Seven Keys to Digital Publishing Success: Case Studies from Innovative Publishers and Authors

By Anne Kubek and Kelly Peterson

Every publisher, entrepreneurial author and literary agent is aiming to launch the next bestseller. Many have spent years trying to hit it big by offering the first eBook in a series for free, or an eBook bundle for 99 cents. But after experimenting with various marketing strategies, their eBook sales too often plateau or peter out before achieving the ultimate sales goal. Worse still, few publishers know how to play the kind of long game that keeps sales ticking upward to give a book real staying power.

EBook distributors working with a wide range of content owners and retailers are among those with the broadest view of the strategies that are succeeding. The most technically savvy of these distributors are also innovating new tools with proven ability to extend a publisher’s marketing reach over many titles. But in today’s fast-moving digital marketplace, it can be hard to find key players who are also willing to share success stories.

At INscribe Digital, we work with a broad base of hundreds of publishers, authors and literary agents, whose successes underscore some basic principles that go a long way in laying the foundation for eBook bestsellers. Allow us to share some of our best insights with you.


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Creating eBook Bestsellers: Free eBooks

At BEA, Kelly Peterson moderated a discussion with three panelists, all of them influential in the eBook industry.  As a refresher, these are the panelists:

kelly panel

  • Erin Gorham, Digital Account Manager at HarperCollins
  • Nathan Maharaj, Director of Merchandising at Kobo
  • Susan Ruszala, President of NetGalley

The biggest takeaway? A four-part comprehensive marketing plan is key:

These four areas make up the foundation of success owned by big publishers. But small publishers and independent authors can take advantage of these approaches too.

Today, we’re going to wrap up our blog series by discussing Free eBooks. Please check out our previous discussions of pre-order, general merchandising, and discount merchandising.

 

The Best Things in Life are Free

Free books have been available to readers for centuries: the Library of Alexandria still lives on in legend.  Free eBooks from retailers serve the same purpose as the ones checked out at libraries; they help readers find new favorite authors at little risk.  That means that new devices bring new customers who will be experimenting with the eBook apps, comparing all the bells and whistles.

Nathan Maharaj mentioned that many Kobo customers download free books as their first reads, but then later move on to paid content, often by the same author. Free is a great way to find new readers for all your content!

Find Your Niche

Erin and Nathan both agree that genre readers are not just voracious readers, but they love free.  While the American Bookseller Association describes an avid reader as someone reading over 10 books a year, genre readers can be reading that many a month.  That means that they are always in the market for new authors, and are more likely to give an unknown name a try.  It could also mean that they need to stretch their budget a bit, which means that they will check out the freebies. Are you writing genre fiction?  This might be your gateway to popularity.

GenreReaders

Three’s Not a Crowd: It’s a Requirement

There’s a little catch to free: it only works well for authors if they have more books available to sell. If you give your only book away for free, you might find readers – but they’ll forget about you by the time your second book comes out.  At Harper Collins, Erin uses free first books in series to support authors who have several books available for sale.  That way, the reader gets the first book free, but they’ll pay full price to see what happens next.  If it’s your only book, giving it away to likely readers just means they will never pay money for your writing…they don’t have an opportunity.

FreeBooks

The Exception to that Rule…

Okay, there is one exception: it’s okay to give your only book away for free if you get something great in return.  Susan Ruszala told us about the best practices for NetGalley, and we concur; NetGalley can get you a lot of attention for your title when it is available for pre-order.  NetGalley provides access to librarians, booksellers, active bloggers, and people who review books on multiple retailers.  That free book can pay off in great publicity and attention.  It’s critical to reach back out to those reviewers once your book is on-sale to ask them to add their reviews to the retailer sites.

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Advertise, Advertise, Advertise

If you’re going to give your book away, don’t forget to lead the reader to their next great read. Utilize your back matter to suggest more books, and let us create retailer-specific links to make it easier for the customer.  They clicked on you once; make it easy for them to click on you again!  Ultimately, that free book may be the best thing you ever did to find readers.

Thanks for joining us for our Creating an eBestseller series!  We look forward to providing you more great ways to drive your sales.

