You're Published: Now What?!

Lystra Books & Literary Services, LLC just published my book. Now What?

 Thanks for putting your trust in LBLS to bring your book or ebook into the world. You can tell people that it has been professionally copyedited, proofread, and designed—just like any book from one of the Big Five publishers. You can be proud.

I tell people that LBLS manages publication, using the new publishing technology that has emerged in the last several years. I say of myself that I am self-published. You can say that LBLS managed the publication of your book, or published your book, as you prefer.

The answers to, “now what?” fall into 2 categories, business and promotion.

Business First

Two Things About Sales Tax

1)      First of all, if you plan to hand-sell books, you need to understand how sales tax works in your state. Hand-selling means you keep books in your car at all times so you can sell them at every opportunity. You are selling and getting paid directly, hand-to-hand. I do not want to give you tax advice, so I’ll just share what I do. Then, you need to consult a tax professional and/or the Department of Revenue in your state.

I obtained an NC sales tax ID number. When I hand-sell a book, I add 7% to the retail price and I keep track of how many books I have sold and how much money I collected. I file sales tax returns quarterly and pay the taxes.

If I sell books on consignment through bookstores, or if someone orders a copy online, I do not have to worry about the sales tax. The merchant takes care of it.

2)      I do not want to pay sales when I order books for the purpose of reselling them. What do I mean? If I order books at a cost of $5 per copy from Ingram/Spark or Createspace for the purpose of hand-selling them or providing them to bookstores, I do not want I/S or Createspace to charge me taxes on that $5. To avoid it, I have file an exemption with them and in order to qualify for that exemption, I have to have a sales tax ID number. See above.

How to Know Many Books You Have Sold

Experience with a dozen or so writers so far tells me that some people obsess over this, others don’t really care, and most fall in-between. No one will care about this except you, so suit yourself.

You have 3 ways of selling books. You sell by hand. You sell on consignment through a store. Someone orders a book online or from Ingram. That someone could be a bookseller at a store who wants the book in stock, or it could be a reader for his or her own library. Let’s look at them one at a time.

1)      Hand-selling: easy, except that you have to do it. Keep records.

2)      Know how many books you have placed with stores on consignment. Selling on consignment means that you bought the books at the wholesale price, signed an agreement with the store about what percentage of the retail price you get and how much the store gets. You can keep track of how many books you placed with stores, but will not know day-to-day if the books have been sold. Don’t worry about it. (More about consignment sales, below.)

3)      Booksellers will order from Ingram. Ingram/Spark will send you email every month telling you how many books you sold that month. You can also sign into your Ingram/Spark account and click on the Reports tab. You can get the sales history there.

What Else Should I Know About Consignment Sales?

First, be aware that booksellers who love your book and with whom you develop a relationship can sell a lot of books for you. Word of mouth is the most important way books get sold, and a bookseller who is trusted in his or her community can work wonders. So be very nice, polite, and appreciative of their time.

Before you approach a store, look at the website. Many of them will post their standards for accepting consignment books on the website.

A standard consignment agreement calls for the writer to get 60% of the retail price and the store to get 40%. Some stores have their own, non-standard agreements.

The agreement will tell you when the store will pay you. In my experience, it will be quarterly or semi-annually. Either way, a sales period will end on June 30. I would not contact the store until August 1. By then, if I had not received a check, I would call or email to see if any books sold during the previous period. By waiting that month, you give the store and the store’s bookkeeper time to work. After all, you are not the only writer whose books they sell on consignment.

Keep in mind that no store is obligated to take your books. They do so because they care about books and community, and they have to cover their costs and make a little money, too, and no matter what, consignment sales will be a tiny percentage of their sales, so may not get the most attention.

And be sensitive to this: independent bookstores do not want to hear the word “Amazon” uttered, nor do they want to stock an Amazon product. That means you should not take books printed by Createspace (an Amazon division) to be sold on consignment.


Where Is My Money?

Aside from hand-selling and bookstores, you will be receiving money from Ingram/Spark, Smashwords, Createspace, and Kindle.

1)      Ingram/Spark, from their website: How and when am I paid for my sales?

Your compensation will be deposited directly into your bank account. The first payment made to your account will be made within 90 days, as we receive payment from the retailers and libraries. All other payments will follow monthly.”

