can see the answers, but they have already been tried or still are tried.

    Ah to be a teenager again!

    But seriously folks, every innovation is that because it is a new angle that hasn't been tried or at least made to work before. When it succeeds it isn't an innovation any longer but people look back and say 'why didn't I think of that!' 

    Kevin wrote:
    Amazon, for one, was dragged over the coals for having far too many reviews on, that had actually been paid for, so it made the reviews worthless. (A bit like bloggers etc now, being forced to admit they got £10,000 for saying how good someone's product is.) Amazon bought here >>  https://www.goodreads.com/  to get around the problem, but I am not sure how!

    They did it by insisting that people who reviewed have Amazon accounts first of all. They also cleared out a lot of obviously phony reviews by manually reviewing reviews. They also introduced more stringent rules for reviewing. By the way, I never asked others to review my books (though in one or two cases, when someone came to me and said I really liked your book, I suggested they provide a review on amazon, though I scrupulously refrained from telling them what to say).

    My book, KVS, had gotten reviews on Goodreads long before Amazon purchased it. I don't know that they ever amounted to much because I never saw any bump in sales from the site's activity. I believe some of those reviewers of my book on amazon also wrote reviews on Goodreads before the takeover which consolidated the two reviewing sources. Goodreads was one of those sites looking to build a niche based on the reviewing function. I had been approached by another, Lunch.com, to do reviews for them (based on my own extensive reviews of books on amazon) and I joined it for a time but never did understand how they hoped to parlay that model into a moneymaker. I guess they were looking to be bought out by an outfit like amazon, but in the end amazon bought Goodreads not Lunch.com and the latter went bye-bye.  

    Some of those I emailed in the heady days when I was promoting KVS, by the way, thought I WAS asking for a review of the book although my emails never said anything like THAT! I merely told them about my book and suggested that it might interest them.

    A few of those I sent those emails to replied that they would give me a review for a free copy (though I had never asked for a review in the emails I sent).

    I declined in every case to send a free copy because I felt that would lead to a contamination of the reviews for the book by those who felt a special interest in saying nice things (and in some cases I got the feeling they were just angling for a freebie)!

    I also used to get lots of unsolicited emails from readers who had read and liked KVS, only some of whom actually reviewed the book on amazon! I saved some of them but lost the bulk of them when my computer was lost in 2012 from the Hurricane Sandy flood.

    So, Kevin, please don't conflate asking for reviews with notifying others that you have a book out that might be of interest to them, the latter being a simple and low cost method of book promotion (except perhaps for the time you must expend to reach large numbers of people).

    Otherwise, thanks again for your helpful comments.

     

  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    Okay, I actually had a look at the store site. It's basically a consignment shop, offering a place to sell local wares including crafts as well as books, to the local college town community.

    Port Jefferson is a large town on the northern coast of Long Island with a fairly tony population and very interested in the arts. Many of the folks who live or visit there are yacht people because the town has a very nice harbor on Long Island Sound. So I expect sea-oriented books, especially to do with sailing or deep sea fishing, might have a good shot at doing well in this venue.

    I don't know if any Lulu writers have material of this sort but, of course, there is no reason to think ONLY such works would find a welcome among Long Island's North Shore consumers/readers. The college town nexus also suggests a more open, hip orientation.

    I will say that I am seriously thinking of doing this at this point. Their opening is scheduled for April (as the weather warms up). I'd be interested in hearing from any of our colleagues here who are also interested, even if they aren't local. As I've suggested above, some of us who are relatively local (I'm on the island's south shore but often visit that area) could represent those who aren't.

    What I ultimately decide to do though will partly depend on Lulu since I have no copies of my older books anymore (all destroyed in the flood of 2012) and would need to purchase the newest one as well as copies of an older book which I did on Lulu (yes, Kevin, I really do have a history with Lulu, believe it or not).

    Needless to say, the cost to secure a small stock of books would be a factor in my final decision as to whether or not this makes sense for me.
  • swmirsky said:

    Kevin wrote:
    Kevin wrote:
    A book shop is an innovation? How's that then? 
    A book shop looking to highlight self-published authors is an innovation.

    That depends on what you mean by "highlight." It is not remotely uncommon to see bookstores, especially independents, carrying self-published books. This is nothing at all new or innovative. Perhaps a bookstore that carried nothing but self-published books might be novel enough to attract customers.

    It can only work in an area where there are people interested in off-the-beaten-path books, e.g., like Port Jefferson.

    I am not sure what you mean by "off the beaten path." There is no way anyone would know that a book is self-published unless there is a sign above them saying so. And, frankly, I am not so sure that would be an inducement.

    So, too, would be the kinds of logistics I alluded to above where authors cooperate to help rep each other's work in different venues. So there are two innovations for you.

