Category Archives: Publishing

Being a partnership publisher in the new digital wrold is exciting and rewarding.

The Last Book Shopping Day For Christmas?

The answer is 25th December if you are online – 24th if you are a physical shop. That’s not a typo, if you are a bookseller or publisher then the online appetite from consumers won’t stop when the tills in the shops close on Christmas Eve. Shopping on Christmas Day is a relatively new phenomenon. In 2008 as in years before, shopping online started to slow down around the 16th December and stopped almost altogether on the 19th.

In 2009 we passed a significant point in our shopping cultural evolution. Some time during 2009 shopping online became a daily activity and we saw purchases continue throughout the last week before the holidays and on Christmas Day itself UK consumers spent an unprecedented £120m+ online.  Read more

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 22, 2010 in Publishing


Tags: , ,

An Independent Publishers First Electronic Christmas – Amazon Kindle, iPad and the rest

We are facing the first truly electronic Christmas trading period in the book publishing industry, and looking back on the last twelve months it has been an incredible period of change.

In November 2009 we were preparing for Christmas in a fairly traditional way as a publisher. Getting stocks in, a series of signings with Borders and Waterstones, and ten new books – everyone wants to be out for the big selling period.

Twelve months on and the publishing industry has changed beyond recognition. Borders have gone from the UK (RIP – we will miss them) and the electronic revolution is truly here – eBooks, social media, eCommerce, and POD all coming into their own in 2010. So what has changed and what will 2011 bring?

To read the full article click here Facing the First Electronic Chrismas





Leave a comment

Posted by on November 20, 2010 in Publishing


Tags: , , , , , ,

A Publisher’s Dilema – iPad, Kindle, or eBook – Which format should we publish in for our NLP and Hypnotherapy Practitioners

One of the wonderful things about the evolution of social media (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs etc) is that you get instant and regular feedback – and so it happened with NLP practitioners feeding back on our books.

We have many NLP, hypnotherapy and coaching books and one of the regular pieces of feedback, in particular from the USA is that they would love to have the book in an electronic format. Practitioners never know when they are going to encounter for example a client with a child with learning difficulties [Seeing Spells Achieving], or suffering from bedwetting [Stop Bedwetting in 7 Days], or indeed a client with a relative suffering from cancer [You Too Can Do Health + Bangers and Mash] etc. OK – shouldn’t be too hard? Or is it?

Herein is the challenge. Most users of electronic devices will be blissfully unaware that there are already a host of different formats that you have to consider – and each one has different processes and different costs associated with them.

NLP practitioners can stop reading here [the rest is a book industry rant, albeit you may find it fun]- what we’d love to know from you is which format you prefer – please vote here – iPad vs Kindle].

Going electronic – iPad, Kindle and ePub.

Lets start with ePub. This is the standard [oh what a lovely misleading word that is] that the book industry has gone with – check out wikipedia for the deeper definition. Not too bad an attempt, but be wary that many companies that produce ePub versions don’t produce a clean enough version, so there is already dilution of the standard happening. Lets assume you get a great company create you a good ePub file – you need another ISBN for it. OK, I get that you have to differentiate from the printed version, so now you are set and ready to go? Well, not really. The world’s biggest seller of books, Amazon uses a different format. Ah.

Onto the mighty Kindle then. My entrepreneur’s hat is doffed to the boys and girls at Amazon for Kindle as to be honest, it sometimes takes someone flooding the market with a new device to spur the rest to play catchup and they are pretty heavy on promoting it – just visit their US homepage and it screams ‘Kindle now only $189‘. To supply Kindle you need the mobipocket format – OK, fair enough, allocate another IBSN, get the mobipocket files created.

