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Okay, I have been participating in a thread on the Murder Must Advertise Yahoo group about what authors think their publishers should do. This morning, after much deliberation, I went ahead and posted some of the things I, as a publisher, do and some things that I won’t do any more.
I had someone ask me privately (concerning a different post) why I get so frustrated and complain about my authors when they work so hard. This question actually came from one of my authors. They also wanted to know why I don’t do more for my authors. It seems to them that I make excuses for not doing things. Okay, fair enough. I answered, even kindly since this author has sold a total of 113 books in the last year.
But this made me think. How come my excuses are bad and an author’s are not? With that in mind, here are the last ten excuses I have received from authors hen I asked them about their personal marketing efforts. They are in no particular order and are very real.
- I have family and I have to put them first. I don’t have time to call stores or travel around for nothing.
- No one is going to come to a books signing anyway so I don’t bother.
- I wrote the book and am writing my next one for you, so the least you can do is market it for me.
- I sent out 100 post cards when it first came out and no one contacted me back, so I am not going to waste my time or money.
- I didn’t get in this business to be a salesperson. I am a writer and have no desire to have to sell.
- All of my money goes on my family, I never expected to have to pay to market my own book.
- The economy is really bad and people are not buying books anyway.
- I work a full-time job, take care of my family, and I need down time. That doesn’t leave time for me to market, that is why I got a publisher.
- It would seem to me that you would have a lot more time to market my book since you don’t work a full-time job. (this is my personal favorite)
- If I market it myself, why do I need a publisher?
- Bookstores and libraries never pay attention to the author, all that marketing stuff has to come from the publisher.
- No legitimate author does their own marketing.
- I don’t know how to find readers. If you find them for me, I will talk to them.
- Nobody sells books from promoting on the Internet, it is a huge waste of time.
- Social networking is not going to reach readers. It never does.
- If you want your business to succeed, you are going to have to prove to your authors that they should even bother with you.
- It is not my responsibility to fund your publishing house.
Okay, more than ten, but I was on a roll. This doesn’t even touch the list. I would very much like to make a very general statement to authors.
IT IS YOUR BOOK!!!!
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Oy vey! This is one of the most maddening lists of excuses I’ve read since… Monday. Seriously, my advice to you is to come up with an extensive questionnaire that tests potential author’s marketing and publishing knowledge. You shouldn’t saddle yourself with newbies who appear to be deliberately ignorant of the realities of what it takes to sell a book in today’s market. You’re taking a risk. You should be working with authors who are willing to help minimize that risk. A questionnaire will help you cull the herd and at the very least save you from having to deal with this type of professional apathy on a regular basis.
Having said that, I’m sure you have authors you love working with, and do whatever it takes. We’re not all bad. 🙂
I just came across this article from marketing expert Penny Sansevieri, whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago at a writers’ conference. She talks about why some authors fail.
ALL of Karen’s authors should “die trying”. You should all realize how fortunate you are to have a publisher who took a risk on you and your book and then did all the things she does to promote it. Many authors with other publishers are lucky to get even half of what she offers.
As an author who has shamelessly promoted her books everywhere I go, I can tell you Karen is right. It’s YOUR book! If you haven’t got the time, money, energy or interest to promote your “baby” and your possible future as a career author, then why should she?
Please note: I’m not one of Karen’s authors. I’ve never met her. I don’t even know if I know any of her authors. But I can tell you from experience and from working with other authors as a marketing coach, her experiences are common.
Too many authors are either uneducated about the book industry or they’re too lazy to market their own work or they’re too lazy to learn or they’re just not interested in writing as a career.
As the former creator and organizer of Authors’ Row, a multi-author event that no longer exists, I can assure you I’ve seen and heard it all. All the excuses why you can’t or won’t market your book. I’ve watched authors read their own books at signings and completely ignore potential fans.
Connect! That is a hugely rewarding part of signings and events–meeting people. Hand out bookmarks or promo items. Have a draw for a gift basket. SMILE!
Sorry, but if all you want is a book published so you can sell a handful (or 100 in a year) to your family and friends, then self-publish it.
When a publisher takes on the risk, especially financially, they have the right to certain expectations. That you’ll market your book is one of them.
If you don’t know how to market your book, learn.
If you don’t WANT to market your book, step aside, so that those of us who will “die trying” can have a chance with your publisher.
Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling suspense author & book marketing coach
I’ll admit I’m still learning how to market effectively, and I’ll admit that there are times when family & farm take priority, but it just frosts my cookies when I hear authors totally dismiss Internet marketing.
You can set up VERY nice websites for free (WordPress, anyone?). Twitter doesn’t cost anything. Neither does GoodReads, or Myspace, and umpteen other social networks. Free. Gratis. No dinero needed.
And if you’re worried about spreading yourself so thin you don’t have time to write, a static info page with a live RSS feed from your blog is an easy way to still spread the word. Myspace and other services even allow integration with Twitter (that’s what I did since my Internet is so slow I can’t even load Myspace at home — update from Twitter, and voila! Myspace is updated too.).
Geez. At least do something. And if you don’t know how, talk to your local librarians. They can help you, and if they can’t do it themselves, they can show you where to find the information. It’s what they do. 😉
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I mean it when I say how much I appreciate every effort, but yes, there are a few authors who really overachieve when it comes to marketing.
I don’t mean to belittle those who cannot market, I know it happens, but I also have a life, I have a family, I have a heart condition, I have bills, blah blah blah…but I still bust my hump trying to get it all done. That is what I expect from my authors…exactly what I am willing to do.
DANG, I’m not gonna ask, but secretly I wish I knew which one of the Echeloners has these views about marketing.
My very own debut novel has not even been out for 5 months and I’m already approaching several times as much as he/she has sold last year. I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade though, not everybody has the online marketing thingy in them and it has nothing to do with being shy. But it sounds to me he/she is not even trying and feels the marketing of his/her work should be all your end of the bargain.
I’ve seen you unload your car with wheelbarrow loads of books and things.
I’ve seen you out in the open selling books, your authors wrote. Like a Chinese woman selling fresh fish at a market place. (literally)
I’m no expert as far as publisher duties goes, but to me it was clear from day one, that I will do whatever it takes to market my own work. I figured I could do a much better job than my publisher because I wrote the darn thing 🙂
Anyway, these are only my 5 cent worth of thoughts.
And then there are authors like me who say, “I’ll sell every book you print of mine…or die trying. 🙂