Do you consider self-publishing your book? Are you looking for a self-publishing company that could help you with your publishing needs?
Today, Steven Spatz will be sharing more about BookBaby, the nation’s leading self-publishing service company.
Steven Spatz’ Bio:
Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the President of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self-publishing service company. Spatz’s professional writing career began at age 13, paid by the word to bang out little league baseball game stories on an ancient manual typewriter for southern Oregon weekly newspapers. His journalism career continued after graduation from the University of Oregon at several daily newspapers in Oregon.
When his family took over a direct marketing food business, Spatz redirected his writing and design skills into producing catalogs. The Pinnacle Orchards catalog was named Best Food Catalog and received dozens of other national awards, and the business grew into one of the nation’s largest gourmet fruit gift businesses. After the company was sold, Spatz continued his direct marketing career with Fortune 500 companies including Mattel and Hasbro.
He joined AVL Digital in 2004 to lead the direct to consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis and CD Baby. After serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Spatz was tapped to lead the company’s new publishing division in late 2014. BookBaby is headquartered in Philadelphia, PA to meet the printed and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Learn more at BookBaby.com.
Shelley: Today I’m rolling out the red carpet and inviting you for this expert interview with Steven Spots. Welcome, Steven.
Steven: Good afternoon, thank you, feel very welcome. Pleased to be here.
Shelley: I’m so excited to have you here.
Steven is the president of BookBaby. If you’ve been following me, you’ll know that I’m a fan of BookBaby. You can check out all their stuff at BookBaby.com.
Steven, you’ve had an interesting background and experience. Why don’t you share a little bit about how you came to be president of BookBaby.
Steven: In a microcosm, all my life experiences, I’ve been everything from a journalist to an entrepreneur with my family business, to working for Mattel and Hasbro in my past, and now with this wonderful company that works with creative artists and authors.
So, I’m every type of customer that we have at BookBaby. I was involved with marketing for music businesses, we had two very large brands, one of them being CDBaby, the world’s largest indie music site, hence the name BookBaby.
That’s where BookBaby was born or birthed, whatever you like to say. It started in Portland Oregon, and now it’s all grown up. We’ve added products and services over the last 12 months to really become, as they would say, full stack, like computer guys, like to talk about that; a full stack, self-publishing, service provider.
Shelley: I love that, and I saw in your bio, too, something about Southern Oregon. My husband grew up in Southern Oregon near Roseburg and Myrtle Creek.
Steven: I actually was a sports writer at the Roseburg News-Review, you can tell him.
Shelley: He will love that.
Steven: Spent a couple of years, and I grew up South of that. I’m a native Oregonian
Shelley: In this episode, I’m really excited to dive in and talk a lot about BookBaby – the self-publishing services they offer for authors, and how you can take advantage of that.
Please dive in a little more into just what is available for self-published authors today.
Steven: We really thought about how this company can best serve the author marketplace, and it’s still forming. On the music side, we know about our customers there, but the self-publishing side is still coming into its own.
We thought the best way to be prepared for that marketplace is to offer a lot of different products and services. Really, a long kind of length of the entire book, everything from editing, now, we offer, obviously, the printing services, eBook formatting, distribution, and now we have marketing consultations as well.
So, we’re really trying to cover all of the needs of the author without selling them into wild, crazy, overpriced packages. It’s like a Chinese menu, you pick and choose what you need, and there are people on the phone to help talk you through it.
Shelley: I love that! Sometimes it’s just easier to get one package and not to be like, “OK, this is my editor, this is my formatter, this is my printer,” and all that stuff, you can just get it all in one. For some people, that kind of convenience is worth so much.
I have watched BookBaby grow tremendously over the years. I published my first book in 2008, and I actually did some stuff with CDBaby way back then.
Steven: Oh, great!
Shelley: I remember seeing BookBaby, and they’ve grown so much. Now they offer a combination of Kindle direct publishing, with what you offer. Can you tell us a little bit more about what that means for us as authors?
Kindle Direct Publishing
Steven: This is a really important point. We are great friends with the people at Amazon, and I’m a great admirer of all their products and services. One of the things they came up within the last few years is the Kindle Direct Publishing Package. That is where you put your book in through Kindle and it’s an exclusive arrangement.
But, while you’re exclusive with Kindle during that 90-day period, you can give your book away and do a countdown deal. You can also take part in the pay by the page, if you will, with Kindle Unlimited.
