Mark Lefebvre and Dan Wood chat about working with libraries and bookstores, plus answer questions from the live audience!



book, bookstore, libraries, people, author, print, ingram, returnable, authors, sell, bookseller, audio books, buy, titles, local, digital, amazon, money, returns, cost


Mark Lefebvre, Dan Wood

Dan Wood  00:00

Hey, everybody. We’re here from Draft2Digital . Last week, Mark Lefebvre could not join us because he was traveling here for our Christmas party. So we’re glad to have him in the office and we get to see him. We thought we would do a quick follow up with a question last week where someone was really wanting to know how they should approach small bookstores and libraries. And so, Mark Lefebvre just happened to have written a book about that just recently, so we thought we would talk a little bit about that. Checking now to make sure you can hear us all right.

Mark Lefebvre  00:39

Maybe I’ll do a little juggling act or something like that just to fill the quiet space.

Dan Wood  00:47

Well, so still waiting. So this is our first impromptu session.

Mark Lefebvre  00:53

I like impromptu little sessions. Just putting information out there is always good as

Dan Wood  00:57

though we have no ideas as a working on No, but we thought…

Mark Lefebvre  01:02

just got confirmation that actually people can hear us.

Dan Wood  01:06

Yes. So we did announce this at all, but we will make this available after the fact. So you can watch it at your leisure. So we’re going to get right into it. First of all, want to go a little bit into Mark’s history. The great thing is, is he’s had decades of experience within the book industry. You know, from my point of view, I kind of came into it with the digital revolution. So most of my experience has been in selling digital books, but there’s a lot of opportunity in print, and especially in the small bookstores and libraries. So first of all, I wanted you to talk, you started your career as a bookseller.

Mark Lefebvre  01:47

Yeah, actually started in the digital age and I started in the dark ages of I mean, prior to the internet, so I started in 19..,

Dan Wood

Gutenberg press.


Mark Lefebvre

Yeah, just a little after Gutenberg. So 1992 is when I got my start in book selling and that was prior to most of the internet anyways, being sort of a thing that existed. So I come from a tradition of as a writer trying to mail my manuscripts into publishers. So that’s the dark ages of digital publishing, and then working in stores. So I’ve worked in virtually every kind of bookstore that exists. I’ve worked in mall book stores, I’ve worked in big box stores. I’ve worked in chain stores. I’ve worked in independent bookstores and worked in academic bookstores and online bookstores. The only two kinds of bookstores I haven’t had the privilege of working for yet are used bookstores and maybe a Christian bookstore. Those are the only two

Dan Wood  02:44

kinds of sounds like something to do later on in life.

Mark Lefebvre  02:47

later on in my spare time. Yeah. Yeah.

Dan Wood  02:52

Awesome. So as a bookseller How would, what was the process for how you acquire books? Would you have local authors come in and I understand it’s also different? Because there was a time when most self publishing was more like a vanity thing and now,  let’s just get right into it with your book. How would you recommend from your perspective as a bookseller, how would you approach if you’re an indie author? How do you approach a local bookstore?

Mark Lefebvre  03:21

So I think the key thing to remember is that every single bookstore is different whether it’s an independent bookstore, whether it’s part of a chain, you’re going to find differences in every bookstore. Now, some of the chains have a head office procedures for purchases. But in a lot of cases, there’s some leeway that they have and sometimes the local management may interpret those rules a little bit differently. So in a nutshell, most authors are probably going to use some sort of print on demand service to make the books available. So Ingram spark being obviously the biggest one, obviously, D2D print, very similar to the same sort of similar distribution but with not as much control over formatting and discounts, etc. But there’s two ways that the bookstore can buy your book. It’s through a massive distributor such as an Ingram which is the world’s largest bookstore, even in the early 90s. We would be placing a weekly order from Ingram to fulfill our stock. Now, this goes back to the Dark Ages where there were no computerized systems for looking at Ingram’s inventory, they would mail us a stack of those microfiche, microfiche that we would put on the little projector and then we would have to go look them up. They were alphabetical by title and by authors how we would be able to look up titles to see if they were available at Ingram to place those orders. And then they moved on to online ordering systems. By the time I moved out of book selling I think in 2010 I think was the last time I’ve been ordering from Ingram but that would be all of the books available for anyone which would be for major publishers, you know, so from Random House and Harper Collins, Macmillan etc… But anything available through Ingram spark is automatically going to be listed in the system. Now, the main difference and I’m sure we’ve talked about this before, but I think it’s, it’s worth driving home is that with Amazon, well, what used to be CreateSpace but which is now KDP print what they call extended distribution, I like to call pretended distribution because you get the feeling that your book is actually available and it is available through the same system, but it’s automatically flagged as a short discount, 20% discount title, and automatically non returnable, and it’s flagged as an Amazon title. And so if you’re asking a local independent bookstore to order your book from the main competitor, that’s basically putting independent bookstores out of business. No, like, no people don’t like that. It’s like hey, go buy from my competitor. So just using a service like Ingram spark or D2D print or whatever, a third party solution that is not the world’s biggest bookstore competitor is probably a good move because the other thing you’re going to want to do is I know with D2D print, it’s a 40% discount that’s automatically offered. And most bookstores are looking from anywhere between 40 to 55% discount. And so that’s kind

Dan Wood  06:10

This is going to be off their wholesale or the retail the retail price. That way they make some money off of it too.

