How will my book be sold?
In this section:
WHAT DO YOU DO TO SELL MY BOOK?
WHAT CAN AUTHORS DO TO SELL THEIR BOOK?
HOW DO I ORDER MY BOOK?
AVAILABILITY OF BOOKS IN STORES
HOW CAN I SEE HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE SOLD/ARE THE FIGURES ACCURATE?
WHAT ABOUT PIRACY?
DO YOU SELL TO LIBRARIES?
In this section we cover print sales to the trade, worldwide. Amazon and online sales are covered separately.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO SELL MY BOOK?
Once the final text and cover files for your book have been uploaded, the publication date set and the book details edited, we send essential, accurate and complete metadata (title, ISBN, author, price, publication date, subject categories, imprint, endorsements, competing titles etc) to the trade four months before publication. It takes a couple of months for information to filter from one distributor another, down to the shops, around the world. Retailers can access details of your book through trade databases such as Bowker or Nielsen, through wholesalers such as Ingram or Bertrams and through our regional distributors NBN in US, Orca In Europe, Brumby in Australia, Hay House in South Africa. Readers can see details of your book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, other retail sites, as well as on Facebook, other social media sites and on your book page on our imprint website.
Four months before publication we present titles to key trade wholesalers such as Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Bookazine and New Leaf in US and Bertrams, Gardners, Westnedge and Bookspeed in UK. We also present titles to larger retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Hastings, BAM, NACS and Folletts in US, Indigo in Canada, and Waterstones, Blackwell, Foyles, John Smith in UK. And we also present to library suppliers such as Brodart in US, and to BDS and Yankee Book Pedlar in Europe. Over the years we have built strong relationships in certain subject areas. For instance in the Mind/Body/Spirit sector we have close links with the bookclub Cygnus, and with specialist bookstores such as Watkins MBS Books in London, Banyen Books in Vancouver, and Mirabai in New York. In the Christian market we have close links with the wholesaler A Great Read. Our imprint for radical politics and culture, Zero Books, is popular with booksellers such as Blackwell, Foyles, Housman, Folletts, Powells and City Lights . In general, our trading terms are effectively sale or return and we offer trade accounts a discount off the recommended retail price rrp of between 35%-55%. We never refuse returns from an event and often offer increased discount. Terms vary slightly in different territories.
In addition to selling copies to readers, these outlets market and sell our books by publishing articles, reviews and adverts, hosting events, and displaying books on their shelves and websites. We also work closely with festival organisers, colleges and academic institutions, churches and retreats, arts centres and galleries, therapy centres and healing groups throughout the world, and we have similar relationships in all the different subject areas, like with politics and aesthetics in Zero Books.
One month before publication we email a newsletter to subscribed trade contacts and to fans to highlight special promotions, author signings, new and better selling titles. These trade contacts include foreign publishers to whom we sell rights, and retailers, who are encouraged to pre-order new titles ready for launch.
We can not guarantee to get your book into shops. The strongest possibilities are in the independent, more specialist sectors. Chain store shops will not in general stock books by first time authors unless the author is already known, has great endorsements from well known names, etc. Supermarkets will only stock titles which are already selling a few thousand copies a week. More in Estimate of likely sales.
We exploit every opportunity to have your book noticed by booksellers. We run adverts for qualifying titles in several trade catalogues published by wholesalers such as Ingram and by the trade press such as The Bookseller. These catalogues offer retailers details of new titles several months in advance of publication.
Over half of our total print and digital book sales worldwide are now (2014) online through Amazon, so we work hard with the information you give us to make your title stand out from the crowd on your Amazon pages. Amazon readers like to know who the author is and their credentials, they like to sample the book using the Look Inside feature, see endorsements by well known names, plenty of customer reviews and details of previous editions. Above all we keep the information accurate, relevant and clear, so that readers can find your book and Amazon can fulfil their orders promptly. Whenever we can we negotiate special deals and promotions on Amazon. To raise the stakes on being picked for these, authors should build a strong presence on blogs, booksites and online social media, and enter onto the System Book Pages details of competing titles and confirmed publicity. There’s more on this in the User Manual on ONLINE SALES and SOCIAL NETWORKING.
Since Amazon launched their subscription service Kindle Unlimited in 2014 readers have been increasingly able to buy books by subscription. For $8.99 readers can download from Scribd, Oyster and 24symbols as many ebooks as they can read in a month. All our titles have been set up and offered on these subscription services since September 2014, but our ebook distributor NBN does not yet offer Amazon's Kindle Unlimited nor Kindle Owners Lending Library. This is likely to change in 2015. We plan to offer all titles to these Kindle services as soon as they become available to us.
