Deciding what to publish is the primary role of a publisher. What do your readers want? What will they buy? How much will they spend? How many copies should you print? How much does your budget allow for now?
Managing a publishing list is much more difficult than picking up a manuscript, loving it, and going with it. With tools from Bookmasters, you can employ different strategies to expand and monitor your list, enabling you to make wise decisions for each publishing project.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Control your inventory, don’t let it control you
Three things typically dictate your publishing list: interest, money, and time. You rule your interests, but sometimes it feels like your budget and schedule rule you. To bring them under control, you need to print what you need, when you need it. Money spent on storage or arranging a quick shipment from a printer to distribution warehouse is money that is no longer available for your next project.
Time spent trying to tracking and guessing and inventory, and then coordinating where stock needs to be is time you could be finding your next gem or nurturing an existing manuscript to an audience-ready book.
When your inventory is under control, you have more freedom (creatively and financially) to expand your list.
2. Use a hybrid model
eBooks are here to stay, and some opine, to take over. To not offer your books in eBook form is to miss out on sales. But print is important, too. A lot of people are missing that when they look at the rising sales of eBooks. But the fact is that whether eBooks take over some day or not, they have not yet taken over, so if you don’t offer your books in print form, you are likely to miss out on sales.
Bookmasters has recently added the Océ Jetstream 1000, a digital printer that offers quick, affordable, and quality printing. With a transition to a hybrid model, you may not need a large print run, and this POD or short run option is a perfect fit.
3. When printing, go big on big books, be reasonable with books you aren’t sure about
Controlling your inventory to be at the right place at the right time is easier in concept than in practice. The offset/digital divide is something publishers have to consider when going to print.
When you have a book that you know will be big and you know you are supporting with the right promotion, by all means, do a large print run. But when you aren’t sure, digital is a great option that helps you to control you inventory, letting you better manage your list.
The per copy cost of printing digitally used to force a lot of publishers to print more copies offset just to lower the per unit cost. But with new technology, like the Océ Jetstream, printing digitally just got a lot more affordable.
This is great news for a book to an unproven market, one that has a specialized, small audience, or for a new project for an established publisher. With POD, you can start with a small run, print more copies digitally as necessary, or, if the book takes off, you can still move to a larger print run (all in one place when you work with Bookmasters, mind you).
4. Value the long tail
With POD and ebooks, you can keep a book available for a long time, indefinitely even. When a book stopped hitting a sales goal or came to an end of a print run without meriting another large print run, publishers used to take the book out of print. Now, there is no need, so you may have some sleepers on your backlist that could still make you some money.
5. Have a plan for quick and easy reprints when you need them
Maybe you have an book about a little-known animal found in South Dakota and the book only sells a handful of copies a year. Then researchers find out that this animal secretes a chemical that is useful in fighting cancer, and all of a sudden, your book is in high demand. Though this is a far-fetched example, spikes in demand do occur, and you better be ready for them.
When you work with Bookmasters and their Océ Jetstream POD system, your file is ready to print whenever the need arises. (IS THIS TRUE???) And if you find you need even more copies, meriting an offset run, you can work with the same people and have that taken care of.
6. Evaluate performance of your line
Quick, easy, and understandable access to your sales data is key for helping you determine how to proceed with your line. Bookmasters has an account management portal that continuously updates to give you the most up-to-date information about your sales (see an example here). You can even set markers to alert you when stock levels reach a certain level.
7. Focus on your line and what you do best, outsource the rest
There is a lot of buzz these days about how easy it is to do publishing on your own. Much of the time, this is coming from authors who are simply putting a manuscript up on a few outlets as an ebook. As a publisher, you know that there is a lot involved in successfully brining books to the market, time and time again.
Could you create a system for monitoring your line? Yea, probably. Could you warehouse all the books in your garage and handle your own shipping? Maybe, depends on how big your line is (and how big your garage is). Could you set up a sales network and arrange contracts with all the major players in the industry? Some probably, maybe not all. Do you want to do all of that? Ahhh, there is the question.
There are a lot of things you could do, but for every minute you spend doing these things, you are losing time on things that are more important to you, and to the success of your line. Outsourcing to companies that can provide services for you, yet maintaining control of your line yourself is key to your success.
8. Work with one company.
And speaking of outsourcing, you have enough to keep track of with authors and illustrators alone. If you have to work with one printer for a large print run, another printer for your full-color book, and yet another printer for your POD needs, then coordinate shipment to your warehousing facility, not to mention keep your distribution partner up to date on all your projects, pretty soon you will need a person just to keep track of all your contacts.
Bookmasters is the largest integrated provider of editorial and design, eBook conversion, printing, printed book and eBook distribution, and marketing services for publishers and authors. You can pick one, all, or any combination of these services to fit your needs, even down to a project-by-project basis.
This means you have a lot of flexibility in your publishing strategy, and you can do it all with one company.
Best wishes for success in your publishing endeavors, and here’s to a happy, balanced, and sane experience as you do it!