Mark Lefebvre  06:17

Yeah, because you have to remember, I mean, a bookstore is a business, right? And they keep a cut, they keep that 40 or 50%. And they use that to pay for their staff to pay for the rent to pay for all of the other things, the shipping and receiving and all that stuff. And the other thing, so they have two ways of buying they can buy the book, but a bookstore is not necessarily going to buy a book that’s non returnable unless they have a really, really good reason to do.

Dan Wood  06:42

So can you explain that concept? Yeah, for I think a lot of people don’t realize that with print because the E book you just kind of put it out there and there’s no cost to have it out on a digital shelf. For a bookstore, they kind of have to worry about what they put out and if it doesn’t sell.

Mark Lefebvre  06:57

yeah, now when I used to manage a bookstore and I used to manage The inventory, I used to think of the books in the stores like tenants in an apartment building, are they paying the rent and their returns, you would look at inventory turns, and you would want your stock to turn three times a year. So if you’re, and I’m not going to do the math in my head, but that’s how you would kind of figure out whether or not the book was earning to keep so the way that the book industry works and has worked since the Great Depression was, the books were sold to the bookstore on a fully returnable basis. It’s almost like a consignment based business where if after six months to nine months or whatever, if they did not sell, the bookstore could send them back to the publisher for a full credit. So they could go on and buy other books. Now this this was a result of the Great Depression where bookstore said, Well, we can’t afford to buy these books anymore. And publisher said, Well, wait a second, what if we offer this guarantee that if it doesn’t sell, we’ll take it back. So in many ways, publishers have been the purveyors of risk when it comes to returns. And so booksellers have been I mean, I grew up in a world of bookselling where that was the way it always was. And so through Ingram spark and most of the print on demand, it’s probably advisable to make your book non returnable. I have made the mistake,

Dan Wood  08:11

that would be the biggest reached there’s going to be small bookstores that are going to be willing to take that chance

Mark Lefebvre  08:17

potentially. Another reason they’re going to take a chance is because it’s an intelligent business move because your book is something they absolutely have to have. And as a bookstore buyer myself in the past, by default, I wouldn’t order anything that was non returnable. However, I remember I mean, Terry Follis, who’s a Canadian literary writer humorist. his very first book was self published and it was done through i think i universe which is you know, owned by the devil Author Solutions and all those people oops, did I say a bad thing about them? I just I’ve had authors know had bad experiences with this company was I don’t recommend you, you think about working with them. But and that’s just me Mark saying not saying that on behalf of Draft2digital, but Draft2digital would never say anything nasty about anyone ever. But I, when I wanted to have Terry come into my bookstore because he was a graduate of McMaster University when I was at the bookstore there. And I went ahead and ordered 50 copies of his book fully non returnable because I knew as a business decision, I was going to be able to sell those books because it was a phenomenal book, because I had already read it, I was already familiar with it. And so a bookseller may make a decision like that a smart business decision, knowing that they’re going to be able to return it. The other thing that I’ve done as an author is I have offered Well, if you buy a box of my books, so I can come in and do the event. I will guarantee to buy that book back from you at the end of the event, so you’re not stuck with any stock, like maybe you want to keep a couple. And I usually ask, would you please be willing to give me your staff discount now most bookstores have a staff discount, it’s usually in the 20 to 30% range. And so at that point in time, the bookstore is selling the book, obviously at a discount, so they’re not making the full margin on it. But this additional stock is something that they’re not going to lose money on, they’re going to make a little bit of money on. So there, it’s almost like you’re guaranteeing the way the publishers guarantee that you can return the stock you’re guaranteeing that if you don’t sell out at my event, I’ll buy the extra stock.

Dan Wood  10:18

The bookstore will still make some money and have to worry about it.

Mark Lefebvre  10:21

And most booksellers I’ve offered that to a pretty cool about that. They recognize that it’s, you know, I’m making a business decision for them, I’m helping them make it easier for them to see, while we’re doing this event, we have to do posters, we have to do whatever we have to set things up. We may have to bring an extra staff for this that cost them money in time. And oftentimes an event you know, doesn’t work out so well. And not now that works out for me because I sell my own books directly at book fairs and things like that where I’ve bought my own table. And so for me having an extra stocks not the end of the world. Now that may be different for different different authors.

