I wrote here on why I self-published instead of going with a traditional publisher, and then here on the marketing strategies that originally worked well for me. They continued to work well until Amazon changed their distribution policies; since then, even though my ranking remains about the same on Amazon, I went from a few hundred per month to almost nothing in sales.
For awhile I just hunkered down and continued to write, thinking someday if I had enough content, I’d hit a tipping point and people would find my stuff. (I will be releasing “The Phoenix Project,” Book 3 of “The Liberty Box” trilogy, probably around mid-February.)
Then I decided, if I want to be found, I have to be where people are looking. Some of my Instagram followers have told me they’d read my books, but they aren’t in their libraries or bookstores. A few years ago it wasn’t possible to get books into libraries or bookstores without a publisher, but apparently it is possible now.
So here’s what I’m doing.
Paperback Distribution Strategies
- Querying local libraries: we found the headquarters in Tucson where you submit your books. I’ll send them all, with a letter, and hope they like them enough to distribute them locally.
- Submitted “The Liberty Box” and “The Eden Conspiracy” to Ingram Spark, one of the distributors that doesn’t require a publisher now. They’re a pain in the butt, listing errors in my uploaded manuscripts as html so it’s anybody’s guess what the actual problem is. They also require different ISBNs than Amazon. Which is expensive. Also, I can’t upload my first trilogy to them because I don’t have the right cover files and my cover designer no longer has them either.
- Submitted the same to NookPress, Barnes and Noble’s self-publishing platform. I just figure, the wider the distribution, the better. Also a pain in the butt… everybody has their own formatting rules for the cover and the interior file. There are endless errors.
- Submitted all my books to “CreateSpace” (the Amazon self-publishing platform) a second time with a new ISBN to distribute to Baker and Taylor, the other big bookstore distributor. I *think* it’s gonna work… but it’ll take me another 6-8 weeks to find out for sure.
- Calling or emailing small bookstores in the Southwest. Actually I have my “virtual” publicist doing this for me… but several of them said, the books aren’t listed as returnable and aren’t listed at a wholesale discount, even though Ingram assured me they were, so the bookstores said you might as well stop calling around until you sort that out.
- Contacting a local Barnes and Noble to do signings. Unfortunately they STILL tell me that the books still aren’t listed as returnable. So I’ll wait a few weeks to let the Baker and Taylor and Nook Press versions presumably get distributed and try again, I guess.
- The ultimate goal: query Barnes and Noble headquarters with my marketing plan, demonstrating local interest in the books, and ask them to test my books regionally.
I think it’s safe to say the heyday for self-publishing has passed. E-book sales are declining, and aren’t particularly profitable. The market is saturated. The books that everyone knows about still seem to be the ones through the major publishing houses. When I finish this trilogy, I plan to try to go traditional if I can… but until then, I’m gonna do everything I can to at least compete regionally!
Other self-published authors: what has your experience been since summer 2015 when Amazon changed their algorithms?