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Pixel Hall Press is Testing the Waters in How Pre-Publication Discounts Can Boost A New Book’s Amazon (and Other Websites) Ratings with the Help of INscribe Digital

Pixel Hall Press, a small boutique publisher, is using one of the Big Five’s strategies to make the public more aware of its two top Autumn titles. They will report on its effectiveness to help other small publishers.

Pixel Hall Press, a small boutique publisher, noticed that some books – particularly the top titles from big publishers – seem to automatically achieve high rankings on Amazon and other bookstore sites, before they’re even available for sale. But those rankings are based on sales; in other words on how many people have actually bought that particular book on that website. How do they do it? By offering the book for pre-order weeks or even months before its publication date.

“We have two books coming out this autumn that are so intriguing and beautifully crafted that they deserved every chance we could give them,” Cynthia Dadson, the Director of Marketing for Pixel Hall Press, explained. “So, I set out to see how we could use a prepublication discount to give Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories by Nancy Christie and The Winter Boy by Sally Wiener Grotta a boost right out of the gate.”

The problem was that small publishers don’t have the relationship with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple or the other book websites that larger houses do. “It’s like a closed shop,” Cynthia Dadson said. “You need to have a larger footprint, a bigger inventory of books, before those sites will even talk to you. And we have no intention of ever becoming large.”

Then, Pixel Hall Press signed with INscribe Digital, a major eBook distributor, who has a similar relationship with Amazon and other book sellers as the big publishers. Now, both books – at least the eBook editions – are available on discounted pre-order. On their publication dates, the prices will go back up to retail, the pre-ordered eBooks will be automatically delivered to customers’ eReaders, and all those sales will be applied to the books’ ranking that first day.

“It’s an experiment for us,” Cynthia Dadson explained. “Now, the trick is to get the word out, so Christie’s and Grotta’s fans can save money, support two great authors, and have the opportunity to read two wonderful works of fiction.”

About Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories by Nancy Christie

 TravelingLeftofCenter“These 18 stories… are complex, varying, and thoroughly imaginative, introducing a fresh voice to fiction that is both ironic as well as gorgeously gloomy… heart wrenching, and familiar.”

~Mary Sellers, “What Is That Book About

The characters in Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories are unable or unwilling to seize control over their lives, relying instead on coping methods that range from passive, aggressive, humorous and hopeful. But the outcomes may not be what they anticipated or desired. Will they have time to correct their course or will they crash?

Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories will be published in paperback and eBook (all formats) on September 9th. Until then, is it available as a discounted pre-order on Amazon, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other websites.

“Nancy Christie seems to have the knack of pulling off the perfect short story.”~ Suzy Wilson 

About The Winter Boy by Sally Wiener Grotta

TheWinterBoyReminiscent of Margaret Atwood, Mary Doria Russell and Ursula K. LeGuin, The Winter Boy explores important political and social issues within a dynamic, character-driven otherworld, wrapped up in masterful storytelling.

A cloistered society of widows have forged a centuries-long peace by training the young men who will be leaders using sex, reason and storytelling. But a young widow uncovers a web of conspiracies. And her first season that should have been a gentle, quiet time with her Winter Boy becomes one of conflict, anger and danger.

The Winter Boy will be published in hardbound, paperback and eBook (all formats) on November 6th. Until then, is it available as a discounted pre-order on Amazon, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other websites.

“The Winter Boy is an intriguing story that’s unlike any other I have read.”

~ L.A. Sherman

About Pixel Hall Press

Pixel Hall Press is a relatively new, old-fashioned small publishing house whose focus is on discovering literary gems and great stories that might otherwise be overlooked. Our mission is to publish books that energize the imagination and intrigue the mind, and to be a conduit between readers and provocative, stimulating, talented authors.

In this era of digital technology, Wall Street involvement and merger mania, many mainstream publishers seem to have lost sight of core principles and the purpose of publishing. At the other end of the spectrum is the veritable avalanche of self-published books that are notoriously uneven in quality. Small boutique imprints like Pixel Hall Press are reclaiming the heart and soul of publishing by reviving the idea that a publisher’s “raison d’être” is finding and nurturing great writers, and to provide readers with beautiful, meaningful, truly enjoyable books.