Dan Wood  11:00

Along that line, what are the downsides? What are the risks to you as an author about making returns available just in general from like, let’s say Ingram or any print on demand provider you are working with?

Mark Lefebvre  11:12

Well, it’s interesting. I was at an industry event in May. The book industry study group had a really amazing event in May in New York about print on demand and the new the new methodology and the representative from Ingram that was there said that the returns for print on demand titles at Ingram are less than 1% in total. So that seems like a very minor risk. Here’s one of the problems I mean, that 1% is still a gigantic number because you gotta remember Ingram is no small company 1% is is hundreds of thousands or maybe, you know, a millions of dollars for all I know, when I made my very first book that I did print on demand 2004 I made it fully returnable full discount. And then I was working within the Canadian publishing industry and one of the buyers at Chapters Indigo, which is kind of like Canada’s version of Barnes and Noble. They caught wind that the book was available found that it was available through Ingram and decided to order 350 copies that they distributed to a bunch of Chapters stores across Canada, which was pretty exciting at the time. Yeah. And then, six months later, when they returned 150 of them, the cost to me, because what I was having them disposed of they can be shipped to you, but you would pay for shipping or you could dispose of them, and you would pay a disposal fee. The costs for the returns on 150 books cost me more than I earned on selling 350.

Dan Wood  12:35

Yeah, so its something where you have to look at the whole equation of does it make sense for me to do the returns, many people and kind of the way we’re looking at with our current demand model is not necessarily offering returns, but just giving a better discount rate that also kind of offsets the costs and so

Mark Lefebvre  12:55

that could be a deal. Now the other thing you can do is, the bookstore either orders it from Ingram, for example, or if you have stock because you’ve purchased it from another Bookstore at a discount, or you’ve purchased them yourself through, you know, the the direct print or even use the local printer. In some cases, as a Canadian, I use a local printer in Kitchener Waterloo area, because even though the cost per unit is higher, I don’t have to pay shipping across the border, which can really, definitely make sense. Yeah, so that’s worth looking in to

Dan Wood  13:24

And if you are someone that does a lot of events, you really like that aspect of it.  Not every indie author wants to be going to bookstores and signings for people but for people who do, sometimes having your own offset run of print makes sense.

Mark Lefebvre  13:38

Exactly. Yeah. Like there was a book that’s right there that was printed from a local printer, which so what I can do, then rather than ordering it through Ingram, I can make sure that my cost is enough that I’ve budgeted between the print cost and the retail price, you know, a 40 or 50% margin so that I can go into a direct consignment with the bookstore or you can Come in. And in some cases, I mean, I’ve done bookstores where you bring in your stock, they take account of the stock. And then at the end of the event, they say, Well, this is how many we ran through the register, and they cut you a check, right then in there other cases, you know, nine months later, you’ll get a check from head office, or, or, or whatever. And so they all do it different ways. So I think the key thing is recognizing that, within reason, when you when you approach them with a professional idea and a professional business plan that is actually potentially Hey, there’s, there’s no way you can lose money here. If I stand there in your store, and I don’t sell a single book, you’re going to be guaranteed to sell all 30 copies of the book and make some money at the very least I’ve supported it. But I strongly recommend before you, you do that you you are familiar with the local bookstore that you actually know them like if you already have a relationship with them. It’s so much easier to talk about that.

Dan Wood  14:50

We’ve seen it happen with authors we work with, you go to conferences, the authors getting to know the merchandisers of the different retailers. You know someone and you like meet them in person, it’s so much more likely they’re going to want to work with you,

