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- Written by: AusthorsSchool
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How I Got My Book Listed Before the Amazon Resellers
Grace Allison, author (member of TxAuthors) of Do You Have a Dream and Einstein’s Compass, read the recent article by Amy Collins about the issues authors are experiencing with the Amazon ADD TO CART button and what to do about it. Grace generously offered to share her solution to the issue, one that put her book on the ADD TO CART button and ensured she received her royalties.
Grace’s Solution: Contact the Resellers
First she went to her Amazon page for Do You Have a Dream Workbook: 5 Keys to Realize Your Dream. She took note of the book resellers who had her paperback edition for sale. Grace then contacted each reseller to let them know that they were selling her book for a lower price than she was able to sell it for, and asked them to pay her a royalty.
Then she waited.
Unsure what to expect, Grace was pleasantly surprised to receive the following replies (names of resellers are deleted for privacy):
You have received a message from the Amazon Seller – xxxxx
We received a message indicating that we were listing the products of your brand in our inventory and we sincerely apologize for this matter. Our intention was not to infringe your rights.
We have just deleted the concerned listings from our inventory and you can be assured that we won’t list it anymore.
In case you see reminding articles, please contact us and we will remove it immediately. Thank you for your kind understanding and cooperation regarding this matter. Best regards,
You have received a message from the Amazon Seller – yyyyyyy
Dear Ms. Grace
Thank you for the below email regarding the book ISBN: 0998830801. We want to apologize; it is not our intent to infringe on publisher/authors rights. We have researched this matter and, although the title was included as inventory of a trusted and reliable supplier; we would like to reassure you that we take such matters very seriously and would never list such items intentionally.
We have taken the following steps to correct this infringement:
We have permanently removed this title from our listings and quarantined it from being re-listed.
We have sequestered all copies of this title and will return to the supplier.
We have forwarded details of this matter onto our supplier so they can also take appropriate action.
If you have other listings that you would like us to remove please provide us with a complete list of ISBN’s or the prefix (1st four digits of the ISBN – identifying the publisher) and we will be happy to remove those from our listings as well.
For any questions about your royalties, you should reach out to your publisher. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
Today, if you go to Grace’s book sales page on Amazon, you will find that the resellers have adjusted their pricing so that, at $6.39, Grace’s is now the lowest price available and is listed by the ADD TO CART button. By taking these steps, Grace has also ensured that she will be paid her royalty.
________________________________________ How to contact the resellers:
1. Go to your Amazon page where your book is for sale. Grace’s book sales page, as an example, is https://amzn.to/2JZpvBl
2. You will notice in blue writing under the “Paperback” price for your book, “# New from $6.39.”
3. Click on the blue copy. On the next page, you will find the list of resellers.
4. Click on a reseller link (listed under the Seller Information column), and you will find a button to contact the reseller.
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Note: BookPub is in the business to make money from authors and thus, some of the information provided is related to their company and related outlets. With that said, what is written in this blog has some value for authors even if they do not use BookPub or related companies.
February 5, 2020 by DIANA URBAN
Have you been actively promoting your audiobooks? From growing awareness on social media to generating a high volume of sales on audiobook retailers like Chirp (learn how to submit for a Chirp deal here!), there’s a variety of tactics you can use for marketing audiobooks. And audio is an extremely fast-growing segment of the publishing market. According to the Audio Publishers Association, audiobook revenue in 2018 increased 24.5% from 2017 (and unit sales increased 27.3%), totaling $940 million!
Key takeaways from the APA’s 2019 report from BookBub’s partner Findaway.
This audiobook market is ripe for gaining new listeners for your own titles. But how can you best reach these listeners and find new fans? We compiled some examples of fantastic audiobook promotions we’ve seen authors implement, and hope this helps you when brainstorming how to promote your own audiobooks or advising your authors on how to promote theirs!
1. Announce an upcoming audiobook launch
Before an audiobook launch, build buzz by announcing the fact that there will be an audiobook, or even who the narrators will be. Getting an audiobook produced is exciting, so make a big splash with the news!
Author Adam Silvera announced on Twitter who the voice actors would be for What If It’s Us, co-written with Becky Albertalli. He included an eye-catching graphic and a link to a post where readers could learn more.