And finally, drum roll please for…………….. the uber-sexy iPad. Yes, it is Apple’s latest wonderful device the iPad. Don’t listen to the techno-geeks that throw bricks at the functionality of the iPad, it’s a lifestyle/behaviour changing device and it the sales are phenomenal already. The great news for us as publishers is that Apple have chosen to run with the industry standard ePub format. What? I hear you exclaim, no new format that you have to use that is specific to Apple? Wonderful I’ll get going right now. Well, actually no. You can’t supply ePub as it is to Apple, you have to convert it into a file format that they will accept. Before you reach for your wallet, the good news is that Apple provides you with the free software that you need to convert your ePub files. I will at this point refer you back to the earlier paragraph, it has to be a proper ePub file, not one of the really cheap “I’ll give you a volume price sir” ePub files some are knocking out to unsuspecting publishers. Hoorary then – go, go Apple. Ah, slight problem. iTunes Producer, the software that converts only runs on Macs.

Five years ago we decided that we were good at publishing, and design agencies are good at design, so we outsourced all our design including our book covers [thanks Bob] and as a consequence we only run PCs not Macs. Brilliant. So we have lots of lovely ePub files and now have to find a low/zero cost way to convert them. By the way Apple have taken a lesson from their eBook predecessors and set up a series of aggregators that will gladly take that hassle away from you in return for either a) a fee, or b) ouch, ouch, ouch 30-60% of your margin.

So that’s the story so far. I haven’t even added in the dilema with iPad between supplying iBooks verus Apps as that would really upset you.  We, the independent publishers, are trying to embrace this new electronic world but boy are they making it tough. So any insight you can give us as to which to do first – please vote  iPad vs Kindle.

If you’d like more of the history of how we go to this little ‘challenge’ check out the eBook page on Wikipedia.

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 17, 2010 in Publishing


Publishing Data Revolution Transforms the Humble Book Into a Powerful Marketing and Social Media Sales Tool

In the last two years something rather special thing has happened in the publishing industry. No, I’m not talking about the rise of the internet, or even the arrival of the eBook, it’s something in the background that has revolutionised the distribution of content. It means that businesses that want to get their name, brand and value proposition in front of millions can do so for the cost of a newspaper advert.

The best way to explain is to talk through an example. Imagine you are a specialist hypnotherapist with a practice that consults with children and adults. You have developed a very successful new way to cure bedwetting in children, and you want to generate as many bookings into your practice as possible. So you write a book that explains the methodology.

The book is published by a modern publisher that is connected into digital printing and they load your details into the major book databases. Within a few days, your book and your brand appears on literally tens of thousands of websites around the world including huge names like Amazon, Tesco, Waterstones, Barnes and Noble and more. This is because there has been a revolution in the distribution systems of content and within an instant the metadata and images are sent around the world – only a few years ago and the data would have gone out quarterly on a CD. See Stop Bedwetting in 7 Days.

The concept of a book as a marketing tool is not too new, but few realise that the revolution in book data distribution has turned it into a very powerful one. Coupled with digital printing bringing print runs from the thousands down to the tens, you have a very viable new marketing tool.

There are some very important elements here.

1. Title Keywords: You will see that the titles of the books are quite long. This is to ensure that they are carrying the necessary keywords that people are searching for. In addition to on-site searches in the bookstores, the search engines are also scouring the web for these keywords and many ecommerce website these days include the titles in the URLs – so for example –

2. You are presenting yourselves through your expertise. This is a subtle indirect sell for your organisation/brand. In the same way you promote yourselves using social media by providing interesting and expert content (Tweets, Blog Entries, Articles etc) publishing a book on your area of expertise is a way for people to see your expertise in a tangible form before contacting you.

3. Public perception of publishing is still one of reverence – despite the fact that commercial publishing has made it easier than ever to get a book on your subject area published, the general opinion of published authors is high “She must be an expert, she has had a book published on it”. For those of you worried that means anyone can do this don’t panic – the reality is that you still do need a very good product as a book because if the content is poor it will get bad reviews and put people off, but the beauty of the low entry cost is that more niche and specialist subjects can be covered.

