We may be having the longest heatwave since records began, but don’t be fooled; in the world of books, Christmas is just around the corner! This year, Super Thursday, as it is known in the book trade, is on 4th October. This is the day when wagon loads on new books arrive in bookshops up and down the country. This year, a whopping 544 new hardbacks will be hitting shelves – 40 more than last year. So, where did these books come from? They didn’t appear out of thin air, but started their journey into the bookshops at London Book Fair, back in April this year. This is where orders were placed by the book buyers visiting the glitzy stands of all of the big publishing houses.
It could have been up to a year before that when the decision to publish those titles was taken and the whole editorial and production process started to happen. The lesson from this is that it takes time to properly publish a book. None of the big publishers are in a hurry to rush a book to market because they know how much time it takes, not just to physically print pallets of books and ship them from China, but also how much time it takes to start raising awareness for the book around the world. If you need to communicate with the planet, you need a bit of time to do it!
Books sell to people who have heard about them and seek them out. The more time there is to promote a book in advance of its launch date, the greater will be the success. There are no prizes for speed! And yet that seem to be the one question that almost every author asks: “How quickly can I publish my book?”
In reality, it takes around eight weeks from the point where a manuscript has been completed and edited, to getting it designed, laid out, proofread, and printed. But having a box of books is not the same as being published.
Being published involves a lot of other people such as the PR team, the media, the book distributors, the book buyers, and especially the author – who needs to be raising their own profile and engaging with their own followers on social media. People buy people first before they buy anything else.
It is a huge team effort to bring a book into the marketplace in such a way that its ideal reader gets to hear about it, is motivated to want to buy it, and can easily do so through the sale channel that they prefer. None of this happens by accident! Books do not promote themselves just because they exist! They need to be championed.
So, have you left it too late to sell your book this Christmas? Well, not necessarily, but you don’t have any time to waste!
Certainly, if you are looking for distribution in the high street bookshops, that particular bus has already left the depot for this year. However, there are many other routes to market for which there is still time to get your book out there for Christmas. These are the routes to market that you have direct control over and which are, therefore, your most profitable sales.
Book that sell through third parties, such as bookshops, or online retails like Amazon, take a percentage as their retail profit. You can end up giving away a 60% discount by selling books through these routes. This means you only get back 40% and out of this comes the cost of printing!
However, the books that you sell through your website, your email marketing, your live events, and through your presence on social media, are your most profitable sales as you do not have to give away any discounts.
The good news is that, although the traditional route to market of bookshops has a long lead-in time, this is not the case when you communicate to your followers or send out newsletters to your lists. Thanks to the power of search engines, speed of communication is now virtually immediate. You can make some noise and get back responses by return.
If you are now at a point where your manuscript is complete, take advantage of the August holiday season to get it edited, proofread and polished so that you can get your book out there in time for Christmas. The countdown has begun!
Chris Day – Filament Publishing Ltd