2. Announce when the audiobook is available
Making sure readers know an audiobook is available is an important step. Even with the rise of audiobook popularity, its availability is inconsistent. And sometimes an audiobook will launch simultaneous to the print and/or ebook editions, while other times, the audiobook comes later. So don’t assume that your readers will know about it!
Jenika Snow created a custom graphic to announce that audio versions of two of her books from The Underground Series were now available. She also included links in the Instagram caption for people to copy and paste.
3. Discount the audiobook and run a Chirp promotion
Just like discounting ebooks, discounting audiobooks is an effective way to quickly generate a high volume of sales and reach new listeners. Authors and publishers can now run audiobook price promotions on Chirp — similar to how BookBub Featured Deals work for ebooks! With Chirp, listeners can sign up for their favorite audiobook genres, and each day they’ll receive an email with a fresh selection of limited-time audiobook deals they can purchase à la carte directly from Chirp. Authors and publishers alike are already driving exciting sales for their audiobook deals!
To be eligible for a Chirp deal, your audiobook needs to be available for sale on Chirp via the Findaway catalog. To learn more about working with Findaway, click here. Once your audiobook is available through Findaway, you can submit it for a Chirp deal from your BookBub Partner Dashboard. If your audiobook is selected for promotion, Chirp sets up the discount for you, making the process super easy!
Dale Mayer ran a $0.99 deal to Chirp’s Mysteries & Thrillers members for the first audiobook in her mystery series, Arsenic in the Azaleas. This promotion generated over 3,300 audiobook sales! And since Dale’s entire series is also on Chirp, listeners could easily purchase the next audiobook to find out what happens next.
Want to submit your audiobook for a Chirp promotion? The submission form is now open to all BookBub partners! Click here to submit an audiobook now!
4. Tell newsletter subscribers about audiobook discounts
If you’re discounting an audiobook, whether it’s a Chirp deal or otherwise, let your newsletter subscribers know about the discount. You might turn some loyal readers into loyal audiobook listeners!
Liliana Hart included a section in one of her newsletters to promote the audiobook discount of Shadows and Silk to $1.99, and included a button linking to the audiobook on Chirp.
5. Add audiobook retailer links to your website
An author website can be a useful sales tool. Many sites include a page listing all of an author’s published books — or an individual page for each book — including links so readers can easily purchase at their preferred retailer. Consider also adding audiobook retailer links to these pages.
M. Louisa Locke has a dedicated page on her website for each of her books, and includes a button to each retailer in each available format (ebook, paperback, and audiobook).
6. Upload audiobook excerpts to SoundCloud
SoundCloud is the world’s biggest open audio platform, letting anyone upload their own music or audio. (On Twitter, it’s common to see “check out my SoundCloud” or “I don’t have a SoundCloud, but…” as a quick promotional follow-up after a tweet blows up). But this isn’t just a platform for musicians! You can also use SoundCloud to host excerpts of your audiobooks and link to the retailer page where listeners can buy the full book.
Author J.F. Penn has uploaded plenty of audiobook excerpts to her SoundCloud. She categorized them under the hashtag #Audiobooks so she can reach relevant readers on SoundCloud.
It’s easy to embed the clip on your website or share it on social media.
Publishers have also been using this strategy for years, for a wide variety of genres!
7. Send newsletter subscribers an audiobook sample
Just like you’d include a one-chapter excerpt of a novel in a newsletter, you can also include an audiobook sample! It’s a great way to get potential listeners hooked.
Marissa Meyer included an audio sample of her book Supernova in her newsletter. We love how she made it look like the audio clip was embedded and playable in the newsletter — it’s actually just a screenshot image that links to the right page on SoundCloud!
BookFunnel recently launched a tool that lets authors share audio excerpts, too!
8. Run BookBub Ads to promote the audiobook
BookBub Ads lets advertisers market any book at any time to BookBub’s millions of power readers — including audiobooks! These ads appear in dedicated spaces in BookBub’s daily emails, on BookBub’s website, and now in Chirp emails. Many authors and publishers have successfully promoted their audiobooks via this platform.
Audiobook targeting for BookBub Ads campaigns isn’t available to all partners yet. Please contact us if you’d like access to this new feature!
