Over the past few years, more than just a few bookstores have started operating online. Flipkart, of course, is the most reputed of them, having started operations in 2007. This proliferation of bookstores is seen by many as an efficient and convenient way to get books delivered at one’s doorstep, often at prices that are highly discounted as compared to the local bookstore and at zero shipping costs. With most stores now offering customers a cash-on-delivery (COD) option, not having a credit card or being reluctant to use one on the Internet is no longer an issue.

More than triggering sales and, in the process, posing a huge threat to physical bookstores, these webstores have changed the dynamics of the publishing industry itself. Here’s how:
a. Online sales, coupled with print-on-demand, means that books can never go out of print. After they are ordered, hitherto out-of-print books can be printed and shipped to the customer. For the customer, it means that old books can now be obtained. For publishers, it means an evergreen backlist. The number of books that publishers have to manage suddenly gets bigger because none can be ignored. No book can be neglected any more and “it is out of print” is an excuse that publishers cannot use and simply won’t stick

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b. Publishers can now hope for new markets. Webstores being as they are, accessible anywhere, can trigger sales from areas that may not be considered by publishers as a “regular market”. Additionally, with migration within India now being a norm, it might not be unusual, for example, for a publisher of Bengali books to find a buyer in Kerala. Physical bookstores will not address such demand primarily because distributors in all their wisdom might ignore, or be unaware, of this demand altogether. Marketing of books therefore becomes challenging because one can never guess where the next order may come from

c. Prices are under pressure. The larger the online platform, the greater is its ability to both extract large discounts from publishers and offer similar, large, discounts to buyers. We saw this behaviour in the case of Amazon and other retail giants and can be forgiven for believing it might happen here too. Although not documented, the effect of the nascent e-commerce market on books sales is quite apparent – sales to individual buyers have fallen and many bookstores now rely on institutional sales to stay alive. That is because online bookstores can demand, and get, larger discounts from publishers as compared to physical bookstores, especially since they deal directly with publishers by bypassing distributors. They then pass on a large portion of this discount to consumers. With lesser overheads than in physical bookstores, they can probably afford to do so. Large discounts plus free shipping automatically translate into sales. Many buyers will privately confess that they have browsed at bookstores but bought online. Some distributors will also tell you, off the record, that many online bookstores sell at a loss. Since they have themselves given them those titles, they should know. What drives online bookstores to offer such deep discounts is anyone’s guess.

There is another aspect to this, although it is mentioned here purely on hunch and cannot be backed by statistical evidence. Is it possible that what is marketed as a potential bestseller is then sold at a higher discount, which in turn leads to higher sales in a self-prophesying kind of way?

If that is true, then in the absence of visibility (due to the absence of “shelves”), books that are in no way lesser whether in substance or style, get lost only because they were not marketed as bestsellers are or were ignored by book reviewers or because the publisher concerned could not offer a large discount. This leads to a downward spiral. As these books sell in small quantities, the miniscule sales discourage publishers and authors, who decide that such subjects are taboo for which there aren’t any readers, from attempting other, similar books.

All this leads me to believe that discounted prices may not be the way to go. True, it delights readers but in the long term could lead to homogenization of material being produced in books. Perhaps the Indian book industry should seriously consider a Fixed Price Book Agreement like the one in effect in Germany and elsewhere. I have noticed that many physical bookstores hold their ground and insist on selling books at the listed price. It does seem like buyers haven’t objected. For how long it will remain that way is anyone’s guess.

While online bookstores have made book buying convenient and books cheap, they have certainly raised many issues that need urgent consideration.

Many distributors are reluctant to work with self-published authors and this remains the ultimate challenge that such authors face, one that renders their book inadequate no matter how well written and produced. At CinnamonTeal we have tried our best to provide distribution services for the titles we have published but these efforts have largely been confined to India. Many authors want their books to be available globally. Our association with LightningSource International (LSI) provides just that.

Starting this month, we have entered into an agreement with LSI, an international POD distributor as a result of which we will be able to offer POD distribution services and make our titles available for buyers in Europe, North America and Australia. This agreement, allows us access to a large number of distributors and retailers.

