Saturday, August 29, 2015

From the Publisher's Point of View

     Publishers, small and large, find making a profit almost a losing proposition, but we keep trying because we like books, no, we love books -- most of us love GOOD books. However, that doesn't mean we don't like to see book sell. Many times authors have no idea what publishers face to keep their doors open; they don't know or understand the publishing side of their business (yes, being an author is a business).

     Publisher Amanda Thrasher posted a message on Facebook she said I could share: "Sitting on this side of the fence, a publisher as well as an author, I now have an appreciation and understanding of the decisions publishers make regarding the things that they typically do. Content is critical, quality mandatory, and author platform crucial. Little or no ROI (return on investment) due to slim profit margins, practically impossible unless you have a proven author. Now, try telling that to a green author. In our environment, a small independent press, teamwork is imperative. It is the only way to stick to our goal. Most new authors, if you ask them, have no idea what real distribution is. Our business model changes according to the industry that we are in, but the plan never does."

     4RV Publishing has gotten a return on its investment on only two titles released since 2007, and that was barely a bit of investment return, a few dollars. Yet, we have authors who never try to sell or promote their books. We have a few that believe that we somehow cheat them because so few copies sell. IF each author paid for the services he or she receives, the price would be between $4,000 - 5,000 per title. Our staff gives much time and effort to release the best books possible, and that work takes time, can't be done in a short period. Major publishing houses take up to seven years to release a book after a contract is signed, and they have more staff and options than small presses do. However, new authors, and some not so new, don't understand why their books aren't released within a shorter time than the "big" guys take.

     Let's look at the process from submission to release. The author submits a manuscript. The editor-in-chief has an acquisition editor evaluate the submission. Based on that evaluation, a request for the full manuscript is sent, the submission is rejected, a revision is requested, or a contract is offered. IF a contract is offered, accepted, and signed, then when an editor is available, the editing process begins. Editing may take months or longer. A cover has to be designed and art work created for non-illustrated books. Illustrated books wait until an artist is available. After all editing and art work is finished, the manuscript has to be formatted into the right size, fonts, and arrangement -- which also takes time. The designer/formatter sends PDF proofs to the author and all editors (also to the artist if an illustrated book). Corrections are made, often resulting in three or more proofs sent until the author approves of a final proof. The designer/formatter then prepares files to be uploaded at the printers. Finally, the book can be ordered.

     We pay Ingram to distribute our books. Each year we pay a fee for each title to be available for bookstores, online businesses, schools, and libraries to order copies of our books from Ingram and for Ingram to ship those books. Ingram takes 50% off the top of the retail price for their services (besides what we pay each year) and to give a discount to those ordering. From what is left, printing and other fees are deducted before any money is sent to the company. The author (and illustrators) receives more profit by buying copies from the publisher at discount prices and selling the books direct. More royalty is made when customers order books from the 4RV website bookstore.

     Amazon orders from Ingram, and 4RV has no control over what Amazon does or doesn't do. Also, what Amazon receives per book is not the amount to base royalty. Remember, Ingram takes 50% off the top of retail prices. We never see the full retail price.

     So, why do we keep working, struggling, and releasing books? Because we love books, and want good books available for people to read.

Friday, August 28, 2015

New Hardback Versions pubished by 4RV

     4RV Publishing now offers authors of new releases to chose whether they want the first version of their book to be hardback or paperback, a new option. Many books were released before we had this choice and are in paperback. Authors could and can have the other version as a new release by paying for the few expenses involved in a new ISBN and reformatting required. Ingram offered us a good deal for the month of August, and several authors took advantaged of the promotion: 1/2 price for releasing a hardback or submitting a corrected interior for a current manuscript. 4RV passed the opportunity to all authors.

     Several chose to have their book reissued as hardback versions. The first finished and released is Myth Rider, a 4RV Young Adult imprint, by Cynthia Kennedy Henzel. As a 2015 release, this book is eligible for several awards and competitions, some of which require entries be in hardback. Also, Viji Chary's Porcupine's Seeds, illustrated by Bridget McKenna, has now been re-released in hardback format under the 4RV Children's Corner imprint.


      Another new hardback from 4RV Children's Corner is My Name is Jake by Angela Graham Steele, illustrated by Jessica McClure.  Finally from the children's corner is Rey Antonio and Rey Feo, by Kena Soso and also illustrated by Jessica McClure.


     The final hardback version is the 4RV New Adult novel Hello, Wigwam by L. John Lawrence. 

     When 4RV receives promotions from Ingram, we  post them on the 4RV Bulletin Board so that authors and/or illustrators can benefit.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Landing Pages for Better Conversion

By Karen Cioffi

Landing pages are an effective part of book marketing. In fact, they’re a part of all online marketing strategies. These pages are designed to lead the visitor to take a certain course of action, a call-to-action (CTA).

Landing pages are designed for specific purposes, such as a selling page for your books, a product, a service, or for an email opt-in. But, no matter what the purpose is, it must be focused.

The page itself can be a separate website or a page on an existing website. But, since you want it completely focused, without distractions, a separate website usually works better.

It’s this landing page focus that allows for better conversion.

An effective landing page is designed and focused on a target market. This means if your site pertains to a specific cancer or illness, your content, opt-in, and any products you’re selling should focus on people dealing with this particular health issue. That’s your target market. And, your keywords should also reflect the page’s purpose.

If your site is about baseball, the same holds true. The landing page design, content, and any products or services being offered must pertain to baseball.

The landing page is kind of like a path on which there’s no way to stray off or be distracted. It’s intended for visitors to read exactly what you want them to, guiding them to say YES to your offer. There are no other pages for them to click on and hopefully no sidebar to be distracted by.

While inbound marketing strategies will get the visitor to your landing page, it’s the copy or content that will motivate him to follow the path and be responsive to saying YES.

Your content needs to be conversational, effective, and provide the WIIFM (what’s in it for me). People are overwhelmed with the amount of information being bombarded at them and with all the offers for books, ebook, and products. You need to write copy that (1) quickly lets the reader know what you’re offering, (2) lets the reader know exactly what the benefits are, and (3) lets the reader know what you want her to do.

Landing pages are no place for guessing games. They need to be fine-tuned, to the point, and simple. The more hectic you make the page, the more anxiety it will cause the reader. Anxiety isn’t good for conversion. Simple always works best.

You should also create separate landing pages for different offers or purposes. In other words, you don’t want to explain why a visitor should opt into your mailing list on your book selling landing page. And, you shouldn’t sell books on your subscriber opt-in page. Focus is a key element to motivating or leading a visitor to go through the necessary steps to saying YES to whatever it is you’re offering.

Bringing traffic to landing pages is done through inbound marketing strategies, such as blogging, email campaigns, special offers, guesting posting, and press releases. Other inbound marketing techniques include pay-per-click, ad banners, social networks, and affiliates.

Karen Cioffi is a content writing and inbound marketing instructor. To check out how she can help you take your marketing to the next level, visit:
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