As those of you, trying to reach out to new readers will know, they’re never going to find your books if they don’t know they exist in the first place. Before the ebook revolution, readers relied upon professional reviews and bookshop in-store promotions.
In the digital age, it’s got a whole lot harder for authors to make their work stand out from the crowd, as so many more books are being published. If you sell books on Amazon you have to put your faith in machines to attract attention, such as the ‘Customers who bought this item also bought’ algorithm. Now, I know enough about technology to realise that a human had to design the recommendation algorithm in the first place, but even so, when I get emails from Amazon suggesting different books to me, I’m often puzzled by the selections.
According to the Codex Group, which tracks book-buying, ‘only 7% of books sold online were discovered online.’ (Source: James Bridle writing in The Observer, 3 February 2013 -We’re all talk when it comes to buying online).
If I had the choice, I would far rather have advice from a fellow reader whose opinion I respected. So it can only be good news to hear that Sainsbury’s, which took over the reading social networking site, Anobii, last year, has launched eBooks by Sainsbury’s. Not another social networking site, I hear you say. Won’t it just be yet another distraction to keep me from writing?
It’s early days yet for the site so it’s too soon to judge how effective it will be as a way to attract new readers. But, on a positive note, when I wrote to Sainsbury’s, asking what their policy was on promoting the work of indie published authors, this is what they had to say:
“We are only able to sell ebooks via publishers or aggregators at this time; however, we are currently looking into establishing partnerships with aggregators that distribute self-published writers (SmashWords, Author Solutions etc.). If you are signed up with such an aggregator, it will be our pleasure to offer your books for sale on Ebooks by Sainsbury’s once we have the partnerships in place.”
From the website:
“If you would like to display and sell your ebooks through our site we will require the following: country you are based in (for the moment we can only sell in the UK, but we welcome publishers from all over the world)extent of your digital catalogue file formats available (we accept epub/ pdf) metadata format (onix 2.1 is mandatory) any aggregator you use (we are implementing a number of them and so might be distributing your titles soon anyway).”
Whether or not eBooks by Sainsbury’s is going to attract a big enough readership to make it worthwhile for authors to come out of Amazon KDP Select and distribute their work through an aggregator, like SmashWords, remains to be seen. But let’s hope so.