Monday, December 03, 2007

Powell's Books and selling your book

Scott Timberg of the Los Angeles Times writes today about Powell's Books in Portland and the issues it faces as Michael Powell retires. An interesting piece, it has at least two elements of note for the self publishing author who sells their own books. The first is the overwhelming presence of Amazon and warehouse clubs in terms of book sales. The second is the continuing potential of downloadable books.

It seems to me that the self publisher needs to: 1) plan on selling through Amazon and 2) plan on having a downloadable version of the book. Both have importance when determining the retail price of the book. Read it all here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Amazon Book Sales

Amazon just released their book sales figures, truly amazing. They were up 41% and the dollar amount was in the billions.

Also given were the sales figures for the latest Harry Potter--reported as 2.5 million copies.

In addition, there was an announcement about Amazon's blog.

Read all about it here.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Publisher Service News

From today's Publishers Lunch:

POD Publishers MergeThe parent company of self-publisher Author House announced the acquisition of iUniverse yesterday, on undisclosed terms, with the two units maintaining their separate identities under a broader banner of Author Solutions. Author House ceo Bryan Smith tells the WSJ, "This is about creating better options for our customers by combining a wide sweep of services. Cost-cutting isn't the driver, although there will be savings because of economies of scale. The driver here is the opportunity for growth."

In the press release, iUniverse ceo Susan Driscoll says, "We have always been focused on providing authors with the publishing expertise required for professional results. Now, through Author Solutions, we have a terrific opportunity to provide all authors--both self-published and traditionally published--with the broadest range of services to help them achieve their individual goals for success."Author Solutions comprises the two pod self-publishers, plus the "more traditional entity" called Rooftop Publishing and a soon-to-be-announced competitor called Wordclay, providing what Driscoll calls a "family of brands that service a wide range of different authors with different goals."iUniverse intends to stay on its established track of trying to offer "a self-publishing experience that rivals what [authors] would get from a traditional publisher...with advice and expertise to guide them to make the right decisions."

The company had leveraged its minority ownership by Barnes & Noble, and Driscoll indicates that "we're continuing with the relationship." She adds, "We'll certainly have meetings after the deal closes with the BN team to figure out how everybody can benefit from this."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Promoting Your Book

Promote you late 2006-2007 book by submitting its title to USA Book News. Not only will it will gain some publicity, it will be in the running for an award. The entry deadline is August 31, 2007!
Complete details can be found at

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

More Harry Potter

I don't know why, but I could not resist one more post about the Harry Potter book as found on Publishers Lunch:

"Big Surprise: Record HP Pre-Orders at AmazonAmazon announced sales so far of over 1 million copies in the US, and over 1.6 million copies worldwide, ahead of the "record" 1.5 million pre-orders for the sixth Harry Potter.Adding to their promotional losses, Amazon is now giving "a $5 promotional certificate to use on a future purchase in the month of August" to anyone in the US who pre-orders. They say they have "saved customers more than $23 million on purchases of the book."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Welcome Business Bloggers

Welcome to those who enrolled in the Business Blogging class. It promises to be an interesting journey through the business blogosphere.

The first session will cover business blogs: what they are and their advantages, different types blogs, and how to help people read them. Then, you will construct a blog of your own and place it on the Internet!

The second session will explore customizing, optimizing, and promoting your blog as well as how to generate an additional revenue stream with it.

I look forward to our first session:
May 24, 2007
6:00 p.m.
Pioneer Hall 200A

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Harry Potter as of 5/07

In case you missed it, Amazon just indicated that they have received over 1 million Harry Potter pre-orders worldwide to date (accrued in just 95 days), including 620,000 copies in the US and over 250,000 copies the UK. The good news is that Amazon increased its discount on pre-orders to 49 percent off.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Reading Grade Level of Children’s Books, Part II

Part I of this thread began a discussion of the classification and age range of a children’s book. It suggested that the reading grade level might be of more value, mentioning Microsoft Word’s built-in function for determining a document’s readability.

The function produces something called the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Score. The average length of sentences (number of words in a sentence divided by the number of sentences) and the average number of syllables per word (the number of syllables divided by the number of sentences), determines the score.

The score represents a reading grade level, i.e. a score of 6.0 indicates that a sixth grade student in the U.S. should be able to read the document. This post has a reading grade level score of is 11.6.

Access the function by clicking on Help in your version of Word, typing the word readability in the search field, and following the instructions. Those with Word 2007 need to configure the function and click on the Review tab. Next, click on the Spelling & Grammar icon to see a document’s score.

Part III of this thread looks at determining the reading grade level of a manuscript that is not a Microsoft Word document.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Reading Grade Level of Children’s Books, Part I

In class, we often discover that participants have written a children’s book and are ready to market it. However, they are unsure of the book’s classification and age range. Following is a frequently used scheme:

Picture book: under 6 years of age
Early reader: 6-7 years of age
Chapter book: 7-8 years of age
Middle grade: 8-11 years of age
Young adult: 12 + years of age

Although a handy guide, it is a bit broad. A more precise identifier focuses on the book’s reading grade level, i.e. the level of complexity and difficulty a student in a particular grade should be able to read comfortably. If your manuscript is a Microsoft Word document, simply pressing a key will give you the manuscript’s reading grade level.

Part II of this thread is a discussion of the function and its use.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Multnomah Publishers

According to today's Publishers Lunch, Random House had a total sales increase in 2006 of 6.5%. The company attributes some of the increase to their acquisition of Multnomah Publishers, located in Sisters.

