Monday, November 22, 2010

Yes, you do want to sell books.

On your web site most especially.

Most author websites include the obligatory button; a few others process to their publishers. For the most part, the convenience and price are OK; the cut amazon takes from your publisher is a dent in what the publisher will eventually grant you.

But there are other benefits to making your site the point of purchase:
• Money. If you buy a standard of 200 copies from your publisher, expect about a 40% discount. That's decent enough for your website sales to clear a modest profit after S&H costs.
• Audience connects. This is another way for your fans to connect to you direct. Especially for capturing their e-mails for future updates on your next project.
• Popularity proof. The best book promotion for your current book sets up your next book; by showing your publisher the e-mail lists, sales and other direct connects, you're drawing out that much more of the dollars your publisher is willing to spend on the next go-around.

For those of you wary of taking on the hundreds of orders, Mr. Obie Joe advises use of a fulfillment house. One of the best, and willing to scale for a few dozen to more in orders is BCH.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Books in the Street

The Book Tent at the world-famous New Orleans Jazz Festival. At this week's NOLA Book Fair, readings in the street, a screening of the documentary about John Kennedy Toole at Snug Harbor, and author panel discussions at Three Muses. In many ways, NOLA native brothers Ronald and Bryan Williams, owners of music company Cash Money Records, and kingmaker of Lil Wayne, learned streetside the worth of selling books like music. Much has been made of lessons learned from the dramatic shifts in music promotion and sales as predictors for the book industry. Use more digital, expand to unconventional venues, reward your fans consistently....with one exception. As access to products collapse their profit potential, music acts can still make a moola by touring. Authors can't, for the most part.

Their first line of the Cash Money Records books suggest the Williams brothers strategy rests with impulse buying. Plus, their backing from Atria/Simon & Schuster should grant decent production oversight and distributorship. But much of their list -- Raw Law: An Urban Guide to Criminal Justice; Justify My Thug; and Pimp, a memoir by the late Iceberg Slim -- trend toward street lit, a successful genre, but not one that encourages fan loyalty. Mr. Obie Joe will be intrigued to see the pricing. Will fans be tempted to spend $10 on Raw Law, or put it to the $35 tour t-shirt?

Love this quote from Vernon Brown, the Williamses' attorney and business manager: "Our books will also be sold at our concerts. When you're out in front of 18,000 people, some will buy books, some not. But right now many of those fans aren't being told what books are great. We'll do that."

Told. Interesting verb. Not asked, not invited. Still, if they've got first dibs on Lil Wayne's post-Rikers memoir, our cash is ready.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wasting money on your ARC?

An ARC, or Advanced Reading Copy, has several uses. For garnering reviews, especially in media intended to create buzz or library sales, a large scale mailing of ARCs is essential. Most ARCs have the last-to-final edit, though rarely an index or TOC, and a plain cover. The emphasis really is on the quality of the writing and/or information.

For all of the attention on the production of the ARC, authors and publishers often forget the most important step: distilling which publications get the ARC, and which get the book.

Go see the Midwest Book Review, and inhale their excellent list of Pre-Publication and Post-Publication advice, and places to get reviews. Make your Excel sheet to carefully denote the submission guidelines.

If you don't believe in the worth of this, instead of wasting your stamps, just send to Mr. Obie Joe.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Book reviews your own mother would love

So just how discriminating, skilled or objective are the blogger book reviews you can get from newly launched booksneeze? Judging by the Browse Reviews section, fandom seems to inspire most of the book reviews. Categories in children's books; entertainment; conservative politics and Christianity have the most reviews. Many of the books are from small publishers; The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield is the only title we recognized as major.

That said, the number of reviews is impressive: most books garner on average 50+ reviews. Even more killer is the SEO booksneeze does for your title. On searching for The Chronological Study Bible, the first five google results were reviews by bloggers coordinated by booksneeze. It didn't replace, but it gave another layer of conversion possibility for a new reader. Plus, there seems to be informal cross-posting with and other sites; each review gets around.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

TIP: Make your own audio book

Not every book get to be an audiobook, but every book gets ito be heard. Check with your publisher on their policy on excerpts, and if their definition of "fair use" is generous, get out the iPod. Make an excerpt of your book as an audio feature on your site; a podcast on another site; or a download via iTunes. If you're comfortable with your voice, go do that, but if not, look for a volunteer via your local college drama departments. Why do the audio and not just the book trailer? Because an audio recording is stickier in the task of familiarizing a new reader to your work. (And definitely check out LibriVox for free recording software, hundreds of free downloads of books in the public domain.)

Ready for the Fall.

Obie Joe Media is ready for new business. Just in time for the August slow, and the Fall feast.

Give us a call. Let's catch up. Truly, Obie Joe Media is eager to hear what's new with your book. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

On hiatus

The Obie Joe particles and people are booked full, and won't be able to take on other projects until the Summer. We hope to see everyone later this year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Picking on the cover

A good cover can convey the content inside, whatever the story. 
But the best covers entice, making the task to crack the spine to see inside an irresistible impulse. 
Much will be continue to be said about Publisher Weekly's cover. (Loved that the arresting photograph by Lauren Kelly came from the new book, Posing Beauty by Deborah Willis). That the cover's connotation detracted from the necessary conversation inside, etc. 
Perhaps. It's been too long of a day since an interesting cover on the issues faced by Black writers and the marketplace came along -- especially for PW -- and if anything, the cover made readers look inside (read the excellent essay by fellow Baltimorean Felicia Pride). It would be different if Mr. Obie Joe suspected cynicism in the cover choice, but PW is often not that creative. Rather, the choice of this photo for this dedicated issue was representative of the sometimes clueless nature with which the traditional parts of the publishing industry approach the voices in the Black community. 
And, c'mon, the amount of puns inspired is too irresistible. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

TIP: Letting readers be the editors on your book's outline

Mr. Obie Joe is of the opinion that the greater involvement a reader has in the author, the book's subject, or the book's hype, the better the chance an author wins the lottery: the reader buys the book, tells friends & family, and goes to the event.

What if your reader could collaborate with your book? As in, say somethin' about the way you put your book together? A new site, a book outline Wiki, posts a book's outline, and then allows registered users to give their notes on your genius. (also good for books still under development.)

Ms. Obie Joe is liking the Act One by Moss Hart book.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sales, accolades, sales again

Recognition, gathered via awards from officious places, or premature death, always bring sales of your book.

Many authors spend their entire careers unjustly unappreciated by awards and/or sales. Trust that you are not alone, and that every sale is worth something. Mr. Obie Joe was intrigued to read of the book sales for the five nominees for the prestigious National Book Award:

(winner) LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN, by Colum McCann 17,200 copies
LARK AND TERMITE, by Jayne Anne Phillips 15,250 copies
IN OTHER ROOMS, OTHER WONDERS, by Daniyal Mueenuddin 8,750 copies
FAR NORTH, by Marcel Theroux 1,275 copies
AMERICAN SALVAGE, by Bonnie Jo Campbell 1,100 copies

Sidenote: A hearty congrats to McCann, a fav around Obie Joe Media for his book, Zoli, about the Romany, and the struggle to be left alone by the dominant culture. Best line: "I still call myself black, even though I have rolled around in flour."
(Photograph: Tina Fineberg/AP)