    We have been around and around about that second "innovation" already.

    But seriously folks, every innovation is that because it is a new angle that hasn't been tried or at least made to work before. When it succeeds it isn't an innovation any longer but people look back and say 'why didn't I think of that!' 

    But just because an idea is new doesn't mean it is going to work---or should even be tried. Nor is the person who points out flaws in a new idea necessarily being obstructive.

    Kevin wrote:
    Amazon, for one, was dragged over the coals for having far too many reviews on, that had actually been paid for, so it made the reviews worthless. (A bit like bloggers etc now, being forced to admit they got £10,000 for saying how good someone's product is.) Amazon bought here >>  https://www.goodreads.com/  to get around the problem, but I am not sure how!


    Some of those I emailed in the heady days when I was promoting KVS, by the way, thought I WAS asking for a review of the book although my emails never said anything like THAT! I merely told them about my book and suggested that it might interest them.

    A few of those I sent those emails to replied that they would give me a review for a free copy (though I had never asked for a review in the emails I sent).

    I declined in every case to send a free copy because I felt that would lead to a contamination of the reviews for the book by those who felt a special interest in saying nice things (and in some cases I got the feeling they were just angling for a freebie)!

    I think you were being over-cautious. Many reviewers simply prefer to read a hard copy. (Some just prefer to read books that way---as I do---others might like the easy ability to make notes on pages as they read.) Traditional publishers will allot a number of books specifically as review copies. Indeed, review copies will often be "bound galleys," which is simply the unadorned text printed on cheap paper with plain paper covers. 

    That being said, I am talking about legitimate reviewers---both in print and online---and not just someone off the street.


     


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited February 14
    There's something really peculiar about these exchanges, like it's always about who gets to have the last word, even when the last word uttered (or written, as in this case) isn't actually relevant to the preceding point.

    Referring to the matter of innovation, Ron writes:
    That depends on what you mean by "highlight." It is not remotely uncommon to see bookstores, especially independents, carrying self-published books. This is nothing at all new or innovative. Perhaps a bookstore that carried nothing but self-published books might be novel enough to attract customers.
    Yeah, it does. Innovative doesn't mean something has to be totally new, never tried before or not available in other venues. It's just about something being different enough from the usual to stand out.

    Ron adds:
    I am not sure what you mean by "off the beaten path." There is no way anyone would know that a book is self-published unless there is a sign above them saying so. And, frankly, I am not so sure that would be an inducement.
    The point is to offer a venue for self-publishing authors to find their audience. Selling books is important but it's not the whole point in this sort of thing. It's also to do with an author getting his or her feet wet in publicizing, by speaking about, his or her work and learning how to reach beyond the Internet. Maybe some here don't care to do it. I, myself, don't enjoy that kind of thing though I have done it in the past. But some authors might well enjoy it or just want to learn what it feels like to do it. Along the way they may learn something from the interplay with readers as well, and maybe help build a broader venue for small publishers and self-published books.

    As to knowing a book is self published, that isn't the point. It's the opportunity for self-published authors to behave like, well their traditionally published brethren in today's world. It's about broadening one's experience.

    In response to my other point about innovation to Kevin, that another dimension of innovation involves authors working together to advance their goals in common, Ron wrote:
    We have been around and around about that second "innovation" already.
    Well yeah, we have. So what? How is that responsive to my point that it's another dimension of innovation in response to Kevin's announcement that there was nothing innovative about any of this? Having discussed it before does not make it less innovative, even if people here don't like the idea or want to try it!

    Ron added:
    . . .  just because an idea is new doesn't mean it is going to work---or should even be tried. Nor is the person who points out flaws in a new idea necessarily being obstructive.
    True but, again, so what? I was responding to Kevin's claim that what I had previously called innovative wasn't. Whether it would work or not is a different question as is whether he was pointing out flaws in the notion or being "obstructive" by doing so!

    On the question of reviews, I was talking only about reader reviews on sites like Amazon. Obviously for real reviewers (those who write reviews in published print media or even online), the approach is different and for them I did send review copies. And got a few reviews as a result including one in Idunna Magazine (a Norse oriented periodical edited at the time by Diana Paxton, a well known fantasy author), The Norseman News (self-explanatory), The Midwest Book Review (an online reviewer at the time -- don't know if they're still around), an online site called the SF Site out of Canada, and a few others which I no longer recall.

    The big guns, of course, never responded though I did learn that the NY Times Book Review, then among the gold standards of reviewing periodicals, tends to have cozy relationships with publishers as manifested by the ads they run (ads for a new book in the magazine tended, at that time, to equal a review at some point -- but their ad space is very costly so I wasn't doing that!). I no longer subscribe to the NY Times so I am no longer current on their policies but I doubt they've become more open to small press and self-published authors.

