How to Not Waste Money on Facebook and Instagram Ads

13 01 2020

How to Not Waste Money on Facebook and Instagram Ads

Reasons Why a Distributor May Turn Down Your Book

27 11 2019


There are many opportunities for book sales through non-bookstore retailers. These could be airport stores, supermarkets, discount stores, gift shops and many more. The good news is that you sell to them in ways in which you are already familiar: you get a distribution partner and they contact buyers for you. The bad news is that the distributors are inundated with books that they cannot take on and therefore must reject them. Even a good book may be declined if not submitted properly or has missing information.

The Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS, has a program to submit our members’ books to distribution partners, many of which specialize in selling to non-bookstore retailers. Years of experience has helped us develop solid information about what they may or may not accept – and why. There are many reasons why a well-written book may be turned down for purchase, but too often the books are rejected due to several common mistakes. Any one of these may be cause for it being declined. Here are some common reasons why a book might not be accepted by a distributor or wholesaler.

The book is not a good fit with them. Most book distributors specialize in certain genres and will not accept books outside them. For example, Cardinal Publishers Group (CPG) will provide distribution for adult non-fiction books (no fiction, inspirational or children’s books) to bookstores and other non-bookstore retailers across the United States and Canada. If you send them your children’s picture book it will be turned down. Check their websites before submitting books so you adhere to their guidelines.

No marketing plan is submitted. Demonstrate that you know your target audience, competitive titles and prices, and are willing to promote your book. Give detailed information about the pre-publication promotion you have done and the post-publication marketing you will do. Indicate the size of your platform and what you are doing to maintain and build it.

Not understanding the retailers’ hot buttons. Retailers want products that do three things for them. One, bring more people into the stores. Two, increase profit per square foot and three, increase inventory turns. Describe how your heavy promotion will help them meet those criteria. If not, your book won’t sell, will be returned for full credit and replaced by another product.

Not providing specifications. What is the size of your book? Case quantities? Number of pages? Photos or illustrations? Is it one of a series? List the ISBN and LCCN or CIP data. What other books have you published? How many did you sell?

Know the customer of your target retailers. Think of the types of people who frequent airport stores before submitting your book to the Hudson Group. For example. If your book is not appropriate for travelers, it will not be accepted. Think about how much different the customer is for a Hallmark gift store than those who go to Spencer Gifts.

What are the author’s credentials? The author must have credible credentials for writing a book on the topic, not just the fact that he or she has a special experience raising children or overcoming a particular illness. Certain subjects require the education and knowledge of experienced professionals. If fiction, has the author written other books? How many were sold?

Cover art and interior design look self-published. Chose an experienced book designer to produce your cover and page layout. Distributors can look at a book’s cover for just a few seconds and judge the book’s sophistication and professionalism. The cover design includes the spine and rear cover, too.

The book was not edited. If your book passes the initial design test, the acquisition people will read the first few pages and other pages chosen at random. If your content is rife with typos and grammatical errors, it will be declined.

Testimonials should be from people with impressive credentials. It is common to have a quotation from a businessperson on a business book, but unless that person has nationally recognized credentials it hurts the book’s chances more than it helps. The same concept applies to endorsements attributed to initials only (BJ, Avon, CT).

The format does not fit the age group. For example, a children’s picture book with pages that have large amounts of text no longer works as a picture book. If your target reader is in an older demographic category you might need a large-print edition.

The book is inappropriately priced. It is not difficult to research competitive prices before establishing the retail price. If the price of your book is outside the parameters for your category and format it may not be accepted. The price should also be shown on the rear cover.

To stay in the retail stores – including bookstores – your book should sell well in 60 to 90 days. It will remain there as only as it is more profitable than a replacement product. And you must keep up the heavy promotion over time to keep it selling, or your unsold books will be returned.

Retailers do not sell books, they display books. And they don’t want your book on their shelves, they want it at their cash register. They want products that can sell themselves in terms of design, content, fit, price and promotion. The easier you can make it for a potential distribution partner to sell you book, the more likely it is they will accept it. Make them confident that your book will be profitable for them by giving them the information they need to make a decision.


13 11 2019

Selling to Non-Bookstore Retailers
by Brian Jud
Bowker | Tue Aug 6, 2019

There are many non-bookstore, brick-and-mortar retailers through which you can sell your books. These include airport stores, supermarkets, gift shops, discount stores and others. Your current distributor may already be selling to them, so check with them before pursuing retailers on your own.