Once you have access to target audiobook listeners with your ad campaign, start by selecting Audiobook listeners in the new “Select Reading Format” section of the BookBub Ads set-up form:
The retailer links you enter in the “Click-Through Links” section determine which segment of listeners your ad is targeting and where it is eligible to appear. If you enter a Chirp URL, your ad will target listeners who use Chirp to buy audiobooks, and can appear in Chirp emails, BookBub emails, or on BookBub.com. If you enter URLs for other audiobook retailers (we currently support links for Apple Audiobooks, Audible, Google Play Audiobooks, Kobo Audiobooks, and Nook Audiobooks), your ad will target BookBub members who use those audio retailers, and can appear in BookBub emails or on BookBub.com.
Here are several fantastic examples of the creative authors have designed to promote their audiobooks via BookBub Ads. Some of these ads include a visual indicator that the ad is specifically for an audiobook, using earbud or headphone imagery or even an audio icon next to the call-to-action.
All advertisers will be able to target audiobook listeners with their BookBub Ads campaigns soon, but in the meantime, please contact us to request access to this new feature.
9. Show off the audiobook unboxing
If you receive physical audiobooks from your publisher (or that you’ve self-published), show off an unboxing photo or video on social media! Sharing your excitement can help get fans excited, too.
When A. G. Howard received a box of audiobooks for Stain from her publisher, she shared her excitement in this Instagram post. She also included a link in her bio where followers could listen to a sample.
10. Share a behind-the-scenes look from production
Readers often appreciate a behind-the-scenes look at an author’s writing and publishing process, and that includes the audiobook production process! You can either post sneak peeks during production, or save some photos to use after the audiobook’s release.
Mannette Morgan shared a photo of her recording her own audiobook, with a genuine, heartfelt caption!
11. Create an inventory of audiobook photography
Just like you might stage photos of your hardcover, paperback, or ebook for #bookstagram, consider taking photos of the audiobook. There’s even a hashtag for #audiobookstagram! This can help spread awareness that an audio edition is available, and can appeal to social media followers who’d prefer to listen. You can also use props that clearly represent audio, like a headset, headphone cord, or mic.
Penny Reid posted this gorgeous photo of her audiobook Beard With Me, using the print editions of that title and the rest of her series in the backdrop.
12. Share exciting audiobook accolades
If your audiobook is nominated for or wins any awards, gets a glowing review from a major publication (or from a blogger who tags you), or is featured on a list, share the news with your readers and on social media! It’s a great chance to build hype for the audiobook.
When On the Come Up was featured on a “Best Audiobooks” list, Angie Thomas shared the news on Twitter and included a graphic so the post would stand out in followers’ feeds.
13. Ask readers to request your audiobook at their library
Requesting an audiobook (or a book in any format) at a local library is a great way for people to support their favorite authors, making the audiobook more readily available to a regional audience. So in your next newsletter or on social media, consider asking your fans to request your audiobook at their local library! You can even make it part of your preorder campaign.
Christina June set up an entire “Library Preorder Campaign” where instead of offering a gift in exchange for a preorder, she offered the gift in exchange for a library request. While this wasn’t an audiobook-specific promotion, she mentioned the audiobook format — otherwise readers might not think to request that format, too!
How have you promoted your audiobook to reach new listeners? Share your tips on marketing audiobooks in the comments below!
Diana Urban is the Industry Marketing Manager at BookBub, and was previously the Head of Conversion Marketing at HubSpot. She's an expert in inbound marketing and lead generation. Diana is also an author of dark, twisty thrillers, including All Your Twisted Secrets (HarperTeen, 3/17/2020). Follow her on Twitter at @DianaUrban.
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The following list has been created by Danielle Vann as part of her presentation to the 2018 Authors Marketing Event. This list has been updated as of November 1, 2019. Not all book contest or writing contest are listed below.
Information, requirements, and procedures can be found on the individual award’s websites. Research each contest and make sure your book(s) are the right fit. Most contest are open to international publishers and authors if the books are written/submitted in English:
Authors School of Business, Inc. (formerly Texas Authors/Authors Marketing International) established their Book Contest in 2012, open to multi genre’s. Entry is open to any author around the world. Fee applies. http://AuthorsMarketingGuild.com
Dear Indie, LLC (DEARIndie.org) established their short story contest in 2016. It is open to any author worldwide. Fee applies. Entries received March 1 to July 31 each year.