We hope that this service will go a long way in making our titles accessible to a larger audience. We have always believed that our authors have told some beautiful stories. We are glad many more can now read them. This service is available only for the books we have published

To know more about this service, email us at publishing@ dogearsetc.com

Europe Australia & New Zealand USA
Adlibris ALS Ingram
Agapea Biblioquest Amazon.com
Aphrohead Booktopia Baker & Taylor
Amazon.co.uk DA Information Services Barnes & Noble
Bertrams Dennis Jones & Associates Espresso Book Machine
Blackwell Footprint Books NACSCORP
Book Depository Limited Garratt Publishing
Books Express Holistic Page
Coutts Information Services Ltd. James Bennett
Designarta Books Koorong
Eden Interactive Limited Peter Pal
Trust Media Distribution (formerly STL) Rainbow Book Agencies
Mallory International The Nile
Paperback Shop Ltd. University Co-operative Bookshop
Superbook Deals Westbooks
The Book Community Ltd. Wheelers NZ
W&G Foyle Ltd.
Wrap Distribution

So you recently wrote a novel which was accepted by a publisher? Great!

Now, you probably think that your work is over? Well, unless you are Salman Rushdie or J.K. Rowling, the answer is a big NO. As a matter of fact, even the most famous authors don’t stop at just getting the book out in the market. The importance of marketing in today’s book business cannot be discounted at any cost. Good marketing can help increase sales and make future book sales easier for you.

If you are a first time writer or a relatively unknown author, then marketing is all the more important. There is a concept of market pull and push. In case of J.K. Rowling, the market pulls in the book while in the case of a first time writer; it is market push which is required. Pushing in a book into the market resulting in sales is not that easy for a first time writer. In this age where hundreds of new books get released every week, you need to market it effectively so that the reader deems it fit to be bought.

Even before I start discussing ways of marketing your book, you need to answer one question. Do you have confidence in your book? If the answer is yes, then read on. If you say no, then no one can help you. Book marketing starts with believing in your baby. Sales will follow.

One of the main reasons for a book’s failure is lack of marketing. If no one hears about your book, then what’s the point in writing? After all, you wrote because you wanted your story to be heard, right?

Your book may have been published by a traditional publisher, self-published or through Print on Demand (POD) but no one will know about it unless you as the author are ready to take the next step; that of marketing and promotion. Unless you can afford to hire your own publicist or PR company, the onus of marketing the book is entirely your own. Contrary to the opinion of professional PR firms, there are many low cost ways to promote yourself and your book. Marketing is all the more important if:

1. You are a first time writer
2. The book is self-published
3. The book has been published through POD
4. All the above

In case your book has been published by a traditional publisher, you’ll find that they do a lot of marketing for you, but that is not enough. You will still need to contribute in the marketing exercise if you wish to see your book sell and make it to any of the best seller charts. So here are a few ways you can market your book.

Get Reviewed

This is the most effective way of getting people to talk about your book. Getting reviews for your book is easier that most forms of marketing but it is the credibility of the reviewers that matter. Aim first to get them reviewed by the best reviewers. This can be very difficult unless you have common contacts. Good reviewers are wary of taking on first time writers and this is because of the deluge of books that the market has been flooded with. And a major portion of these books are by first time writers. Since the quality of most of the books in terms of content is questionable, the good reviewers stay away from them.

The next step should be to target publications that have readers whose interests make them a likely target audience. Book reviews by actual readers of the book also matter. So, if you know someone who bought your book, then get in touch with them and ask for feedback. Tell them to blog about it or put their reviews on the online bookstore’s site. This usually works since prospective readers/customers are limited in their ability to search reviews from varied sources themselves.

Get into that bookstore

If your book has been published by a traditional publisher, then getting your book to the bookstore is not your headache but if it has been self-published or through POD, then it is the author’s responsibility of exploring that option. Nowadays, POD service providers provide distribution services as well for bulk orders.

Authors should build relationships with bookstore owners. Get in touch with them; bring up the topic of getting them to stock your book. If it needs, tell the owners/managers that you will do a book reading or book signing session. You will have more influence and success in independent bookstores, since chain stores work with wholesalers and distributors.

Get back in touch

So what if the last college you attended was 10 years back, you are still an alumnus. Your alma mater still needs you and so do you. You have written a book and you are proud of the fact so why not let your college know about it, not with the intention of selling the books but to get the word around. The current students of your college could well be your future buyers.

This applies to all your previous companies as well. Unless you fought before you left the company, they too would be proud of your achievements. Let them know about your book.

Personal Promotion and Social Networking

Internet marketing has changed dramatically in the last 3-4 years, with many new applications and tools. Create a personal website which needn’t be fancy–just enough to present information about your book and create a buzz. In addition to describing the book, you can post reviews and offer a free chapter to readers. This will create that interest that you are looking for. The eyeballs to sales conversion rate increases dramatically if the prospective readers/buyers can find all the required information about you and your book all at the same place.

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter Myspace etc can be excellent marketing tools for your book promotion. Book marketing through social networking sites take time and effort, so you can’t give up after only a few days.