Press Contact:

Cynthia Dadson
Director of Marketing
Pixel Hall Press
Cynthia@PixelHallPress.com

Pixel Hall Press release on prepub eBook discounts with INscribe PDF

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Bestselling Author Eileen Goudge Moves to Digital-First Publishing, Signs with INscribe Digital for Retail Marketing and Distribution

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – New York Times bestselling novelist Eileen Goudge has signed with INscribe Digital for retail marketing and distribution of her forthcoming eBooks. The deal represents a bold commitment to digital-first publishing for Goudge, who has achieved significant success with her eBooks, after building her career in print with 15 women’s fiction novels published by Penguin Putnam and Simon & Schuster, including the perennially popular novel Garden of Lies, published in 22 languages. The new arrangement with INscribe Digital will start with the digital publication of Bones and Roses, a new mystery available for preorder at all major retailers now, and going on sale on August 5, 2014.

“Eileen Goudge is one of today’s most popular women’s fiction authors. We are immensely proud to support her digital publishing plans, as she picks up the gauntlet laid down by Stephen King when he published Riding the Bullet as a digital-only book,” said Anne Kubek, Executive Vice President and General Manager of INscribe Digital.

“I am thrilled to explore new roads in my writing and my career with this decisive move to eBook-first publishing with INscribe Digital,” said author Eileen Goudge. “I believe that there is a strong crossover between mystery and women’s fiction readers, and also that eBooks are the best way to reach them. INscribe Digital’s cutting-edge expertise with retailers, and in marketing to digital audiences, makes them a powerful partner in today’s eBook marketplace.”

Retailers such as Kobo are also hailing Goudge’s move to digital-first publishing. “As a digital retailer, we have seen a number of commercial authors achieve considerable success with eBook-first publishing. It’s exciting to see an author of Eileen Goudge’s stature going this route,” said Nathan Maharaj, Director of Merchandising at Kobo.

About Eileen Goudge

New York Times bestselling novelist Eileen Goudge wrote her first mystery, Secret of the Mossy Cave, at the age of eleven, and went on to pen the perennially popular Garden of Lies, which was published in 22 languages around the world, and numerous other women’s fiction titles. Bones and Roses is the first book in her Cypress Bay Mysteries series. She lives in New York City with her husband, television film critic and entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon. Keep connected with Eileen at http://www.eileengoudge.com.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/35xhcYGCVxu4OqVpe0asB1SBLFrAJ4_kUvC5RK2Q7I_xChIEcPD9-3SS_loBkulSzwfMR8TGTpWj_yPNfLc2-3tcBRSXs_Enyjhch7wtDPrxYCcunqCS5n1uJ68https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/MW9Yo8V8J3tpaG6JvwUuEPW30aI3GxPTQ3vkK1gtlxUG883uD_5YmupPIvjrpD7kKYgckpHAyqqxQ69V5GGV1_Aw-tlIkEGqAOJqQ4ZthA9Wpce01FqTiPdNxcwhttps://lh5.googleusercontent.com/0EIVFa_4HQILjKa_agxsMOZcA0ULQzdLTCMi1f-OcIAu7KsEvcLayZGhlgj3CePClSXPyPc-zVuWVx6ODCwWt67YKqDVV9NS1EdZOgmkaRGxObpcH3mqnfgYDv0https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/ZWNqRRG1i4XQh8LFi0M4jeejZ0Bw55l15xz0NW2HYTH4lVo2rDl5C9Wfwz_4OrNXrpmFjAJKpoIyr3in07lDgyTAPI4uB53u4V46I8ZBw2o5J3NpHi0kRjkNF5Mhttps://lh4.googleusercontent.com/XaHZDGOCV0cthWdZX_iZJHkIfAtqBTtZS16i5zDA84RdMHBW1diLYnsWOME5LmhYtia1CBCR_tEGaFRUFzVg76kPVRGdseLD4Kah1tSDNl4rqiVGYD2oe9S6E48https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/v5RxCwWywOBeoL2zs3D2ahbhDdw1O_dNB0RWMGaIePvgoq3nUsNzzUvfe0UFS_2opl4g0C96dl0qj8X_Kl0FicuAd2GN1zJTERFAHQ7VSXN6p0QwrrjPWp01VY8

