Anyone who has ever thumbed through an Amazon Kindle device knows the publishing industry is changing. Long the realm of the agents, reviewers, and publishing houses that for centuries have served as the filter for our literary consumption, the industry’s “gatekeepers” as it were, the publishing industry has democratized and with self-publishing resources on the rise, these days literally anyone can do it.
But there’s a difference between simply publishing and doing it right, says Daniel Island resident, author, mom, and former sales dynamo Crystal Klimavicz. Klimavicz, a successful self-published author in her own right, recently thrust herself into the self-publishing world when she, in February, introduced her brand new concept to the market, a new company called Indie Books Unleashed (IBU). Formed to fill the gap many newly self-published authors overlook, that of promoting their work, IBU offers an affordable sales and marketing option to self-published authors through a unique delivery system Klimavicz created and is now building out.
For self-published authors, IBU is essentially a membership service. Once members, authors receive a package from Klimavicz with both IBU and “Buy Me” stickers for authors to stick to the front of display books, three IBU posters for authors to bring to three book signings Klimavicz herself sets up at locations of their choice, a listing of their work on the company’s website, and additional marketing support, such as exposure from book marketing firm BookTweet.
Additionally, authors receive a customizable letter for them to include with their books stating, and this is where the magic happens, that they are free to take the book as long as after they’ve read it, they return it to a designated IBU location for the next reader to enjoy. All readers are asked to do in addition is fill out an online review of the book at the site of their choosing.
The goal of the program is for authors to organically grow reviews of their work and then let those reviews do the job of marketing their book for them. The business model is unique in the way it delivers books to market, but also in the way it recognizes the situation most self-published authors come from, and adapts to that, instead of forcing writers to adapt to expensive review services.
“Most writers are not sales people,” said Klimavicz. “They’re not marketing driven. They are not extroverts. They’re oftentimes people who like to sit at home and write. So, the program requires writers go find locations to participate. And for me, the phone is no big deal, I used to do telemarketing and sales. So, I decided to offer this extra value added and do three local book signings. I’m just starting to get the word out, but so far it’s been great.”
“And most self-published authors can’t do their own marketing,” she continued. “They’ve already paid for so much already. By the time a self-published author gets their book out they are spent, literally and figuratively.”
“But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, writers who want to better themselves will invest a lot of ‘little monies.’ And that’s what led me to this, I said ‘if it’s not expensive, if its reasonable people will do this.’ What I want to do is provide something very economical and very worthwhile. Right now, its $47… nothing.”
Klimavicz is working to build out her Charleston IBU locations over the next couple of weeks before moving on to Atlanta, her former home and building the network there. Klimavicz hopes that IBU locations will someday be located around the country.
And as for what locations in their community they would want their books displayed, she leaves it up to the authors themselves. For her, the key is that each location plays its part as a piece of a larger network.
“What I really want is for each book to be visible to hundreds of people, with an opportunity for the book to be seen, discovered and picked up and read,” she said. “They can borrow it if they want, and they can bring it back, but hopefully they’ll buy it and it will be reviewed.”
On Daniel Island, Klimavicz has already secured Crescent Moon Orthodontics as an official IBU distribution point, with many more to follow.
“Ideally, in my perfect utopian world there are 15 locations in every major city and five locations in every small town,” she continued. “My goal by the end of this year is to have a hundred people signed up and to have more than 100 locations.”
“What I would love eventually is for IBU to be the location that self-published authors go to get their book out, that’s what I want.”
For Klimavicz’s program to work, she needs to get both authors and potential IBU locations on board. Each city would need first a network of locations for the program to function correctly, as the system mandates readers, once they’ve reviewed a book, return it to any designated IBU location. Finding a host location, she says, it not the problem.
“The locations that I’ve talked to about the program absolutely love it, the businesses who are on board who are already sponsoring us absolutely love it, getting authors to sign up has been my challenge so far,” continued the affable Klimavicz. “The only way the program will not succeed is if I can’t get authors to sign up, that’s it.”
“What I’m working on now is trying to get this in the waiting rooms at the hospitals and doctor’s offices. I need to marry my understanding of healthcare because I have a Master’s in healthcare management,” Klimavicz continued. “It is so difficult but I want to give people that opportunity. If their book is maybe in a doctor’s office for example, a publisher could walk in, see it and say ‘oh my gosh, this is the best thing, how could I not know about it?'”
Klimavicz was a businesswoman before she ever dotted her “i’s” and crossed her “t’s” as an author, and she remains a businesswoman now as she leads IBU onto the publishing market. That said however, there is a hint of altruism in her work as there is determination to better the reputation of self-published authors.
“Self-published authors have a stigma attached to them because any Joe Schmoe can do it,” began Klimavicz, before shutting her laptop in conclusion. “But that doesn’t mean you cut corners, it doesn’t mean you don’t have someone read your work, it doesn’t mean you don’t hire an editor, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a professional cover.”
“But everybody has a voice, everybody has a story inside them and that story should be read by someone – but it needs to be presented in a professional way.”
For more information on Crystal Klimavicz or Indie Books Unleashed visit IndieBooksUnleashed.com. You can also email Crystal at the company’s email address, info@IndieBooksUnleashed.com.