05 August 2013
Do ebooks jeopardise selling hard copy books?

I feel a little bit sorry for writers who have gone ahead with printing hundreds of copies of their book (whether self-published or vanity) only to find they have no idea how to sell them. I say "a little bit" because in this day and age with the Internet there is little excuse for not realising that books won't sell themselves. Indeed there are countless resources and books for learning how to market and sell books. There is no magic bullet, however. And getting a sense for what could become a best-seller is something that takes publishers (the people employed by Publishing Companies) decades to develop. And it is usually only these top sellers that keep a typical Publishing Company afloat.

A writer said to me recently that they couldn't possibly have their book turned into an ebook while they've got nearly a thousand hard copy books sitting in their garage doing nothing. Putting the book up "on the internet", they reasoned, would mean the hard copy books would never sell.

I would argue that while she's doing nothing in terms of marketing, those hard copy books are going to keep sitting there doing nothing. However by releasing an ebook version AND doing some marketing (website, blog, social media, going out speaking etc.), there is a greater possibility it will be noticed. If the ebook sales started to take off chances are that the hard copy sales would too. However, neither ebooks nor hard copy books will sell themselves.

The writer also offered for me to be her agent and try to sell her books in bulk. This is not a service I provide. When a writer gets involved in self-publishing, they really have decided to go into business. And you don't start a business without a game plan, a marketing budget and the dedication to turn a profit.

I don’t have any experience selling hard copy books. Only designing them. However I do know that you have to be right in there in the book industry to even understand it (join your local Writers Centre, the Australian Society of Authors etc.). Bookstores won’t take books from unknown authors as they still will not sell. You would have to have a marketing plan, go out speaking, contact related organisations, try somehow get into the media, make links and build relationships with every related organisation in the country (send each one a free book with a media release). Have a website, blog and use social media. It’s a full time job!

Australian eBook Publisher employs designers (graphic and web), editors and communication specialists. We are creative and technical people. The business mind - that marketing driving force behind a successful product - must come from you. In the world of self-publishing and assisted self-publishing, if the author (or someone very clost to them and the product) can't do this, then the book is probably doomed to fail.

If you need help with the creative and technical side of ebook production, distribution and marketing, please go to our Quote Request.

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