Mark Lefebvre  15:05

for sure. For sure. Well, especially if it’s a good if it’s a good relationship you have as opposed to a hostile one, right? Yeah. No, I joke I joke but I mean, having been a bookseller, I have actually been in stores as a bookseller where an author would come in and even if the book was published through a major publisher, and now if your book is published through a publisher, well, that makes it that much easier, right? Because I can go well, this haunted hospitals, for example, is available fully returnable from Dundern which is University of Toronto press distribution in Canada, it’s Ingram in the states fully returnable, Bob’s your uncle nice and easy. This book here is available through my imprint Stark publishing available through you know, non returnable print on demand or I can get consignment for you. But and I lost track of where I was going with that with the relationship Oh, authors would come into the store and see their book down on the on the floor like on the floor level or not on eye level and they would take the book and they would go Put it face up. But they would cover four other spines of books. Yeah. Meaning like, not only is that a dick move, because it’s not in alphabetical order, which is where people are going to find it. But you’re also covering up other titles that people will may be looking for. and nine times out of 10, when authors came in and did that every time they came in the store, they would do that. So every time they came in the store, I would make sure that I had to do maintenance behind them to clean up the mess that they would make. I tended not to want to help those authors when it came time to return. Because if these were books that were, you know, fully returnable, and I had a choice between their book and some other book, it all things being equal. I mean, if it was selling, I wouldn’t return it. But if it wasn’t selling and this wasn’t selling, guess which book I got rid of, because that would got rid of another problem in the store. It’s like, well, this annoying person is not going to annoy me anymore because they won’t be able to do that. So I think I think it’s key on the flip side, having an author come into the store and talk about And share some interesting insights about their book. It was phenomenal because I was able to use that as a bookseller to put that book in the customers hands. So let’s say somebody’s looking for a certain type of thriller or certain type of romance. And if I knew that the, the author had written that romance because they were at their grandmother’s cottage, and they saw this beautiful photograph, and it inspired the story, when I put the book in the customers hand, and I share that story, because that’s what booksellers love to do. I’ve suddenly connected the author and the reader in a way that can’t happen as easily in an online transaction.

Dan Wood  17:35

Handselling is still the number one thing out there. So that’s awesome. Let’s go a little bit into your history and your experience as not only have you been a bookseller, you’ve worked in the industry on the print level. You’re with Kobo writing life to help build that program from the very beginning. So you get the digital part, but you’re an author. Yeah. And so not only a self-published author but you’ve worked with traditional publishing in Canada for a lot of your books, and so how was that experience? Has it shown you different aspects of the industry?

Mark Lefebvre  18:10

Yeah, I think one of the things I’m very fortunate to understand is that there are so many different pathways to success. There’s no one way of doing it right? If if there are ways to work with traditional publishers that get me things I could never have with self publishing. And that’s distribution, for example, like Dundern and I may give up a huge percentage of royalties on done during but I make very little royalties on ebooks from Dundern and I make most of my money off print book sales, and they can get my book into Costco and they can get my book into Walmart and they have and this is something I could never dream of doing as much knowledge as I have.

Dan Wood  18:47

It’s pretty fair to say that the traditional route is going to be like if you want to get your book into a bookstore like onto a physical shelf traditional is going to be a much easier route.

Mark Lefebvre  18:59

Easier, not necessarily successful, but easier because you can contact the bookstore and say all my books available through etc. and the and the bookstore can order it in no risks. Right? If if it’s a book that they think they’re going to sell now if I go to a science fiction specialty bookstore and ask them to order in my romance novel, that probably not a good fit. So you also have to think about figuring out a clientele.

Dan Wood  19:23

In your case, you’ve got several books that are localized, and so they’re very particular like the haunted stories from a particular city. Yeah, I imagine it’s a lot easier and within that town to get those bookstores because its so applicable to their…

Mark Lefebvre  19:38

Yeah, yeah, for sure. And that’s where Costco would do the buying right there because they actually do local buying, even though it’s a chain. And so I mean, that’s how I sold the books to the publisher, knowing that the publisher could easily sell those books to a bookstore. And, and that’s one of the ways that I pitch up but I mean, it’s no different. If I were to pitch the book, you know, that I had published myself, I would still use that. The same factor saying, Here’s your demographic, here’s your audience. And here’s how this book fulfills this need. I mean, you always have to be thinking about that. So when you’re talking to a local bookstore, you’re not just thinking about, Hey, I’m a cool dude. And I just wrote a book and you should like me, it’s no, no, no, here’s how this book is going to fulfill a need that your consumers already have. So we’re actually working together to do exactly what the bookstore wants to do, which is to have books available that that are going to be in demand. And so similarly, if you know that you’re going to be getting media exposure, whether it’s traditionally published or self published, if you know, there’s going to be a local review in the local paper or local radio or whatever, give that local bookstore a heads up. Even if it’s fully non returnable, you can say hey, just to let you know, you know, I love your bookstore I’ve been I’ve been there I I’m from the neighborhood. I wanted to let you know I’m going to be on this radio station or I’m going to have this article come out in the paper. Here’s the information about my book just because as a bookseller, myself, I would constantly get people coming to the bookstore and say, Oh, I mean, Oprah was a big one…

Dan Wood  21:09

Yeah. And they’re out of stock.

Mark Lefebvre  21:11

Or they don’t know about it. Yeah, but even if they know about it, and then somebody comes in, they go, Oh, yeah, we can get that for you. Even if they don’t have it in stock. At the very least you’ve helped the bookseller by giving them information. So they know where where they can get the book, or they or they might even say, Yeah, but it’s also available on ebook and you can get it anywhere. But if you want a special order, come see me. I mean, it’s a partnership you have with your local bookstores. It’s this mutual supportive relationship that I think is so critical  for the community itself to have that bookstore there. But then for the author to be part of that community because it really does work well when they serve one another.

