If you’re an indie author who likes or wants to take advantage of free kindle book downloads, then you need to know about Digital Book Today. This wonderful site is run by Anthony Wessel, and I have been deeply impressed by Anthony’s book industry knowledge and his incredible generosity. Since I first came into contact with Anthony, he has been nothing but kind and helpful, and Digital Book Today has been a great resource for me, not only as a place to advertize free books, but book advertizing in general and tips on the publishing trade. I’ve been saying I wanted to interview Anthony for a while, and I’m delighted to say that’s finally happened. Read on…
What is your book/publishing background and how did you end up there?
I spent 8 years as a District Sales Manager for Borders/Waldenbooks from 1994-2002. This was the time period where both Borders and B&N (B.Dalton) started to aggressively add big box stores while the number of mall-based bookstores was shrinking. Amazon came into the picture at this time. Amazon actually did special order fulfillment for Borders and Waldenbooks. That time was a great learning experience as I was exposed to many parts of the book industry (distribution, sales, marketing, selling, the book sales cycle, local authors [indie authors]), and the yearly trends of the book industry which are not really any different now then they were 40 years ago. Just the delivery of the book has changed.
What was your inspiration for starting Digital Book Today?
I was always a book reader, and I just wanted to get back into the book industry. As a stay-at-home dad, I was (and still am) running two other non-book websites on the print-on-demand websites CafePress and Zazzle.
What do you think of KDP Select and free days?
For small and starting authors it is a great opportunity to use the marketing muscle of the world’s largest bookseller for free. Selectively incorporating KDP Select into a comprehensive marketing plan can be a real plus for the indie author.
What is the positive/negative about the program for indie authors?
There are many indie authors who just think putting their book up for free is all they have to do. Again, it takes a planned marketing program to make it work. Unless an author is already making a steady monthly income from book sales, why would you not want to participate? Remember, ARC’s (Advanced Reader Copies) have been given away by authors and publishers for the past 40 years. Now indie authors can also do it with no cost. When I worked in the retail book industry, ARC’s were always available in the backroom of bookstores. Sometimes they actually had to be thrown out because there were too many of them. A bit of trivia: J.K. Rowling had ARC’s of both Harry Potter #1 and #2 available at book expos that were sent to bookstores. I actually have an ARC of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Bk #2) on my bookshelf. I wonder if it has any value?
Do you have a crystal ball – what’s your predictions on where publishing will go from here?
Don’t underestimate the big publishing houses. They are still making money and the book industry still follows the same sales trends and cycles. The major change is where books have been bought in the past 40 years. First it was indie bookstores. Then it was mall based bookstores. Followed by the superstores. Then online through Amazon. Now a majority of the books are being sold digitally. However the sales trends have not really changed. The Christmas holiday season is the biggest time to sell books. There are minor sales spikes for Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, summer beach reads, and Halloween — just like there has been for the past 40 years. A hot book or series will dominate for a few months — Harry Potter, Goosebumps, Shades of Gray, Lord of the Rings, Oprah (remember her book club – automatic #1 bestseller). Digital books have not really changed the sales cycle.
Are there any special plans you have for Digital Book Today?
A lot of new competition is being added daily on the web. We’ll need to continue to expand our offerings and readership. We have several ideas that are being developed (details in the future). Our Top 100 Best Free Kindle Book List will continue to be a component of our business plan. While we have a minimum requirement for books to be put on this list, it does allow an authors’ free book to be seen for more than one day. We have stayed away from the common strategy on many other sites of mainly providing a search function listing, in many cases thousands of books broken down by genre. Our Top 100 Best Free Kindle Book List is more like walking into a bookstore. The bestsellers are right up front and genres are mixed together. This allows a book of one genre to be exposed to a reader who may not usually read a different genre. As the old saying goes one size does not fit all. We consistently see downloads of books to the same person but from different genres.
What’s your best piece of marketing advice for indie authors?
1) Keep writing. The more books you have the better.
2) Have a marketing plan. It does not need to be in place every day. There’s nothing wrong with a rotating effort every 6-10 weeks for a week or two. In the off time, focus on writing your next great book.
Thanks, Anthony, for those insights! And I’ll bet that Harry Potter ARC is worth some money :).
Check out The Top 100 Best Free Kindle Books List and support great indie authors and Digital Book Today.