Friday, May 4, 2012

PublishAmerica's CEO on why they sell books to their authors

May 03, 2012

Good morning!

Let me talk to you a bit about why we make book sales offers to our authors. Occasionally we hear, "Why are you pressuring me, the author, to buy my own book?" The answer is: we're not pressuring anyone at all. If anything, it's the other way around. Demand from authors for their own book is high.

More after this book review, Uncle Deek's Garden by S. N. Herndon (

Uncle Deeks will endear you immediately with his whimsical attempts at getting out of chores on a Saturday morning. He loves to sing, tell tall tales, and spend his days tending to his garden. In a grandmotherly narrative filled with animated color pictures, S. N. Herndon takes us from the garden to a neighborhood bully, Eva, and Jimmy who overhear Uncle Deeks singing. Eva torments Jimmy, and he's pressured to prove to Eva that he doesn't kick like a girl, which results in Jimmy losing his ball over the fence to Uncle Deeks. Jimmy drags Eva to his backyard where Jimmy confesses that he was tormented into kicking the ball.

That's when Uncle Deek's Garden turns more serious when Uncle Deeks sits the children down and gives them two choices in order to get their ball back: participate in a play or pay him five dollars. They abstractly learn the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden and realize they were making poor choices. This vibrantly colored picture book about temptation and redemption will have children second-guessing the negative influences in their lives and realizing that there's always a price to pay.

Find Uncle Deek's Garden here:

First, some numbers. How many books in America are sold through bookstores? Less than 30 percent. That's correct: more than 70 percent of all books are sold outside bookstores. Surprised? You shouldn't be. There are not many bookstores left. Borders, Waldenbooks, B. Dalton, Brentano's, Crown, Encore: all gone. All that's left is Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million (which is reportedly having a hard time now), and local small and independent bookstores, no more than 30 per each state on average. Plus the Hudson airport bookstores, but those offer a small collection.

We see the exact same numbers: Just under 30 percent of PublishAmrica books are sold through brick and mortar bookstores. The vast majority are sold through our own website. Most of those are bought by authors.

We didn't invent this phenomenon. This started before we even printed our first book. PublishAmerica's very first book order came from an author one day after he signed his contract. He returned it in the mail and included a check for 250 books. I wasn't surprised. Back in the days when I wrote books myself, which started in Europe, I always bought books from my publisher. I wanted to have them on hand. I either gave them away because I'm like everyone else: I liked approval and wanted to impress others. Or I sold them for a profit. So when this early PublishAmerica author bought copies of his own book, I was prepared.

When you start a publishing company, you know that it comes with a built-in market. Authors are deservedly proud people. A majority of them want to buy their own book, and almost all of those books find their way into someone else's hand. It's the most direct way for an author to know that their book has found a reader. Twenty percent of our authors are not interested in this. They never buy their own book (I have mentioned before that 11,000 of our books have only 1 copy in print, and that's the book that we gave them for free). But the other eighty percent are.

It took us a few years before we decided to make special book sales offers to our own authors. And we did it only after hundreds of authors had asked us for better discounts. Then, when we finally sent out those emails, demand took off like a comet. Nobody in their right mind would expect us to ignore that.So we increased the number of special sales offers, decreased the price, and demand went through the roof. Last year, 15,000 authors participated in those sales offers. In other words, who is pressuring who here?

Plain and simple: authors are self-chosen points of sale, just like any other point of sale. They are book re-sellers. And if it's not them, they have family or friends who sell the book for them. Bookstores have the big reputation, but they're increasingly an afterthought. At our author conventions we get many questions about discounts and shipping fees. But not a single author has asked us to stop making them attractive offers. Of course not. Publishers have known this for a long time. You ignore your own authors' demand for their own books at your own peril, and we're not that stupid.

And that's all there is to the issue.

I invite you to talk back to me.I don't guarantee a response, but I do guarantee that we listen. Send your reaction to this new email address: In the subject line write Attn. Willem.

Have a wonderful day!
--Willem Meiners

already there have been responses to this on their Facebook page:

"Got it in email. Seriously since I didn't get any sales from my first book I am not able to order anymore"

"Buy out a.s a.p"

"I wanted to buy the book that was published, sent a money order,(Cheque) but didn't receive it as yet. There may be some people over here interested in purchasing a copy of the book, The Thrush's Song, by ASH, (Children's fiction). I shall write again."

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