Benjamin Franklin Book Awards, put on by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), is a big one. This organization has over 3,000 members, and among the membership, this is the most coveted award. It’s also the only one that shows you the judges’ comments about your book.
Best American Series, The is offered through Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Best American accepts essays, sports writing, travel writing, nature writing, and more. These annually-published collections compile the best short works of literature published in North America, offering a powerful publication credit and public recognition to any accepted author. You can either be nominated by one of their editors or submit your publication to them directly.
Best of The Net To be considered, you must either be nominated by an online literary journal that features your work or nominate your own self-published work that was first published online. There is no entry fee, and all winners will be included in an e-anthology available on the Sundress Publications website.
Foreword Review’s IndieFab Awards (soon to be called the “Indies”) long process from enter to announcement. They announce a suspiciously long list of finalists early on and then offer expensive advertising opportunities in their magazine. Even so, it is a popular contest.
Eric Hoffer Award, The has been around since 2000 and is well respected as an independent entity with no corporate ties. It has fewer categories than some other contests. Cash prizes are offered.
Independent Publisher (“IPPY”) Book Awards is run by the Jenkins Group (a book marketing firm) and is clearly a for-profit venture. Good reputation over the last 20 years.
Literary Classics is a smaller contest for traditional and self-published authors. Offers media attention, quality reviews, a gala, and a book festival.
National Indie Excellence (NIEA) Book Awards is run by Smarketing, a book marketing firm. A few overall winners are given valuable book promotion packages through outside companies.
Next Generation Indie Book Awards is the largest not-for-profit contest. It is put on by the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group in cooperation with Marilyn Allen of Allen O’Shea Literary Agency. After the ceremony they follow up with encouraging emails and general advice on how to leverage a win to improve sales. Cash prizes are awarded.
Nobel Prize is awarded to those whose lives have been spent writing literature that has inspired readers of all ages and influenced the world in a positive way. You can only be nominated by other prestigious writers, professors, etc., but the prize is well worth the work: over $1,000,000 in U.S. currency.
PenCraft Book Awards is a literary award contest recognizing outstanding achievement by authors. We welcome entries from independently (indie) published books, including those from small presses, e-book publishers, self-published authors, or from traditional publishers. http://pencraftawards.com/
PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction requires no entry fee or application form for this award, but your work must already be published. The PEN/Faulkner Foundation accepts novels, novellas, and short story collections that have been published by commercial, academic, or small presses; no self-published work is accepted. Five submissions are awarded prizes, with first place receiving $15,000 and four runner-ups receiving $5,000.
Pulitzer Prize: Winning a prestigious Pulitzer Prize takes more than just submitting your favorite poem and crossing your fingers: Beyond the $50.00 entry fee, your work must survive the scrutiny of five to seven judges accepting only the most distinguished pieces of American literature. There are several categories specifically for writers, including fiction, nonfiction, drama (playwriting), history, poetry, biography, and poetry. Winners receive a certificate for their achievement and $10,000 cash.
Pushcart Prize: Since 1976, Pushcart Press has been honoring authors published in small presses and including them in their world-famous anthology, The Pushcart Prize – Best of the Small Presses. Literary journal and magazine editors choose nominees from work that has been featured in their publications, whether the submission is a poetry or short story collection, poem, essay, or short story. There is no entry fee.
Readers’ Favorite is one of the leading and largest international award contest. The contest is highly supported by the Top 5 Publishers in the U.S. and offers cash prizes, quality reviews, media attention, a gala, chances at entertainment contracts, and P.R.
Self-Published eBook Awards is ran by Writer’s Digest. The deadline is 8/1/18
StoryMonster Magazine offers multiple award contest each year. The Dragonfly Award and Royal Dragonfly Awards are considered in high esteem by the traditional publishing world. The magazine does a massive write up on the winners, PR and releases, and does extensive online marketing for the winners.
USA Best Book Awards is sponsored by USA Book News and i310 Media Group. They offer good support for winners on their site and through press releases, plus they make connections with the entertainment industry.
Whistler Independent Book Awards, new in 2016, is open to Canadian self-published authors. Each book receives a thoughtful critique that can be quoted for publicity. One interesting advantage to this contest is that the books can be up to 6 years old when entered. No eBooks.
Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards hosts the Popular Fiction Awards. This competition spotlights writing in many categories including Romance, Thriller, Crime, Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Young Adult. There are 6 categories to choose from. This is your chance to win $2,500 in cash, a spotlight about you in an upcoming issue, and a paid trip to our ever-popular Writer’s Digest Conference.
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Why should you, as an Indie Author, consider doing a pre-order? Simple - to build the impact of the release of your new book. There are many aspects to consider when doing a pre-sale, and the most important one is getting as many people to know about your new book as you possibly can.
This article will outline the key steps to creating and implementing a Pre-Order Program that helps you to succeed on many levels. This includes:
1 ―Setting a Release Date
2 ― How You Process Pre-Orders
3 ― Advertising the Pre-Order
4 ― Pre-Sale Dates
For you, as an Indie Author, the first and most important one is building a war chest that pays off so you can do more marketing with the least amount of financial impact. Thus, by doing a Pre Order program, you can take your time to create the buzz and hype necessary to build upon your sales; thus, your profit.
Let’s begin with the necessary steps:
1 – Setting a Release Date. Indie Authors tend to rush their book to press and release so they can begin to make money from their investment. This is where 99% of authors fail.
You want to take your time in creating the buzz for your new book. The ideal situation is to get the book done in an ARC (Advance Readers Copy) first. This is done after all the beta testers, and final edits are done. The ARC is what you will use to send out for press reviews, fellow-author reviews, and most importantly to bookstores to get the buzz started on the new book.
The ideal situation is 3 – 6 months before the release date. This should give you enough time to get the reviews back, add them to your new cover and be ready for the release date. Having the reviews will also be critical for readers and bookstores to see the quality of your work and to get excited enough to want to purchase a copy.
Once you have set your release date, move to Step 2
2 - How are You Processing Pre-Orders – Most indie authors want to make as much money as they possibly can. Thus they will process the orders themselves on their website, in person, etc. However, when you do that, you could actually be missing out on the ability to report your sales figures to organizations that matter…Best Seller Lists.
“Oh, I won’t sell enough books to be on that list” is the common response I hear from authors. Ok, so let’s say you don’t sell enough for the NYT or the other big lists. Heck, there have been book releases that haven’t hit those lists when they were first released, but they did months and even years after they were released. While they didn’t hit the big list first, they did hit the local and regional lists which then spurred them on to success and ultimately the big lists.
As an Indie Author, you can’t afford to purchase the membership needed to be able to report to the ‘lists’ but through other organizations, you can then have access to them, plus opportunities you would not otherwise have.
Indie Lector is a member of both the American Booksellers Association (Indie Bookstores) and the Mountain & Plains Indie Bookstores. Between both of these programs, we have the ability to report the numbers for national lists, regional and local. And now, the Indie Authors Top 10 List, which is distributed to Indie Bookstores in Texas. But, in order to qualify for these lists, the Indie Author must have sales processed through the Indie Lector Store.
Step 3 - Advertising the Pre-Order opportunity and what goes into this program.
Yes, we have built a following, small or large, if you have been collecting information from people you meet and have sold some books to, you should have an email list to use, a Facebook following, twitter followers and any other social media outlet you have grown. Each of those people is now a valuable avenue to promote your book and get pre-sales.
Create ad sheets (order one here) that promote the upcoming release of the new book. Make sure a call-to-action (link or web address) is clearly visible, so people can purchase the book with a simple click.
Then give dates that the pre-sale is valid for. During this time, you are also offering something special for the buyers. An autographed copy is the most common, but what about SWAG, or a special gift, or discount that will not be available to anyone else on any site anywhere?
Make this promotion special for one main reason, to create a bigger desire to buy your book. Anyone can buy your book. Anyone can get an autographed copy of the book. But, what can they get that others can’t?
Do you know what SWAG stands for? Sales Will Accelerate with Goodies. These goodies can range from bookmarks, buttons, posters, or anything that you can create and be clever with. But whatever it is, it must be unique to the Pre-Sale only. Don’t give away something during the Pre-Order that will be given away at another time. Make it special in some way.
This step can be done while you are waiting on the reviews. Plan it out and know exactly what you want to give away with the book during Pre-Orders. Then create your ad images that relate to this. You can also create a web page, so people will see what they are getting in the pre-order. But, use SWAG as part of the advertisement program.
