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Publishing Outside the eBox by Amy Edelman from IndieReader

Everyone knows that e-publishing has been good to self published authors. 
In fact, if weren’t for Amazon and Kindle, the indie revolution as we know it might have never happened. But happened it did, and to an extent that no one had ever imagined: over 391,000 books self-pubbed just last year (a 58% increase from 2011), with 20-30% of those regularly capturing the big namebestseller lists—and we’re talking The New York Times and USA Today.
So why diversify? 
This past October, as reported in IndieReader (http://indiereader.com/2013/10/banning-books/), an article in a UK ‘news publication’ triggered a widespread banning of self-pubbed books. Action was taken across multiple booksellers, and, while the initial focus was on erotica, the problem soon spread to other genres. And even though the article was proved false, it was too late to stop other media outlets from spreading the misinformation, which caused Amazon, Kobo and WH Smith to react (i.e. to pull self-pubbed books from their sites).
Long story short, this action led to all sorts of consequences, including—absent a place to buy them—hundreds of thousands of dollars lost by indie authors who rely on ebook sales.
So what’s an indie author to do to prevent that type of thing from happening again?  In a word? Diversification. 
Thing is, many of you already produce paper books. But you might not realize that brick and mortar booksellers (with the occasional exception of a local bookstore, if you are lucky enough to still have one) won’t even consider stocking them. It’s not that they don’t want to; it’s that indie books are not easily available to them because they are not returnable or available at standard industry discounts.
For example, a great many of you who publish paper books do so with Amazon’s Create Space, which doesn’t allow their books to be returnable and offer them at a 25% discount, way less than the 40% required by brick and mortar booksellers.
Most critically, your titles may not be listed on Edelweiss, the database used by industry professionalsnationwide (even B&N!) and an interactive research tool for librarians, bloggers and reviewers. (And if they are on Edelweiss via CreateSpace, they’re listed as not returnable and at a lesser discount than what the stores require). 
So the reason physical bookstores aren’t selling your book has nothing to do with what retailers think about them.  I mean—hello!—50 Shades of Grey!
Tony Herr, from the Cape Atlantic Book Company, hits the nail on the head when he says, “We've had an indie section since we opened two years ago, but it hasn't been very diverse since I cannot review everything that comes my way, and so far the indie selections from Ingram have only been offered at 25-30% discounts, (I would happily take more chances with titles if Ingram offered them at my regular discount).” 
Enter IndieReader In-Store (IRIS), the only indie (author) to indie (bookseller) distribution service thatcatalogs your book as part of a reviewed collection on Edelweiss (http://indiereader.com/get-your-book-in-front-of-37000-book-industry-professionals/). The key, of course, is that your book will be branded as an indie and booksellers will know to look for them there.
Since it’s founding in 2009, IndieReader has always been about making “self-published” a category/genre of its own and then about making it sexy and desirable, much like indie movies and music have done. IRIS is the next step in making consumers aware that indie books exist at their local bookstores, beyond their electric reading devises.    
The fee for signing up with IRIS is $399 and it comes with an IndieReader review. Also included in the $399 fee is inclusion in the Edelweiss Digital Review Copy (DRC) Module. Similar in function to NetGalley, it is a secure, controlled way for authors to share their DRCs with reviewers, bloggers, librarians, media, booksellers, wholesalers, etc.
Yes, it’s true that statistics point out that the number of books sold by brick and mortar bookstores is on the wane. But it’s important to note that often times a book seen on an actual bookshelf is then purchased via an online outlet (not fair, but true).
Also a plus: indie bookstores are masters at hand-selling—an enthusiastic salesperson who knows and loves your book is the best person to have in your corner. But in order to do that they h
ave to have read it, be aware of it or at least have read the reviews. IRIS has that covered by including an IR review with every book listing, plus Edelweiss features an up-to-date, easy-to-read GoodReads ranking, so that the bookseller knows your title from the other hundreds of thousand of indies out there.
Finally, what IRIS offers indie authors is the ability to be seen (and sorted) by brick and mortar booksellers, a group of  buyers thus far out of reach. It’s the next step towards acceptance by book-lovers, a group that we all want to connect with.
Adds Tony Herr, “I love this idea very much and want to utilize it completely.   I definitely believe this service will go a long way to getting these selections properly reviewed and on bookstore shelves.”
Just remember the golden rule: it isn’t smart to put all your eggs in one basket, even if the baskets are as strong and supportive as Amazon's and Kobo's.    

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This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. Hi,

    First thing…I think your math is a bit off as far as how many books you’d have to sell. But you are right in that you’d have to sell a number of them in order to make a profit.

    As far as the $25, unfort IR’s cost for listing in Edelweiss (for paper books and DRC’s), marketing (the ABAs Red Box mailing), book reviews, etc come to WAY more than $25 per listing. Truly, because we believe in the prospect of getting indie books into indie bookstores, IR is not making much at all.One of our IRIS authors suggested thinking of the fee as a PR/Marketing expense, which in a sense it is.

    Hope this helps and thx for your feedback. Would be happy to send you our FAQs too, if you like.

    Thanks for your feedback!


  2. This sound like a great idea, the problem is that I’d need to sell a minimum of 300 books at the 40% discount in order to pay for one year of listing. As you mention, hard copy sales are down, and when I talked to Mr. Munro of Munro Books in Victoria, BC, indie books tend to sell best in the community in which they are written, especially when they are also of local interest. So my selling 50 copies to the 5000 people in Flin Flon doesn’t (unfortunately) translate into 10000 sales in the one million population of Winnipeg. Realistically, I might sell a dozen copies. That leaves me far short of the money to break even on the idea.

    It is really too bad, because I would love to have my books listed in a catalog and have them available to book stores across the continent, but the cost is exorbitant to an indie with low sales, and honestly probably unnecessary to an indie with high sales. When you start talking about a listing fee of $25 I will sit up and take notice.

  3. Here are some details from Indiereader web site.

    Books should be in their final iteration and will be reviewed as such (no ARCs). Books must also be self-published. (IR defines a self-published book as one whose author has paid to have it published). Reviews will be at least 300 words and will receive a rating from zero to five stars. Please note that IR does not guarantee a positive review.
    Reviews will be posted to IndieReader. It is up to the author to decide whether or not they want to post the review to the Editorial Reviews on their Amazon pages. You will be notified when your review is completed and posted, generally from between 8-10 weeks.
    – See more at: http://indiereader.com/author-promotional-opportunities/#sthash.62GHgTq5.dpuf

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