Subscription sales are treated like any other sale. Revenue is reported monthly to our US distributor NBN, which we in turn report on your Financial page monthly. See notes on Scribd in Contacts.
Distribution, currency exchange and the state of the book industry locally mean that sales outside Europe & America can seem disproportionately low. Increasingly, most sales outside Europe & America are through the big online retailers such as Amazon. It is particularly hard to sell fiction in paperback in Australia & South Africa.
WHAT CAN AUTHORS DO TO SELL THEIR BOOK?
Often, the author is the best sales person. Put up some thoughts on the Marketing Plan page in the Summary box for your publicist.
Here’s a starting list of things to do, in conjunction with the publicist:
- Two and a half months before publication once we have listed your book on Amazon, you can join Amazon’s Author Central. You should supplement the information on yourself and your book to attract more readers by spicing up the copy, adding endorsements, uploading book trailer and other content). Here you can also see how many copies have sold on Amazon. More in ONLINE SALES AND AMAZON .
- Present the book to every organization that you are affiliated with personally and professionally. Direct readers and media to the imprint website page for your book and your own website(s). Focus it around the time of any READER OFFERS.
- Present your book to every publication, blog or organisation that is associated with the book’s subject. You will find many in our contacts database on the System, please do add any new ones who would be interested in our titles. More in USING THE CONTACTS DATABASE
- Distribute the press release, the one on your Marketing page or your own version, to the free online release distributors. (i-newswire.com, prweb.com, PRlog.com, etc.). More in PRESS RELEASES
- Be an active member of online book sites such as GoodReads, Librarything, and Shelfari and general social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Online recommendations from these wider social networks reach many more readers than in person word of mouth. Encourage friendly readers to post a review wherever they buy books or discuss the issues raised in your book. More in SOCIAL NETWORKING.
- Approach bookstores within 50 miles of where you live. Competition from online bookstores means many physical bookstores have reinvented themselves as venues for events and are open to suggestions from authors wanting to launch and promote their books. Print off the AI tip sheet on your marketing support page, compile a list of Q&A for a potential reading or talk and a list of reasons why the bookstore’s customers would be interested in you and your book. It helps to have a printed copy of the book. More in EVENTS/SIGNINGS.
- Review books in your imprint or others on similar subjects to yours on Amazon, and other websites such as Barnes & Noble and Waterstones. It will encourage others to do the same for you. Before publication we submit endorsements to Amazon and other sites, after publication customers can add reviews to the retail sites. Swap reviews with others authors on our Facebook authors groups listed in SOCIAL NETWORKING
HOW DO I ORDER MY BOOK?
When can I order my book?
We aim to have printed stock in the warehouses by the first day of the month in which your book is published. If you need books earlier for promotion, please request them on the Help forum under Sales & Distribution/Sales to authors. We will then send you an invoice and arrange for copies to come to you directly from the printer.
How many can I order?
- For orders 1--10 placed after the initial print run; contact the distributor in your region (listed below), say you’re an author or contributor, and they will apply the standard author terms of discount 50% firm sale non returnable on any title in any imprint (exception is Australia where it’s 40% when authors order from Brumby our local distributor).
- For initial orders and and all orders for over 10 copies please order direct from the office by putting a note up on the Help forum, under Sales & Distribution/Sales to authors giving:
- Quantity of books
- Where you would like them sent
- When you need them by (note; we need at least three weeks notice from the time payment is received for USA, UK and Europe, more for other countries,)
- Payment needs to be by check or wire transfer. We will assume that the address to be billed is your author address in your Profile.
- Delivery is charged for all orders placed through the office.
- For one-off orders of 500 copies or more, we offer the following discounts: 55% on 500-999 copies; 60% on 1000-2499 copies; 65% on over 2500 copies. These discounts do not apply to later smaller orders.
- Discounted author orders do not count towards your overall sales figures for royalties, but do count towards the sales figures which automatically trigger extra publicity at every 500 total copies (print and ebook) sold to customers.
- Distributors ask for payment from individuals and authors on ordering, and generally accept all credit cards if they have the book in stock. We cannot offset payments against royalties, because the accounts the distributor holds with you are separate from the ones we hold.
- If a book is not in stock, most distributors cannot accept your order, unless you pay cash or have an existing account. When you see on your Production page, that your books have been delivered, phone or email your order.
For orders 1-10 placed after the initial print run contact the distributor in your region.
Europe & the Middle East
Orca Marston distribute our books to individuals and trade customers throughout Europe and the Middle East.