As a first time author, your main objective is to hammer your name and the name of your book into the public consciousness. Use all your creativity in such a way that not only does it increases sale for your current book but will also improve your chances of successful marketing next time.

There are many other ways of marketing your book. An author just needs to use his/her imagination to tap into some unexplored marketing goldmine. Always remember, there is nothing called overnight success. It might take you years to achieve that overnight success. At the end of the day, you will become very tired but very enlightened. Believe me; it is very satisfying to see all your hard work pay off.

Pijush Gupta is the author of “Have a Pleasant Journey” published by CinnamonTeal. He blogs at www.pigtale.co.in

VIKRAM KARVE born in Baramati Pune and educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi and The Lawrence School Lovedale Ooty, is an electronics and communications engineer by profession, a human resource and training manager by occupation, a teacher by vocation, a creative writer by inclination and a foodie by passion.

An avid blogger, he has written a large number of fiction short stories, professional, technical and management articles, self help and philosophical musings and creative non-fiction pieces in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.
Do have a look at Vikram Karve’s creative writing blog at: http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com and his Professional Profile at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

1. How did the idea for the book come about?

I love good food. I love walking. So I love going on long walks exploring, searching for authentic food wherever I go. I got the idea for writing about food while “food-walking” on the streets of Mumbai a few years ago.

2. When do you think you really became passionate about food? Or better yet, when do you think you realized it?
I knew I was passionate about food when I realized that most of the time I was thinking about good food – this happened when I was in college.

3. Tell us why readers will enjoy ‘ Appetite for a Stroll‘?
Appetite for a Stroll is a unique book of foodie adventures breathtaking in its simplicity which surely has something for you – you’ll discover authentic eateries you’ve never been to before, it’s got recipes you’ve never read before, tips on the art of eating, a delicious journey which you can easily identify with, especially if you are a foodie or a wanderlust person.

4. What’s your favorite recipe from the book?
“ ¾, 1, 1 ½ ” – MY TIME TESTED BAKE A CAKE FORMULA

5. Do you cook yourself?
Yes, I love cooking as much as I love eating.

6. What was the first dish that you were really proud of?
The first dish I was proud of was CHICKEN DO PIAZA which I improvised during an impromptu dinner for friends who suddenly landed up with a broiler chicken and asked me to cook it for them.

7. What sets you apart from other food writers?
I am a genuine simple earthy trencherman, an ardent foodie, who honestly believes in the maxim “There is no love greater than the love of food”.

8. Could you share a favorite recipe?

Of course I’d love to share my favorite recipe… It’s called EGGS VODKA and a KISS…a story and a recipe…do read it in Appetite for a Stroll on page 117.

9. Do you have any future writing plans?
Yes. I plan to become a full time writer soon. I am planning a novel (on which I am already working) and book for children and dog lovers. Maybe I will write a book on “Teaching Stories” and Wisdom and Philosophy through Humor. I also want to publish an anthology featuring a collection of my short stories written by me over the past 20 years in various magazines and in my creative writing blog and another anthology of my philosophical musings and self help articles. I will continue to write short stories, philosophical musings, food and travel writing and self help articles and continue to blog actively.

10. How was it working with CinnamonTeal Publishing?
Appetite for a Stroll is a well designed and attractively packaged book which makes an easy read and has been liked by readers. The quality of publishing is really good. I wish the book had been advertised, publicized, and marketed well and displayed in prominent bookstores and bookstalls at airports and railway stations and was easily available to readers. Appetite for a Stroll is only available online. Most readers prefer to browse and buy books in bookstores or bookstalls rather than online.

(Readers may note that CinnamonTeal has since begun offering marketing packages, for more details contact shulen @ dogearsetc.com)