Dan Wood  21:51

So they really do get a thrill out of helping people find just the right thing they’re wanting to read. And then they also the business angle of it. They just need pay their rent,  to pay their employees. It’s It’s…

Mark Lefebvre  22:03

It’s passion plus business, right?

Dan Wood  22:04

We were just talking about this earlier today anything. When we work with our retailers, the more work we can do for them to make it easy for them, the more likely we are to get chosen for promotions. And so, same thing. Let’s go ahead and move on to libraries. Okay, I want to start with, if you would describe the print angle of libraries, but I do want to talk a little bit towards the end about digital like getting your book in to libraries, digitally.

Mark Lefebvre  22:33

Well that is easy because Draft2Digital can help you with that. Wink, wink. nudge nudge. So with print I mean through Draft2Digital Print, through place like Ingram Spark. I mean, Ingram being the world’s largest wholesaler. That’s one way to make your book available to the libraries. Make sure the library knows your book is available.Like provide the ISBN to make it easier to find it. I’m talking about the print ISBN. I mean, I let them know all the versions like, here’s the audiobook, here’s the print, here’s the ebook so that if they’re all available, then then they can make that decision

Dan Wood  23:06

Do you tend to wait till you have all three formats ready, or do you kind of approach them…

Mark Lefebvre  23:11

I very rarely have at all three of them available together. Sometimes I usually start usually I start with the print, because libraries are still I mean, we know how digital works, and we’re going to talk about that. But when it comes to print that there’s still a lot of consumers. So one of the things we always fall into the trap of is, we’re digital people, right? So we understand this world, and it’s a huge market for a lot of people making good money. But the reality is that most people have never read a book. And and if you find people who’ve read a book, most people who’ve read a book have never read a digital book. So still, you know upwards of 70 or 80% of readers have never read a digital book. So there are stats that are showing that audio books are going to surpass ebooks in terms of that people are willing to give audiobooks a chance because of the multitasking involved. So you have to remember that as big as it can be for digital, it can be even bigger for print because more readers out there than ever before, have never even heard of you if you’re only in digital and you’re only an ebook available. So the local library of when I start with a local library, what I love to do is provide the, you know, here’s the ISBN for the print book, here’s where you can get it. It’s available through Ingram. And I also like to let them know I start local. There’s Robert J Sawyer Canadian science fiction author, a good friend of mine, gave me this advice years ago, and I’ve used it consistently very successfully, is define yourself as a big fish in a small pool. And Robert always say this and so I start with my local neighborhood library, and I let them know hey, I’m in your neighborhood and then I moved to the next ones. Hey, I’m in your city.

Dan Wood  24:46

And that goes along with being active at that library. They recognize you already.

Mark Lefebvre  24:54

You’re a regular, I was there every weekend with my son, you know when he was growing up, but that was a Saturday event. They would recognize my face going, Oh wow, he’s a patron but he’s also an author, and they want to support their own. I mean, my most successful book to date from traditional publishing, comes from the smallest city, Sudbury, Ontario. Spooky Sudbury outsells Maccabre Montreal,  Canada’s second largest city. And Spooky Sudbury still outsells that it’s just like 190,000 people as opposed to millions of people. And even Hamilton, which is half a million people doesn’t doesn’t sell as much as Spooky Sudbury and that’s a backlist title. That’s like from 2014 or something. I think 2013 when that came out, and it still sells the newer ones. Because there’s that community based thing that people really want to support their own. And so that’s

Dan Wood  25:46

We constantly have our partners who sell to libraries asking us to let them know which ones are local to this area or their state. Exactly. To the librarians that makes a much bigger difference than in retail. Yeah, you really don’t get that question on Amazon, or maybe on Kobo, but with the print books, and they just they seem to like the local feel of it. So it’s something I was glad to see. And so we continue to work with them. I was also kind of surprised,  I didn’t realize when we first started working with library partners, how much of what they acquire for their collection is based off of just requests from patrons. Yeah, yeah. So but this is true for both print and digital. You know, let your readers know that your request your book in the library if it is available. Yeah, request it yourself. Request your library buy a copy because they do want those local things. Sometimes they’ll have special sections to highlight local authors.

Mark Lefebvre  26:48

or or themes right. story set in the city. Yeah, just because they may get people coming in wanting to read like I want to read a thriller, but I want to read a thriller set in the city. Yeah. You think About, I always like to say that the acquisitions librarian is great. I mean, the smaller library, there’s usually one or two people doing all the jobs. But in the larger librarians, you have the acquisitions librarian, you have the reference librarian, you have the events librarian. And the reference librarian is like a data nerd who just loves to have information…

Dan Wood  27:20

Just to figure out what circulating really well, looking at the list of holds, and know hey we should get another copy of this book. We have people waiting for months.

