I had paid for a barcode to be placed on the back cover of my current project, The Woman Who Values Herself, and when I got the final cover PDF it occured to me to print it and test it with a barcode reader app. It wouldn't work, although the app read other barcode labels. I kept trying, freaking out incrementally. Because the book is so small, the barcode had been shrunk proportionally and it was too small for the app to read. Online I found that there is indeed a minimum size for barcodes: 80 percent of the original, or about .825" high.
Having advised the cover designer of these facts I was in turn advised that she'd never had any problems with shrunken barcodes, but she'd enlarge it just for me, and so it was on the next proof. The barcode scanner could not read this barcode either. Feigning great patience (THIS BOOK HAS BEEN IN PRODUCTION SINCE JUNE for PETE'sSAKE!!) I advised her of this and asked her to test it on her end.
The project manager contacted me and swore it worked on their end, and it wasn't working for me because my proofs were electronic PDFs and low-resolution (high-resolution PDF proofs are so huge they'd crash a mailbox) although they didn't look it. So I chose to just drop the issue, now that I had his email saying it worked--in case it didn't. So ended this tiny nightmare, and I learned:
1. You need an ISBN and a matching barcode.
2. Test the barcode.
3. There is a minimum size for barcodes, and even if it is plug-ugly and out of proportion to the book's size or design, you still need one if you want stores to carry the book, and of course you do.
4. Understand that your electronic proofs are low-resolution.
5. Get written assurance that the darned thing really works so that if it doesn't, this can all be done over again at somebody else's expense.
6. Everything in publishing works far more slowly than you'd think.
By comparison, a publisher of eBooks can charge for every download, although texts must be priced more affordably. But easy and instantaneous transactions mean the publisher sells more -- even when downloaded books get passed around. More sales and no middlemen mean a bigger chunk of the profits can go to the writers -- not the current lousy 10 to 15 percent.
According to the article, brick-and-mortar bookstores must go down with the ship, and that's sad. But the best ones will adapt, mostly the smaller independent ones. They've been pulling for the writers all along, and we will pull for them. Don't confuse the demise of traditional NYC-centered publishing with the demise of books or reading.
1. Give it when the recipient will care about it. You have friends who don't care a fig about your poetry. Do not attend their birthday parties and, with shining eyes, gift them with your poetry book.
2. Do not give it as a prize or premium, or instead of compensation for services, or as a thank-you, unless you are thanking the recipient for somehow helping in the book's creation or promotion. Do not withhold the book from anyone who helped.
3. Do not give your book as a substitute for a real gift, or as an act of charity unless the charity solicits it.
4. Do not try to impress a non-writing romantic interest, or his or her parents, by giving your book. If you are female they will say behind your back that you are siddity (stuck-up, think you are too good for them); if you are male they will say the writer thing is okay but he'll never make any money with it.
5. Yes, give your book in exchange for another writer's book.
6. Give it to a potential reviewer, but when no review appears, don't pin her to the wall and demand to know what happened.
6.5. Don't give it to people you ignore except when you want their attention for your book.
7. Don't give it unless you give it with all your heart. If you'd really like money for it, tell them you'll sell it to them for cost. Really. Or the transaction will embitter you.
8. Don't give it to someone who really should buy it, such as a stranger chatting you up at a book signing.
9. Give it to a famous writer if you like, but do not expect it to be read, because he or she gets handed books all the time, and do not expect thanks. Hope only that he or she glances at it and says, "Doesn't look bad," or "That'd be nice to read if I wasn't so busy writing."
10. Give it to someone who will share the joy of it with you.
"Other highlights in the February 2011 report (all February 2011 vs February 2010 unless otherwise noted):
E-Book sales were $90.3 Million, growing 202.3% vs February 2010. Downloaded Audiobooks were $6.9M, an increase of 36.7%.
Adult Trade categories combined (Hardcover, Paperback and Mass Market) were $156.8M, down 34.4%. [that's Catherine's emphasis. ]Children’s/Young Adult categories combined (Hardcover and Paperback) were $58.5M, a decline of 16.1%
*Year-to-date 2011 vs YTD 2010: E-Books increased by 169.4% while all categories combined of print Trade books declined by 24.8% . . . .The AAP monthly and year-end sales report represents data provided by 84 U.S. publishing houses representing major commercial, education, professional, scholarly and independents. Data on e-Books comes from 16 houses. The report does not include all book and journal net sales but provides what’s acknowledged as the best industry snapshot currently available."
The report says that the spike in E-Book sales is credited to people receiving Kindles & other E-readers as holiday gifts. (Have one yet? Remember 2008 when Kindles were new and $399 and now they're going for half that?) E-Book sales have been slightly lower in subsequent months. But you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows...Those of you with books, how will you rethink your sales strategies?
1. “I’ve googled myself and what’s on the Net is fragmentary and totally inaccurate!”
2. “Why have an email address and get bothersome letters from every Tom, Dick and Harry?”
3. “I’ve found my poems online – used without my permission!”
4. “Call me old-fashioned, but I favor the printed page.”
5. “On the Internet, people can get directions to my home; it’s appalling!”
Miss Moore, you once wrote, "Patient or impatient repudiating of life just repudiates itself. There is no point to it...."