I know many of you will be wondering if this is only applicable to professional practitioners but it really can be applied in most industries. In the marketing field an excellent example is The Hotel Success Handbook. A collaboration between two leading consultants – one in marketing and one in hospitality – that have put together their collective methods to help small hotels do their marketing. They launched in March and already have sold lots of books around the world but critically have the book on their stand at trade shows. Instant credibility especially with industry experts giving them quotes and endorsements. They have already had bookings for the consultancy as a result of the book. A book makes the expertise tangible – you can pick it up and dive in, it can give potential customers a lot of confidence. That neatly brings us on to an additional key point:

4. As with all good marketing tools the book is going to be successful if it is part of an overall marketing plan, and the ‘call to action’ is there for the customer to take. As most book distribution is by the web, customers and leads will be largely web based. Take a look at the Stop Bedwetting and Hotel Success Handbook websites for examples of how the authors are professionally capturing that traffic.

Let’s take another example. Imagine you are a sports club with a fantastic history and a website with loads of amazing content and pictures. You want to share that history with as many fans as you can but also you want to generate some income for your club. So you go to the digital publisher and once again the book is available worldwide. The description refers to your club website so visitor numbers grow significantly. You are working with a modern publisher so in addition to royalties on the book, you can also sell copies yourselves in the club shop. In fact, you recoup your publishing costs on the day of the launch of the book at the club lunch before the game (see For College, Club & Country – A History of Clifton Rugby Football Club).

So for a modest budget (a few hundred dollars), and some time organising your content, you can create and extremely powerful, mass exposure, tangible marketing tool. Combined with Social Media its strength becomes quite amazing – oh and we didn’t even cover yet how eBook versions take it to yet another level as you can include interactive content and hyperlinks in those…..

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 25, 2010 in Publishing


Tags: , , , ,

Book Depository Launches Free Delivery On All Books Worldwide – Amazing for Authors and Publishers

We’re excited to report that The Book Depository is now offering free worldwide delivery on all the books that they carry including our NLP books like Seeing Spells Achieving for literacy, You Too Can Do Health for the law of attraction, Recover Your Energy for chronic fatigue and Stop Bedwetting in 7 Days.

Even better news is that they have launched an affiliate program where you can recommend books and get a commission every time someone buys something.

You can sign up here – there is no cost to sign up.

What we really like about the program is that there is the genuinely exciting message of free delivery anywhere in the world – we have people as far away as Australia using their service now and it means access to our books that we never had before.

We’d appreciate your feedback on the scheme and how it works for you.

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 27, 2010 in Book Launches, Publishing


Tags: , , ,

eCommerce for the masses – building an online shop without any technical skills has finally arrived

On Christmas day in 2009 a staggering £138 million pounds was spent by UK shoppers [Internet Retailling] with online retail stores and while the high street saw a tough January, online continued to flourish. Online shopping represents around 5% of UK retail sales, but in the peak period it goes much higher and recent research from Kelkoo predicted that online sales will bypass high street sales at Christmas 2015 – just five years time.

So who are the winners? Well, unsurprisingly it is the large retailers that are making the most of the online growth. Amazing figures from one eCommerce provider just released showed that retailers on their platform grew their online sales on average 84% year on year for the critical 4th quarter (2008 to 2009). So it is possible to adapt retail to the post broadband world.

But what does the smaller retailer do? Recent coverage across the UK media with headlines such as the Guardian ‘Ghost town threat as UK shops fall empty‘ paint a grim picture with claims that in some areas around 25% of independent retailers have closed down in the last 2 years. The fundamental issue is that there are huge myths out there that trading online is;

a) technically difficult

b) expensive

c) out of reach of the small independent

Five years ago, yes to all three. Back then (pre-broadband) the eCommerce platforms were complex, difficult to set up and more importantly difficult to run. If you wanted to make changes you had to go back to your service provider who would charge you hundreds of pounds to change text or images.

