Indie publishing update – and the seven p’s of marketing

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated you on how I’m progressing with my plans to independently publish The Big Smoke, so I thought I’d remedy that today! Things are slowly moving forward and although I’d like everything to be progressing more swiftly (because I’m impatient), I’m really happy with how it’s all coming together. Here’s a snapshot of where everything’s at right now, based on the seven p’s of marketing I learnt at uni (a number of years ago now!).

Product (the novel itself)
I’m investing in my book AKA the ‘product’  by paying for professional copy editing. I’ve found a fantastic editor (called Ken Spillman) who seems to ‘get’ my voice and characters. So far, he’s provided line-by-line edits for almost half of the book, and I’m expecting another installment later this week. The edits are definitely helping to tighten the prose and make sure everything is as realistic and plausible as possible at the micro level. We’re aiming for the copy editing process to be completed by early September so fingers crossed that’s achievable.

Package (cover)
The front cover is done and looks totally awesome, in my humble opinion. My cover designer, J Matthew McKern, is putting the final touches on the back cover (for the hard copy) and then it’ll be ready to rock and roll!

Placement (publishing)
I’ve been doing a lot of research about the best way to actually publish said book, including who to use to produce it and where to sell it. I’ve looked into a number of ‘self publishing service providers’ but for the amount they charge and the services they offer, I’ve decided I’m better off DIY-ing it. If you’d like to know the companies I researched, email me and I’ll let you know.

For my e-book version, I’m going to publish through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords, which will make it available on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Kobo, and Sony.

For my paper book (p-book), I’m going to publish through Createspace’s print-on-demand service, which allows me to order small quantities (e.g. 25) for reasonable prices. Although it would be a lot cheaper per unit to print with an offset printer, their minimum quantity is in the thousands and I don’t want to outlay that much initially nor take on that much risk (or garage space). I weighed up the benefits and drawbacks of Createspace versus Lightning Source, who offer a similar print-on-demand service, but I decided the ‘hand holding’ (and free ISBN) that Createspace offers is something that I appreciate at this stage in the game.

I’ve also investigated some local print-on-demand companies, but unfortunately they don’t seem able to match Createspace’s cost and quality offering (yet. Hopefully this will change in the future).

The p-book will be available to buy through Amazon. Due to the high cost of shipping books to Australia (where I live) and New Zealand, I’m also planning to set up a page on this site where Aussies/Kiwis can order a copy of the book directly from me. This will save in shipping because I will buy in bulk (25) from Createspace (which lowers the shipping cost per unit) and then on-sell the book, so readers will only have to fork out for domestic mail charges.

I’m also hoping to make the novel available in a few local stores around Australia, which I will do by contacting them individually, providing them a free copy of the book to read and seeing if they would be willing to stock it. Can’t hurt to try!

Price
The price between my e-book and my paper book will vary quite a bit, mainly due to the differences in production costs, publisher margin thresholds and customer expectations. Obviously, all of this is subject to change depending on further research, but at the moment I’m planning to price the e-book at $2.95 and the p-book at $16.95 + postage. My profit margin will be quite slim at each of these price points, but I’d rather sell more (and have more people reading my work) than make more for each individual sale.

Positioning 

How do I want The Big Smoke to be positioned in the market place? My blurb and cover are probably the biggest tools I have at my disposal in this respect. Other ‘positioning tools’ include the categories I choose to list it in on Amazon etc, and the way I present the book and its characters in interviews, guest posts etc. Perhaps I also need to work on a very short description of the novel too…

Promotion

The fun part! In order to promote The Big Smoke, I’m planning to do the following about six weeks before the launch date:

  • reveal the book cover on this blog and others
  • send out Advanced Review Copies to people interested in reading and reviewing the book
  • set up an author page on Good Reads so eager beavers can add The Big Smoke to their ‘To read’ lists
  • set up a pre-order page for hard copies for Aussies on this-here blog.

And I’m planning to do these activities once the book is released (which will hopefully be end of October):

  • hound random people in the street to buy a copy
  • tweet incessantly that people MUST buy my book
  • tour the blogosphere, guest posting and/or being interviewed on a number of different writing or reading-related blogs
  • host a blogfest where people share memories about the year they turned eighteen
  • continue to send out review copies to interested peeps
  • contact local media in the vain hope that some of them might be interested in interviewing me
  • have a MASSIVE book launch party with all of the family and friends who have supported me during the writing process.