Repudiating the Internet won't make it go away. Here are some facts:
- You can post correct information about yourself and your books, anytime, and quite easily, on authorsden.com. Or ask your publishers to do it.
- Seems to me that you did your share of letter-writing, sometimes 50 letters a day, but, that aside -- fewer people want to contact you than you think. Out of 350 million people in the U.S., only about 10,000 have heard of you, 150 would like to talk to you, and 100 of those are too polite to bother you. Of the remaining 50, 30 are too lazy to send an email, leaving 15 grad students who want to email you about your poems, and 5 professors of English interested not in your poems or even your sex life, but in The Dial or why you were snide to Sylvia Plath. These are the people who have always sent you letters.
- Be flattered! Some stranger liked your poems enough to type them out and post them online. Readers now needn't travel miles to a library or pay $18.95 to savor one. English teachers can instantly show your poems to their classes. Your works are being read, admired, shared and talked about, far more so than when they were first published! Isn't that why you wrote them? Perhaps you wrote them for the money? All this online chat about your "illegally" published poems will only sell more of your books.
- You got to like the printed page when you were admitted to its exclusive club of "legitimately" published writers. Before then, The Dial and The Egoist, not "legitimate" outlets, helped you amass poetic street cred and friends, published your first book, and got you the "legitimacy" you are now stuck on. Books will always exist and you can enjoy them. But no literary revolutionary should plume herself on being "old-fashioned" -- unless she's doing it to hide her fears about the new.
- Directions and maps to anyplace are available on GoogleMaps and Mapquest, so the Internet isn't picking on you. Besides, you never hid the fact that you lived in Brooklyn – as embarrassing as that must be for a native of fine Kirkwood, MO.
Oh, and, Miss Moore, until we meet again: Think of the Internet as an imaginary toad with a real garden in it!
I listened, majorly, because I wanted to tell everyone with unpublished manuscripts what was said.
Could you maybe start a blog about relationships? they asked the author. Everyone's interested in relationships. Did you place some articles on that topic online at ezinearticles.com or Helium? Yeah, you don't get paid for those articles, but it costs you nothing and your name is on them, and a link to your website or blog, and if they're good articles and get picked up by various websites and e-zines, they travel, give you a presence, establish your credibility as an expert in this field, which is what you are. Then publishers might give you a listen.
And maybe put excerpts from your book online? Maybe some chapters on your website? Yes, before it's published, so people will get to know and appreciate your work.
"But I don't want to give too much away," the author said.
"There's no such thing as giving too much away," the expert said. "If people like what you have on the Internet, if they read and value what you write there, they will want to buy your book."
Wearing her trademark rhinestone pin saying "Bobbi," Smith sat with us, read us some early efforts and told us she writes Westerns because NYC says no romance fan wants to read about the Midwest, or even any Western state except Arizona or Texas. Wyoming does not cut it. We talked about digital, about vampire books, about agents. I don't think I've ever been so close to someone so creative as to invent 54 full-length novels, even if they're not the lit'ry kind I read (exclusively, mind you!). She said a romance-writers convention had once held a Hunk Contest, and the winner got to be on the cover of a romance novel, and it happened to be Bobbi's, and she did her book tour with him, drawing tons of fans smitten not with the novel but with the Hunk.
Above all, she said, "You have no control." Luck. Publishers' and agents' whims. Audience whims. Cultural and technological shifts. Her new book is digital only, and not by her choice; by her publisher's.
If you have ever sought an audience, doubtless the little-to-no audience has happened to you. I have seen a poet at a bookstore bravely reading to empty chairs. Once I read poems in a restaurant on a night raining cats & dogs. There were no diners. The audience: a friend from work and a man who had a crush on me (note: I later married this guy). I have given "workshops" on the topic of, say, writing tone and style, and had two people show up. I have taught classes of two (who stuck with me after others dropped out). Each time I doggedly went through with it. Slightly sick at heart, but it was my own expectations that did that. This happens at last to everyone. But show up and do your job (or your show). We can control only what we do; we can't control results.
- Artificial Insemination: After printing colorful card-stock promotional bookmarks featuring the title and purchase information for one’s own book, an author sticks these bookmarks into store copies of bestsellers.
- Disturbing the Universe: A writer in a bookstore surreptitiously moves her books closer to the front, or turns them from spine-out to face-out, or re-distributes the bookstore’s stock of her book among several subjects or shelves. She doesn’t realize that the bookstore is a business, that she is not the first writer to do this, and that the bookstore clerks know the shelves as they know their own faces; after all, they have arranged the books, often to specifications given and paid for by the publishers. It is their job eight hours a day to maintain this order.
- The Secret Book Signing: A writer enters a bookstore, finds his own books and secretly autographs all the copies, knowing that autographed books are considered defaced and cannot be returned to the publisher, and hoping this will force the bookstore to keep all copies on the shelves until they are sold.
- The James Frey Awards: A writer has golden medallion-type stickers printed with the name of a fictitious award, enters the bookstore and sticks them onto his book covers hoping this will attract attention.
Not yet dead of embarrassment and shame? Pretend you are not the author, and sell a copy of your book to every used-book dealer in town. At least it’ll be shelved in a bookstore. (A tip found online.)