About INscribe Digital

INscribe Digital is a technology company specializing in next-generation e-publishing services and tools. Since 2010, the San Francisco-based company has distributed more than 30,000 ebook titles on behalf of authors and literary agents as well as major book publishers, and university and independent presses. INscribe Digital’s Athena content delivery platform provides maximum transparency in distribution and sales reporting. Through strong retailer relationships, the company also delivers customized marketing and sales solutions for diverse clients and a range of eReading devices. INscribe’s team of book industry professionals – together with its parent company, Isolation Network – leverages a decade of experience in delivering music and other digital media assets to leading retailers worldwide. Engineers also make up nearly half of the INscribe Digital staff, offering flexible and scalable solutions for eBook production, conversion, marketing and distribution. For more information, visit www.INscribeDigital.com

Media Contact
Charlotte Abbott
cabbott@inscribedigital.com

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Creating eBook Bestsellers: Discount Marketing

At BEA, Kelly Peterson moderated a discussion with three panelists, all of them influential in the eBook industry.  As a refresher, these are the panelists:

kelly panel

  • Erin Gorham, Digital Account Manager at HarperCollins
  • Nathan Maharaj, Director of Merchandising at Kobo
  • Susan Ruszala, President of NetGalley

The biggest takeaway? A four-part comprehensive marketing plan is key:

  • Pre-order
  • General Merchandising
  • Discount Marketing
  • Free Books

With this third installment, we highlight how to use discounts to market your titles.  Please check out our previous discussions of pre-order and general merchandising.  Coming soon: free books!

Invest in the Future

Discounting is important. And it is even more important to do it strategically. If you are going to offer a discount, what do you expect to get in return for that investment?  If it doesn’t pay off immediately, what can you do to improve your results?  Discounts need to give you a positive return.

EBook customers seem to be price-conscious readers.  Nathan Maharaj at Kobo agrees on the importance of price point.  Every retailer has dedicated space for eBooks under a certain price: for example, the main NookBook page has a dedicated icon for Books Under $2.99.  The marketing team at INscribe Digital campaign aggressively for placement in those dedicated spots on behalf of our clients. When publishers decide to discount, readers see those discounts.

millionaire's secret

Reel Them In

Erin described how HarperCollins utilizes discounting tactics.  When a new book releases, her team often marks down the authors’ earlier works to create trial and new fans. This is particularly effective for authors with a larger backlist.

Discounting backlist is also a great reward for existing fans, who may want an electronic copy to go with their physical edition.   And leveraging older backlist as a discounted title is a great way to promote an author in time for a new (full price) release.  It also messages that the title is discounted for an event, so customers don’t expect the price to stick around: that creates urgency.

freefirstinseries

It Takes a Village

Another reason that authors discount is to build readership.  If a great book isn’t selling at all, perhaps it is time to find a new audience who will become its advocate.  Here, the risk is minimized by the low sales trend. After all, selling 10 copies at $1.99 beats selling 0 copies at $9.99!

Pricing should be handled judiciously.  It’s important to leave yourself a little room for discounting; some retailers only promote titles on a large scale if they can offer the lowest price.

This strategy works best when supported by social media, blogs, and marketing dollars:  an investment in outreach will expose readers to this good deal!  We’ve seen success with Library Thing, Goodreads, Facebook advertising, blog tours and BookBub. This is the time to pull all the levers you can to get the word out.

We Get Buy with a Little Help from Our Friends

The very best time to discount is in a retailer-supported promotion.  Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deals show amazing sales and a long tail lift. INscribe Digital titles have seen unit growth as much as 1000-6000x day to day, staying strong for the rest of the month.  After 30 days, the titles will settle to a new normal, but INscribe titles all compare very favorably between the two weeks after the deal to the two weeks before the deal.

Why do retailer promotions work?  Because they have guaranteed outreach and marketing.  Kobo’s track record with email is very impressive, and they do a great job of targeting promotions at times readers are shopping.  Other retailers leverage daily deal emails and device notifications, and social media for the retailers often pick up these titles for their daily messaging.  When authors amplify and share these promotions, it works to everyone’s advantage.

