Taking Stock

It’s been stocktaking time over here at Fort St Uma. Having had a rush on over 50 copies of UMA & IMP on World Book Day (major woohoo), my stash is running low. With nothing big in the calendar until June there’s no real urgency but nevertheless the prospect of a second print-run brings up lots of questions like, should I …

– use a different paper? Something more creamy and bulky?

– add a tag line to the cover?

– add some reviews, either to the cover or inside? Except I don’t have any “big name” ones and maybe you have to be David Walliams to get away with listing reviews from kids … Thoughts/advice anyone?

– and finally, the critical question: how many copies should I get … ???

The first three questions can be struck off with a – no need to make a change just yet, best wait until Book 2 is ready for print because at that time I may need to make big cover changes and can also review the paper question. You know, don’t fix if it ain’t broke.

The ‘how many’ question is trickier because it’s about confidence … In the almost five months since launch I’ve sold close to 300 books and though this feels like a huge achievement, in the scheme of things, it’s a drip in the ocean. More to the point, my best bet on sales so far has been getting in front of kids either through visits or sales. But with only one event in the offing, plus looming summer break, the question becomes: can I sell another 300 books before Book 2 is ready (some time early 2016, maybe)? See what I mean? Not exactly oozing confidence here!

Of course, seen differently, if I weren’t such a fusspot, there’s actually no need to offset print at all – I could just get all my books through Print On Demand …

So … do I somehow get a confidence turbo-boost or … stop being a fusspot … ?

On balance, the sensible thing is to hold off making a decision until I’ve had another go-round of looking at what sales possibilities I can come up with over the next few months. Truth is, I’ve been totally preoccupied with preparing for World Book Day and Skype visits so have lost sight of other strategies … Guess it’s time to take stock of what to do next.

Next time posting I have another interview! This time with the awesome Benjamin Scott, former long-running SCBWI-BI ARA and co-author of adventure series Star Fighters, who is currently in the process of getting his YA novel The Song of Freiya out to publishers. I’m very much looking forward to hearing and learning from Ben’s experiences.

PS: I will never stop being a fusspot.

Thanks for reading!

Larisa

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Do My Margins Look Big In This?

If there is one thing that encouraged me to take the plunge into self-publishing then it is POD (print-on-demand). The no (or little) risk involved seemed to make the whole thing a no-brainer … and yet the further I travel down this jolly-old road, the further POD seems to recede into the distance. What happened?

If you read last week’s post (Is There Life Without Amazon), you’ll know that a gloss cover put me off createspace – but I still have IngramSpark, right? Well, yes.

But I’ve also ordered 200 copies through a printer.

From the start I’ve always had the idea of going down the offset digital printing route, but didn’t think it would be this soon. It was more of an ‘if things go well’ kind of option, but there are two things that have encouraged me to pull the plug now. Except it’s only one reason really … just bear with me.

Reason 1: although I have yet to receive a matte cover proof from IngramSpark (don’t ask!) I feel that no matter how much better it looks, a POD book is never going to look like a regular paperback. Maybe the whole point of POD is exactly that – it’s an alternative to traditional publishing rather than a substitute. People who do well through POD not only print in a non-trad way, they also sell through non-trad routes. And yet, here I am, matchstick girl-like gazing through the high street (book)shop window and hoping to get in. I do know getting stocked by Waterstones is a slim hope but (as with the rest) I want to give it my best shot. I could be wrong here but, in my mind, that means having a book that stands out in positive ways (hopefully), rather than in ways that define it as being self-published (size, paper type). Partly it’s a confidence thing. Probably big-partly.

Reason 2: Margins. Waterstones state they are keen to support small, independent publishers and stock through Gardners (the UK’s biggest book distributor). In fact, they have a special ‘programme’ for indie publishers. The process is that you fill out a handy little form to sign up with Gardners, which takes about three weeks, and once that is done you can send your book to Waterstones who will consider stocking it in (probably only some) bookshops. The thing is, your best chance of having your book accepted is to match industry standard retail discounts. That means giving Gardners/Waterstones a 60% discount off the retail price. Six-ty per-cent!!! So, here is the maths: my book retails at £6.99. 60% of 6.99 is (a stonking) £4.19. My POD print costs are around £3, which means … oops! That would put me £0.20 in the red per sale. And that’s not taking into account any delivery costs, which little problem I haven’t even factored in yet. By having 200 copies offset printed, my per book print costs go down to around £2.30, which means a net per book revenue of a stellar £0.50 per (hypothetical!) book sold via Waterstones (not taking into account delivery). Now I haven’t lost sight of the fact that getting into Waterstones is not that likely but, let’s face it, even if that never happens I’m still increasing my per book revenue by £0.70. So long as I sell those 200 copies! And one way or another I always wanted a stash at home to take round to independent bookshops and sell through schools (if possible).

So my two reasons are really only one: getting into high street bookshops. It’s a long shot, but I seem to be giving everything a go …

For anyone interested in the nuts and bolts I found the printer while snooping typesetting info on the back of books’ title pages. Not all, but some will state the printer used. I went with Clays because they are huge and print all my favourite books. They have a dedicated department for independent publishers (doesn’t everyone?) and have proved to be very helpful.

The lead-time for offset printing is something like three weeks … so now I’m waiting for my (200!!) books to arrive. As soon as they are here, I will go for ‘launch’, which should be sometime next week. Finally.

In my next post I will report back on how ‘launch’ went and then will change gear to look at marketing and whatever happens once the book is ‘out there’. By now I’m really looking forward to this next bit!

If you want to be amongst the first to hear about launch then either Friend me on Facebook (Larisa Villar Hauser), like the FB book page (Uma & Imp) or follow Uma & Imp on twitter (Uma_Imp).

Thanks for reading!

Larisa

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