Digital Book World is one of those events you don't want to miss, and this year it was easier to attend than ever thanks to a COVID-friendly fully online format.
I was delighted to join the program again to share some of our experiences in working with publishers on their sites, and, in particular, some of their success stories around direct-to-consumer sales.
#DBWglobal was kind enough to send over a recording of our session afterward and you can watch the whole thing in the video window below. It takes the form of a conversation between me and DBW Executive Producer Bradley Metrock.
Jane Friedman from The Hot Sheet also included a wonderful summary of the discussion in the September 16 edition of her must-read industry newsletter. We've included Jane's report below as well with her blessing.
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have success stories or challenges to share, or any questions at all about selling your books online.
From Jane's coverage at The Hot Sheet:
"DBW Highlights: The Growing Importance of Consumer Sales"
This week, Digital Book World took place entirely online, with a roster of speakers from every corner of the publishing industry. (Disclosure: Jane was one of the speakers.) We sat in on all three days of programming and, for now, have highlights from Monday’s program. In our Sept. 30 issue, we’ll come back with insights from Tuesday and Wednesday.
One of the most notable conversations was with Craig Riggs at ReaderBound. ReaderBound builds customized websites that help book publishers sell books direct to consumer (DTC). This has become a growing and urgent need during COVID-19, as consumers are both ordering more online and demonstrating more interest in ordering from a variety of retailers. But securing those DTC sales requires a site that not only best presents the publisher’s catalog but also makes the buying experience easy and pleasant—as we’ve all been trained to expect from one-click ordering at Amazon.
Riggs said they frequently see publisher websites that aren’t up to today’s standards. Shopping-cart systems completely fail, checkout doesn’t support price promotions or discounts, and some publishers expect customers to email their orders or call in with a credit card number to pay. “It erodes confidence,” Riggs said, but he said publishers are very aware they’re missing opportunities and need to improve their ecommerce functionality. Fortunately, he says, there are now off-the-shelf tools and systems that make a decent ecommerce site within reach for any publisher.
It’s critical that the site is easy to operate: “There’s no publishing team in the country with free time,” Riggs said. “The more efficient it is, the more it leads to experimentation and new ideas,” Riggs said.
Other tips that Riggs offered for publishers who want to ramp up DTC sales (these would apply to authors as well):
- Never stop improving the book data you’re putting on your site. The more rich the description is, and the more supporting content (author interview video, sample chapter, review excerpts, awards information, etc.), the more sales and engagement you can expect.
- When selling DTC, it’s about more than just a sales transaction. You’re getting into a different kind of relationship and engagement with your audience.
- When running promotions or discounts, it’s necessary to switch up offers and keep things fresh. Always having something new to offer to readers and map out a campaign strategy several months out.