There are two important things to keep in mind here: good planning and flexibility.  Retailer driven promotions require signing up well in advance, and often have requirements for participation.  Also, there’s no guarantee you will be included; but nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Recommendations

We’ve Got Your Back (Matter)

If you are going to discount, consider updating the back matter of your book and adding retailer-specific links. This acts as a timely place to advertise your next book while providing an easy one-click buy option to a customer looking for her next read. By making the purchase process so easy, it truly becomes a service!

Think of discounting as an important tool in your marketing toolkit. It’s important to use the tools correctly in order to build new readers, extend your reach and drive your sales.

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Arcadia Publishing Acquires The History Press Inc.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Arcadia Publishing Acquires The History Press Inc.

Charleston, SC – July 9, 2014 – Arcadia Publishing today announced the acquisition of The History Press Inc., a wholly owned US based subsidiary of UK based The History Press Ltd, in a private sale. The deal creates the largest publisher of local and regional books in the U.S. with a staggering combined total of more than 12,000 titles available for sale.

Arcadia is committed to maintaining the creative aspects of both businesses and will keep existing brands entirely separate.

In a message sent to Arcadia and History Press employees late Monday, Arcadia Publishing CEO Richard Joseph shared the following:

“I have given a lot of thought as to what we are about and where our future lies. The combination of Arcadia Publishing and The History Press creates the largest and most comprehensive publisher of local and regional content in the USA. By empowering local history and culture enthusiasts to write local stories for local audiences, we create exceptional books that are relevant on a local and personal level, enrich lives, and bring readers closer – to their community, their neighbors, and their past. We are committed to the pursuit of new growth opportunities and to increasing the availability, depth, and breadth of local books. Driven by genuine pride in our work and an infectious enthusiasm for what we do, we are universally dedicated to the success of our authors, employees and stakeholders.”

Commenting on the sale, Stuart Biles, Chief Executive of The History Press Ltd said, “We are enormously proud of the fine company we have built together in just a few short years. We’re extremely sad to see the business leave our group, but have to recognize the significant benefits which will be achieved by joining History Press Inc. with Arcadia, both creatively and operationally. We thank Brittain Phillips for his leadership, and his team, for their substantial contribution to our business.”

The new partnership will strengthen the foundation of both businesses and Joseph is hugely excited for the future. “We’re joining the talented staff of two great companies and together we’ll continue creating books people love. We hear moving stories from readers every day that remind us that the content we produce is personal, relevant, and valuable,” he said.

About Arcadia Publishing

Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States. Best known for its iconic “Images of America” series, each book chronicles the history of small towns and downtowns across the nation in a unique pictorial format. Discover more than 9,000 local books at www.arcadiapublishing.com.

About The History Press Inc.

The History Press brings a new way of thinking to history publishing—preserving and enriching community by empowering history enthusiasts to write local stories for local audiences. Since 2004 we have published more than 2,000 of the highest quality local and regional titles from coast to coast. Discover more at www.historypress.net.

Media inquiries contact:
Mrs. PJ Norlander, Director of Marketing;
pjnorlander@arcadiapublishing.com

More information available at www.arcadiapublishing.com

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Bestselling Romance Authors Sign with INscribe Digital for Retail Marketing and Distribution of eBook including Nine Original Stories for 99 Cents

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Nine of the hottest romance authors – including Lorhainne EckhartNina Bruhns and Taylor Lee – are rewarding their fans with Naughty Nine, an e-book anthology of nine stories that will cost only 99 cents for a limited time. Packed with confident women, sexy men and plenty of adventure and suspense, the collection will be released to retailers and libraries in the U.S. and internationally on Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Review copies are available upon request.

image003“We’re excited to be featuring such a large group of award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors in a single collection,” said Kelly Peterson, Director of Client Services at INscribe Digital. “This anthology is a great way for romance readers to save their summer pennies and fill their e-readers at the same time. It’s like the Lollapallooza of romance, and well-timed to join the current trend toward digital boxed sets of original stories at Amazon and other retailers.”

Three of the authors in the anthology – Lorhainne Eckhart, Taylor Lee, and Patricia Mason – have also inked distribution deals with INscribe Digital for additional e-book titles. “Romance readers are increasingly finding and buying their books online, through retailer promotions and specialized websites and blogs,” said author Taylor Lee. “INscribe Digital has great retailer relationships, and knows how to drive sales in the romance eBook market. We’re excited to work with them.”