2010 is a very different time. Broadband has arrived and customers’ demands from their online stores have accelerated and the eCommerce industry has responded. One of the heavyweights unveiled a new platform in January that looks like the first that truly brings eCommerce to the masses – with zero technical skill required. Don’t believe the hype? This week they released an incredible video showing the building of a clothing store from zero to trading in under 10 minutes – conveniently enabling it to be loaded onto YouTube.

The big differences with these new platforms from previous attempts to bring eCommerce to independents are that in addition to the ease of use there are some interesting elements of this new breed that are brought straight from the big retailer world:

a) the platforms are fully hosted and can be accessed from any internet connection. Previous attempts at opening up to the masses using open-source have the fundamental challenge of having to get the shops set up and hosted securely.

b) they are software as a service, and as such upgraded centrally on a regular basis – all stores get upgraded to the latest version at the same time as part of the monthly license

c) The design layers are open to any design agency that wants to build a design for one of their customers so as a retailer you are completely in control of your own destiny

Enterprising regional governments have been quick to utilise this new technology. The Shop Isle of Man program aims to get 100 retailers up and running online and within a few months of launch has over 30 stores up and running delivering lots of footfall and interestingly quite a lot of export sales for the independents involved.

There are plenty of support organisations out there as well helping special interest groups like homeworkers for instance – Enterprise Nation champions the cause of homeworkers including those running businesses 5-9 alongside their day jobs.

So its’ easy for small independents to trade online then? If they know these myths have been blown away then yes, but the reality in the UK so far is actually sadly no. All the technical and cost barriers have been removed but a critical barrier remains. The way we go about communicating to and about our retailers.

Tens of thousands of column inches in recent weeks have been handed over to the doom and gloom of ‘ghost towns and streets’ but how many news reports and articles have you seen showcasing those independents that are changing and adapting to the new world and expanding their business? Less than 1% is the answer.

Five years ago we had a clunky and difficult to use website that cost us a small fortune to maintain – now we can update our online store in minutes ourselves and receive orders from all over the world including the USA, Japan and Australia – and it costs us under £50 a month to maintain. eCommerce for the masses is here, we just need to let the masses know.

host town threat as UK shops fall empty

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 20, 2010 in Independent Retail, Publishing


Tags: , , , , ,

Facebook Community Marketing – Sherlock Holmes Groups

Alistair Duncan’s last book Close To Holmes is a companion for those Sherlock Holmes fans that visit London and want to retrace the steps of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (ACD) and visit the places that featured in the Holmes stories and those that were dear to the author.

This sets the scene for what Facebook does best – bring together people with very specific interests to share information and images about their chosen subject. In this case it is Sherlock Holmes fans that have used Alistair’s book on a visit to London – Close to Holmes Photo Stories.

There are hundreds of thousands of groups on Facebook and those that seem to be enduring are those that have a reason for lots of additional content on a regular basis – keeping the group members coming back again and again . Alistair’s is an excellent example of that – the key element of the group is the photos from the Holmes fans as they visit the various locations around London – including The British Museum, Covent Garden, Norwood, Croydon and dozens more.

In June this year another book Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and Devon: A Complete Tour Guide & Companion will cover ACD’s time in Devon and showing the changing times will include all the GPS locations for all of the sites so that the intrepid fans armed with their iPhones (and no doubt iPads by then) and other GPS enabled devices will be able to effortlessly travel around without the need to print maps.

No doubt author Paul R Spiring will create a similar group on Facebook. Both authors have excellent blogs to support their online activities – in fact, Paul’s BFROnline is one of the most visited Holmes and ACD blogs in the world despite being originally set up to chart ACD’s close friend Bertram Fletcher Robinson‘s (BFR) short but stunning life.

Close To Holmes

Close To Holmes

So the new world for authors, where they themselves are becoming brands also means learning a whole new series of marketing tools that didn’t exist a few years ago. So set up your Facebook group and drive traffic to it from your Blog and Tweets and reflect back to the day when marketing as a publisher meant faxes and promo sheets in the post to the dozens of bookstore chains (RIP Borders, only Waterstones and the independents left now).


