As the editor of First Chapter Plus and an Indie Author, I get to live both sides of the books listings coin. On one hand I my hope candle for book sales gets lighted up with the running of each Issue, on the other hand I can’t stop rooting for all the other opportunities that I have learned a great catalog design can bring and that I have witnessed during the past four years that I have managed one. I understand the mindset that catalogs are sell pitches, as they are geared to book stores and libraries. Having said that, I must admit that promoting books to book stores is not only one aspect of it but it is also should not be the only expectation for the authors.
Since the Internet revolutionized the Publishing Industry, catalogs evolved. They are not just in print format, they can also be digital. They not only are mailed to Book Stores and Libraries, they can also be emailed to contact lists, and even shared through social media. They are not only produced and distributed by big publishing houses, they are also produced by Indie and small presses. These are the facts of how catalogs have changed, so why would authors keep thinking their goal is still only selling?
The truth is that they shouldn’t! Book catalogs can also be the key to getting reliable exposure. In fact most bloggers, book reviewers and other book critics use book catalogs to find out books coming soon and New Releases as well as finding books in the appropriate topic to provide content for their magazines, blogs and Newsletters. In fact, as an Editor I can confirm this fact as I am the one to respond to bloggers, book reviewers and sometimes even well-known media who inquire for specific books and authors after each Issue goes live. Below are few things authors should consider when deciding which catalog to list:
- Distribution target and platform. In my opinion, the best platform is in digital format, as they are accessible from everywhere, and the recipients have subscribed to them in order to receive them. Also, although they can be targeted to bookstores and libraries, they can also target Individuals, Media…etc., and be distributed to key persons within stores, all with one click which speaks zillions on speed and practicability when compared to printed forms and snail mail!
- Catalog design. How much information is too much or too little? How easy is it to act upon the interest on the books listed? These question need to be answered when comparing catalogs. Can individuals order the book right there as they read your listing? Is there enough information to spark interest and is more information available quickly when desired by the reader? Is the design attractive and simple so the recipients enjoy visiting the listings?
- Does the catalog platform and distribution system allow for recipients to contact the editor easily to submit book requests? It has been my experience that sometimes Media, Bloggers and other expert and content seekers will email me directly as they assume I am in close contact with authors listed in the catalog, and thus I can forward their requests for interviews or books to review directly, saving their requests from the spam folder and thus saving time.
- Finally, how specialized is the target of the catalog. Does the author want to market their books to a specific market target, or generalized target? This is important, because if the book and marketing strategy calls for a specific target, let’s say text books, then it makes no sense to list the book on a catalog that distributes mostly books geared to regular readers .
- Finally be clear on what to expect from catalogs. Listings should call attention and distribution should put your title out there so that the target can find it. Although it can’t per se make anyone want to buy or request any book, the right catalog for a book should be able to make it easy for whoever is interested in it to purchase or find out more.
Susan Violante is the Editor of First Chapter Plus. A monthly catalog geared to help putting Indie books out there. For more information visit www.firstchapterplus.com