About the Authors:

Nina Bruhns is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of adventurous romantic thrillers that blend interesting characters with twisty suspense and hot romance. She has published more than 30 award-winning novels. For more information, go to www.ninabruhns.com.

Lorhainne Eckhart is a 2013 Readers Favorite Award winner, and an Amazon.com top 100 bestselling author in the genres of Romance, Westerns, and Police Procedurals. Her novel The Forgotten Child was an Amazon #1 bestseller in Westerns. For more information, go to www.lorhainneeckhart.com.

Karen Fenech is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic suspense, and the author of The Protectors series.  When not writing, she loves to spend time with her family, to shop, watch movies, and kick back in a comfortable chair to read. For more information, go to www.karenfenech.com.

Rita Herron is the award-winning author of more than 60 romance novels, including the critically acclaimed Slaughter Creek series from Amazon.com. For more information, go to www.ritaherron.com.

Taylor Lee writes sizzling romantic suspense. Her heroes are hot men and hotter women. They fight hard, love hard, and don’t mince words.  Love, passion and ridding the world of evil? What’s not to like? For more information, go to www.taylorleebooks.com.

Mary Leo is an Amazon.com bestselling author of romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense and mystery novels. Trusting Evil, based on a true crime, and The Spia Family Presses On, a humorous mystery, are her latest releases. For more information, go to www.maryleo.com.

Julie Leto is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 45 novels, all featuring strong, confident women and super-sexy men. She now publishes the Dirty series & the Phantom series independently. For more information, go to www.julieleto.com.

Dana Marton is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author who has thrilled millions of readers around the globe with her fast-paced stories about strong women & honorable men who fight side by side for justice and survival. For more information, go to www.danamarton.com.

Patricia Mason is the award-winning author of steamy romantic suspense, paranormal romance and urban fantasy fiction, including In Deep Shitake and Entanglements. For more information, go to www.patriciamason.net.

Jill Sanders is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Pride Series, the Secret Series and the West Series. She continues to lure new readers with her sweet and sexy stories. For more information, go to www.jillsanders.com.

About INscribe Digital:

INscribe Digital is a technology company specializing in next-generation e-publishing services and tools. Since 2010, the San Francisco-based company has distributed more than 30,000 ebook titles on behalf of authors and literary agents as well as major book publishers, and university and independent presses. INscribe Digital’s Athena content delivery platform provides maximum transparency in distribution and sales reporting. Through strong retailer relationships, the company also delivers customized marketing and sales solutions for diverse clients and a range of eReading devices. INscribe’s team of book industry professionals – together with its parent company, Isolation Network – leverages a decade of experience in delivering music and other digital media assets to leading retailers worldwide. Engineers also make up nearly half of the INscribe Digital staff, offering flexible and scalable solutions for eBook production, conversion, marketing and distribution. For more information, visit www.INscribeDigital.com

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Creating eBook Bestsellers: Merchandising at Retailers

At BEA, Kelly Peterson moderated a discussion with three panelists, all of them influential in the eBook industry.

The panelists:

kelly panel

  • Erin Gorham, Digital Account Manager at HarperCollins, is one of the smartest people you’ll ever meet.  She has great tips to share with both publishers and authors.
  • Nathan Maharaj, Director of Merchandising at Kobo, oversees an international team in eight languages and a dozen countries.  He has great perspective about how to really make merchandising count!
  • Susan Ruszala, President of NetGalley, spoke about review copies and how NetGalley reaches nearly 200,000 bloggers, reviewers and librarians.
The biggest takeaway? A four-part comprehensive marketing plan is key:
  • Pre-order
  • General Merchandising
  • Discount Marketing
  • Free Books

These four areas are the cornerstones of success owned by big publishers. But smaller publishers and authors like you can take advantage of these approaches too.

The Early Bird Gets the Sale

As mentioned in our earlier post about pre-orders, creating a long runway is key.  Each retailer merchandises their site on different schedules, but each generally works a full quarter ahead.  That means they are booking merchandising placement for September in June!  Small publishers who don’t plan far enough ahead are often shut out of prime placement as a result.