Individuals (not trade); order with a credit card by emailing Orca Marston at firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning +44 (0)1235 465577,
Delivery from Orca within UK is free on orders over £150. On orders under £150 delivery charges are: Order value £0-£19.99 = p&p £3.95; £20-£49.99 = £7.50; £50-£149.99 = £9.50 (correct at 12/2/15)
Individuals can not usually open an account, that is for trade only, but once you have placed one order as an author your address remains on the system so that you can easily reorder.
Overseas surface mail is 20% of order value (minimum charge of £7.00). Overseas air mail charges are quoted on ordering.
National Book Network distribute our books throughout North, Central & South America.
Tel: +1 800 462 6420
More info at http://www.nbnbooks.com/publishers/SixSteps.pdf
Delivery charges will be quoted on ordering. Please be aware that if you request advance copies in the US and they reach our warehouse at NBN more than two months before the planned publication date, this new date will be bought forward and distributed to all databases including amazon.com. We have no control over this.
Tel: +61 2 3255 5552
More info at http://www.brumbysunstate.com.au/
We need three months warning to have sufficient stock available. Discount is 40%, firm sale no returns. Delivery to Australian addresses is free for orders up to AUD$165 (wholesale, inc GST). On orders under AUD$165 the delivery charge is AUD$13.50.
Tel: +64 9 419 2635
More info at http://www.bookreps.co.nz/contact-bookreps-nz-ltd
Alternatively order online from The Book Depository or Amazon Australia or Amazon.com or if it is for 100 copies or more put a note up on the Help forum, under Sales to Authors. We will then arrange a separate printing in Australia, which bypasses Brumby & Bookreps, so you will get the standard author terms of discount 50% firm sale no returns plus shipping and taxes and be invoiced from the office.
Hay House South Africa (pty) Ltd
Tel: +27 82 771 4207
More info at http://shop.hayhouse.co.za
Post a note in the HELP forum under Sales & Distribution/Ordering
For more details see www.johnhuntpublishing.com/Company/Ordering
AVAILABILITY OF BOOKS IN STORES
When will my books be available in shops?
Books are printed in US, UK, and occasionally in Australia before being shipped to the nearest distributor. Books are in stock in our warehouses and available to order in the month of publication. Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble and all bookstores can fulfill orders ahead of publication date as soon as books have reached the warehouse. When books reach the shelf of your local bookstore is out of our control. It can take six weeks from leaving the warehouse for printed books to get to a store on the West Coast of the USA. Ebooks will be available from the day of publication.
How long will a bookstore take to get my book?
It depends where the bookshop is, and what type of shop it is.
Standard Ground UPS shipping generally takes five days but can take six weeks. Large retailers, such as Barnes & Noble, buy centrally, the books go to their central warehouse, then out again, adding a week or so. For an event, allow two months.
It takes longer to Canada to allow for border customs. It can take longer to get books a few hundred miles from Pennsylvania to Ontario than a few thousand miles from England to Singapore. British Columbia is worse still.
Our distributor in the UK, Orca Marston Book Services, supplies large wholesalers like Gardners and Bertrams daily, but for efficiency they only supply small independent shops once a week. Small shops allow for this by timing their order carefully, placing larger orders or using a wholesaler.
How can a non-bookshop order my book?
Non-bookstores may be able to order books through their usual wholesaler or distributor. If not details on how to open an account with our distributors are on the distributor’s websites www.nbnbooks.com in US, or www.orcabookservices.co.uk, www.brumbybooks.com.au, or www.hayhouse.co.za.
If the customer is only likely to buy a few books once or twice it may not be worth setting up an account. They can still order but may be asked to pay in advance by credit card.
Why is this bookstore saying my book is not available?
