Question: What advantage do traditional publishers have that indie publishers and authors don’t?
Answer: The ability to get their books into libraries and brick and mortar bookstores, where many readers actually go to find books.
No, really. Not everybody buys from Amazon. And while many authors sign on exclusively so their books can be in KU, there are other book distributors out there if you choose to publish wide. (See my post on why I publish wide.) It doesn’t make sense to me to limit yourself to a single sales channel when there are so many out there, and that goes for utilizing libraries and brick and mortar book stores.
There are a few obstacles which indie authors face in getting their books into libraries and bookstores, partially due to Amazon. They don’t like Amazon, and many brick and motar stores, even independent ones, won’t even look at carrying books which can only be ordered through the big book bully. Going wide solves that delimma, but there’s still the age old tradition of selling to bookstores at wholesale and allowing them to be returned.
Many authors may not know this about the publishing industry, but traditional publishers decided a long time ago to allow bookstores to buy at wholesale, which is less royalties for the author, but might be understandable. But they didn’t stop there. They also gave bookstores permission to return any books they don’t sell, if they choose to. Traditional publishers go through enough books, that returns may not put a dent in them, but to assure that it didn’t, they deducted it from the author’s cut. This practice can be devastaing to an indie author who is unprepared, to suddenly get a seven or eight hundred dollar return charge when they are not expecting it. Fortunately, an indie author can now opt to not allow returns, and I think D2D does this for you automatically, so the author won’t be caught by this surprise expense. Unfortunately, as soon as you decide to not take returns, you may be eliminating brick and mortar stores from your distributor list, because most bookstores won’t buy books they can’t return. This is one of those outdated dinosaur practices started by traditional publishing, but bookstores don’t want it to change.
Libraries are the same in many ways. They don’t like Amazon and won’t order books from them. But there are certain lists put out by distributors who work solely with libraries, such as Overdrive, and if your book isn’t on that list, they won’t consider carrying it. Libraries have been smart enough to include digital lending, but the lists are extensive and before they can lend out your book, they have to know that your book exists, and it helps a lot if they know someone wants to read it. So the first task for an indie author who wants their book in libraries is to be sure their book is carried by the library distributors, so that librarians can find it.
But that’s not enough. Librarians have to know that your book exists and that people want to read it.That’s why authors need to get to know and be familiar with their local librarians. When you know them, it’s easier to ask them to carry your book, and sometimes that’s all it takes if you have established a relationship with them. If you can get readers to request your books from their local libraries, all the better.
Now you might ask yourself, why go to all this trouble to get into libraries, where they will only buy one or two print copies at the most. That’s where the digital lending program becomes of interest, because most libraries follow one of two models, which pay authors a set amount per checkout, which can add up if your books are popular. But more than that, libraries are a way to reach out to potential readers, because when a reader finds an author they like, they are likely to want to read more of their work. And library patrons are hardcore readers, especially these days when it is so easy to sit at home and order up your reading material at the click of a button.
I think that’s enough reason to warrent the extra effort required to get my books into libraries. All WordCrafter Press books are available on Overdrive and other library distributors, so they will be easy to find when people request a WP book. I’m working to get my local libraries to carry WP books, and since I live in a rural area, there are at least three libraries which I consider local. But I need to get out the word and have readers and contributors request WP titles and make librarians aware of their existance, and that’s part of what this post is about, even if the titles you want are not published by WordCrafter Press, beacuse this can help all authors – spreading this message:
Go to your local library and ask for the titles that you crave,
so you can read them for free,
and help your favorite authors at the same time.
For Kaye Lynne Booth, writing is a passion. Kaye Lynne is an author with published short fiction and poetry, both online and in print, including her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction; and her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets. Kaye holds a dual M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing with emphasis in genre fiction and screenwriting, and an M.A. in publishing. Kaye Lynne is the founder of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services and WordCrafter Press. She also maintains an authors’ blog and website, Writing to be Read, where she publishes content of interest in the literary world.
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