You have your SWAG in hand, and you have ordered the special edition copies for the Pre-Order.
Please review other articles about Social Media use and best practices.
Wait, what was that – Special Edition?
Yes, the ARCs are not considered as a general public release copy of the book, so they are not sellable and do not count as your first print. Thus, you want to add something special to the Pre-order by having a First Edition of the book just for the pre-orders.
You should print out 100 copies of the book with your new cover design (reviews added). Then go into the interior of the book and add the line – Second Printing and the month and year you are doing it. Example: Second Printing April 2019 or Second Printing 2019. This simple act now confirms that your first print is exactly that ― a First Edition, limited edition of your book. This book now has more value than any book that is printed after it. You can also cut down the number of first prints to 50 if you want, but 100 is the ideal number. You can then also number the books as you autograph them and sell them so people can see how special their copy of the book is.
Let’s Recap - You have the ARC done, and it is out for circulation. You have your SWAG selected, and your advertising is ready to go. You know the release date of the final copy. Now you need to select the dates for the Pre-Order Sale.
4 – Pre-Sale Dates – Let’s say you have an April 1st release date planned. You sent your ARCs out in January so the reviews should be coming in by March, if not sooner. If those are on time, you now can re-create your cover to include the best reviews. You can also now begin to use the reviews in your advertisements.
If you have tied in with a bookseller to get the pre-sales counted, then they will know how to add the sales into the calculation for the first week of actual general public sales. Thus, you can set the pre-sales to end about two weeks before the general public sales so that those who purchased the books will have a chance to read it, and if all is good, talk about it.
This ‘talk’ is one of the critical aspects of getting additional sales in the first week of release. Combine that will the pre-sales, and you could end up with a huge number that moves you to the Top 10 of some list. This increases your exposure even more. All of this can be that one combination of events and programs that move your book much further ahead than just a simple release.
How long should the Pre-Sale be? I recommend that the sales period should fall over at least two basic pay-days. For example, the 1st or 15th, and two Fridays. This covers the basic pay-days and gives you a greater opportunity for sales. Keep this in mind as you set the dates and still allow for a couple of weeks of reading time for those who pre-order the book.
No book is ever guaranteed success, but when you work the system in the proper way, your chances of success increases. Even if it is not with the first book, the second, sixth or twelfth book can be that break-out book. Dedication, great writing and planning ahead make a world of difference for all successful books.
Once your Pre-Order is done, then make sure you follow through and get the books out to the buyers fast. Don’t delay the delivery. The sooner they get the book and SWAG, the happier they are. Delays only frustrate and can turn them against you. So, you want to have the books on hand by the end of the sales dates, envelopes ready to ship them in, etc. If you planned it out, you should be ready to take advantage of a great opportunity and momentum!
What about other opportunities to help make the Pre-Sales great?
Publishers have the money to do a lot of extra special events and programs. Indie Authors, most of the time, simply can’t afford to compete. Indie Lector, Texas Authors, and Indie Beacon gets that. After all, that is why these programs were created ― to help even out the playing field for Indie Authors.
To that point, Indie Lector is networking with other organizations to create opportunities for Indie Authors to present their books to bookstore buyers. Those listed with the Indie Lector Store will be kept abreast of these opportunities.
One additional item for Pre-Orders done through the Indie Lector Store is the opportunity to have a free Library Notice sent out about the new book. This gives the librarians an opportunity to learn about the book and to be a part of the Pre-Order program. It is another way to increase the ‘talk’ about the book.
As an Indie Author myself, I fully understand the need to watch every penny while trying to get the most out of opportunities for exposure. When I started out with my books in 2006, none of these types of programs were available to me. If they had been, I know my books sales would have been much better, and my income level much higher. Don’t miss out on using these tools as outlined here as a solid way to increase your success!
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It's important for authors to hold themselves in high esteem, by making comparisons of their writing to success stories. That is why I like to sit down with the writers I work with and nail down what the comparative or competitive book titles to their manuscript might be, before making a submission to editors at publishing houses. We in the industry casually refer to this as asking what the "comps" are (short for comparative or competitive book titles). These are books in the current publishing marketplace that are similar and successful. It's not just about simply saying that a book or author is not unique—it's about celebrating how great a potential publication could be...