We spend a lot of time dealing with these problems, where the query seems genuine. Very occasionally, it’s because sales are going faster than we expected, and we’re temporarily out of stock (usually two weeks max.). Far more often, the answers fall into the following kinds of categories;
- Your friend has gone into a local shop asking for something like “it’s by Herron, with two “r”s, and it’s got “well-being” in the title. And they say they cant find it, without going into more detail. The problem is, there are several hundred books by the surname "Herron", there are over 10,000 with “well-being” in the title
- Or they are missing out a digit on the ISBN. Or they are spelling the title wrongly. This happens with the distributors as well. If someone rings up NBN for instance quoting the title as Jeremiah rather than Jeremiad they will type it up on the screen and it will show as unavailable. They can not spend time searching for it on screen, they have more than 100,000 titles in stock. Nielsen and Amazon track around 12 million. A tiny error in the detail and it will not be found
- Or sometimes a bookshop in one part of the world or another complains that they can’t get hold of a book from our distributor. Almost invariably, when we look into it, if it’s a small shop or wholesaler, it is because;
- They do not place backorders. So, for example, a bookshop orders a title from a wholesaler before the wholesaler has received their stock, so the order isn’t fulfilled and it isn’t kept as a backorder. Or
- Their account is on stop, because they’re late payers. Or
- They only want to order 1 copy, and the distributor has a minimum order level of 10 units to obtain the best discount (the case with NBN), and the shop is waiting till it gets enough orders to reach 10 copies. Or
- There’s a freight-free level which the bookshop wants to reach, and the orders are held until they reach that. Or
- If it’s a chain store, it is usually because they haven’t actually ordered it. Or the store ordered it before publication, but the central office of the stores will not let the distributor hold advance orders, because they do not want those financial commitments to show up in their figures, and they do not want to say that to the person asking
There’s a raft of similar reasons. Do let us know if you come across any problems. But be precise. Press the shop for details –“Which store? Which manager dealt with your book? What date was the invoice sent? For how many copies? What was the invoice or order reference number?" And send those to us, with the ISBN & title of the book. Distributors get thousands of orders from stores each day. They need the order reference to check. Virtually every time we look into this, the distributor is not at fault. Distribution of books is a nightmare kind of business, it’s a lot of hard work for low margin, they frequently go bust, and we work with the ones that provide as good a service as it’s possible to do.
Why can I not see my book on bookstore shelves?
The total number of books available in English is somewhere north of 30 million. The number available to buy online is over 10 million. The average number stocked in a bookshop (if it's a large one) is around 10,000. Most of these are backlist sellers relevant to the shops marketplace, which they know are going to sell. Some are new books, most of those are by well known names. We can only get directly to very few of the 20,000 shops in North America/UK, they mostly buy centrally, or through wholesalers. So if it is not there, the most likely reason is that the information we sent out to the main buyer and wholesaler was not persuasive enough. Or, if it's a chain, they have allocated it to a few shops but not all of them. Or if they did buy it, and it is in the month of publication, it may because the book has not got to that shop yet. If it is later than the month after publication, it may be that the shop has had the book but sold it, and not reordered yet, or did not sell and has been returned. Most new books are only stocked for a few weeks and then returned if they are not selling fast enough
Will you do a front of store promotion?
When you see piles of books at the front of a bookstore understand that the exposure was “bought” by the publisher. It’s mostly relevant to mass-market fiction and celebrity self-help, not the more specialist kind of books we generally publish. For example, it may cost $5,000 to get a book on the "New Arrivals" table at all Barnes & Noble superstores. Or it may run $15,000 to $25,000 to be the “Book of the Week”. For more serious widespread prime exposure around a single main bookshop chain you’re looking at $50-100,000. But it is not down to us to choose the book, the main bookshop buyer at head office does that.
What discount will stores receive?
The discount depends on the type of retailer, order history and size of order. In US, Australia and South Africa this is determined by the respective distributors NBN, Brumby and Hay House, elsewhere by negotiation with us, JHP.
HOW CAN I SEE HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE SOLD/ARE THE FIGURES ACCURATE?
We provide monthly sales figures on your Financials page. These are trade sales from our regional distributors combined with any you have bought through our distributors, not the number of books bought by readers in that month. There is always a lag between a sale to a reader in a store and it being reported on your Financials page, this lag can be several months. You can see your own figures, not those of other authors.
For each of our territories we give the monthly sales by units and value in £ sterling. The exchange rate used changes monthly. The figures include sales to authors, (within office sales), but no free issues. We upload sales figures to the Financials Pages at the end of the following month - August sales will be posted by the end of September.
All ebook sales worldwide go through our N American distributor, and the reporting of those takes two months, on average.
The sales are "net of returned books" rather than "gross". "Gross" sales are the total number sold in the period, before returns from shops have been deducted. “Net” sales are the total number sold when the returns from the bookstores have been deducted. Net sales can appear as negative in the early months after publication, because initial orders from over-ambitious retailers are being returned and are often higher than more recent outgoing orders. It is now more cost effective to pulp returned copies. So the number you are fairly sure have been sold in a particular month may not be the number shown.
The distribution chain is complex. There is a significant lag between a known purchase in a store and the sale being reported by our distributors. Ebooks sales figures often lag print book sales and may not appear till three months after the sale. If one of our distributors is late sending us sales figures, we do not revise earlier figures, but add them into the month we receive them. Most customers report monthly but reporting periods can vary. Ebook wholesalers ebrary, Cengage, Myilibrary, Overdrive and Sony report quarterly.
