Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Savvy Self-Publisher, January-February 2009

Tip of the Month:
is a new social networking site for book lovers. It
could prove especially helpful to authors and publishers for two
reasons: a) most books sold by and are now
listed in its catalog; and b) it is now integrated with Facebook,
allowing FB users to recommend books to their friends.

For those unfamiliar with today's social networking phenomenon,
imagine that you have published a book and joined Facebook.
With WeRead, you can "chuck" (recommend) it to your circle of
FB friends, and ask them to do likewise. Each of your friends
has a separate circle of other friends who might be interested
in your book. Each of those in your friend's circle has more...
and so on and so on.

Facebook has more than 80 million users, so a "viral marketing"
campaign for your book could potentially reach a huge audience.

If you have a book on Amazon or Lulu (or both) you can join
Facebook and install the WeRead application at no cost. Build
a circle of friends, then chuck your book(s) to them -- and ask
them to do the same. Who knows? Your book might interest many
friends-of-friends who would otherwise miss it.

For more tips on using Facebook as a book promotion tool, see
the item from SPAN following later in this newsletter...

Lead Story: Are Bookstores Doomed?

On January 5, Borders appointed Ron Marshall as its new CEO,
as well as replacing other key executives.

The company's stock, which first tanked in March 2007, had
recently fallen to as little as 38 cents per share, down from
a 52 week high of $11.20. It soared to a whopping 59 cents
on the day following the announcement. (NYSE: BGP)

If Marshall can rescue Borders, he'll earn our applause.
But this would not, however, change the sorry state of the
conventional bookselling industry in general. To counter-
paraphrase McCain, "the fundamentals are NOT strong."

Return policies (stocking books on spec) are wasteful and
unfair to authors and publishers. Shipping the same book
five times between printer and reader is insane. Focusing
on a handful of trendy bestsellers at the expense of less
commercial books with legitimate literary merit is a shame
for everyone.

As Poynter and Snow have said for years: booksellers need
to remember the lessons learned in the music business
(Napster, iTunes, etc.) to survive. Book sales will
increasingly happen online, period. Books will move more
and more directly from author to reader, period. e-Books
will play an increasingly important role, period.

The upcoming re-release of millions of out-of-print and
backlist books by Google Book Search will intensify the
pressure on "brick and mortar" booksellers to catch up in
a changing world.

A few years ago, chain stores could argue "but we have
millions of loyal customers." (Just like Tower Records,
circa 1999.) Today, that claim rings increasingly hollow:

But bookstores might survive with in-store printing, or
possibly following the old Sears "catalog store" model
that lets customers browse in the store, then place
orders for shipment to their homes. However, using stores
as mini-warehouses (supplied from maxi-warehouses) will
soon be consigned to the dustbin of history.

We hope that Ron Marshall is successful in bringing
Borders back from the brink of ruin. Either way, we
also hope that the struggles of Borders will help drag
all mainstream booksellers (kicking and screaming if
neccesary) into the 21st Century.

Reminder: News to Use:

The Small Publishers Ass'n of North America (SPAN) has published
a good primer on how you can use Facebook to promote your book:

(Ad) You can also join SPAN with a *huge* "new member discount"
courtesy of To get the discount, you must apply
using the following link:

Snow to Speak in NYC

"Print Publishing in 2009's Digital Landscape" is the topic of
an upcoming panel by Danny O. Snow at the 2009 Publishing
Business Conference, March 23-25 at the New York Marriott in
Times Square.

Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg of NPR, plus a host of book
industry leaders will deliver a diversity of workshops and
panels on the hottest trends in today's fast-changing
publishing world.

Subscribers to this newsletter can get a free pass to Snow's
panel by sending an e-mail message to
by February 1. Please put "March Event" in the subject line.

for more information.

CreateSpace Now Offers Previews

Got a book in progress? Want feedback from readers before you
go to press?
now allows you to upload a public
or private preview, and invite up to 100 people to preview it,
rate it, and send feedback to five questions of your choice.

Professionals use "focus groups" to fine-tune other products
before public release. Why not fine-tune your book? Many
publishers circulate bound galleys to reviewers months before
publication, but this can be a slow and expensive process.

This is an effective way to "workshop" a manuscript without
paying to print and distribute advance copies. Or use it to
get "blurbs" (endorsements) from readers that make good
advertising copy -- especially if they are VIPs or experts in
your field.

As an added benefit, after you have evaluated the feedback
from early readers, revised your manuscript and are ready to
go public, you can also use Createspace as a POD printer that
accepts orders from the public, prints and ships your book,
then pays you a royalty on each sale.

Please feel free to forward copies of this newsletter to your
fellow authors and publishers. This is a fre@ resource that is
available to anyone in the book world upon request. We don't
accept paid advertising, endorse or guarantee products or
services, nor accept fees for mentioning them without full
disclosure. See to join.

Library Downloads Jumped 76% in 2008

Library patrons checked out 5.3 million e-Books (plus audio
and video) in 2008, using's delivery platform:

Stephenie Meyer was the most downloaded author at libraries
with her book "Twilight."

As Publishers Cut Back, Self-Publishing Is Better than Ever:

It was hard to land a traditional publishing contract BEFORE
the global economic crisis of 2008. Now it's even harder --
but self-publishing is easier and more effective than ever

In his highly informative post below, David Carnoy covers most
of the latest options in the POD and self-publishing landscape:

This report is highly recommended as a "quick start" roadmap
for authors who want to self-publish in 2009. For the advanced
course, get the upcoming 2009 edition of our book, which will
address many of the same options in greater detail.

Workshop for Texans:

Houston. $45 registration includes lunch. Call 713-937-9184
or e-mail for details. Bring your
marketing materials for the free display table. RSVP by 1/13.

Ad: Prove Your Market Before Printing in Bulk

Special services for visitors help you prove the
market for your book BEFORE you invest in bulk printing:

Don't get stuck with a garage full of unsold books! Test your
book's public appeal at little or no cost before placing big
print orders.

Quotation of the Month:

"The [wise] reader... is capable of reading between these lines
what does not stand written in them, but is nevertheless implied."

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)