Tag Archives: books

Independent Publishers Unite!!!

I read recently in Business Insider that Amazon’s strategy for making its brick-and-mortar stores successful hinged on three factors: exploiting big data to tailor the store’s offerings to its local demographic; reducing inventory to only a few thousand titles of proven sales potential; and adding a generous mix of non-book products to broaden shelf interest and boost revenue.

There is nothing revolutionary about what Amazon is doing here. Strategies like Amazon’s are exactly what feisty independent booksellers have been using for years to survive the onslaught of big boxes, high rents, and even Amazon itself. Though they may lack the mega-data that Amazon collects from its vast online sales records, indie bookstores do collect data, are locally owned, and, thus, locally knowledgeable. Indie bookstores have also reduced and tightly curated inventory as they shrink their square footage to lower rents. And, for many years, indies have been selling sidelines, including journals, used books, cards, book lights, puzzles, and other items.

But now that Amazon is adopting these exact same strategies in its own retail spaces, what will save the indie bookstore in the future? Is customers’ loyal rejection of big, bad, corporate Amazon enough? Sure, some percentage of book buyers will always favor their local retailers over outsiders, but if Amazon rolls into America’s top book-buying communities with dozens more shops featuring computer-designed inventories, low prices, and lots of shiny objects to fascinate their customers, the ability of indie booksellers to compete will be seriously eroded.

There is one resource that remains almost entirely undiscovered by indie booksellers, and that might be the key to their long-term survival, if not a revolution in bookselling itself. And that is the hundreds of thousands of books published each year by small independent presses and self-publishers. Currently, these books are almost completely shut out of the brick-and-mortar retail environment. Why? Because the American publishing industry is governed by antiquated systems that were established long before the digital revolution.

To reach bookstores today, books must be printed, shipped to a distributor, and shipped again to a retailer. If sold within a week or two, great; if not, the books will sit on a shelf in the bookstore, taking up valuable space, and producing nothing. If the book sits too long, it gets returned—more fuel, time, and chargebacks to both the retailer and the publisher. Then the book might be too shopworn and subsequently be destroyed, or it may sit at the distributor until the whole process starts again.

We all know how wasteful this cycle is. We all—and I mean all of us in every segment of the industry (except the printers and truck drivers, perhaps)—complain about it.

One negative feature of this system is that very small publishers and self-publishers don’t even have a chance to participate in it. Bookstores generally won’t stock their books because they’re not available from distributors due to their being one-off titles or because their publishers/authors are too small, unknown, lack clout, whatever. There are, in fact, many perfectly good reasons that these books don’t get into bookstores. It’s not that bookstores are ignorant, uncaring, or don’t want them—after all, many of these books are as substantive and well-designed as anything from the Big 5. Booksellers don’t sell these books because it doesn’t make financial sense to even try to sell them. The only way authors can get into some stores is on consignment, but this is obviously not a strategy for broad distribution.

Maybe these publishers should count their blessings that they have avoided the whole wasteful ship-and-return cycle. But the absence of indie books in local bookstores is in every sense a bad thing. It deprives the public of choice. It deprives the publishers of sources of revenue. And, most galling of all, it keeps all the control in the hands of Amazon. Currently, readers who want to find self-published titles have to go to Amazon. And now that Amazon is going local and using the very same strategies as indie booksellers, what is there left to distinguish local booksellers, aside from the fact that they are “not Amazon”?

What if there was a way to make all these hundreds of thousands of books available in the local bookshop?

I think there is. I call it IndieBook. I know my concept is not shovel-ready, but I offer it here as a “thought experiment” for a possible vision of a new future in which book publishers and booksellers can truly support each other and break free of antiquated systems of mutual obstruction.

IndieBook, simply put, is a brick-and-mortar retail environment where real indie booksellers sell real indie books. Not just books from small publishers already served by Consortium, IPG, Midpoint, PGW, and IPS, but books from publishers of every size and scale.