Sales in South Africa and Australia can seem disproportionately low. Increasingly, most sales here are through online retailers based outside the region.
If you have an Amazon Central account you can see your Amazon sales there. These are sales to Amazon customers which Amazon source direct from our warehouses as well as those they source from other suppliers in the distribution network.
The current monthly sales figures, going back to November 2008, are accurate, though there may be slippage from one month to the next. Prior to 2008, they are not, particularly if your title was published before January 2005. The royalty statements, however, will be accurate overall, but we have put in an approximation at times rather than checking every royalty statement for each title. Sales of ebooks prior to November 2011 are not given on the website, but will have appeared on your royalty statement.
WHAT ABOUT PIRACY?
Piracy means you are worth pirating. Many people, who'd never have bought your book, read a pirated copy, like it and buy it and your other titles. Author Neil Gaiman explains how piracy increased his sales in this video http://www.sffaudio.com/?p=26982 . Paulo Coehlo now thinks that free downloads leads to more book sales. Since 2006 he has been sharing all of his digital books on popular Bittorrent sites and even directly linking to direct downloads in a section on his personal webpage called The Pirate Coelho.
The general concensus around publishing is that obscurity is more dangerous than piracy.
Due to the production costs of a paperback, it’s quite rare to see instances of piracy where it can be reproduced without our collecting royalties. However, ebooks can potentially be pirated. Along with most publishers, we do not build digital rights management (DRM) into our ebooks because it would restrict their readability and distribution. What instead happens is many of the 3rd party stores (e.g. Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble) add a layer of DRM that locks the book to a specific user account and device. If you do come across an instance of your manuscript being offered as a free download and you can find a contact email address on the offending site, post this on the Help forum in Sales & Distribution with the url link to your title. We will then send a take down notice to their service provider. Word Press are on our side and will take down any offending url.
DO YOU SELL TO LIBRARIES?
Libraries generally do not buy from publishers, but from wholesalers, who we do contact. In the UK this is organizations like Bertrams, BDS and Lindsay & Croft. There's a similar spread in North America, where B&T has about 70% of the library business. These wholesalers pass on information to libraries through online feeds. There’s a useful article on libraries at:
The degree to which libraries continue to receive taxpayer support varies enormously by region. The one common thread emerging recently is "PDA" - Patron Driven Access; ie "Patrons", or "readers", will have a greater role in title acquisition. Libraries need to make themselves more directly relevant to reader wishes. So though the library market is shrinking, the possibilities for direct author intervention are increasing.
- If you are an academic, please encourage your university library to stock your book, and others on the list, and subscribe to one of our newsletters.
- Add your library to our contacts database if it is not already there.
- Public Libraries look particularly at books by local authors, and about their local area.
- They select books whose content is written for the general reader rather than for the specialist or practitioner.
- Reviews in the main local city newspaper, or one of the library review journals, such as Library Journal, Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, can help.
- Write to the collections development staff of your local library. They look for:
- What the book is about. This should be brief and include ordering information (how they can purchase the item) along with pertinent reviews and their sources (not blogs such as Facebook, MySpace, or customer reviews on Amazon).
- A complimentary copy of the book sent with the above information can be helpful, but not necessary.
- Drop in visits are not encouraged.
www.publiclibraries.com is a good source, as is lists.webjunction.org/libweb/Public_main.html.
What is the PLR (Public Lending Right)?
In some countries the government pays authors a small amount every time their books are borrowed from a library. Authors have to register for this directly. It does not happen in the USA. For the UK, check on www.plr.uk.com.
Also, in the UK, you can register at www.alcs.co.uk. It’s a central body for collecting payments from schools etc. for photocopying. Payments will not be sent to you unless you register. It usually only applies to books being used as a classroom text.
Bookshops / bookstores
A bookshop is a retailer who mostly sells books, and includes small local shops and the national chains.
Soon this will be where most books are sold. Amazon dominates, so it is imperative that authors register for Author Central in their region, eg in UK https://authorcentral.amazon.co.uk/
Authors need to get as many good reviews on Amazon as they can, read more on how to improve sales on Amazon at ONLINE SALES AND AMAZON .
The retail chain is a complex network. Wholesalers serve smaller retailers and Amazon, and promote our books to their networks. Most retailers and libraries prefer to place orders through one company for titles from many publishers.
Orca in Europe and NBN in America distibute our titles. They warehouse books and process orders to the trade. These could be bookclubs, health clubs, churches, bookstalls at events, meeting venues
These are bookclubs, health clubs, churches, bookstalls at events, meeting venues, retreats...anywhere where books are bought but not stocked regularly.