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The publishing process, Part 3 August 26, 2008

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 1. How Castle Works, 7. The Publishing Process Part 3.
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For most people, books just magically appear, ready to purchase, on the shelves of bookshops. In this third part of my article I continue to uncover the secret processes of the publishing machine. Read on! (Read Part 2 here)

RRP. RRP stands for Recommended Retail Price and is the price (including GST in New Zealand) that your book will sell for. The RRP is set as a happy median between the cost of production and selling (so that all costs are covered in the sale price with a bit of profit – hopefully) and the ‘perceived value’ of your book. The perceived value is often based on what other books of a similar size to yours are selling for.

Marketing.¬†These days, marketing is all about having ‘strings to your bow’ – there are a lot of different ways to tell people about your book – but there is no ‘silver bullet’. So you need utilise as many different ways as possible. In my experience free marketing is often the best marketing. It’s widely recognised that the best way of getting your book known is through word of mouth – people telling people about the book. For this to start happening, there needs to be a ‘buzz’ about the book. For you as an author, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of your friends and associates saying good things about your book to other people – the more people you know the better! If you are someone who regularly speaks to groups of people about topics related to your book then most of the hard work is already done – you have a real advantage. Other ways to generate interest are book reviews, author interviews (on TV, radio and in print media), on blogs, through social networks (such as Facebook) and through paid advertising (if you have the budget for it). Although I have the ‘marketing’ stage listed after the production process, in reality it needs to start early, before you have the product in your hands. Offering pre-orders is one way you can begin generating interest.

Distribution. Primarily ‘distribution’ relates to getting your book into bookstores (both ‘bricks and mortar’ shops and online stores) . It is great to have your book stocked in shops, but it isn’t the complete solution to all your book-selling needs. 1000s of books are released each month and your book will be competing with the others. So you need to find your point of difference and do the marketing things well. Then people will go to the bookshops and buy your book, but few will buy the book just by browsing or as an impulse purchase having never heard of your book before. It is good to have distribution handled by a company that has existing links with the booktrade, and even better if that company believes in your book. Distribution companies and bookshops will buy your book for RRP less a wholesale or retail (trade) discount. The bookshop will then sell the book for the RRP and the discount you gave them will be their profit. For ebook distribution, if you have the time and inclination, you can upskill yourself on the technical details and set up accounts with ebook retailers. But to keep things straightforward it is a good idea to work with people who already have the technical skills and have relationships with retailers in place.

Sales. So now people begin buying your book. If a publishing company is handling your book then they will look after sales, but if you are self-publishing then you will need to set things up so that you can provide invoices etc and look at various ways to handle tax etc – best to talk to an expert about this.

So that’s the publishing process. Because it’s difficult to make money from publishing books in New Zealand, it’s important to maintain a motive other than making money as your primary reason for wanting to publish. Throughout the entire process, keep your readers in mind – they are the most important part of this whole publishing thing – more important than sales figures or recognition. Don’t let anything eclipse that fact. The most rewarding things for me as a publishing manager are seeing authors realising their dreams and seeing readers’ lives being touched.