Episode 55 – Indies-Only, U.K. Earnings, and the Audio Revolution

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Succinctly working their way through the top news in the biz, Jim and Bryan discussed the latest happenings in the industry. Their trio of tips focused on recording your own audiobooks, pricing your books, and how to market on Facebook. News stories included the topics of indie-only bookstores, a series of stories on audiobooks, London Book Fair, Mark Dawson’s recent feature in Forbes, and author earnings in the U.K. This week’s Question of the Week: Would you submit your book to a self-publishing book store? Why or why not? If there was one in your area, would you consider shopping there?
What You’ll Learn: 
  • How to record your own audio books
  • The 7-step process to price your books
  • How to focus on Facebook before, during, and after your launch
  • What a real indie bookstore might look like
  • The latest news in audiobook movement
  • Why conferences should focus more on marketing
  • How Mark Dawson built up his platform
  • Why most authors in the U.K. have second jobs
Question of the Week: Would you submit to a self-publishing book store? Why or why not? If there was one in your area, would you consider shopping there?
Easter egg: Did you listen to the ALL the way to the end?

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  • I hate seeing your show in the feed and not being able to listen until later! No, I haven’t listened to the end… I haven’t started yet.

    However, onto your question of the week. Yes, I would, provided it’s in an area where local artists matter. I would go to the store and see what it was like, and I’d very likely put my books in there.

    Having been to areas with specialty shops that sell nothing but local items, they did well. There’s a store in downtown Portland doing well with locally made items, and I think a bookstore like this could work in a city/area like that.

    It would not do well here in my part of Orange County, though. We don’t even have a bookstore within 15 miles of here, and then it’s a B&N, a B&N, and another B&N.

    • I’m glad it’s a local author store, and not an indie author store. We need to make it transparent to the reader. Jim’s right.

    • Bryan

      You’ll probably love the easter egg, darn it.

  • Crissy Moss

    When I went to Norwescon there were quite a few indie authors around, but the panels were very much slanted to authors who published through small presses and traditional publishers. There was even a panel in which someone asked “what about self publishing” and they basically said “don’t do it.” Drove me nuts, especially since most of the small press published authors had horrible covers that just looked so unprofessional. Most of the indie books I’ve read look and feel like they are far better quality.

    • Crissy Moss

      Also another thing I noticed… Some of the self published authors have become their own small press publishers. Not a bad idea, really, just a bit expensive since it involves buying all your own isbn numbers and setting it up as its own mini company. But then they don’t look self published even though they technically are. I think we are going to see more of this in the future.

      • I really liked it when CS sold you an ISBN for $10-15 and you could put your own ‘publishing company’ name in there.

        A self-publishing coop would be a cool idea. Since you could buy ISBNs for about $1 each in bulk and dole them out to the authors as needed.

        I don’t think it matters all that much, but I’d rather see something other than “Createspace” under the publisher’s name on Amazon.

        • Bryan

          Cool idea on the co-op.

      • Connie B. Dowell

        I did this, and it is less expensive than you may think, particularly if you buy ISBNs in batches. I believe I paid $250 for a batch of 10, which I still haven’t exhausted and won’t for a while. Then, because I set up my business as a sole proprietorship, I only had to file a certificate of assumed or fictitious name with the county, which might have run another $25. Finally, there were the production costs of the book itself, but I would have been paying those anyway.

        Costs and filing requirements may vary depending on where you are and how you want to structure your business, but all-in-all it was a very easy start-up.

        • Crissy Moss

          I currently have four books in print. But I haven’t made $250 off my books yet. I’ve already spent a lot in covers, editors, etc. I suppose one more thing (isbn) isn’t that big a deal but I just wonder why I should bother.

          • Connie B. Dowell

            Well, it’s not the right decision for everybody. Certainly many authors don’t own their ISBNs and don’t want to. That’s just a rough idea of what the investment looks like for those who do make that choice.

            I did it because I felt it could give me an added level of professionalism. Others just see it as an extra expense that doesn’t have much effect on their sales. It’s a personal decision.

    • Bryan

      Don’t do it! Please! Don’t! NEVER!

      Oh, and also don’t send us your books. We’re FULL!

  • Honoree Corder

    Yes to both – and to the easter egg, too. 🙂

  • Connie B. Dowell

    Yes to submitting and to visiting, though I agree with Jim that a local author angle (regardless of the authors’ publishing paths) would be more likely to draw in your average reader than a self-published angle.

    Frankly, though, I wish we had ANY kind of a bookstore in my area. Stinks being a bookworm in a small town. If I want to wander through a bookstore I have to drive over an hour away.

    P.S.: Loved the Easter egg!

    • Bryan

      Ugh, don’t encourage him :).

  • Jacob Williams

    My book is now the #1 Bestseller in its category. I can confidently say it’s because of what I’ve been learning from the Sell More Books Show and the community of other writers. Thank you everyone.

    • Bryan

      Congrats, Jacob! We’re glad to have you as a listener.

    • Yes!!!

  • This book store is actually about two hours from my house. As of this moment, all of their slots have been taken. Would I put my book there? Sure. Why not? Can’t hurt. I’ll try to get in there when I can, let everyone know how it goes. All that being said, since the quality of most self-published works are pretty crappy, I fear the reputation of the store could be sullied pretty quickly and its value as a showcase diminished.

    • Lol. Solidarity, brother. Preach it.

    • Bryan

      You’ll have to let us know if you have any luck.

      • Will do. I don’t know if it would generate any real sales, per se, but it could be used for marketing and exposure purposes.

    • That store is a few hours from my house, too. I would love to take a trip down there one of these days. I signed up for the waiting list, so we’ll see how it goes. Whether it’s an indie bookstore or big-box store, I wouldn’t care. Just seeing my book on the shelves displayed to the world is all that matters to me.

  • Michael La Ronn

    I would submit my books to the bookstore, but I wouldn’t have any real expectations. We all know that indie works can be just as good as traditional works, but I think readers would probably shy away from these types of stores, at least at first, because of the perception of self-publishing.

    • Bryan

      Good point, Michael. Thanks!

  • Great Show! To your question of the week. I agree with you that Indie authors have to “get over” self-publishing. We shouldn’t define ourselves by the route we take to get out stories out. Similarly, a bookstore shouldn’t make inventory decisions based solely on the route the author takes to get books in print. I would happily support a store that was very open to featuring Indie authors alongside trad ones, but a store that freezes out trad pubbed work is just as bad as the stores that freeze out indie work just because it’s indie. Let’s make quality the number one priority, not route to publication.

    P.S. I know something you guys disagree about: The use of sound clips on your show. Personally, I’m with Jim. I like the applause, the background music, and even good old “Number 2!” So, go ahead and argue about that some more!

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Stephen!

      Hehe, but other than sound, we don’t disagree on many of the issues :).

  • I would submit to a indie-only bookstore if they have 1) a system for curating their selections, 2) a strong following and 3) opportunities for having author events on par with independent bookstore that offer consignment for indie authors. This would ensure that the audience is a good fit.

    Nowadays most people go into a bookstore because it serves their genre or because they trust the opinion of the bookseller. And I want the bookstore to be an advocate of my book and not just a place to drop a pile off every three months. That only happens if they have a process in place to read and be selective of the books they accept.

    • Bryan

      The curating thing is interesting. I agree, but isn’t that a bit “gatekeeperish?”

      • This is gatekeeping after a fashion, but that’s not always a bad thing. Curating, in my view, is keeping a watch for a certain standard of quality (well edited, typo-free, etc), and for stories that appeal to their customers. This is does not, however, prevent the author from consigning their book other places, offering it online, or selling directly.

        I know that people will see curation as a violation of their freedom to be an author, but with that freedom comes the consequence of how that work is perceived by the public. The “shoddy, poorly edited, self published book” is so common that it is cliche. Having a few quality standards can only improve how indie pubbed books are viewed.

  • Yes, I would submit to a self-publishing bookstore, mostly because of visibility. Would I shop at one? Maybe, but even I, a self-published author- would question the quality. That is a terrible thing to say, but I know that my books would be better if I could afford to hire professionals to help me out. But, on the other hand, a story is a story and jewels in the rough could be found at self-publishing bookstores. Also, because of that, the store would need to be different—offer more—than a traditional store. For example, signed copies, more author talks, classes, etc. All-in-all, yes I would.

    • Bryan

      I feel like this is a “I’m Jewish so I can make Jewish jokes” sort of situation. We’re self-published, so we know that some self-published folks stink :).

  • Nick Marsden

    So you guys know, I always come to this blog post and listen here. I don’t subscribe in iTunes or any other service. That way, I can click on the links as you guys talk about stuff. Very convenient.

    • Bryan

      Oh good. I think that’s a smart way to do it.

  • Regarding show notes: It’s a lot easier to make a mental note to cull the show notes than it is to drop the pan I’m scrubbing, dry my hands, stop the podcast, rewind, and then hunt up the link on my own. Thank you for doing them. I use them every other show. At least. They’re gold. Thank you for the work you do to put the show together and then to take it all the way to show notes. As for a fight: Jim’s getting bored. Bryan should remind him that if he’s bored, Bryan can find him some work to do. Or, if you’d rather take a couple model instead of a parenting model, why not just skip the fight and move on to couple counseling. First exercise: Swap voices in the conversation. Bryan be Jim. Jim be Bryan. Jim, read the tips and news. Bryan, comment/rant. Jim, agree with everything Bryan says and give yourself/us a motivational speech at some point. Bryan, giggle about #2 and take the elder um statesman approach, making sure to point out how long you’ve been in the business several times. Whatever you guys have to do to keep yourselves interested.

    • Bryan

      Glad you like the show notes! I like the idea of the switcheroo :).

  • Daniel Martone

    Submitting to a Self-Publishing bookstore is a no-brainer… why not explore every avenue to expand your audience? As for going to a Self-Publishing bookstore… I might browse, but I love my ebooks and don’t think I’ll ever go back to reading printed books.

    • Bryan

      I agree on both accounts.

  • The more I think about it, the less interesting it is. What kind of audience is there for books that are written ‘locally?’ It’s not like buying local jam, where even if the jam isn’t the best jam, it’s still jam.

    I’m sure there are some people who would buy a book just because it’s from a local author, but what are the odds that people who read specific genres will find ‘their next book’ there?

    This comes from the perspective of a guy who reads genres that he likes, and that’s about it.

    • Bryan

      I spoke with some local book publicity folk at PubSense Summit. Apparently bookstores really like the local stuff. Do the readers? I have no idea.

  • Yes, I listened all the way to the bitter end. Thankfully the loop failed. Yes I would submit my titles to an indie book store. I buy very few print books. I long ago ran out of physical space. Ninety percent of my reading comes in ebooks and audio format. I would check out the store then buy the ebook version. If the store somehow offered a discount on the ebook versions that you could only get from within the store, that would be an incentive for me to browse there.

    • Bryan

      I’m glad someone agrees with me on the failure of the loop :).

  • Guest

    I would donate my books to any business willing to have it. For those that don’t want it, I will sneak copies onto the shelves and quietly slip out the door. I am a glutton for publicity and I have no shame!

  • Eddie Jakes

    I would donate my book to whoever was willing to take it. I would sneak copies into the stores that didn’t want it. I am a publicity fiend! I have NO shame.

    • Bryan

      Way to be :).

  • Brian Brown

    I go to a local Barnes & Noble to write once a week or so (well…not the LOCAL local one…that one closed, but there’s another one that is still open [for now] about 15 minutes away). When I want a bathroom break, I linger at the shelves before returning to my laptop. Barnes & Noble has really cool toys now that are hard to walk past without checking them out. Even if cost 2-3 times more than the same toys at Target, they are very interesting to look at.

    Anyway, to answer the last part of this week’s question…sure! I would shop at an indy bookstore. If by “shop” you mean do the same thing I do at my local B&N. You know, buy a water or tea at their Starbucks and have a seat for a few hours while I write. I don’t see why I would be any more likely to buy a book than I would at B&N, which is about 0%. I can’t stand reading “books.” I don’t carry the current book I’m reading around everywhere I go like I do my phone…with a Kindle app. I love reading on my phone and that drives my personal consumer behavior regarding this subject.

    To answer the first part of the question…I would simply wait and see. If authors seem to be having sales success with an indy store…sure, I would submit my titles. Until then, I would prefer spending my time writing more and spending time with my two-year-old.

  • Denise Bossarte

    A big “Thank you!” to both of you for all the work you do to help Indie authors! I found your podcast at the time you released episode 53, and have been listening both forward and backward through the episodes every since.

    In EVERY episode I get another great tip, tool, idea, or article to add to my growing “marketing plan”. It is great having the links on the page to use while listening to the episode so I can see directly what you are discussing. Sometimes I have to pause the playback so I can catch up on my notes, or on my bookmarking things to my favorites!

    I love what you’re doing and how you are doing it. I feel you both are really focused on helping out
    Indies. I can’t see how you manage to find time each week to do this, but it is worth all the hard work you do for us Indies! Looking forward to the next episode!

    Here is what is on a billboard I pass frequently:
    “How does it feel to earn it?”

    • Excellent. That would make a wonderful iTunes review if you have a moment. 🙂


      • Denise Bossarte

        Great idea! It did just that. 🙂

      • Denise Bossarte

        Sorry for the big fat head picture attached. It wasn’t an attempt at a clever marketing idea, just a newbie mistake! 🙁

    • Great testimonial, Denise! 🙂

  • Thanks, you guys for telling it how it is for the “Breaking Bad” segment. So many authors are disillusioned of the notion that you can have a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality when you’re traditionally published. I personally know people who think once they get picked up by a traditional publisher that they’ll just let them handle the promotion and the author just sits back and reaps the rewards. That might’ve been the case 50 years ago, but those days are long gone now.

    The authors that frequent the success headlines are just the 1% of authors who make it look easy because of all the vacation/fun pics they may post publically on Instagram/Facebook, etc. The reality of it is that these 1% have their butt in the chair the majority of the time and are writing, like I think we all need to do if we hope to come close to having similar success.