1. The IndieBook physical retail space is community- and consumer-driven, laser-focused on local interests as informed by the knowledgeable store owner and by the store’s exploitation of big data.

Customers in the local area have personalized store accounts that they can log in to at home, or at the store itself. Customers use their account to indicate interest areas, check out new offerings, order books (or e-books or other content), RSVP to events, receive promotion codes, and so on. Many indie bookstores may already be doing this, but these IndieBook personalization systems need to be extremely robust, up to date, and networked in to the store’s own database.

2. IndieBook is 100-percent wired, filled with high-touch kiosks.

Some kiosks are for customers to log in to and service their accounts and preferences; others are dynamically curated by booksellers with up-to-minute listings, tie-ins to whatever is happening in the news, whatever band is playing in town, or backgrounders on important environmental or political issues that everyone is talking about. Large, brilliant color screens serve up covers, snippets, and videos with a “buy” button at the end.

3. IndieBook depends on print on demand (POD), the only sustainable technology that makes sense for small-scale indie publishers and self-publishers.

POD reduces risk at the same it expands inventory a thousand-fold. Readers today already can order POD books printed at Lightning Source or CreateSpace, and they can do that at home on Amazon. But I’m talking about stores using devices like the Espresso Book Machine (EBM), which can turn out a finished book on-site for instant gratification (five to eight minutes). A reader can browse their account at home, find the book they want (an obscure title but one that has just been recommended by their favorite blogger), hit the buy button, and, by the time they get to the store, it’s there, ready for pickup. Or pick your own dreamy scenario of how you can unite readers with the indie books they want in a way that none of your competitors can—and deliver them the same day.

An Espresso Book Machine (EBM) at the Brooklyn Public Library.

I’m aware that the current version of the EBM needs work, but if publishing thinks of this as its moonshot, then reliability, speed, flexibility, and cost can all be improved over time. (And there are delicious possibilities. For example, an entrepreneur could set up an EBM hub with deliveries three times a day in a metro area, providing almost just-in-time service but at a cost shared with several retailers at once.)

4. IndieBook is multimedia.

It provides access not just to books, but to e-books, magazines, granular assemblies of cookbooks and guidebooks, movies, music, personal screeds, whatever content the consumer wants—all available for immediate download or print. Reading is not dying, but reading habits are changing. Booksellers must be content providers first, and find those alternative media and sidelines that serve the reading habit, regardless of medium or format.

5. IndieBook is participatory.

The store must be a gathering place for happenings, tastings, workshops, panels, and community actions that provide helpful information and content in a thoughtful, long-form way. Is there a hot-button issue in town? Load an LED kiosk with relevant front- and backlist titles from publishers large and small. Let local writers print up custom copies of their memoirs, cookbooks, and first drafts. Use the EBM to create personalized copies of books at author signings. Indie bookstores are already masters at this sort of thing. But now they can do it with store inventory, on demand and up to the minute, in a scenario that cannot be replicated online.

6. IndieBook is no returns!

Smaller retail spaces mean fewer books displayed. Everything else is available on-demand. Retailers should have confidence in their choices and know their customers: after all, they are locally knowledgeable. So, by all means, bring in the offset-printed bestsellers, art books, and big books with big names with assured sell-through. Otherwise, use POD. But the point is to make everything available, hundreds of thousands of books—not just what publishers are willing to sell returnable with free freight through a creaky and environmentally unsustainable distribution system.

Make no mistake: authors, readers, and publishers are finding that smaller is better. Fewer projects qualify for offset runs. That means more books produced POD by smaller companies serving focused audiences and with no mainstream distribution. Let’s stop punishing them! If we, as a culture, believe that diversity of voices is of crucial importance to maintaining a fair and civil society, then we have to do a much better job of guaranteeing those voices access into our community spaces.

Amazon is already planning its next move—are we? What happens when Amazon brings its CreateSpace technology to the storefront? You know they’re already thinking about it.

Peter Goodman is the publisher of Stone Bridge Press in Berkeley, California, and a member of the IBPA Independent Editorial Advisory Committee.