People

In traditional marketing speak, ‘people’ are all of those “inside and outside of your business who are responsible for every element of your sales and marketing strategy and activities.” So, I guess that’s… me! But I’m hoping it might be you too (see how I sneakily worked that in!). Yes, this is the part where I recruit you see who might be interested in helping me spread the word. Feel free to choose as many or as few options below as you like.

Obviously, you’ll have plenty more opportunities to indicate that you’d like to be involved but it would be great to get some early interest!

Your turn

I’m planning to post in more detail about each topic that I’ve covered in this update at some point in time, but is there anything you’d like to hear more about sooner rather than later? Is there anything you think I’ve missed? Anything I’ve said that you think is a bad idea? Let me know!

14 Comments

Filed under Editing, Marketing, Progress update, Self publishing, The Big Smoke, Writing

14 Responses to Indie publishing update – and the seven p’s of marketing

  1. Sounds like a well-thought-out plan, Cal. I look forward to following your progress.

  2. Robyn Martin

    Sounding good, looking great. I like your strategy and if I wasn’t so flat out preparing a house for sale I would be putting my hand up to be recruited, but alas the timing is not good for me. Wishing you every success.

  3. I’d love to interview you about your book and your experiences with the publishing process.

  4. Sounds like you have a solid plan for the release of your book! I know patience is difficult, but I think it will pay off for you. And I’d love to be part of the release in any way I can 😀

  5. I can’t wait to help out with this. If I get an advanced review copy I’d like an “e copy” and not a printed one. PDF works fine as I have a kick ass pdf reader.

  6. One thing, you want to make that $2.99, not $2.95. It doesn’t sound like a big thing, but it’s the difference between a 35% royalty cut and a 70% cut. CreateSpace is a good choice. I’ve been really happy with them.

    So I signed up for the advance e-copy, but you know my whole thing with reviews, so, you know, if you don’t actually want to send me an advance copy, I’ll understand entirely.

    • Excellent point, Andrew. Thanks for that. I had been thinking $2.99 for that reason but my brain had slipped to $2.95 – could have cost me a lot of money! Glad to hear you’ve been happy with Createspace. Fingers crossed I will be too.

      I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Big Smoke so will definitely send you an ARC. I’m a big girl, I can take constructive criticism. 🙂

  7. Arlee Bird

    Nice overview and I like the way you’ve applied the 7 P’s to your book. Don’t know that I could manage reading the book in a timely manner, but I’ll be happy to host a guest spot on my blog.

  8. Sounds good will be especially interested to hear your views on createspace as you go through the process

  9. nickearls

    Smart plan. Too many people now seem to think that about 6 of the 7 Ps are now ‘platform’, in the ‘web platform’ sense. I don’t actually think that stuff’s all as useless as the Guardian article suggested, but you’ve already got it covered and I think that’s good. You’ve also put serious work into the product, and that has to be important. What are you pitching to media that they won’t be able to resist? Pitching ‘person writes book’ is often a vain hope, but I bet you’ve got other angles.

    Are you ready for interviews, ie, do you have a handful of engaging anecdotes ready to go, etc?

    • I don’t think a web platform is as useless as the Guardian article says either, but it’s definitely not the be all and end all. I’ve got some engaging anecdotes lined up. At least, I think they’re engaging. Might be a good idea to test them on someone first!

      In terms of a pitch, how about ‘person takes ten years to write one book’? No? Hmm… Definitely an area I need to give some more thought. I’m sure I have an interesting media angle, I just don’t know what it is yet. Perhaps ‘public servant made redundant, now relying on book sales to feed family’. That could work… 😉

  10. So exciting! Sounds like it’s all coming together and you have such a good and organized plan! I’m impressed with all your knowledge and all you’re doing!

  11. Thanks for sharing all the Ps! I didn’t realise that buying bulk (25) from Createspace resulted in reduced shipping per copy. I’ll have to check that out again for when I go paperback 🙂

  12. The Golden Eagle

    Great breakdown of marketing. It sounds like you’re very organized, going forward with your book!

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