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Using Tech for Book Marketing

Kate Gingold from Sprocket WebsitesKate has been building websites with her husband Don since 1996 for all sorts of clients, including authors.

Kate regularly writes about online marketing for Sprocket Websites and provides tips and techniques for entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Since being an author today is not really different from being an entrepreneur with a small business, most of those tips are just as useful to authors.

Kate is an author herself. She writes books on local history, including the award-winning "Ruth by Lake and Prairie," a fictionalized account of the true story of Great Lake pioneering to the shores of Chicago and beyond to found Naperville, Illinois. 

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Author Tips and Tales

Shipping Books
Kate Gingold Host
/ Categories: Author Tips

Shipping Books

If you publish ebooks, then obviously you don’t need to think about shipping. The same goes for authors who publish their books with Amazons’ KDP. (Kindle Direct Publishing, which is now merged with CreateSpace) An additional bonus for KDP-purchased books is that many readers are Prime members which means they don’t have to pay extra for shipping when they choose to buy your book.

But some authors do keep boxes of books at home so they will need to think about shipping. Why would you want to mess around with that? There are a couple of good reasons to consider. 

With some publishing options, authors are in charge of their own distribution. An author might advertise and sell books on their own website because they’ll make more money per book if they don’t have to share proceeds with a distributor and third-party seller. 

Other authors have a devoted fan base and shipping books from their home or office lets them add a personalized autograph and a bookmark or other tchotchkes. 

If you are serving as your own fulfillment service, be aware of and compare your mailing options. The common services are the United States Post Office and UPS or FedEx.

UPS and FedEx are best used for shipping boxes of books, for instance, to a school before a visit or to a hotel before your seminar. Even so, it will be worth your while to get quotes from both of these and the USPS before making your choice. Depending on the distance and weight of your shipment, you may be surprised at which service comes up best in a comparison. 

Single books are best shipped from the USPS, but you have choices there as well. 

First Class Package Service, Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express are all zone-based distance systems, which means the farther you are sending your book, the more you will pay. Weight, of course, is also a consideration and your book may weigh more than you think. Figure out the weight and the longest distance before assessing shipping charges to your buyers or you may be spending more than you make on every purchase. 

Media Mail service will cost you much less – any book under 16 ounces was $2.66 in January 2019, regardless of how far across the country it needs to travel. But there are a couple of big drawbacks to consider: 1) Media Mail ships fourth class, so it may take up to ten days to arrive and 2) You can ONLY send the book – no bookmarks or personal notes. 

Serving as your own fulfillment center can be a pain in the neck if you sell a lot of books or if you live far away from the Post Office. You’ll need shipping envelopes and postage and maybe a scale, not to mention you have to process the online orders in a timely fashion. Some folks hire help to handle this part of the business, which is an extra expense.

As strange as it may seem, you can see why it’s smart to decide on how you want to distribute your books BEFORE you publish. If you don’t want to fulfill orders, maybe you shouldn’t choose the publishing option that makes you do that, even if the royalties seem like a better deal. Being an author is being a small business owner, so lay out your business plan from the very beginning. 

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Full disclosure:  Writing for Sprocket Websites is my day job, so if you have questions about digital marketing, I'm happy to help!


Marketing Author Interview

Following a presentation for In Print Professional Writers Group, Kate's husband (and publisher!) Don was interviewed by author Louise Brass for WBOM Radio. During the conversation, Don shared many of the marketing tips from his presentation. You can listen to it online here.

The Sprocket Report

The Sprocket Report is published every other week with Internet marketing tips, tools and techniques. The archive features articles from 2011 up to the present. You are welcome to read how business owners are using technology to market themselves and apply those tips to your author business.



Get a Book Siging Checklist and our Sprocket Report

Kate will be happy to send you her brief Book Signing Checklist. Treat your book promotion like a business - because it is!

AND, since much of your efforts will be online, she'll also enroll you in her Sprocket Report, an email newsletter sent every other Tuesday, that includes 2 Internet Marketing tips and a post from a guest blogger on related business.

No worries! She won't use your email address for anything else, and you can unsubscribe from the newsletter anytime, but the checklist is yours to keep.

Any questions of Kate? Leave them in the message field and she'll get back to you ASAP.

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