Nathan Maharaj compares brick and mortar stores with their web counterparts. Each store features their top-selling content right when you walk in the door. At e-tailers, the lion’s share of their business comes from the front page and category pages of the site.  Genre readers tend to bookmark those pages and visit regularly, although nothing beats the front page.  “Above the Fold” is also key; it’s great to get placement that doesn’t require scrolling down.

Other top spots are the suggestion areas of the site: “customers who bought this” and editorial areas.  “Customers who bought this” areas are driven by algorithms, and are heavily dependent on a title’s first week sales.  If you are marketing your titles early enough, you can really make this count with strong merchandising at launch.  The nice thing about “customers who bought this” is that they show up on individual title pages. So if you can find big titles that are similar, utilize similar BISACs.  That way, the algorithms will work for you, not against you.

So what time is the right time to pitch?  Erin Gorham told us that she merchandises titles six months to a year before they are released.  How close to that number can you get?

Pre-OrderRec

Think Global

While sometimes bestseller lists in different countries mirror each other, Nathan notes that they will most likely be different.  Is your author from Great Britain?  Is the title particularly relevant in Latin American countries?  Make sure your team knows the “sweet spots” for each of your titles.  That way, even if you can’t get full worldwide placement, you will still be featured where it counts.

You’ve Got Mail

Per Susan Ruszala, NetGalley’s digital galley program has shown outstanding success—mostly in part to their strong targeted e-marketing campaigns. Nathan agreed in the power of email; he said that outreach is consistent and worthwhile, especially in reaching genre readers. Getting your titles into these big email blasts involves signing up for promotions and placement.  As with pre-orders, the longer the runway, the easier this is.

NetGalleyBuzz

You’ve Made a Sale: What Now?

Catch your readers at the end of your book with the opportunity for a new beginning. Place links to the next title in the series—or other similar titles on your list. The reader is already looking for what to read next. Make that decision easier for her! Most importantly—keep your backmatter relevant and update it often.

At INscribe Digital, we recommend that you go all the way, and make retailer specific versions of your title.  By putting in active links to your other books, your reader’s next purchase becomes as easy as one click.  As Amazon can tell you, one-click purchasing works!  And now you can make it happen.

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From the back of Angelbound

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Creating eBook Bestsellers: Plan Ahead with Pre-orders

Now that we are back from BEA it’s time for a recap! Kelly Peterson moderated a rock star panel that dished the tips and tricks of creating an ebook bestseller.

Meet the panel stars:

kelly panel

  • Erin Gorham, Digital Account Manager at HarperCollins, is one of the smartest people you’ll ever meet.  She had great tips to share with both publishers and authors.
  • Nathan Maharaj, Director of Merchandising at Kobo, oversees an international team in eight languages and a dozen countries.  He had great perspective about how to really make merchandising count!
  • Susan Ruszala, President of NetGalley, spoke about review copies and how NetGalley reaches nearly 200,000 bloggers, reviewers and librarians.

The biggest takeaway? A four-part comprehensive marketing plan is key:

  • Pre-order
  • General Merchandising
  • Discount Marketing
  • Free Books

These four areas make up the foundation of success owned by big publishers. But small publishers and independent authors can take advantage of these approaches too.

In today’s blog, we’ll dive deep into Pre-order. Check back for additional articles on General Merchandising, Discount Marketing and Free Books.

Go Long

The length of the runway is key. Erin’s recommended best practice is to make your titles available at least six months prior to on-sale. The longer the better! While sales spike in the two months prior to release, those extra months just give customers even more opportunity to find the title. Plus, as Nathan pointed out, retailers factor in those sales when deciding what to promote. And since pre-order sales are all counted on release day, they help drive bestseller status.

GoLong

Build the Buzz

Having a long pre-order runway also gives the retailers time to build excitement for the title with pre-order marketing.  Those placements can roll right into General Merchandising, so it gives retailers more of a chance to leverage the assets they make, like banner ads, in different ways.

pre-orders

Test the Waters

Pre-order sales are a great way to tell what is working with a marketing campaign. Using NetGalley to test the metadata and reader response is even better. As Susan remarked, most books offered on NetGalley are not yet for sale, which enables the publisher or author to process and respond to reader feedback.  Receive a lukewarm review? Did the description not lure in a lot of readers? Then fix it. Erin frequently uses this time to make adjustments on a title to ensure a successful launch. INscribe’s advice? Build a group of readers who will spread the word about your books, and share your NetGalley widget with them.  Ask them to schedule a review that fits best with your schedule:  staggering works for long term buzz, but sometimes releasing numerous reviews simultaneously works beautifully.

