I don’t know about you, but when I’m faced with professional challenges, I get nervous. Especially if those challenges involve improving my sales numbers. Why? Because, to be honest, it’s hard to improve sales. Sure, you can run promotions, offer discounts or try another marketing campaign. But at the end of the day, all you’re doing is throwing something out there and hoping it sticks. It might work in the short term, but in the long run these tactics won’t do much, if anything, to improve eBook sales overall.
This may seem like bad news, but it’s not. That’s because improving eBook sales overall isn’t about working harder. It’s about working smarter and being sure to set your books up for success on the back end before their published. Here’s how.
It may seem obvious that to sell more eBooks, you need to reach as many retailers as possible. The reality is, a lot of publishers don’t do this. They make sure their books are distributed to Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, Nook (in the US) and Overdrive, but often stop there. And that makes sense. You’ve covered your bases with the bigger players, why bother with the smaller?
Truth is, it’s just as important to make sure you’re distributing to every retailer available to you as it is to make sure you’re on the major retail sites. Fortunately, the fix is simple. If you have a distribution partner, make sure your books are with all the retailers they have available. After that, all you have to do is go back periodically to check and see if new retailers have been added. If they have, make sure to request your books be distributed to them as well.
Having a distribution partner is great, but that doesn’t mean you should just assume all titles are available for purchase on every site they distribute to. To be clear, this isn’t the distributor’s fault. Instead, the issue is with retailers. They’re problematic. They may not use the metadata your distributor sent, they might not have your books in the right categories or in the territories you have rights for. They may not honor the discounts and promotions you’re offering.
Unless your distribution partner can do web scraping, there’s only one way to make sure your books are available: manually. Go to each retail site and look up new titles, then periodically look spot check titles from your backlist.
That said, there are a few distribution partners you can work with who will keep tabs on retailers for you. INscribe Digital, Libre Digital and, of course, Vearsa can help you ensure retailer compliance.
If a book does well in print, chances are it will do well as an eBook. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s something a lot of publishers overlook. What it usually comes down to is budget. Either eBook conversion is left out of the budget all together, or if it is included, something happens along the way to publication that leaves publishers lacking the funds needed for eBook conversion.
The answer here is pretty straightforward: publishers need to be sure to include eBook conversion in their initial budgets. Doing so will pay off in the long run, especially for strong sellers.
Here’s one of the many reasons metadata is so crucial. It’s the only way publishers have to make sure their titles are in the right territories, in local currencies and priced accurately.
First, be sure to target all relevant territories. After you’ve entered the territories you want to target, be sure to add as many currencies as you want. When it comes to different currencies, you should not only supply pricing in multiple currencies, but also optimize for the local market.
So, for example, if you’re a US publisher selling in India you don’t want to do a direct exchange between dollars and rupees. Books are priced much lower in India. A straight currency conversion would make for a prohibitively expensive book, and essentially defeat your chances of penetrating that market.
You’ve got a book that’s selling well. What could be better than that? Selling even more, that’s what. Reduced prices are an obvious incentive to get customers to buy the book. After a certain amount of time (perhaps when the initial sales bump levels off) you revert back to the standard price.
In the print world, repricing titles that aren’t selling is essential--and it’s a practice digital publishers would be wise to follow. The basic thinking is this: just because a title is no longer selling, doesn’t mean no one wants it. It could just be that no wants to pay that much for that title. Reducing the price can be the difference between no sales and some. And some, when it comes to revenue, is better than none.
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Justin Marks is a Content Marketing Manager at Vearsa. When he’s not helping publishers run and grow their eBooks business, he’s running his own small publishing company. Oh, and he loves cookies.
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