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New Titles from the PTP Book Division


List Price: $14.95

6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
424 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1987433937
ISBN-10: 1987433939
BISAC: Fiction / Action & Adventure

Twenty-two-year-old Brittany Carlson has just been signed by Baez Productions to star in a film that everyone in Tinsel town is sure will be the next Oscar winner. Brittany should be thrilled, but instead she is terrified. Her life has been turned upside down and she is trying desperately to keep it a secret. Someone is stalking her and yet the police are suggesting this is merely a publicity stunt!
She is even more horrified when her Pulitzer Prize-winning mother descends on her home in the middle of a party only to find that cocaine is one of the guests.
Between the efforts of her world famous mother as well as Brittany’s two sisters, life begins to look as though it might just have a chance to get back to normal; at least as normal as any life in Hollywood can be. That is until the stalker makes a lethal threat against her mother and her sisters. Brittany is sure this nightmare can’t get any worse. Now, her whole family is in danger. How do they find this psycho and will they be in time?


List Price: $14.95

6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
310 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1984187567
ISBN-10: 1984187562
BISAC: Fiction / Action & Adventure

In 1972, the political situation in Nicaragua is far from stable and Signe Carlson is worried. The corrupt dictator, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, controls the National Guard that acts as both police and army. The leftist guerilla group, The Sandinistas, is waging a covert war against the current regime. Mick McKenna and her daughter – Jenna Carlson – who has become one of Mick’s top operatives at McKenna International are both on assignment in Managua as are several other of Mick’s senior agents.
Signe’s sixth sense is in overdrive and when her daughters, Lia and Brittany, unexpectedly show up at her home, she finds out that her intuition was correct: Mick is missing. His plane made a forced landing in the mountains of Nicaragua and although his operatives got to the site in less than thirty minutes there was no sign of either Mick or the pilot.
Signe goes into action and within three hours of receiving the news, she is on her way to Managua in her corporate Learjet. She has a plan and she intends to find Mick. An old friend from her days in the OSS, Maria Dolores Díaz Aguero, lives just outside Managua and Signe knows that she and her family are highly involved in the politics of their country. Although Signe plans to commandeer Jenna as well, if anyone can help her to locate Mick, it is Maria.

List Price: $11.95

6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
292 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1987433791
ISBN-10: 1987433793
BISAC: Fiction / Action & Adventure

March 21, 1976
Family and friends are gathered at Buckingham to celebrate Signe Carlson’s 51st Birthday. Mick McKenna’s gift to Signe is a month long cruise on their yacht, The Enickma. Where they would cruise is up to Signe and little did either of them suspect the deadly threats from both man and Nature they would undergo during their vacation.
From their home in Scottsdale, AZ to cruising the South Pacific attractions of Micronesia to a boardroom in Austin, TX, Signe and her family as well as Mick and his associates must work against time once the schemes of the man they call The Puppet Master are discovered and before he has a chance to turn his plans into catastrophic events.


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Book Trailer Production

As you probably already know, book trailers are a great way to promote and sell your book. We have worked with a graphics company specializing in the production of book trailers. Their prices are more than reasonable and they produce your trailer fast, in weeks. We had them produce a trailer for A GIRL NAMED MARY, an historical fiction YA novel. See the product for yourself at https://youtu.be/RGRN1Xi7rWY.

The company is www.rocket-trailers.com. Please mention Saguaro Books, LLC or this blog when contacting them.

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Goodreads Change for Authors

Have you seen the NEW Goodreads pricing for GiveAways? That’s right, authors, giveaways aren’t free promotion anymore!!!

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Revision Tips for Writers


We can all agree writing is a joy. It’s fun and many of us make our living doing it. But, there are parts of the publishing aspect that can be frustrating and difficult. Most of us find revision to be the most difficult hurdle. “I like it the way it is. Everything there is important and I don’t see anything that needs changing.” How many of us have approached the revision process with that mindset? I think we all have, at times. In other words, you are not alone.