Why are comp titles important?
A literary agency receiving a query letter or submission from an author, or an editor at a publishing house receiving a pitch and manuscript from a literary agent, will need to know what the comps are. The literary agent and the editor will be trying to figure out where that particular book/author would fit within their list of authors: is it commercial fiction, literary fiction, or upmarket fiction? If it's nonfiction, then which category of nonfiction? A literary agent or book editor will ask themselves where the book/author would be shelved in a bookstore: is it mystery/crime, romance, science fiction & fantasy, or something else? Most important of all, an agent or editor will be asking themselves how well that book/author would perform in the marketplace: will this book go on the become a mega bestseller or garner highly prestigious awards?
In fully comparing apples to apples, a book editor at a publishing house will try to base their potential offer to publish, on the sales performance of the comp titles. They do this by running a profit & loss statement, or what we in the publishing industry call a "P&L" or "P&L sheet." Plugged into the P&L, which also accounts for the costs associated with printing and publishing a book, will be the sales numbers on the comp titles. A publisher can look up the sales numbers of a given comp title on Nielsen BookScan, where some of the most accurate reporting of sales numbers are given, so there's no lack of transparency there. That's why an author is a in a far better position by having their literary agent offer the author's successful comps to the publisher, over allowing the book publisher to come up with accurate comps of their own. This is especially the case if the publisher's comps haven't been all that successful. Then the publisher might not want to publish the book, or they might make a smaller offer.
An author that has assembled a good list of two to three comp titles will be miles ahead in the publishing process. When a book publisher is in the stage of getting their salesforce to place copies of the book among retailers, guess what question the publisher will be asked by the retailer: What are the similar books to this one? Having the comps handy can therefore help the book publisher in the actual publication process, by raising a book retailer's expectations. Maybe the book retailer decides to order more copies of a book for their stores, or they decide to recommend and prominently display the book, if they think the book will be a success.
What's a good comp title?
As much as possible, an author should make literary agents and editors think that their book has a good-looking, smart and athletic "twin" in each of its comps. A good comp title is a bestselling or major award-winning book. It's easy to know if the comp title is one of those two things by simply looking at the cover of a comp. If the cover states, "New York Times bestseller" or "National bestseller" then you know you probably have a bestseller on your hands. The same goes for major awards featured on the cover. If it says, "National Book Award-winner" or "Man Booker Prize-winner," then the same would be true. Looking at the number of reviews on Amazon (hundreds or thousands is impressive), and the overall Amazon sales ranking (the closer to the Top 100 the better), are other ways to know how well the comp title has been performing.
The comps should have been published within the last five years. Outside of five years, book publishing will have been a different industry, with books written and published in different ways. What is popular reading among book lovers also changes quite a bit over the years. Those are a few of the reasons why classic novel comps are not good comparisons, and will often garner eye rolls from editors. When a fantasy author tries to comp to J.R.R. Tolkien, or a mystery/crime writer tries to comp to Edgar Allen Poe, it also begins to look self-aggrandizing.
It's important to keep the comps accurate. We are comparing apples to apples here, rather than apples to oranges. So a comp title should also be of the reading age range and of the book genre. If an author wrote a young adult novel, then they shouldn't go and compare it to an adult romance novel; or if an author of wrote a nonfiction work of history/politics/current affairs then they obviously shouldn't refer to it a science/technology book. At the same time, only books make for good comparisons, since we're trying to figure out where a book belongs in a bookstore, rather than where a movie or a TV show fits on the shelf.
The process of assembling comp titles may seem small or insignificant at first glance, but it is actually a huge part of the publishing process and a key player in a book's success. The comp process ultimately helps readers find their way to an author's book.
Mark Gottlieb has ranked #1 among Literary Agents on Publishers Marketplace in Overall Deals and other individual categories. Using that same initiative and insight for identifying talented writers, he is actively building his own client list of authors of fiction and nonfiction. Mark is excited to work directly with authors, helping to manage and grow their careers with all of the unique resources that are available at book publishing’s leading literary agency, Trident Media Group. Since his time at Trident, he has represented numerous New York Times bestselling authors, as well as award-winning authors, and has optioned and sold numerous books to film and TV production companies. Mark is actively seeking submissions in all categories and genres.