We’ve had authors in the past come to us and say, “You know what? I’d love to use BookBaby that has 59 other bookstores, but I need to do these Kindle Unlimited things and the exclusivity.” I thought, “Well, let’s make it easy for authors,” kind of our behind the scenes motivations. I said, “Let’s offer this service.”
So now, people can come to use and get both. They can opt into the Kindle Direct, we’ll just put them on Amazon, and help them set up the countdown deal or the sales.
After a 90-day period, all they got to do is send us an email and say, “I’m ready to go outside of Amazon.” We take them out of Kindle Direct but keep them on Amazon, however, it’s not exclusive anymore. Then we also take them to the other 59 other bookstores; iBooks, Kobo, you name it, they’re all around the world.
It really isn’t an either/or decision anymore – it’s both. It’s gone over extremely well.
Shelley: Yeah, that’s great! There are certain seasons, especially for new authors to get exposure, to use some of those marketing tools that KDP offers. So, it’s nice to know that you’re not limited in that way, anymore, at BookBaby.
Steven: These are proven winners, absolutely.
Shelley: Have you seen a lot of authors taking advantage of that?
Steven: We have. Once they realized, “Oh wait, I can get both? I don’t have to choose one or the other?” It’s been a message that we’re getting out now, and obviously, the people on Amazon love it too.
They’re also getting all the content that they so love, and our authors are happy that they’re able to get that kind of service alongside the other things that BookBaby offers.
Shelley: I’m also curious, how do the statistics work? I know when I publish directly to KDP I can see those statistics. How do authors work with getting those statistics from BookBaby?
Statistics Report on BookBaby
Steven: We have a trending report feed in for both through the Kindle platform and then for iBooks as well. They go to their own dashboard here at BookBaby and it comes in on a weekly basis.
You can see where your books are being sold and how much they’re selling for. If you’re trying a pricing test, later on, trying to move your price up and down, we get near instantaneous reports.
We added those a couple years ago now. Again, authors really love to get that information about how well their book is doing, or if their experiments or their pricing are working for their book.
Shelley: That’s really key. That’s so important to know, as an author, if you choose to use BookBaby. You’ll still have access to all the statistics you’re used to having, and they’ll be updated on a weekly basis. You’ll also be able to see what’s working and what’s not working.
You work with a lot of authors in the self-publishing field, would you say most of your authors are new to self-publishing or do you work with more established authors too?
Kinds of Authors in BookBaby
Steven: We sort of like to say that BookBaby has really grown up in the self-published scene, given the baby side. We certainly do deal with a lot of first-time authors. We help them realize they are empowered to do this. We give them the confidence.
We have people here answering questions from the same people for years, literally, and kind of encouraging them to publish. What we’re seeing now, though, is we’re finding we’re getting a type of author now that we didn’t in the past. This is as we’re adding all these very highly sophisticated and professional services to our service.
They are much more experienced. They’ve gone through the traditional publishing route, and now they want to see if they can take control of their literary efforts and make more money.
We have some very high-level authors, one of which is Carl-Johan Ehrlin. He published a book with BookBaby about three years ago, it was called “The Rabbit Who Wants to Go to Sleep”. He did it through self-publishing, and he went through CreateSpace. At the time, we didn’t have print on demand then.
The book went to #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. So, he signed a deal with Pearson Publishing. I think it was seven digits, and he’s done well for them.
Sure enough, he’s coming back to us in the coming months, because he loved how self-publishing went for him. He loved the economics and the control. So, we’re going to get his next project.
It’s nice to see that we’re attracting a lot of very successful people that realize, “BookBaby has the products and services to help me do what I need to do for my publishing career.”
Shelley: I see a trend of more hybrid authors, where they have some traditionally published books, and then their self-publishing, or independently publishing. I think this is because they can make more royalties, they have a fan base, and it is so much easier now.
Now, if there is an author that says, “OK, all of this is just overwhelming me. I need someone that I can talk to and just talk me through the services, and just have a package deal or whatever.” How would they get in contact with someone at BookBaby to just talk through that?
Author Support for BookBaby Authors
Steven: It’s very easy. We offer email, chat, and phone support. We have another model around here. We call it “real people-powered publishing”.
We think of ourselves as very technology forward company. We’re trying to blend the digital advances with an analog of people. That’s a constant in our publishing world. We always think that the communication between the publishing specialists to our office to our prospects who haven’t done it before is a real key part of this.
We’re not only doing this for them. We’re also teaching them a lot about the business. They can choose to come back to us, as many do, or they can do some more another DIY type of things. To us, it’s an important part of the processes, not just do it but really explain what we’re doing, why we’re doing, and how we’re doing it.