Otherwise, creating a retail-distribution channel is a good way to start your special-sales efforts because it is much like selling through bookstores. You work through distribution partners, the discount structure is similar, and books are displayed on shelves. Fiction usually outsells non-fiction in the retail setting. On the other hand, unsold books are returned, and you are paid in 90 – 120 days. Here are some things you can do to profit from selling through retailers.

1. Define your target readers. Who are they? The worst answer to that question is, “Everybody who likes (your genre).” If your target readers are in a low-income demographic then you want your book in Walmart, not Neiman Marcus. In what form will they buy it? If your target buyers are in an older demographic category, they may prefer a large-print version. Where do they shop? You want your book sold in those locations. Is your content seasonal in nature? That might dictate when they purchase your content.

2. Know the customer of your customer. You may have the best book in your category, but that category may not be important to a retailer’s customers. The customer of a Hallmark store is different from one at Spencer Gifts. Who shops at airport stores? Supermarkets? Discount stores? Understanding your target readers will direct your efforts to the appropriate retailers.

3. Know why retailers decide which books to carry. There are three major factors that influence the products chosen to place on the shelves. One is store traffic. Will your promotion help build the number of people who come to the store? More people shopping there should increase the other two criteria: profit per square foot and inventory turns.

4. The least important item in the decision process is your book. Buyers want to know your platform size and what promotion you have done and will do, thus increasing the factors described in point number three. If your book doesn’t sell, the retailer will replace it with another product and return your book to the distributor. They do not want your book on their shelves, they want it at their cash registers.

5. Know how the middlemen work before submitting your book for possible distribution. For example, Choice Books ( ) manages the title assortment on the displays it sets up and services in retail locations. Titles are tailored to store demographics and sales history, and they specialize is selling bibles (adult & children’s), cookbooks, devotionals, family living and fiction. If your content does not meet the needs of their customers, Choice Books will not accept your book.

6. Retailers don’t sell books per se, they display them. It is up to you to promote your book and drive prospective customers to the stores. Work closely with your distribution partners to support their salespeople and give them information about your upcoming promotion and sales tips about how your book is different from and better than competitive titles

7. Is your book produced to expected quality? Walk the stores so you understand the topics, pricing, colors and dimensions of the books sold there. Is your spine of sufficient width to be seen on the shelf? Does the rear cover identify the BISAC subject heading under which your book should be shelved? Does it show the bar code and price of your book?

8. Work with your distribution partners at all levels to offer creative solutions to increase their sales. Offer to conduct store events (vs. book signings) to increase store traffic. Give them ideas for cross merchandising. If your book is about cooking steaks, create a display to place on the supermarket counter near where the steaks are sold. Sell the same book in large quantities to Lowe’s for them give as a free gift to people who purchase a grill there.

Promote your book so your distribution partners (middleman and retailer) are more profitable selling your book than another one. If not, it will be returned since it is relatively easy to find a replacement product. But when two companies are linked by mutual value, what was purely a financial transaction becomes a co-created partnership fed by trust and loyalty.

The Art of the Book Review Query

26 02 2019
February 25, 2019
By Joel Friedlander

How to query book reviewers and bloggers in three easy steps.

Photo courtesy of the author.Joel Friedlander.

For indie authors, few free marketing efforts match the power of book reviews and blurbs. But many authors don’t pursue reviews and blurbs, and that’s a shame. Those who try are often disappointed with the results, and inexperience at querying reviewers is usually the cause.To make this process more approachable, I’ve tried to streamline it into three simple steps for indie authors, with an emphasis on crafting an effective query.

1. Identify Targets

This is the most important part of the process. You only want to approach reviewers who are at the “top of the mountain” in terms of the influence they have over potential book buyers and readers. That’s why it’s so important to know who potential readers are, and who influences them.

And you shouldn’t put limits on yourself. Instead, think of the perfect review or testimonial—the one that could really affect book sales—and what it would look like on the cover of your book or in the first paragraph of a press release. Then, go for it, and make sure to include the influencers identified on the list of reviewers and bloggers to contact.

What’s key is to only approach review sources or individuals who have a proven interest in the kinds of books you’re writing. Don’t send a book on flower arranging to a publication for kayakers—it will just waste everyone’s time.

2. Send a Well-Crafted Query

A query letter can make or break a review campaign, so it’s important to spend time on it. Here are some tips.