One question that is often asked by authors contacting us is that related to the cost of publishing. I have attempted to answer that question here although it is nearly impossible to give an exact figure considering the fact that almost every book is unique in some aspects. What follows is an approximation.
Please note: These are approximate costs charged by CinnamonTeal Publishing. Rates at other publishers/printing houses may vary. Rates will also vary depending on the specifications of the book you choose to publish.
a. Editing: Assuming you are done writing, the first step would be to have the book edited. In fact, at CinnamonTeal, we insist on one round of editing. This service costs Rs. 85 per A4 page (13 Garamond with 1″ margins) for copy editing and proof reading, Rs. 65 per A4 page for proof reading alone and Rs. 125 per A4 page for substantive editing. Assuming a manuscript of 35,000 words and 350 words to an A4 page, having the book edited and proof read will cost Rs. 8,500.
b. Cover Design: The service costs you Rs. 5000/-. You get three unique covers to choose from and three iterations to improve the cover you have chosen.
Total Cost so far: Rs. 13,500
c. Interior Page Design: The service costs Rs. 20 per page for text-only pages. The above word count translates roughly into 150 pages of A5 dimensions (i.e 5.83″x8.27″). Interior page design will therefore cost Rs. 3000/-
Total Cost so far: Rs. 16,500
d. Printing: A single copy of the book, having specifications mentioned as before and with only black and white pages, with perfect binding will cost Rs. 157.50. For the sake of this article, assuming 50 books are printed, the cost of printing totals Rs. 7,875
Total Cost so far: 24,375
e. ISBN: While the ISBN and the associated barcode is provided for free, government regulations require that a copy of the book be deposited at each of the four national libraries. The cost of four copies totals Rs. 630 while postage and paperwork costs Rs. 300. Hence the cost of printing and sending these books totals Rs. 930.
Total Cost so far: Rs. 25,305
f. That’s pretty much it. There are no setup costs, no fulfillment costs (except the cost of printing the book and postage) and no “manuscript changing cost”. One might decide to have a website designed and we charge Rs. 5000 for that service. 
So we are still talking about a total cost of Rs. 30,305.
Roughly translates into US $ 700.00
You might also consider the cost of the time you will spend marketing your book and tracking your sales. While the amount mentioned above is definitely not a small one, it is an investment in yourself. The time and effort you have put in while writing your book and fine-tuning it is definitely the single-largest investment you have made. This later investment just sustains it.
Note: If you choose the “do-it-yourself” route, you could save on most of these costs. The only cost you’d have to bear is that of printing. Assuming you choose to print 50 copies, that cost would amount to Rs. 7875. Roughly $180.00

It was already about e-books. From the Kindle to the Nook to the very unimaginatively named Sony Reader, e-book Readers were fast to come by and offer those on the move a new way to read books. e-book Readers offered a truckload of choices – from the ability to carry more than a 1000 books at once to the ability to make annotations and notes on the book as you read it.

The iPad has raised the stakes even further. It was always possible to read e-books on smartphones thanks to the likes of the Stanza app on iphones and Aldiko on Google Android phones. With everyone who is someone preferring an electronic version of the book to read, having an e-presence has now become a necessity.

Making your book available in an electronic form also has an economic aspect to it. With more than half of the world’s readers of English books concentrated in North America and Western Europe, it makes sense to cater to these readers, who now increasingly prefer the convenience of e-books. There is also the cost factor. With e-book development being a one-time charge, every additional “e-book” costs nothing to produce. You are earning from each sale and spending nothing.

At CinnamonTeal, we are doing our best to help our authors leverage this channel. We have tied up with myebooks.com and Smashwords™, both respected book channels in their own right. Our association with them allows our authors access to a large number of platforms thus making their books accessible on most devices whether on mobiles or on dedicated e-book readers. To know more about this service, click here.We also offer an e-book development service for a variety of formats.

We have been often asked why we do not offer packages like many other POD publishers do. It has been common practice about POD providers to offer publishing packages that bundle together services for an all-inclusive fee. At CinnamonTeal Print and Publishing, we have consciously chosen to stay away from packages. There are reasons for this:

a. Many of the packages available on offer bundle services that might not be needed by the author. But because no alternative is available, the service has to be bought, and paid for, as part of the package. For example, in package-based offerings, a person may have to pay for cover design even if she could have done it herself

b. Some services ought to be there for free. Like the non-exclusive contract which many publishers offer as part of their basic package but which, we believe, is central to the concept of POD publishing and must be offered without any strings attached. Similarly, in India, ISBN must be issued without any charge.

c. The concept of packages flies in the face of the spirit of POD i.e. helping authors get around budgetary constraints in the process of publishing their book. At CinnamonTeal, we first encourage authors to check and see if their friends or acquaintances can provide services like cover design or editing for free or for a reduced rate.

d. Many times, authors who have bought package-based services are left out of the loop when those services are provided. Consultation is not provided for as part of these services. Hence, during crucial stages like the editing of the book, the author is not allowed to weigh in on the edited draft. Inputs are incorporated but charged as another round of editing.

e. Most of the packages offer marketing services that promise the moon but require the author to be an inherent part of the process. Nothing wrong with that except that the author is led to believe that she can stay out of the process and the marketing package she has paid for will generate sales on its own.

f. Quality isn’t assured. This follows from an earlier point made which illustrates the dangers of leaving the author out of the process. If the author is not allowed to provide her inputs to the edited manuscript, for instance, various nuances of the plot may be altered and the narrative may be lost in translation

CinnamonTeal Print and Publishing Services provides editorial, design and POD services to customers around the globe. It provides services a la carte – you pay only what you ask for.