The Millionaire’s Secret Baby

Nathan mentioned that genre fiction does best in total pre-orders.  We definitely see the same thing!  Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Mystery and Thriller all lend themselves to repeat purchases.  Those readers read more than the average bear, so they’re more willing to try new authors.  If you are trying to break into these genres, keep in mind that building your pre-order plan is even more important!

millionaire's secret

Work the System

Pre-orders are counted twice in some retailers’ algorithms.  That means your book will show up more often in the “Customers Who Bought This, Bought…” areas of those sites. This is one of the most clicked areas on any page; customers like recommendations catered to their tastes.

people who bought

Deliver the Goods

Because pre-order is a contract with their customers, all retailers need to know the asset is going to arrive in plenty of time.  At INscribe Digital, we request that assets be delivered a month before release.  This gives cushion for fixing failed files, processing time on the retailer end, and some room to spare ahead of release day.  Why is that critical? If the file is not there to be delivered, then customers paid for a product but DON’T GET IT.  The one-two punch of a digital order gets interrupted. As an author or publisher, pre-order is a tremendous asset to you–but you must be prepared to fulfill that promise, both to your retailer partner and your readers.

We believe in pre-orders.  Smart execution of the pre-order is key…so make sure you leave plenty of time for your book to grow sales before its release. We’ve seen them contribute to big success for many of our titles. Now it’s your turn!

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Highlights for Children, Inc. to Partner with INscribe Digital for eBook Distribution and Marketing

highlights-pr

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, June 18, 2014 – INscribe Digital has inked an eBook distribution deal with the iconic children’s publishing and family media brand Highlights for Children, Inc., including the Highlights Press and Boyds Mills Press imprints. The San Francisco-based digital distributor will deliver Highlights’ eBooks to retail outlets starting immediately.

“Highlights for Children adds significant momentum to our growing list of children’s books,” said Anne Kubek, INscribe Digital’s EVP/General Manager. “It’s an honor to be partnering with one of the oldest and most distinguished children’s publishing brands in North America.”

“We are thrilled to collaborate with INscribe Digital as we launch our eBook publishing program,” said Mary-Alice Moore, VP, Editorial Director of Book Publishing for Highlights.  “As the publishing industry transforms, the opportunities for growth in all formats is tremendous. Our partnership with INscribe will be a key part of our fast growing efforts to provide our titles digitally to consumers.”

INscribe Digital’s delivery platform is fast, accurate and reliable, plus the company has proven experience with complex eBooks, and a variety of digital formats and reading devices,” said Jack W. Perry, Vice President for Print and eBook sales at Highlights.  “INscribe also knows how to leverage marketing opportunities with the major U.S. and global retailers, which is increasingly important now that so many parents discover and download children’s books online.”

About Highlights for Children, Inc.
Devoted to “Fun with a Purpose,” family media brand Highlights for Children, Inc. (http://www.highlights.com/) has helped children become their best selves for generations. In addition to the flagship magazine, Highlights’ other offerings include a preschool magazine (High Five), an infant magazine (Hello), a children’s book company (Boyds Mills Press), puzzle book clubs and a variety of digital products.

About INscribe Digital
INscribe Digital is a technology company specializing in next-generation e-publishing services and tools. Since 2010, the San Francisco-based company has distributed more than 30,000 eBook titles on behalf of major book publishers, university and independent presses, literary agents and authors. Our Athena content delivery platform provides maximum transparency in distribution and sales reporting. Our strong retailer relationships enable us to deliver customized marketing and sales solutions for our diverse clients and a range of eReading devices. Our seasoned team of book industry professionals, together with our parent company, Isolation Network, leverages a decade of experience in delivering music and other digital media assets to leading retailers worldwide. Working closely with the engineers who make up almost half of our staff, INscribe Digital offers flexible and scalable solutions for eBook production, conversion, marketing and distribution. For more information, visit www.INscribeDigital.com

Media Contact:
Charlotte Abbott
cabbott@inscribedigital.com

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