Tags: , , , , ,

The Author and The Brand

With over thirty authors in our stable we have a real mix of the academic, the businessperson, the philanthropist and the storyteller. In a decade that will be dominated by online (only one large physical bookstore chain left now in the UK following the demise of Borders) there has never been a greater opportunity for the author to use their book as a marketing tool – for their own name as brand or their company brand.

There is much talk about ‘the author being the brand’ and there is a lot of truth in that though there is plenty of opportunity for those authors whose book represents a business tool to focus on the business brand as well as their own personal brand. Lets look at some examples.

Sue Ostler’s brand is ‘Flirt Diva‘ and her book is quickly becoming the training manual of choice of single women in the UK and beyond to tackle the challenging modern dating world. Sue links in with related activities to enhance and drive her brand – Hen Parties that include a flirting masterclass, Speed-Dating Evenings with her as the guru star guest and much more.

Alistair Duncan’s brand is himself. With two successful Sherlock Holmes books under his belt (Eliminate The Impossible and Close To Holmes) and a third being launched on the 1st March (The Norwood Author) Alistair is becoming established as a rising star in the Sherlockian and Doylean worlds. He’s building the brand with his Alistair Duncan Blog and Alistair Duncan Twitter account. Wherever his Sherlockian advertures take him he is building a credible brand underpinned by his books and supplemented by the social activity.

Olive Hickmott has several brands, one of which Empowering Health tackles health related NLP issues. Olive has two books in the field – Recover Your Energy and You Too Can Do Health and in addition to Olive’s Twitter Account and various blogs Olive is also a regular speaker at conferences and contributor to magazines and journals – in the autumn edition of Amoena Magazine for example where Olive feeds in to helping cancer sufferers who are ‘running on empty’.

So whether you are growing your personal brand or your company brand let your books contribute to and lend vital credibility to it.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2010 in Publishing


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Publishing In a Digital World

With our feature in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago we have been approached by several would-be publishers and have consequently put together a simple consultancy package in 4 hour sessions that goes through all you need to become a book publisher in the new digital world. It’s been a fascinating process as it has reminded me of the bumps along the road in setting up the publishing company. It’s also prompted me to start the long overdue process of the publishing blog.

It’s three years down the line and we now have over 50 titles with around 30 authors. I look back and I wish I had had access to a mentor to explain this new world and the landscape that stretches from self-publishing at the one end and the major publishing houses at the other end. We are working now with our second ‘new publisher’ Matthew (Murielle Maupoint was the first and her debut title came out a few weeks ago) and have one session a week covering everything from distribution to setup, marketing to dealing with authors. Matthew commented that he learnt more in the first hour than he had gleaned from a couple of months of web research.

A few of my friends have commented on the logic of tutoring new publishers that are essentially entering our market of ‘partnership publishing’ but let me share a few revelations. Firslty the process of re-examining ones own business and putting down in writing the steps you would have done, had you know them, if you were starting again from scratch is actually an excellent experience. I’m able to sit down with my fellow directors and show the end-to-end of the business which until then was largely inside my head.

Secondly, its a brilliant form of networking. I feel I have made an excellent contact in Murielle and intend to keep in touch and be at the end of the phone as her business grows and I am getting the same feeling from Matthew too. Murielle has already referred business my way and in consultancy session 1 Matthew gave me some great ideas that I will be following up on too. Finally, an probably most importantly I am thoroughly enjoying it.

It’s a big market out there and there is space for thousands of partnership publishers – a learning from the process for me has been the need to begin to specialise when you reach a certain size – we will focus on NLP and therapy, Victorian Literature and ’cause based’ books (like Environmental) as the book sales do start to feed off each other.

So if there are any more would be publishers out there that want to accelerate their start and avoid the pitfalls we identified then we’d be delighted to hear from you. It’s not quite ‘digital publishing company in a box’ but pretty close.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 19, 2009 in Publishing


Tags: , ,

%d bloggers like this: