Barnes & Noble has been a well-known US book brand for many years, and the Nook has consistently been one of the top ebook retailers alongside Amazon, Apple and Kobo in the US.
But up until March 2014, non-US authors couldn't self-publish directly to the Nook platform. We could only reach Nook readers through other distributors like Smashwords. I struggled with price matching in the UK and since I wasn't selling anything much on Nook, I pulled all my books from the platform in 2013.
But as soon as they opened up to UK authors, I jumped into NookPress and published all my books directly. In this post, I outline my experience with NookPress as well as things I have discovered about Nook marketing, plus, there's a 25 min interview I did with Colin Eustace, General Manager of B&n Nook Europe with his thoughts.
Self-Publishing on NookPress Directly
I now publish direct on Amazon KDP, Kobo Writing Life, iTunes Connect for iBooks and NookPress. The sites all have their idiosyncrasies, with some good and some difficult parts. Here are my thoughts on NookPress:
NookPress is currently open to authors residing in USA, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands and Belgium. You can also publish in French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch as well as English and be paid in your local currency.
- The platform is easy to use, with the same type of interface as KDP and Kobo. It has an overview screen, drilldown into each book for changes and a sales reporting screen with monthly downloads.
- It requires ePub format for upload, but I have found that the same files that load perfectly well on iBooks and Kobo have a lot of errors on Nookpress. I ended up paying for my files to be fixed up, because I have no patience with formatting! Read the guidelines if you want to do it yourself.
- A great feature is that you can make a change to the file within Nookpress without loading a new file. This is useful if you just want to alter back matter e.g. add in links to new titles.
- After you have loaded the book, I've found that the Preview screen might not reflect what an ePub viewed on another device might look like. An improvement suggestion is for Nook to do the same as Amazon and have Previews by device so we can see what the book will look like on a Nook phone app, versus a tablet.
- You don't need an ISBN to publish on Nook but you can optionally add one
- You can choose up to 5 categories directly, which can only be done with keyword optimization on Amazon, otherwise you only get the usual two.
- You can list prices in USD, EUR and GBP. It would be great for this to be expanded as the markets are.
Metadata is critical, as with any publishing platform, and I have found that my sales in one month going direct are significantly more than several years going through distributors. I can only put that down to the increase in metadata possibilities since my email lists are not generally Nook readers.
The actual Nook retail site has some of the same bugs as Kobo, in that if you click on an author name you get a lot of extraneous random books. Something like Amazon Author Central would be great to group them together. The review functionality is also missing, so it's hard for customers to tell what's good unless the book has been picked for merchandizing. But overall, it's easy enough to use and the result of publishing direct is increased control, speed of changes and direct royalty payments.
Interview with Colin Eustace, General Manager of Barnes & Noble Nook Europe
I had a conference call with Colin Eustace and asked him a few questions about Nook and how indie authors especially can optimize their use of the platform. It was great to hear him talk so enthusiastically about the importance of NookPress and the company's future plans for expansion globally. Colin talked about the partnership with Microsoft being important for the cellphone and tablet market, and despite the negative press we hear from the US, it seems that the view from Luxembourg is rosy!
This was an audio only interview, so you can listen below, or download an mp3 file here.
Tips for marketing to Nook customers
I have been searching for that elusive tip that help rocket my sales at Nook. But, like any book marketing, there is no magic bullet! The same rules apply as to the other stores: Get your metadata right. Write a great book and add an eye-catching cover. Make your sales description brilliant.
Beyond that, remember:
- Link to your book on Nook. Make sure your website is linking to the sales pages at Nook as well as Amazon. If you tweet book links, use Nook sometimes and not just Amazon all the time. (You know you're guilty of that!)
- Make your book attractive to Nook merchandisers by using a professional cover, appropriate pricing and, as on other stores, the more books you have and the more popular they are, the more likely you will get noticed.
- Use the Nook pricing options if you do paid promotions, like BookBub. You can just tick the box for Nook and then update your price. It's pretty quick to get price changes through.
- Network with Nook employees at conventions and book fairs. Humanizing the people behind the store can often be a way to become more positive about your chances to sell more books on a particular platform. You might have a chance for a merchandizing opportunity too, but please be professional in any approach. Don't just try to sell your book. Be a human and network with authenticity. I recommend the tips in the great book, “Opening up to Indie Authors” by the Alliance of Independent Authors for anyone trying to expand their reach into stores as well as libraries and more.
What's your experience been publishing with Nookpress? Do you have any tips for growing the Nook reader base? Do you know any specific advertising or review sites for Nook? Please leave your comments below.