Tuesday, October 21, 2008
We're here today to talk to author and publisher Carol Denbow. Carol is the author of three non-fiction books. Her books are sold around the world.
Carol, how can an international writer get noticed in the American market?
Carol Denbow: The good news is, now more than ever before, an international writer has many more international opportunities for exposure thanks to the World Wide Web. It has been predicted that eighty percent of book purchasing will take place through the Internet by the year 2020. Personally, from the trend I’ve noticed recently, I feel it will be even sooner yet. Amazon.com is one of the best book-selling sites on the Internet and has expanded to include Joya Amazon.cn (Chinese), Amazon.fr (French), Amazon.de (German), and Amazon.co.jp (Japanese). Barnes & Noble booksellers online have followed suit with international sales. Their brick and mortar book stores now stock foreign publications as well, including Vogue Magazine in four different languages.
International writers need to use the resources available to them the same way American writers do in countries foreign to them. When I Google my books, I find them advertized in languages I can’t even begin to identify. Building and maintaining a good Website to promote your work, in any language, and then following up with submissions to the major search engines will get you noticed. It takes time, but will be well worth the effort, especially once the time arrives when cyber space book sales override our traditional sales methods here in the U.S. and the world.
Do you recommend self-publishing a book?
Carol Denbow: Well, I've been asked this before, but it's worth covering again. There are advantages that go along with traditional publishing, primarily, the cost—there really isn’t much when compared to self-publishing. But you do give up a considerable amount of control in exchange. For instance, I genuinely dislike the cover that was designed for my book, Stress Relief for the Working Stiff. I don’t feel it represents the contents of the book as well as the title being difficult to read from any reasonable distance. To me, this breaks the first rules of a good book cover design. But regardless of my efforts to change it, I have a contract with the publisher, and that is concrete. So even though it’s my book, I lose the power and control I would have had I self-published the book. Because of these things, I prefer to self-publish.
When you self-publish a book, and here I’m excluding print-on-demand publishing, you maintain complete control, but, in turn all expenses and a lot of work falls on your plate. Self-publishing requires an enormous commitment to what can equal years of preparation. After spending what may seem like endless hours writing your manuscript, there will be many more devoted to editing, layout, cover design, finding a reliable printer, marketing, and promotion. But of course, when you do-it-yourself, all profits are yours to keep.
Print-on-demand publishing is when you pay a publishing house to do a considerable amount of the work for you and make your book available to most buyers. But with POD publishing you still have to pay for copies of your own book. Also, your book is rarely “returnable” by retailers such as Barnes & Noble, so they are reluctant to order it, limiting your sales market.
Publishing options are something each individual author must choose according to their personal needs and expectations. For me, yes, I prefer to go all the way and self-publish on my own.
Is a marketing plan necessary?
Carol Denbow: If I said no, I’d be shot dead! Writing is a business and as with any business, you need to have a plan. There is no point in writing and publishing a book unless it will sell. Since more than seventy-five percent of books are self-published, I would like to direct this answer to those. On average, a self-published book sells only 120 copies. Are these statistics from published authors who lacked a good marketing plan? Absolutely!
I’d like to point out as well that book marketing is an ongoing effort. A new release can take up to three years to show signs of success. Some authors give up long before their book has the opportunity to really “get out there.” My first book, Are You Ready to Be Your Own Boss? was released back in September of 2006, but didn’t evolve into what I would consider a “successful” book until early this year. It takes a good and ongoing plan with aggressive and unique ideas to properly market a book.
If a writer invests $100 in promotion, will it be possible to earn that amount back in profit? (If not, is there a point where sales might equal the investment?)
Carol Denbow: It’s pretty well known that paid advertizing doesn’t typically sell books. Potential customers prefer to touch and feel, or at the very least, get a good glimpse of what’s inside the book.
First let me say this; when you submit your manuscript to one of the bigger name traditional publishing houses, they expect you to have a promotional budget of at least $5,000. But when they accept your script, they also expect to sell at least 5,000 copies of your book. If you self-publish, you can spend the same $5,000 but not have the resources available to you that the traditional publisher has.
Now after all that, $100 doesn’t seem like much to invest. But do the math. If you write a book, publish it, and order or buy 200 copies, what do you have invested in each copy? If each copy costs you $6.00, and your cover price is $18, your distributor or retailer gives you 50 percent of that, you profit is $3.00 before shipping costs. So you’ll need to sell at least 33 books to make up that $100 investment.
The best ways to promote your book are free. As a self-promoter, a little time spent can save your small profits for something better (maybe your next book). There are thousands of ways to get your book noticed and sold without the expenses on traditional paid advertizing. Be creative and try to think outside the box.
You have a very special deal for our viewers today. Can you tell us about it?
Carol Denbow: Sure, happy to. For each of my books ordered today, I am donating one copy to rebuild or re-stock a library affected by natural disaster, including the libraries in New Orleans, Cedar Rapids area, and Houston. Also, 10 percent of the books proceeds will go towards Breast Cancer Research.
Where can viewers find your books?
Carol Denbow: All three of my books, A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story, Are You Ready to Be Your Own Boss?, and Stress Relief for the Working Stiff, are all available at my Websites (http://www.booksbydenbow.weebly.com), or Authors Box, and through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, or wherever books are sold (just ask for them).