    If anyone here has information to the contrary I'd be interested to hear about it!  
  • oncewasoncewas Librarian
    It would be wonderful if anyone who takes advantage of this opportunity comes back in a year's time and tells us how much success they have achieved because of it.
  • oncewas said:

    Skoob, you have just laid bare the shortcomings of print on demand. It only works if you can get a decent enough cut and you don't involve yourself with the physical handling of books i.e. your book is in a store and people order it directly from the store. There is only one channel where everything comes together and things work in the author's favour. Anything outside of this will simply lead to frustration, unless you are lucky enough to be able to sell enough books directly to members of the public to cover the production cost of the books and of having them shipped to you.


    It is also possible to set up a direct order system with a bookseller: Both you and Lulu do get paid that way, and the bookseller may charge what profit the market will bear, but you can't have a returns policy if you do that.

    Alternatively, you can buy books, eat the shipping, and sell them out of the trunk of your car. It's possible, just not plausible.

    But yes, the best way to do POD is to offer them through the POD website.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited February 14
    swmirsky said:

    On the question of reviews, I was talking only about reader reviews on sites like Amazon. Obviously for real reviewers (those who write reviews in published print media or even online), the approach is different and for them I did send review copies. And got a few reviews as a result including one in Idunna Magazine (a Norse oriented periodical edited at the time by Diana Paxton, a well known fantasy author), The Norseman News (self-explanatory), The Midwest Book Review (an online reviewer at the time -- don't know if they're still around), an online site called the SF Site out of Canada, and a few others which I no longer recall.

    Thanks for clarifying that! 

    The big guns, of course, never responded though I did learn that the NY Times Book Review, then among the gold standards of reviewing periodicals, tends to have cozy relationships with publishers as manifested by the ads they run (ads for a new book in the magazine tended, at that time, to equal a review at some point -- but their ad space is very costly so I wasn't doing that!). I no longer subscribe to the NY Times so I am no longer current on their policies but I doubt they've become more open to small press and self-published authors.

    If anyone here has information to the contrary I'd be interested to hear about it!  

    So far as I can discover, the NYT has no special injunction against self-published books (albeit see below). But there are some major hurdles that would have to be first surmounted. First of all, the book has to be really published. In other words, you have to have a book that is of the same standard of quality in not just writing but editing, copy editing, text design and layout, proofreading, cover design, back cover copy writing, etc. of a professional, traditionally published book. Also so far as I can discover, the NYT only reviews books that are available in bookstores, which is hurdle number 2.

    But even if you have accomplished these things there is an even bigger hurdle: nearly 1 million new books are published every year and the NYT reviews only 300. So your book would have to be among the top 0.03% of all the books published in a given year.

    But, alas, there is this from NYT book reviewer Pamela Paul when asked if the newspaper reviews self-published books: "We get them, and we don’t review them. We review about 1 percent of the books that come out in print from a publisher every year. So 99 percent of those books are being discarded. At some point you kind of have to say 'okay, we’re just going to look at these books.' Otherwise we would be here 24 hours.” 

    That being said, t
    his might be interesting. Even if it might perhaps be an exception it at least goes to show that there are exceptions.

    I might add that there are some very good observations in that article that would be well worth paying heed to. 

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Seamus said:
    That still sounded like a better cut than you get from an Ingram purchase
    Naw, on Ingram I get $.02, which is better than paying $2.05. :)
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    From that article Ron posted:
    Book reviewers, whether for traditional book review columns or book blogs, frequently don’t accept submissions from self-published authors. Instead, there’s a web of professional relationships between traditional publishers and reviewers which keeps the books and the reviews flowing. . . . The reasons that self-published books don’t get reviewed boil down, I think, to the lack of infrastructure. A traditional publishing company can get to know different reviewers and send them the books that they think will go down best with that person. And the reviewer works on the assumption that what he or she is sent by the publisher has to be at least half-decent and thus worth opening. This whole process works because it’s mediated and because of the assumption that a third party stamp of approval for a book guarantees minimum levels of quality.
    Seems about right, per my experience. The question is what if anything can change a system that relies so heavily on networking of the different players. As Ron and Kevin have argued, there may well be nothing. All POD can do is make it easier to print and distribute and so sell from online venues (mainly amazon). For the rest, the industry remains the same and unbreachable except by traditional means. 

    Maybe.   


  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Gosh, there's a lot of new postings here!

    I declined in every case to send a free copy because I felt that would lead to a contamination of the reviews for the book by those who felt a special interest in saying nice things (and in some cases I got the feeling they were just angling for a freebie)!

    You asked them to review your book, so they will expect a free copy.

    I think you were being over-cautious. Many reviewers simply prefer to read a hard copy. (Some just prefer to read books that way---as I do---others might like the easy ability to make notes on pages as they read.)