Although I am an editor as well as a writer, I don’t find revising my work to be easy. However, I’ve collected tidbits of advice from several writers and editors. I’ve found them helpful, so I’m sharing them here:

  1. Revise big stuff first, make small edits later. This doesn’t mean you should not correct obvious typos and grammar errors as you notice them. However, you shouldn’t be actively tinkering with word choice until after you’ve nailed down the structure of your piece.
  2. Put the manuscript down and walk away. Writers need at least a little distance from their manuscripts before jumping into revision.
  3. Scan the whole manuscript without reading. Scanning can make big problems more obvious than a writer might not notice when reading closely.
  4. Read carefully. Take your time and read every word. Then, read it out loud. This will help you catch obvious errors and check for smoothness or the “flow.”
  5.  Look for ways to be more concise with your language. Can you turn a 15-word sentence into an 8-word sentence? Can you turn an 8-sentence paragraph into a 5-sentence paragraph? Less almost always means more for the reader.
  6. Use active voice over passive voice. There may be occasions for using passive voice, but for the most part be active.
  7. Vary sentence structure. Don’t fall into the trap of always writing: Noun + Verb + Noun = Sentence. Even if it’s grammatically correct, using the same pattern over and over again will make your manuscript boring. Don’t feel like you have to be creative with every sentence; just check that you’re not falling into a monotonous pattern.
  8. Save each round of revisions as its own file. Start with the first draft. Then, the second draft. Then, the third draft and so on. Saving these files provides a record of your changes and shows your development of the story.
  9. Have someone read the manuscript. The more eyes the better, because they’ll be more objective when reading, and they’re less likely to make “leaps of logic” than you, the writer, might. It is always best to ask someone other than a relative, who naturally will be biased.
  10. Print the manuscript for a final edit. There are things you’ll catch on paper that you won’t on the screen.

Take your time with revision. Set it aside for a few days, a week if you have the time. Then return to the work with a fresh attitude. Save your revised version in a separate file. Be sure you have addressed all of the editor’s comments. Do not ignore them. If there are some changes that you don’t agree with, write the editor a note explaining why the revision called for will change the meaning of your work. It’s best not to take exception to more than one or two editorial changes. If you and the editor are far apart on the way the piece is written, you may wish to withdraw the work and resubmit to another publisher. That, of course, is beyond the topic at hand.

Revision is necessary to polish the work for the reader, and the reader should be foremost in your mind. If you use these revision tips, you’ll be ahead with your revision process and find the editor is not the ogre you imagined.


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SmallBusinessSaturday, Nov. 25

Please support our small businesses:

a)  All Things Editorial, LLC  www.allthingseditorial.com

b)  Saguaro Books, LLC  www.saguarobooks.com

c)  The PTP Book Division  www.ptpbookdivision.com


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New from Saguaro Books


List Price: $11.95

6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
274 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1548323608

ISBN-10: 1548323608
BISAC: Juvenile Fiction / Fantasy & Magic

Would you risk everything just to be cool?

Young Duggan McDuggan really has no choice. Her habit of talking to trees has made her the most teased kid in her village. Duggan would love to stop the teasing but there’s no way she’s going to give up her tree friends. And so she’s worked out a daring plan to journey with her two best friends to Eshmagick, ancient realm of the Faeries. This will certainly stop the teasing. No one in five hundred years has made it there and back again.

For their dangerous journey, Duggan and her friends will need a Faerie guide. Unfortunately, legend says harming a Faerie will bring down a terrible curse and it’s hard to catch a Faerie without hurting it. But when you’re as desperate as Duggan, no curse is too scary to stop you.


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Book Excellence Award Finalist

A Girl Named Mary 3D Book Stack

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October 3, 2017 · 9:29 am


Thanks to all who participated in the Author TakeOver Event

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Schedule for the Author TakeOver Event

Meet Saguaro's Authors

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September 29, 2017 · 7:48 pm