Keep it short. People are busy. A four-page letter explaining the book and marketing plan in detail won’t be read by many people. Make it as short as possible to get the job done—no more than one page.

Introduce yourself. Include information on who you are and why you’re qualified to write this particular book. But skip the résumé or list of accomplishments.

Why is it important? Describe, in a sentence or two, what the book hopes to accomplish and why other people should care.

Connect to a common cause. This is crucial. Try to establish a “community of interest” between yourself and the person being queried. If the person’s work is noted in the book, mention that.

“A query letter can make or break a review campaign, so it’s important to spend time on it.”

Be specific about what action should be taken. Include in the query exactly what outcome is desired. For instance, when requesting a testimonial, you might write: “If you enjoy the book, would you give me a quote that I can use in my book promotion?” When requesting a review, point out how the publication’s readers would benefit from reading the review.Set a deadline. For testimonials, you will receive many more responses if you establish a deadline. Say something like: “It would help tremendously to have your response by February 1, but of course I would be grateful for any responses that come in after that if your schedule doesn’t allow you to meet that date.” A deadline isn’t needed for reviewers, who are working to their editorial schedules.

Make it easy. Don’t send the book with the query letter, but do offer it in whichever formats are available. If there’s a print or print-on-demand version, offer the printed copy as well as a PDF. If there’s an e-book version, offer that as well. Although PDFs look just like the printed book, they are also the format most prone to piracy, so consider using a service such as BookFunnel or NetGalley to securely distribute books to reviewers.

3. Follow Up

Getting reviews is a numbers game. By approaching enough people who are interested in the subject with a quality book, you will gather reviews or testimonials. But many won’t respond, and that’s just the way it is. Don’t take it personally.

You should make sure that all the materials needed to follow up with respondents are on hand. If there are printed books, make sure they are in hand, along with the media kit or other press materials useful to book reviewers.

There is no better boost for a book than for it to be recommended by experts in the field and to have positive reviews right where the intended readers will see them. Far more effective than paid ads, reviews can be the lifeblood of an indie author’s marketing campaign.

And there’s no reason to stop looking for reviews after a book’s publication date. If you have written a solid, professionally produced book that delivers real value, reviewers will be happy to find out about it.

Joel Friedlander is a book designer and author; he blogs about book design, marketing, and the future of the book at the Book Designer.

Capitalizing on Book Publishing Trends in 2019

7 02 2019

Poetry Is Making A Big Comeback In The U.S., Survey Results Reveal

14 06 2018

Facebook Data Changes Creates Sales Opportunities for Publishers

9 04 2018

How Self-Publishing Made Today’s Small Independent Presses Possible

5 04 2018

My services can provide you with: editing, design, layout and a lower price than the big companies and I have the experience 29+ years to help you become a successful Independent Publisher!!!

This post was made possible by a sponsorship from Reedsy.

When you look around at the most beloved books of the past decade, the books that seem destined to be classics, one thing becomes clear:

Small presses are amazing.

Whether we’re talking about the more literary side of things (like Citizen or Grief Is A Thing With Feathers, both published by Graywolf) or weirder sci-fi projects (like Subterranean Press raising a $72,000 Kickstarter for John Crowley’s translation of The Chemical Wedding), some of the coolest things happening in the book world are happening by way of the small press.

Some of the coolest things happening in the book world are happening by way of the small press.

We’re also seeing some pretty crazy sales numbers in the indie book world, supporting the idea that small presses are riding a huge wave right now. Between February 2014 and May 2016, the percentage of eBook sales attributed to the Big Five publishers fell from just under 40% to below 25% In that same window of time, indie publishers went from producing under 25% of eBook sales to being responsible for just below 45%.

While the burst of small press publications we’ve seen over the last 10 years or so is undoubtedly a good thing, one thing that often gets overlooked is just how it came to be — and more specifically, how modern self-publishing made it all possible.

To understand all of this, you need to know what makes modern self-publishing different than the self-publishing of 10 years ago.

How Self-Published Authors Became Book Marketing Experts

In recent history, the only real marketplaces for books were controlled by major publishers. If you were an author who wanted to sell copies of your book, you needed major bookstores to carry it, and that could only happen if you went through a traditional publishing house. Self-publishing, as a result, was reserved for people who didn’t care about selling copies.

With the rise of the internet, and Amazon in particular, self-published authors found a way to sell books that didn’t involve negotiating with bookstores. And when a real sales channel opened up, dozens of book marketing strategies soon followed:

  • There was suddenly a premium on having a good author website, where you could blog or give away free writing to build a massive email list of readers.
  • Authors like Mark Dawson began using Facebook Ads to sell books, A/B test covers and to drive signups to their email lists.
  • Amazon released their own advertising platform (multiple, actually) that authors were able to use to boost their sales.
  • Authors began compiling “street teams” of their friends and colleagues, who could seed their book with reviews and social shares to get the ball rolling when a book debuted.
  • The position of “Freelance Book Publicist” was, for the first time, not just a job title you made up to sound employed.

Self-published authors were approaching book marketing the way a startup might approach marketing their company, and they were killing it.

Self-published authors were approaching book marketing the way a startup might approach marketing their company.

It didn’t take long for the success of self-published authors to trickle into the small press world. After all, most small presses are started by a couple of friends who’d like to publish other writers’ work — typically with the same processes self-published authors use.

From Self-Published Authors To A New Generation of Presses

Literary magazines, anthologies, and full-blown presses start popping up at an astounding rate, and some pretty amazing writing was published as a result.

The Adroit Journal, one of the most popular literary journals in America (especially among young writers), was started by a group of teenagers and originally published using a print-on-demand publishing service.

Through some popular events (like letting writers submit unlimited amounts of work to the journal for one weekend), they were able to create a massive subscriber list, and laid the groundwork for an insanely successful journal.

Sibling Rivalry Press, the amazing small press that published Ocean Vuong’s first chapbook, Burnings, uses Ingram — one of the biggest platforms used by self-published authors for book distribution — to distribute their books, and has built a massive community by publishing multiple literary magazines under the Sibling Rivalry umbrella.

And countless small presses use ecommerce platforms like Big Cartel, Shopify, and Squarespace to sell books directly to their readers — something that was previously only done by people who couldn’t get traditional publishing deals, i.e. self-published writers. Here’s an example from the amazing Two Dollar Radio, who recently published Hanif Abdurraqib’s They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, and host their entire store on Shopify:

All of this points to the same thing. What modern self-publishing has done — whether we’re talking about the small presses listed above or the new generation high-quality hybrid publishers like Bookouture and Mascot Books — is democratized our ability not just to publish books, but to market and sell them.

Modern self-publishing has democratized our ability not just to publish books, but to market and sell them.

As a result, some of the best writing of the last century has been published and championed by some of the coolest presses ever put together.

New Walmart Partnership Brings Retailer Into the E-Book Game

1 02 2018

Facebook news-feed changes will cut into publishers’ branded-content revenue

26 01 2018

Facebook’s news-feed change is likely to cut into the money publishers can make from producing and distributing custom branded and sponsored editorial videos on the platform, their top source of revenue on Facebook.

Top Facebook publishers can nab a 50-70 percent margin on custom branded videos they distribute on Facebook after paying for production and paid media, according to four publishing sources, including three executives from publishers with at least a billion monthly views on Facebook. With Facebook counting views at 3 seconds, the cost per view has been incredibly low — “less than a penny,” one source said — which means top publishers can scoop up plenty of ad dollars based on their organic reach on Facebook.

There was even more money to be made from sponsorships of editorial videos that publishers already had on their schedule and required no additional production dollars — “essentially free money,” as one exec at a top Facebook publisher said. And it helped that the typical, made-for-Facebook news-feed videos — short, silent, text-on-screen autoplay clips — are cheap to churn out.

Facebook is about to get more costly
With Facebook clamping down on media within the news feed, these executives have legitimate concerns that it could impact how much money publishers can make from custom and sponsored videos. For instance, the cost models for branded content will likely change. As three executives said, it will cost more to run paid campaigns to seed videos in front of users in the news feed, which will cut into profit margins.

“My gut says a lot of people are going to have to increase paid budgets to hit their guarantees,” said one CRO of a digital publisher. “Candidly, does that change anything? I’m not sure — a lot of people were already masking that they were putting paid media behind some of this content — but it probably will affect the bottom line in some way.”

How much this impacts publishers’ overall revenues remains to be seen.

“No one knows what’s going to happen, so we’ll wait and see what this means for our branded stuff — we might have to charge more,” said one executive at a publisher that reaped “eight figures” in branded video revenue from Facebook in 2017.

One potential way to make up for losses in branded-content revenue is producing brand-funded shows for Facebook Watch or selling sponsorships into existing Watch programming (with the exception of Facebook-funded shows). One top Facebook video publisher said it’s been pitching advertisers on broad campaigns that include sponsorships of some of its self-funded Watch shows. This assumes, of course, that Facebook keeps prioritizing Watch programming in the news feed.

“Facebook wants people to watch longer videos so they can get to the pre-rolls and mid-rolls, but no one is going to Facebook for that right now,” said the CRO. “The hope is that the news feed is going to favor [Watch] so people can hit the mid-rolls.”

“We’ve been waiting for this [change] for quite some time, which is one of the reasons that we leaned so, so, so hard into Watch in the first place,” said the CEO of a big digital publisher. “This move makes Watch an even bigger focus.”

Top digital publishers say they have a better safety net
According to Digiday research, 86 percent of publishers make 25 percent or less of their video revenue on Facebook — which points to how unsuccessful Facebook has been in building an ad revenue-sharing product that works for media companies. But almost all the video ad dollars publishers can make on Facebook come from branded content, not Watch, publishing executives said. Even if Facebook isn’t the biggest driver of video revenue, it’s responsible for a decent chunk for many publishers.

Multiple bigger digital publishers are banking on the idea that their businesses are becoming diversified enough that the news-feed changes won’t hurt them as much as it will publishers that heavily rely on Facebook for reach and revenue. One head of a brand content studio at a top Facebook publisher said roughly 15 percent of the company’s revenues — “single-digit millions annually” — come from custom videos solely produced for Facebook. This company also distributes branded videos on YouTube, other social platforms and its own website, which will ideally mitigate the impact of Facebook’s changes.

“I do think [the changes] are going to whittle away a fair amount of the digital players that are out there, but for ourselves, we have some time to figure this out,” this exec said. “You never want 90 percent of your business from something you don’t control.”

Other Facebook video giants point to their organic reach on the platform — their ability to get videos watched and shared without running too much paid media behind it — as a reason they’re not too worried about the algorithm change.

Attn, which did more than 463 million video views on Facebook in December, according to Tubular Labs, said its branded-content engagement is 4.4 times higher than the Facebook average, citing data from research firm Brandtale. Attn co-founder Matthew Segal pointed to a recent six-minute branded video featuring Keith Richards and Sheryl Crow, which has more than 3.5 million views and 38,000 shares, as evidence of its success in this area.

“Very few people are accidentally watching a 6 1/2-minute-long video featuring older rock stars,” Segal said. “They are making an intentional decision to watch it once they see it on their feed, which Facebook wants.”

Publishers are looking to diversify beyond Facebook
There’s also an opportunity for top digital publishers to sell branded video campaigns that run across other platforms in addition to Facebook.

This is what BuzzFeed does, charging a flat cost per view and guaranteeing total views across multiple platforms, including YouTube and its own site, according to a source and confirmed by the company. BuzzFeed also pointed to its expansion of its Tasty and Nifty brands, built on Facebook, to Snapchat Discover and other platforms. BuzzFeed also has an entertainment division creating shows for YouTube, streaming platforms and TV, and has been building out its commerce business, a company spokesperson said.

Bleacher Report, too, has been diversifying its business with entertainment programming, growing its app audience and other ventures.

“A lot of media brands, Bleacher amongst them, made these changes because we saw [Facebook’s move] coming for a long time,” said Howard Mittman, CRO and CMO of Bleacher Report. “It’s the ones who got over their skis and relied too much on a single distribution mechanism that will have trouble.”

Meanwhile, those looking for a quick near-term fix see Instagram as the natural place to look for revenue — and those willing to take some time and invest in platform video programming can move resources to YouTube. (Snapchat, meanwhile, is about to go on a publisher charm offensive.)

“You’re going to start seeing Instagram cluttered with even more video because it’s the same format as Facebook news feed,” said the digital publisher CRO. “In theory, you can still get organic reach on Instagram — until [Facebook] corrects that, too.”

Unfortunately, Facebook’s news-feed change could also lead advertisers to conclude they don’t need publishers to create and distribute content for them. If brands can hire studios directly and pay for distribution on their own channels and get the same reach, why work with a media partner?

Said the CRO: “The big thing is, if the organic reach also sucks and it doesn’t matter if the video comes from a brand or publisher’s handle, brands have lost the reason to distribute with publishers.”

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