Mark Lefebvre  27:28

Or people who come in and are trying to do research this, this, this librarian has been my best friend and research for so many books. So I know that if I can let the research librarian know about my obscure book that may not have a wide demographic, but if they know about it, and a patron comes in, they’ll store that information and go Yeah, actually, we have a local author who’s done a book on just that topic. And that can be a benefit because I mean, at the end of the day, what you’ve done is you’ve cultivated a relationship with somebody who wants wants to put the right book in the right person’s hands. And and that’s a critical thing because you, as the author have connected with that reader that you were looking for in the beginning and it you’re not just doing it on your own, but you’re doing it with a collaborative partner, who’s just just happy to do that, because they solve the problem for that customer too.

Dan Wood  28:17

We’ve talked a lot internally about just how shocked we are with MacMillan changing their terms, and how anti library some of these terms have gotten. I feel like it’s such a short term strategy. It’s not looking at how librarians have always been such an important part in the whole curation and introducing people to things that they will love for years, if not decades to come. I know, I grew up going to the library, I couldn’t afford to buy all those books. I read books. Now as an adult, I bought most of those books that I loved as a child that were you know, yes, I was reading them for free. In a way for a little while, but I became a A lifelong reader, a lifelong follower of certain authors, and so

Mark Lefebvre 29:04

thanks to the library,

Dan Wood  29:06

and so I think everyone should try to cultivate that relationship with their local librarian. Enjoy because these are services that help our communities and they help us individually. You mentioned like the the research aspect of it. And that’s really helpful for nonfiction or even there’s lots of fiction where you do need to do the research and everything. So

Mark Lefebvre  29:29

yeah, it never hurts. I mean, the other thing when you talk about something like Macmillan, I think this is a perfect opportunity for independent authors and small publishers to identify, okay, what are the titles being published by Macmillan this fall, or in January or whatever the season is, knowing that the library can only get one copy of the book available, but they probably have 800 people that they want to service. And I went through a lot of examples in the book, I live looked at the title of the holds for some new titles and what it meant So if I have any books that could fulfill the needs of those consumers. I know they can buy my books through print or thanks to Draft2Digital through Overdrive or Hoopla or one of the other partners that we have, that they can get it for a lot cheaper and fulfill the needs of hundreds of their consumers or their patrons and satisfy them so they’re not waiting six months to get that.

Dan Wood  30:25

And I’ve seen, like by our local libraries and Overdrive, they’ve done a lot of curation, where it’s like, read-alikes, if you like this, you’ll like that. I could see libraries doing that in ways where there’s a big title coming out, but someone’s refusing to sell them copies of it. Yeah, if you have something that’s like that, let the libraries know, it just makes perfect sense.

Mark Lefebvre  30:46

And and if you’re local, it’s the additional flavor, right? But it’s like a Jack Reacher book, but it’s written by a local author you know, Dan Wood right. Whoa, wait, wait the guys from here. Yeah, he’s from here. That’s that alone. Is is is I mean, I was I was at a bar the other night, imagine that I was at a bar the other night. And when Liz and I were sitting there, the the guys beside us, they’d never met a Canadian before. So they were really excited, but they’d never met an author before. And these guys were beside themselves that oh my god, you’re an author. But you have to remember that like, Oh my god, you’re an author, that that’s still a thing. We lose sight of that because we interact with authors all the time. But that’s a big thing. So not only is this book in the genre, that is going to be satisfying, but the author is local. Oh, my goodness. I remember the first time having a local author and being able to go and buy their books and just thinking this was the best thing in the world.

Dan Wood  31:44

I want to talk a little bit about specifically formats to libraries. So with print, we mentioned, the small bookstores they might be not want to order from certain people that are trying to drive them out of business. Yeah, potentially imagine that.  That’s true for print and libraries as well, you know, libraries by and large, don’t order very often from Amazon. Right? So they’re going to want to order through one of their preferred vendors like Ingram, Baker &Taylor, although I think Baker Taylor mind changing out of that model. I’m not quite sure.

Mark Lefebvre  32:18

there’s some stuff going on with Baker and Taylor and Ingram and the merger there that we don’t know how it’s going to go. But I mean, Baker and Taylor is a wholesaler of ebooks and, and

Dan Wood  32:27

their libraries all have approved vendors they can work with, and they’re going to want to order from those vendors. So just finding out from your library, like if your book is available there, you know, I think they’re going to be more than willing to help you with that. Audio so you have your, both, some of your traditional but also, you’re

Mark Lefebvre  32:49

actually no traditional audio books, all of my audio books are independently and I’ve done a lot more steps.