Way to go, Sisters!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

More Harry Potter and the End of the Cash Cow

The publisher of the latest Harry Potter book just said that the first printing will be 12 million copies. The announcement suggests two things: the pre-publication sale was successful and the 12 million copies establishes a new world record for first printing. All of that should help keep the buzz going.

Curiously, Barnes and Noble indicated last week that they would probably not make much/any money on the book because of their deep discounting of its price(presumably all editions are being discounted).

So, the question is: who is making money on this deal?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The New Look

One of the interesting things about providing a blog is the need to not only offer interesting content but also to keep the blog "fresh." Keeping it fresh often involves changing the color scheme, new photos and links, etc.

This blog has used the same colors and layout for over a year and I thought it was time for a bit of "freshing," to include the addition of labels. Let me know what you think about the changes.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Blog and Podcasting Class

Well, the Blog and Podcasting class got off to a good start last night. The participants were from the business community and we were able to explore a number of business-related blogging applications.

Next Thursday promises to be as interesting. At that meeting, we will look at podcasting: what it is, business applications, and how to do it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Vista & Office 2007 FREE FREE!

Well, at least the presentation at the college is free. What will happen is a PowerPoint show and demo of Microsoft's Vista and Office 2007. It will hosted by Paul Stennett and myself.

The topics and handouts cover:
1. What is Vista
2. How does it compare to XP
3. What does Vista include and how is it organized
4. The search functions
5. What's new in Office 2007
6. Some things to consider before you buy

Join us Wednesday , 7 p.m., February 21, 2007, Boyle Education Center, Room 155, COCC.

Seating is limited, so be there early.

Remember--it is FREE!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Harry Potter and The End of the Cash Cow

You may recall that we spend some time in class talking about the advantages of a pre-publication sale of your book. Not only does it give you some money to help pay for printing costs, it also gets the buzz started.

Well, the latest Harry Potter book is being pre-sold (like it needs help creating a buzz). The book is due out this summer. If you place an order now, the retail price is discounted 46%. So, I asked about the retail price and discovered it is $64.79! That means the pre-publication price is $34.99. Wow!!!

Hope all the kids who enjoy the Harry Potter books have a second job.

I suppose the author, who is listed as a billionaire, wants to get the maximum revenue from the book--particularly since she swears that this is the last in the series. Maybe it is the publisher who wants to make one more killing before the whole thing goes away while not putting out any money for printing. Whatever the case, the consumer is really paying the price.

And the publishing houses wonder why sales have been flat.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Your Self Published Book

The following is from an e-newsletter to which I subscribe, appearing in my email inbox today. A fascinating read--be sure to visit the website.

In this first issue of seventh year of Independent Publisher Online, we offer Nina L. Diamond's take on the publishing "caste system," breaking authors at a publishing house into three groups: Moneymakers, Up-and-Comers, and Untouchables. "If you’re an Untouchable author, you and your agent are gonna have to fight just to get your book properly distributed, re-printed when and if the first printing sells out, and shipped when orders come in from retail outlets," writes Diamond. "As for reviews, press attention, book signings, and other promotional efforts, you’re on your own."
As the Book Awards season heats up, we reprint an article featuring tips from both award winners and judges. From the Trunk of the Car to the Big Screen is my rant about what it takes to succeed in self-publishing and includes an Eragon update. This month's Crazy Book Marketing Idea of the Month features Kip Cosson, who sells books - lots of books - at the street fairs, craft shows, and holiday markets of Manhattan.
Plus, columnist Fern Reiss explains how to get still more media attention for your book; Nina L. Diamond tells about birthing a book project; plus Tip #5 of John Kremer's 24-Point Book Marketing Action List; our ongoing BookExpo America update; our 25 new Highlighted Titles and the latest Industry Update.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Class Had It Right

Some of our readers may remember a conversation in class about the book industry's plan to swamp the market during the holiday season with big name authors, hot-topic books, and promotion. As I remember the discussion, we decided it would not work. Well, we were right!!! Check out the following, courtesy of Publishers Lunch:

More Bad Holiday News
Two of the three big chains reported bad sales for the nine-week stretch through December 30: Barnes & Noble termed it "somewhat disappointing sales for the season in a highly promotional and competitive environment," with comparable store sales slipping 0.1 percent at the superstores at $1.1 billion overall (putting them down 0.3 percent on a comp basis for the 48-week period, at $4.1 billion). sales rose 2.7 percent to $108.5 million for the holidays, but are still down 2.4 percent from a year ago for 48 weeks, at $376 million. B. Dalton, an increasingly small part of the company overall, did just $28.4 million in sales during the holidays, and $94 million for the nearly completed year. Same-store sales suffered more at Books-a-Million, down 2.1 percent, at $124.5 million for the holidays. BAM's comp-store decline for the 48 weeks of the fiscal year is similar to BN's, at 0.4 percent. CEO Sandra Cochran says in the release, "Sales for the holiday season were below expectations as we confronted a quiet media environment and strong comparable sales in the prior year. The absence of a major movie tie-in affected both traffic and sales. A strong lineup in fiction performed well but could not offset the performance of the media-related titles in fiscal 2006."

Monday, January 01, 2007

More Book Institute

The Community Learning Department's Book Institute is back for the winter session!

There are two new classes that might strike your fancy: Business & Marketing Writing and Mystery Writing. Both are online classes, so you don't even need to come to campus to take them. More info at

On Campus, there will be Self-Publish & Sell Your Book for those who want to do it themselves, The Key to Finding a Publisher for those who would rather have an agent or publisher do the work, Think Like a Writer for those who may wish a bit of a mental tune up and Write Your Life Story Workshop, a great way to get it all on paper. More info at