    Indeed, even as the owner of a 10" tablet with e-readers on, I always prefer a printed book. I never scribble in them though, although I am often tempted when I spot something an editor and/or proofreader has missed!

     Traditional publishers will allot a number of books specifically as review copies. Indeed, review copies will often be "bound galleys," which is simply the unadorned text printed on cheap paper with plain paper covers.

    I actually came across one of those in a used book shop. It actually said in it, review copy only, not for circulation or resale.

    That being said, I am talking about legitimate reviewers---both in print and online---and not just someone off the street.

    The majority of the reviewed books on Goodreads have been bought by those who review them. They also have an Also Read and a Wish to Read area, full of well-known books and writers. I guess they are just people off the streets, who, when you think about it, are our potential customers.


  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Yeah, it does. Innovative doesn't mean something has to be totally new, never tried before or not available in other venues. It's just about something being different enough from the usual to stand out.

    But it may only seem to be new to those who have not seen it done before. But the internet is already crammed with self-published books, because it's the best place to have them up for sale, because the end-user buyer pays to have them printed and shiped. Not so in brick stores, where the stock has to be printed first, at POD prices, then shipped to the shop, often at the independent store owner's cost.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited February 15
    swmirsky said:
    From that article Ron posted:
    Book reviewers, whether for traditional book review columns or book blogs, frequently don’t accept submissions from self-published authors. Instead, there’s a web of professional relationships between traditional publishers and reviewers which keeps the books and the reviews flowing. . . . The reasons that self-published books don’t get reviewed boil down, I think, to the lack of infrastructure. A traditional publishing company can get to know different reviewers and send them the books that they think will go down best with that person. And the reviewer works on the assumption that what he or she is sent by the publisher has to be at least half-decent and thus worth opening. This whole process works because it’s mediated and because of the assumption that a third party stamp of approval for a book guarantees minimum levels of quality.
    Seems about right, per my experience. The question is what if anything can change a system that relies so heavily on networking of the different players. As Ron and Kevin have argued, there may well be nothing. All POD can do is make it easier to print and distribute and so sell from online venues (mainly amazon). For the rest, the industry remains the same and unbreachable except by traditional means. 

    Maybe.   


    You may have missed an important part of the point of that excerpt, which is that ..."the reviewer works on the assumption that what he or she is sent by the publisher has to be at least half-decent and thus worth opening. This whole process works because it’s mediated and because of the assumption that a third party stamp of approval for a book guarantees minimum levels of quality." [italics mine]

    This reiterates what I said in my post: "First of all, the book has to be really published. In other words, you have to have a book that is of the same standard of quality in not just writing but editing, copy editing, text design and layout, proofreading, cover design, back cover copy writing, etc. of a professional, traditionally published book."

    This is probably the greatest hurdle for the self-published book.

    When a self-published book arrives on a reviewer's desk they have to ask: Is the quality of this book professional? And by that I don't mean the writing but the editing, formatting, design, etc. In other words, is this going to be a book they can attach their names to---and the reputation of their newspaper or magazine---in a recommendation? They have to ask: is this book going to be readily available everywhere---in bookstores as well as POD or online? (When the review appears, are its readers going to be able to easily obtain the book?) Is the quality of the book---its printing and binding---going to be consistent? As I said, the NYT reviews only books that will appear in bookstores. Who or what is the publisher and how reliable are they? If the only publisher's name on the title page is that of the author or the name of a company either no one has heard of or a name that appears only on this one book, what can the reviewer go by? Knowing that a book has arrived from Scribner's or Macmillan already carries a cachet of some degree of quality, reliability and availability. There is no such guarantee with a one-shot book arriving from the author's home.

    And don't forget another very important thing that was pointed out in the same article: that simply because a book has been submitted by an established traditional publisher is by no means a guarantee that it is going to be reviewed: "We review," said Paul, "about 1 percent of the books that come out in print from a publisher every year. So 99 percent of those books are being discarded." And since nearly 1 million new titles are published every year, a reviewer has to depend on the preliminary screening process a book has to undergo by a traditional publisher. At bottom it's really just a practical consideration. I have had books published by major traditional houses such as HarperCollins; Smithsonian Books; Watkins; Zenith; Lerner; Berkley/Ace; Farrar, Strauss & Giroux and others...and not one has ever been reviewed by the NYT. And I'm not complaining.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    Nope, I didn't miss that point, Ron. That's why there's a network of players between writer and publisher and writer and reviewer. And it's that network I was alluding to as perhaps being irreplaceable (as you and Kevin have argued), even by new forms of digitally lubricated publishing (which has been the thrust of my point that new possibilities may enable new, less restrictive models for writers).
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited February 15
    I apparently misunderstood what you meant when you spoke of the "network of players." Thanks for setting me straight!

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
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