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Production: Bespoke Books as an Exciting New Business Model for Independent Publishers

photo of Sarah Rayner

Sarah Rayner of Creative Pumpkin Publishing shares an exciting new idea for small publishers: bespoke editions of existing books

If you’re an authorpreneur running an author business, whether publishing just your own books or those by other authors, you are most likely constantly on the look-out of new ways to monetize old content.

In this post, British hybrid author Sarah Rayner, who publishes the Making Friends series of self-help books through her small press, Creative Pumpkin Publishing, as well as having her novels published by Picador, shares an innovative new business model that does just that, adapting an existing title to create a bespoke book for a client’s specific needs and exclusive use. Over to Sarah…

 

Three months ago I was approached by the London Women’s Clinic about producing a special edition of Making Friends with your Fertility. The book, which I wrote with Tracey Sainsbury, is a guide to reproductive health, IVF and assisted conception, adoption and fostering, and Tracey had shared a copy with her manager, Dr Kamal Ahuja, Scientific and Managing Director of The London Women’s Clinic, where she works as a Senior Fertility Counsellor.

‘We’d like give the book to our patients free of charge,’ Dr Ahuja told me.

‘Industry professionals had reviewed the book and were wholly positive, so we felt sure patients would find it useful,’ explains Marketing Co-ordinator, Emma Hill.

I liked the idea. Dr Ahuja and I had met before, when I was researching my novel, The Two Week Wait, so I could immediately see that the book and the clinic were a good fit: providing patients with a practical primer that makes complex issues less confusing and overwhelming would reflect well on the clinic, helping to communicate their exceptional level of patient care.

Books as Promotional Tools for Businesses

making-friends-with-your-fertility final-cover-frontFor over 20 years I worked as an advertising copywriter, so creating promotional materials is familiar territory. We discussed ways to tailor the book, including a sticker, a wraparound and a bookmark, all saying with compliments from the London Women’s Clinic.

‘But it will be better value to change the cover artwork and print a roundel on the front,’ I said, recalling that Picador had done similar with my novels. ‘Then we could change the back with a banner and a quote too.’

(Spot the difference in the two editions, left.)

I also suggested that we could insert a Foreword from the doctor and include the details of the clinics at the end (they have seven branches nationwide). By leaving most of the interior as it was, we could keep costs down and speed the redesign process.

interior of book showing introduction

Custom introduction…

interior showing advertorial

Exclusive advertorial

 

The London Women’s Clinic team were prepared to order a significant number of books but wanted a generous discount on the RRP. Until then, like many independent authors, I’d been using print-on-demand for all the books in the Making Friends series.

Array of covers for Making Friends series

Sarah Rayner’s Making Friends self-help series was print-on-demand, but this new project required a different approach (Her novels are also pictured)

Cost Factors Dictated Traditional Print Run

Yet whilst both Create Space and Ingram Spark excel at what they do, it was clear neither could print a 200-page book at the price the London Women’s Clinic were after. A traditional print run was the solution.

Many print quotations and hours of writing, designing and proofreading later and the special edition is done. A fortnight ago Clays, an ALLi Partner recommended by members of the ALLi Facebook group, delivered 5,000 books to the London Women’s Clinic.

In the end, doing such a sizeable print run through Clays proved so much more cost effective than POD that Creative Pumpkin Publishing could pay for proofs, print and delivery and my designer and myself for our work, and still give the London Women’s Clinic over 80% off the RRP.

For Creative Pumpkin Publishing and the London Women’s Clinic it’s a win/win – our book reaches a wider readership, and by purchasing a well-researched and relevant title ‘off the peg’  and making a few simple additions, the London Women’s Clinic can give patients something of lasting value.

Happy Customers

From a marketing perspective this was a brilliant idea,’ says Emma. “Rather than raise brand awareness by giving away pens or key rings, the book is a really useful resource for anyone at any stage of their fertility journey. It shows that we understand what people need whilst trying to conceive. Tracey took some books to give away at Fertility Fest 2018. Thank-you messages came in straight after her first talk and have continued since.’

That the book also helps to raise awareness of infertility is the icing on the proverbial cake.

More Opportunities Out There

Since then I’ve been in conversation with other potential clients, to see if any of the Making Friends titles could work for them. The series covers anxiety, depression, divorce, end-of-life care and more, so there is potential to hook up with all sorts of charities, health organisations and businesses. I’m in the process of putting together different packages that offer varying degrees of tailoring, from the simplest (a sticker on the existing POD book, which is better suited to smaller orders) to a fully bespoke option. I’ve already had interest and just this week have had an order of Making Friends with the Menopause from the Menopause Clinic, London.

Bespoke books: an exciting new business model for independent publishers? I think it is.

If you’re interested in discussing this further, feel free to contact Sarah Rayner at creativepumpkinpublishing.com.

OVER TO YOU Do you have a case study of an exciting business opportunity for indie authors and indie presses? We’d love to hear about it!

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