The American Booksellers Association recently presented the first in a series of three online Marketing Meetups focusing on topics related to IngramSpark, the print-on-demand book publishing service and e-book distribution tool.
BookWeb.org now features a page under the Events tab with a listing of all past and upcoming Marketing Meetups, along with the Meetup recaps previously published in BTW. ABA’s Marketing Meetups are part of the organization’s aim of delivering educational opportunities to member bookstores; visit BookWeb’s Education Resources section for even more educational content.
The April 25 Marketing Meetup, hosted by ABA on Zoom.us, was titled “Hosting Successful & Profitable Local Author Education, Marketing, and Event Programs,” and featured guest speakers Josh Floyd, manager of business development for IngramSpark; Samantha Kolber of Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont; and Jamille Christman of Eagle Eye Book Shop in Decatur, Georgia.
Floyd began the meeting by giving booksellers in attendance a brief introduction to IngramSpark, Ingram’s print-on-demand division for authors, publishers, bookstores, and libraries that are looking to create their own content and make it available to the world through Ingram. Because the service is a print-on-demand model, Floyd said, there’s no physical inventory. Instead, the service works with digital files and offers self-published authors both e-book and print book distribution. “We have a three-pronged approach,” Floyd added. “We print, we distribute, and we educate.”
While IngramSpark is an entity that helps provide resources to self-published authors and publishers, Floyd said, bookstores such as Bear Pond and Eagle Eye also offer valuable educational services to self-published authors by teaming up with other local bookstores and industry professionals to offer workshops and other programming.
“We do our best to educate,” Floyd said, “but authors coming out of [bookstore] author education days are better equipped to actually go and sell their book to other bookstores and throughout the industry.”
IngramSpark also offers a resources page with a list of vetted businesses that offer editing, graphic design, marketing, and other services self-published authors might need to get their book ready for readers.
Bear Pond Books has held several events for local authors, including a self-publishing or independent publisher workshop and a workshop focused on marketing self-published books, said Kolber, and has teamed up with IngramSpark and the Independent Publishers of New England on these. The store also brought a professional book editor, a graphic designer, and a local independent press founder together on a panel to speak to local authors and aspiring authors about both the writing and indie publishing process.
“We charged a ticket price of $25 per person and limited it to about 25 people per workshop,” Kolber said. “It was a nice size for the panel, and participants could ask questions. We also handed out resources from IngramSpark.”
Additionally, Bear Pond partnered with the Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, Vermont, to maximize exposure and bring industry panelists to a more rural area of the state. The stores also offer resources on “Marketing Your Self-Published Book to Your Local Bookstore: Do’s and Don’ts” and “Social Media & Marketing.”
“There are a lot of steps to take,” Kolber said regarding the indie publishing process. “I think people think once the book is done, then the marketing starts, but there’s actually a number of steps to do before the book is published.”
“We’re lucky to have a lot of literary folks here,” she added. “We have book editors, [industry] professionals, and a lot of small presses in the area. We invite successful local authors to talk about the process as well.”
Christman told booksellers at the meetup about Eagle Eye’s consignment program, which has become a profitable partnership for the store.
Eagle Eye’s consignment program is customizable to each self-published author who wants to join, Christman said. In order to rent shelf space, books must be bound with legible titles on the spines, imprinted with an ISBN and barcode, proofread, and free of typographical errors. Eagle Eye also requires that manuscripts are professionally edited and convey a professional level of design and artwork. “Books that come through IngramSpark are usually the best quality,” Christman noted.
Christman said that she reads titles herself and critiques them for free. If they aren’t yet ready to be sold in-store, she refers authors to IngramSpark or her store’s workshops. If accepted, authors can choose from three consignment programs, which include a basic package, a marketing package, and a premium marketing package. Authors who are successful on consignment are then eligible to hold events at the store.
On Independent Bookstore Day, April 27, Eagle Eye celebrated its 16th birthday by hosting an event for these local authors to meet customers and hand-sell their books themselves, among other events, said Christman.
Floyd added that these programs benefit both booksellers and indie authors alike, so there’s little risk in establishing these relationships, and proper education can clear up any confusion or frustration that might stem from purchasing indie titles or holding indie author events. Two points that Floyd feels are often misunderstood are discounts, which authors and booksellers can discuss with Ingram, and the issue of returning leftover books after author events.
Establishing a buy-back plan for events with self-published authors can help to circumvent returns, noted Floyd. “If you’re buying the books through Ingram, buy them through your normal process and then at the end of the event, have an agreement that says if we have X amount of books left, we will sell them back you (the author or publisher) at the same cost as what we paid Ingram for these books,” he said. “What that does is it makes the event almost 100 percent returnable.”
Booksellers who would like to participate in the next 30-minute Marketing Meetup, which will be held on May 9 and cover ways booksellers can market the Well-Read Black Girl book club, can send an online request. All ABA members are invited to join. Meetups are held at 11:00 a.m. ET on two Thursdays a month.