Sale. It's a four-letter word. And unlike those people who believe every artist must have a rich aunt somewhere, or at least a bottomless source of government grants, most authors can't afford to give away their work.
Some people enjoy getting up at 4 a.m. to set up a stall at a fleamarket to sell their books. Or hawking three or four copies around to every bookshop they know. Or devising clever media events to keep their fax hot with orders. Some people have extended families large enough to fill a movie theatre — and know how to politely extract a cover charge from them.
If you're one of those, you don't need IP Sales. If you're not, read on.
A Bit of Reality Training...
Every publisher daydreams of discovering the next Stephen King. Most authors daydream about being the next Stephen King. But for 98% of the world's authors, it's a hard slog.
Large publishing houses employ professional sales and marketing staff to get out the word about new titles and generate vast sales. Most new books have a shelf-life of six weeks before they're remaindered — sold at a fraction of their cover price — so there's no time to lose in creating demand out there. Timing is crucial.
It helps having a good book to sell, but what's most important is having work that is right for the season — and the prevailing tastes out there.
And you thought you could just write...!
Few bookshops are literature-friendly these days. When's the last time you saw a section — or even a shelf — devoted to poetry? Short story collections are lost among the fiction titles. And even fiction has been sub-divided into "literary" and general fiction to help readers avoid work with "hidden" meaning.
The difference between large and small publishers with the bookshops may come down to clout. Big publishers work through big distributors who sell to the big chain stores. And sometimes the right position in a bookshop, or stacks of your books in evidence, can create the illusion that heaps of people are buying it. But fairy tales seldom come true at most bookshops these days.
The IPS Strategy
We don't believe in wasting our time — or yours. We promote our titles to select bookshops across the country, and internationally. Often these bookshops won't order in your book until someone comes in asking for it, but at least the shop will know where to find it by contacting us.
We put more effort into selling to libraries through our library supplier network, and also getting our authors invited to events where people can hear their work and meet the authors in person.
Rather than waiting for the world to beat a path to our door, we promote heavily via the Internet, through sites such as this. That's because we believe that the only way to make literary writing pay in such a small population base as Australia is to spread the word far and wide.
We must be doing pretty well on that count, because two out of every three visitors to our web site are from outside Australia and New Zealand.
Want to put our experience and expertise to work for you? Read on!
What you pay, if anything, depends on if your title has been published with us or you have an established publications track record. You can do it yourself (we provide a free Author's Guide to get you started). Or we offer optional services from which you can design the package of services that you want, such as:
• a professional media kit promoting you and your work
• listings on our print and online catalogues, email circulars and newsletters
• promotion to bookshops, libraries and interested individuals here and overseas and advice on how to promote your work and increase sales.
You also have the option to have your book available for sale in Europe and North America via our partnerships with Lightning Source and CreateSpace, which gets it listed in the major catalogues and on online shops like Amazon.
Our experience is that your work sells best at events where you read and make contact with prospective buyers. The key events are launches, festivals and one-off readings.
IPS can also help you increase the exposure for your work by designing a mini-site that showcases your work. We feature the cover of the title, a description of its contents, reviews that you send us, a sample from the work (6 short poems, a short story, or a chapter from a novel), plus your artistic bio, photo, and links to your website or blog. We then update your mini-site as more information, like reviews, comes to hand. To see sample mini-sites, go to our online shop, and click on the icon of a few titles. While you're at it, why not show your support for quality Australian writing by ordering a title or two?
And while you're thinking about going digital, why not consider having us prepare digital versions of your work? We can convert books into pdf, ePub or xhtml files for uploading to our online distribution partners. This gives you access to a global market, with buyers able to order directly online from IP or from a variety of online sites such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Overdrive. For more information on digital publishing packages, please check out our Digital Publishing Centre.
It would be great if work sold itself, but that doesn't happen much these days. Some authors — and publishers — think their work is finished when the boxes of books arrive from the printers. Then they shake their heads when the boxes sit there, gathering dust.
A winning sales strategy is a necessary part of succeeding as an author. If your publisher can't do this for you, you'll have to do it yourself. Or find someone to rely on.
IPS will only take on your work if we feel we can sell it, so the first step is to send us
• a sample of your work
• your sense of the market, including competing titles
• your creative bio
• details of where the book has already been sold, if it was previously published
• the applicable fee (see our Guidelines)
• and a self-addressed, stamped envelope, if you need to post your submission to us and want it returned.
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Updated 7 May 2014