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Ways for Publishers to Raise Revenues. Sensible Solutions for getting happily published

The short answer about what more you can do is, Plenty, and you’ll find leads on the Resources page to publications, websites and groups that should help you cut expenses and risks while raising revenue and profits.

To explore ways that Sensible Solutions might help your business be more profitable, email judith@happilypublished.com.

Here are some specific suggestions.

Beef up the lineup

Whatever you publish, you'd be wise to search for out-of-print books on your topic that you can simply reissue, and for related books other publishers may be glad to grant you licenses for, either because they can't penetrate the markets you get to or because their sales are minimal. Add these to your list and you're likely to find that it reaches critical mass much faster than it would with new releases only.

Even rights to works still copyrighted can often be had for modest fees when no one has been paying much attention to them for a while.

Aim at 4 kinds of targets

Because the best way to launch any book is through the readers who will be most enthusiastic about it and most likely to recommend it, it's smart to go after special-interest markets.

To target the particular markets that will support a particular book, it pays to consider four categories, one of which is tricky:

  • Subject. This is the standard approach and a powerful one. People who are interested in whatever the book is about are clearly apt to be interested in the book. Explore the Internet and the Encyclopedia of Associations for groups that serve them locally, regionally or nationwide and seek them out in geographic areas where activities involving the subject are important.
  • Setting. Whether or not a book's subject has geographic hubs of activity, every book has at least one setting that can serve as a target market. Travelers and armchair travelers to that setting may be as responsive as inhabitants.
  • Author Activity. Every author can come up with useful lists of contacts, including colleagues, friends, fellow alums, hometown media people and directors of groups that might promote and/or sell the book. Most authors will do the work necessary to reach these people once you explain your economic realities, but make sure you and they clearly understand who's doing what.
  • Sensibility. The least conventional target marketing category, sensibility is often the most powerful. Look for people with worldviews that echo the one in any given book by asking yourself questions like: Does the subtext say that legislative cures work? That personal power is always the key to success? That integrity matters most? That people are basically good? As with the Subject category, the Internet is a great guide to non-geographic communities that will love the book and talk it up.

Offer an Assortment of Formats

With formats in ferment today – and no doubt tomorrow as well -- it makes sense to produce every new book both in one or more print-on-paper editions and in digital forms, and it’s essential to start planning to do that well before production of the book begins. Try to focus on production opportunities and pitfalls at the acquisition stage or, failing that, at the editing stage. Among other things, this means ensuring that each book’s cover design and interior design will work in a variety of formats with minimal tweaks.

Remember that e-book distribution has costs too, including costs for servers, storage, bandwidth, customer support, meeting the demands of powerful retailers, and possibly hiring help to handle some or all of the above.

Seriously seek excerpt exposure

Sections of books can sometimes stand firmly on their own in periodicals, blogs and websites. And the payoff can be high in terms of publicity as well as – sometimes -- in terms of fees.

Send as many different adaptations of your material as you and/or your author(s) can prepare to as many appropriate outlets as possible, and use the biographical note that runs with them to identify their parent work. You'll want readers who are enthusiastic about an excerpt to know they can easily get a copy of its source, so try hard to get links or full ordering information included along with the pieces.

Earn income overseas

Some books travel well. If you’re actively engaged with foreign rights, you know that. If not, and depending on your titles, you might consider exhibiting abroad through the Independent Book Publishers Association or one of the other organizations that offer such services and think about working with one of the foreign rights agents listed in Literary Market Place.

English-speaking countries may seem the best bet because language is no barrier, but scientific, semi-scientific and scholarly works in English can attract audiences around the world, and so can some fiction, many essentially visual books for both children and adults, and nonfiction that's written by experts, provided that its content doesn't focus relentlessly on the author's homeland or include too much local language.

Whether foreign publishers buy copies of the American book or rights to publish an edition of their own, what they pay sometimes means the difference between financial success and financial failure for books from U.S. firms.

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