Shelley: I love that. There are definitely a lot of creatives – authors, writers, and artists, – who don’t want to have to deal with all the technical stuff. To have a real person that you can talk to, who understand you and that you can understand and help you through the process, can be really a stress relief and really helpful.
Now, you’re having your first conference, right? This is your first BookBaby conference this fall?
First Ever BookBaby Conference
Steven: We are, and I’d love to tell you about it. It’s in Early November, November 3rd through the 5th, in beautiful downtown Philadelphia. Our offices are located right across from the Betsy Ross Bridge. So, it’s going to be right on our home turf.
Shelley: Oh, fun!
Steven: We attend a lot of conferences around the country exhibiting BookBaby. It felt like there needed to be a real dedicated self-publishing conference. This is what we’re going to be talking about here. We’re going to really, hopefully, inspire a lot of people, and educate a lot of people.
We have an all-star group of folks who are going to be our speakers and panelists. We’re keeping the price deliberately very low so that we can just have a packed house at the Sonesta Hotel in downtown Philadelphia.
So, all the details are on our website. All you got to do is see the top banner and click on it. Tickets are going fast, I’ll say that we’re very pleased with the turnout.
Steven: I encourage anyone within earshot of this podcast and video to get out there, and get those tickets. Those are going fast. You can sign up here.
Shelley: Those of you that follow me, I want to know that I will be there. I will personally be there, and we could become face to face friends, not just Facebook friends. We can meet in person!
So, if you’re going let me know and either come to one of my sessions or let me know that you’re coming so we can definitely meet in person. I would love to meet you there.
Steven: As I say, publishing is a people business, and it’s great to have that real human contact. It’s important to us.
Shelley: It is! Marketing really comes down to building relationships. So, whatever realm we’re in, building those relationships are so key and I believe in that so much.
I think it’s so great that you’re having a face to face, in person conference, and not just an online conference, as it would be easy to do in this day and age.
I think we do need those face to face interactions. I’ve met some lifetime friends at conferences, workshops, and retreats, and it’s really worth investing in live events. I really believe in them.
Steven: In a survey that we did recently, through our BookBaby 2017 survey, we found that one of the really important findings. We isolated some very successful authors that were making a lot of money.
One of the main ways they felt like they learned the business was going to conferences, going in person to hear from speakers such as you and the others. It really was a key component to their education. They told us, it contributed mightily to the results of their careers.
Shelley: Yeah. I mean, I literally have an entire webinar I give on live events. And I say that it was after I started attending live events that I finally hit six figures in my income. So, it’s not a coincidence.
It’s the connections, the relationships that I made, and the networking that happens. All of these things happen, and then it’s just some amazing things can happen from that, as a result. So, it really is important to invest if you’re really wanting to grow as an author, grow your brand, or sell more books.
It really is important to get out and meet people, so I do believe in that. As we’re coming to an end, I know we could probably talk for a long time.
Steven: I believe so.
Shelley: I always like to leave our listeners with a take action tip. What would be a take action tip that you would give them today?
Take Action Tips: 2017 BookBaby Author Survey
Steven: I’ll go back to what I just mentioned. We now have a full suite of results from this survey, 2017 BookBaby Author Survey. You can download it for free here.
We talked to almost 8,000 published and aspiring authors, and now have a huge mass of information. There’s a white paper sitting on our website doing hundreds of downloads a day of these results. It really helps show what the most successful self-published authors are doing, and what are their keys to success.
This white paper lays out quite nicely. After you purchase your conference tickets you can find and download our survey results. People have been very gratified, and even feel empowered to say, “Wow, I can do this too.” Just see what these highly successful authors have done.
Shelley: It was really interesting because I participated. A lot of you that are on my email list also may have participated in this survey. I received the results and thought, “Wow, this is really interesting.”
I think you will find it interesting to download this and just see. Eight thousand (8000)! It’s not just a small study, so definitely go to BookBaby.
Steven: We think it’s the largest study ever done in self-publishing by far.
Shelley: It sounds like it to me. I don’t know of another one. I definitely recommend going over to BookBaby, check out the conference, check out this white paper on this survey results, and definitely connect with them.
If you’re still looking, or if you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the different options, get on the phone, talk with someone, connect with them, and see if it might be a good fit for you.
Thank you so much for being here with us today, Steven.
Steven: Pleasure to talk with you, Shelley.
Shelley: Thank you all for listening. Again, I’m so thrilled that you come back week after week, and I’ll see you next time.