Dan Wood  32:56

How are you distributing them? Are you hitting libraries?

Mark Lefebvre  32:59

Most of my audio books are distributed through Findaway, Findaway Voices is Findaway. And I’ve done a combination. Now interestingly enough, I only have one full length novel, all the rest of my audio books are shorter. So they would be anywhere between 10,000 words to 20,000 words. And so the cost to produce them was significantly cheaper, right, it’s only an hour to two hours of whatever play time. But I’m not making my money off of places like audible or Kobo or Google Play or Apple books. I’m making most of my money off of cost per checkout model, through libraries, where instead of making the whatever percent you make 45%, or whatever that you make from selling the one off copy, I’m getting that with every Checkout, I get a micro payment, it’s one 10th of the price. But in a lot of cases, those books have paid for themselves within the first six to nine months of producing the audio file.


Dan Wood

So could you explaine that model versus the traditional model.

Mark Lefebvre

Okay, so the traditional model is the library curates and buys a book to put it in stock. So their patrons can check it out by one copy, but they can only loan it…


Dan Wood  34:10

Kind of like print. They’re also going in with that model in digital. Audio. They buy one copy, they can check one copy out to you at a time. Yeah, while you have the copy out I have to wait for it. Exactly. The digital book.

Mark Lefebvre  34:22

Yeah. So that’s the one that’s the one to one licenses, what is known as, and that’s, that’s a typical thing. Now I know Draft2Digital has the one to one license, and the cost per checkout with Overdrive, as well as several of our partners. The cost per checkout means, instead of the library curating and only putting the let’s say, these 10 titles we can afford to buy, you can you can check them out, they say, well, we’re going to take all these hundred titles, and we’re going to show them to our customers and let them check them out. And when they check them out, you’re only going to get one 10th of it. But if 100 people show up and want to check out that book, they all can at the same time. So book club, for example,

Dan Wood  34:56

In that case, for example, if you had a radio interview and 1000 people saw it and say I want to read that and check out their local library,  they all, the thousand, could check it out at the same time.

Mark Lefebvre  35:07

Yeah like a lot of cities are doing the one city one book where they the library encourages them to read one book it’s imagine getting something like that because you’re a local author and they want to support you. And then the customer checkout model could mean Whoa, this could really add up really, really quickly. Don’t dispute those micro payments. So what I’ve been doing is I’ve been reinvesting those back into making more audiobooks. Because now because a lot of it is short fiction, now I can now read curate full length books of audio that are already paid for and make them available in whole new ways.

Dan Wood  35:41

So in your case, yeah, many people when you’re talking audio have just heard of Audible, right, the audible model. People are generally, they can buy books, but they’re generally using a credit like they’re getting a certain number of credits for their subscription costs. So buying a four hour book with one credit versus a 25 hour book on one credit, yeah, it kind of makes it a hard sell for some nonfiction which tends to be shorter like that.  With Findaway you have control over your price.

Mark Lefebvre  36:13

Yeah, you have a control of your price with all all vendors except Audible, which which sets the price for you. And that’s dependent on who knows how they’re deciding the price. But yeah, even my full length audio book is not $15, which is the monthly credit for Audible. So it’s not worth wasting a credit of $15 in something worth less than 15. So I mean, it’s smart consumer behavior. But similarly, I mean, there are you know, people do buy things off of Audible at a reduced price. They have the deals and things like that. Now with Findaway and Chirp, the discounting and all of the things that like Turpis and Bookbub for audio books, there are going to be opportunities for authors who have control over their price to be able to get into These promos and and I’m really excited. We’re just if you if you don’t have…

Dan Wood  37:05

We’re seeing more and more that like Apple has been doing a ton of promotions around audiobooks. Exactly. Lower costs, and a lot of them have been indies because indies have that much more control and a willingness to experiment, I think. So that’s been exciting to see, I know, I picked up a couple of audio books between like 3.99, 4.99, 5.99 from that. From Chirp like I get the daily Chirp email. Yeah. So there’s been some great deals, especially on like classics from a, you know, a lot of backlist from the traditional publishers, and then indie works, and so it’s exciting time to be dealing with audiobooks, and yeah, yeah. Libraries are a huge part of that process. And so, you know, I encourage everyone if you have to choose between being exclusive with Audible, you get paid a little bit more, but I think you’re missing out on so much because libraries are buying so many audio books right now.

Mark Lefebvre  37:59

Yeah. And I think people always look at it because Audible does have a very attractive I don’t have to pay anything option, but you’re stuck for seven years. And I I would rather not be locked into something like that. And I would rather invest. And again, I’ve taken a different approach like I don’t have the money I did one full length book and it was very expensive to do is $350 US per hour. And that and that cost me a lot of money. I haven’t made my money back on that yet, but I own the rights to it. Yeah, so

Dan Wood  38:30

A lifelong investment and yourself and more than likely over time to make the money back.

