Friday, July 10, 2009
Response to Self-Promotion: A Challenge with Self-Publishing and Small Presses
The VBT - Writers on the Move welcomes members who share hosting each other to promote authors and books. Also, each month, a member hosts a Viewpoint/Hot Topic blog posts, and others post a response, but most leave comments.
Today Crystalee Calderwood hosts with a segment about self-promotion when self-publishing or publishing with a small press.
I would like to address the topic from a bit different perspective, not only as an author, but also as the head of a small publishing company.
Crystalee has valid points. Yes, small publishers aren't able to provide all the bells and whistles that major publishers can. Of course major publishers don't do that for all their authors, just the famous ones.
Due to lack of funds (which even the big boys lack more and more), small presses cannot afford to pay bookstores for large displays and shelf room. Yes, the major publishers pay bookstores to carry books as well as granting a large discount and return options. Of course bookstores are going to carry books, and more books, if they are paid extra for doing so. Another "of course," that practice is one of the reasons publishing houses are going broke.
Some small presses do not give large discounts, work through a distributor (NOTE: most chain bookstores and many independent ones will not carry books unless bought or at least available through a distributor), nor have a return policy. However, 4RV Publishing does all three.
If an author is through a press that offers the above, they need to notify bookstores of that fact when speaking with the managers. It will make a difference. Of course if authors provide the books, they can offer the same benefits.
One suggestion, face to face meetings with managers or event coordinators for stores are better than phone calls. Telling a person "no" is more difficult when looking at her or him.
Next correct point made by Crystalee, promoting is hard work. However, the burden isn't lighter when working for a major publisher unless one happens to be already famous or a major well-know author. Personally, I know a few best-selling authors under the big four, and they work themselves half to death promoting their books. As one of them told me recently, if they sit back and don't do the promoting, their books don't sell.
One way to promote and "get one's name out" is to volunteer to hold a reading at a library or to give a presentation at a school. Even if not allowed to directly sell books, you can have a poster on a stand behind you with the cover of your book and have handouts available with ordering information. Be sure to have photos taken and publicize whenever possible.
I don't have a publicist, either. I have to do all my own promotions, and my time is extremely limited to spend on promotion of my books. However, I have appeared at schools and libraries. The results were outstanding. I was able to set up more signings when I could say I had participated in those activities and the result was sales.
An appearance, whether a book signing or a reading, may not mean instant sales. Many times more books are sold the next week than during the actual signing.
One paragraph from Crystalee's blog,I must quote because it's so true: I have thought of a few qualities which authors must possess in order to make it big. Not surprisingly, time and money are on top of the list. Also included are patience, drive and determination. You can’t be timid about writing, calling or visiting local bookstores and libraries. You also can’t let yourself take it too personally when you get let down.
Anyone who isn't willing to battle, many times "beating one's head against a wall," then writing should stay a hobby. Being an author whose books sell is very hard work, often with little financial return.
Ahh, but wasn't holding that "new born" book a thrill?
Just my opinion.