2)      Smashwords, from their website: “How often are my revenue shares paid?
Quarterly. Although our
Terms of Service states that authors' earnings will be paid within 40 days of the close of each calendar quarter, we usually pay in about 30 days. To qualify for payment, accrued earnings must be over USD $75.00 for U.S. authors who want paper checks, and $10.00 for all authors who want electronic payment via Paypal. All authors and publishers outside the US are paid via PayPal.”


3)      Createspace, from their website: “CreateSpace pays your royalty for a given month's earnings at the end of the following month. For example, you will receive your royalty payment at the end of March covering all the royalties you earned in February. The lag time of approximately 30 days covers any sales revenue collections and payment processing.


We currently offer direct deposit payments in U.S. Dollars, British Pounds, and Euro to members with a bank account in the U.S., U.K, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and The Netherlands. There are no minimum payment thresholds associated with the direct deposit payment method.

If paid by check, your royalties must meet a minimum payment amount* before we’ll send your earnings. If they don’t, we'll keep a running total and once the amount exceeds the threshold and make a payment at the end of the following month. The minimum payment amount for check is $100/€100/£100.”


4)      Kindle, from their website:

“Getting Paid

Separate royalty payments for each Kindle Store in which you have chosen to distribute your title will be paid automatically by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), Wire Transfer (where available), or check approximately sixty (60) days following the end of the calendar month during which applicable sales occur, once threshold is met. (Note from Nora: the threshold is $100) Keep in mind that your bank may charge fees for some payments. If you're not sure whether they do, you may want to contact them.”


Promotion: How Can I Help Build Awareness of My Book?

I operate on the notion that every time I talk about my book, in any form or medium, I am tossing a pebble into a large lake and will never know where all the ripples go. But they go. I use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, a website, a blog, and author’s pages on Amazon and Smashwords.

There are things I haven’t done. For instance, Smashwords allows you to interview yourself and post it there. I think that’s a great idea, but haven’t gotten to it yet. And I’m guilty of neglecting my blog.

Do those things matter? Well, they are pebbles. I know that when I pick up a book and consider buying it, I like to see the author’s photo and I like a little biographical information, even if it is whimsical. If I come across the name of an author I don’t know, I look for the website and/or blog. Maybe you don’t pay attention to those things. That’s fine—but other people do, so don’t limit your thinking.

Suppose you have 10 minutes to toss pebbles in the lake. You can toss one at time, or you can load thousands into some sort of pebble cannon and launch them all. That is what social media can do for you. I have 2 Facebook pages, one for myself and one for Lystra Books. If I post an announcement for your book on both, that announcement also goes to my Twitter feed. And I send out a quarterly email newsletter in which your book will be included. From those 3 sources, I toss about 1,000 pebbles for you. And if some of my FB friends are nice enough to like my post, then all of their friends will see it, too. If I say that one of my writers will be speaking at McIntyre’s, then McIntyre’s is likely to retweet that message to their followers. More pebbles. Get it? And you can help yourself by returning the favor. Share or like my posts, and I’ll share and like yours.

But I should not forget the low-tech ways to get the word out. You should have business cards printed with the book cover illustration on one side, contact information on the other. You can also get postcards printed and mail them to everyone you’ve ever know. Bookmarks to go with your book are a nice touch, too.

Consider working with a publicist. Find a person with whom you feel some affinity. Ask him or her for some details about how he or she would shape a campaign for you. The publicist will have contacts you don’t have (more lakes to toss pebbles in!) and can do more with your own contacts than you can, especially if you have any trouble tooting your own horn.

If you or your publicist arrange a reading, spend time planning that reading. Expect to read for 15-20 minutes and then to take questions. Either before or after you read, you can talk about how you came to write the book. Ask someone who has done several readings what kinds of questions you should expect. Be prepared—but loose. A single question can take everything in a direction you didn’t expect. Go with it. People who come to readings are completely on your side, whether they are your friends already, or not. I love to talk about my books and writing. You should make it fun for yourself.

How many people do you need for a successful reading? Bookstores are happy with 10-12. No matter how many show up, you behave as if there were fifty.

Your book is in the world now. So get to work!











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