Mark Lefebvre  38:36

I imagine I will because the very first book I self published in 2004, I still make money off.  Yeah, not a ton of money, but I do nothing to promote and it still makes me money. So all of these IPS, all of these assets you have available as an author can earn you money over time and that and that’s the key. It’s not i’m not just looking at my Draft2Digital dashboard every day to see if I’m making money but I’m looking at the long term of all of the different books that I’ve published in all the different formats available through all the platforms.

Dan Wood  39:07

So let’s let’s begin to wrap up. Are there any tips or tricks from your book that you, we haven’t covered yet that you might want to, like, just throw out there for an author really trying to think beyond? You know, a lot of them have the digital aspect down, they’re killing it with Facebook ads, or Amazon ads. They’re selling books on digital platforms. Any advice you say, for bookstores for libraries?

Mark Lefebvre  39:34

Yeah, I mean, for libraries, one of the things I like to do is I like to go to and knowing that my books are available on Overdrive, you have an author page on Overdrive kind of search results. Yeah, I mean, it’s not as pretty as our author pages, but you’ve got that ability. I mean, you can create an author landing page at Draft2Digital with your print or your ebook and audio book right now, which is a nice catch all because I know if you Click on to a retailer like Amazon that also has the print book. It’s just it’s going to be on that item page anyways. So that’s fulfilling. And being Yeah, being able to search. So what I like to do is I like to provide not just the information about it. But if I know the libraries using Overdrive, I’ll include here’s the books listing on Overdrive, you know, to make it that much easier for them to not have to go look up that information.

Dan Wood  40:29

The easier you make it for them yeah, that’s it easy is why you have like the one click at retailers…

Mark Lefebvre  40:37

and I say and I say that because I see a lot of authors who send to an independent bookstore or send to the library Go on, here’s my book on Amazon, you can buy it there. It sounds like we roll our eyes and go, Oh, my God, how did you do that? But, but because it’s like, well, it’s Amazon. That’s the only place that exists. Why wouldn’t you just buy it there? And people don’t realize that that is a huge slap in the face. So it may I mean, You may you may get an open minded bookseller library and it goes, Okay.

Dan Wood  41:03

And outside the US Amazon is not as big or as powerful as US, UK Amazon is huge. Like there’s no debating that but Yeah,

Mark Lefebvre  41:12

but not everywhere. It’s not even available in some countries too. So that’s, that’s one of the other things so I think little things like that. I mean, I even had I did a section on on successful book events when you’re doing an in person event because we do. We spend so much time training people on how to improve your Amazon listings and how to have a beautiful cover in the description and stuff but they forget the face to face interactions, little subtle things like I was with some hugely successful independent authors, at a Barnes noble in Vegas, when we were there for a conference, I was so excited to see them at the event. And when I recognizes that with human nature, the books were right there and people would walk into the Barnes & Noble and see them but they would be intimidated and they don’t want to be sold to. So I took a small stack of the books and I put them over 10 feet away. And that’s what I always do from my own side so that the people can see the authors there. Then if they’re interested, I mean, we’re all introverts, a lot of writers are so are readers, they want to go there in a bookstore because they want to stick their face in a book, they don’t want to  have to talk to an author. Yeah. So they’ll go over, especially me and my skeleton and all the crazy stuff that I have when I do a book signing as they might not want to talk to the crazy author. But they can go check out the book from a safe distance where I’m not going to try to sell to them. And if they’re interested and they go, Oh, this looks good. Nine times out of 10 they rush over and go oh my god, are you the author? Can I get it signed

Mark Lefebvre  42:29

So immediately little things like that, I think can can go a long, long way to making you know a successful in person event.

Dan Wood  42:37

Just trying to think about the reader experience overall. Yeah, well, will you say the name of the book because I know I’ll butcher the name of the book.

Mark Lefebvre  42:45

it is An Author’s Guide to Working with Libraries and Bookstores. And if you go to

Dan Wood  42:54

We will share that in the chat.

Mark Lefebvre  42:57

You’ll find it at all retailers.

Dan Wood  42:59

We didn’t really take any questions this time like, we’re trying out a little bit of different formats.

Mark Lefebvre  43:03

I can’t even I can see there are questions or comments, but I can’t read them with my glasses.

Dan Wood  43:07

We’ll take a look at the comments and answer anything we can after the fact. But we just want to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge that Mark has on that, because we know people are really looking at the the ways to get into libraries and small bookstores. So thank you for being here with us, and we’ll talk to you later.

Mark Lefebvre  43:26

Thanks, guys. Thanks, Dan.