Over the past few days I’ve been reading some forums online. Mostly writers complaining that they feel that their publisher isn’t doing anything to help push their books forward. They feel like the publisher should handle ALL of the marketing, publicity and promotion and that the author should just sit and write.
When I read this I laughed…
It’s just funny that some authors expect so much out of a small indie publisher. Let’s break it down a bit just for the basics. Here are some of the things that the publisher is taking care of.
1. Acquisitions. Meaning? That someone is sitting in front of a computer reading through the hundreds (possibly thousands) of submissions they get on a regular basis.
2. Web design. You want your website to look good right? That means hiring someone to put a website together.
3. Editing. A publisher needs editors. The last thing you need is to have your book with a bunch of typos.
4. Cover art. A publisher needs to hire a good cover designer. Something eye-catching that gives a potential reader pause, and think…’Hey. That looks like an interesting book I wonder what it’s about.’ This is another thing a publisher is doing for you and saving you money in the process. Do you know how much it costs to hire a cover designer? Neither do I, and I’d like to keep it that way.
5. Marketing. Yes, a publisher should have some kind of marketing plan but they need to be able to promote ALL of the authors in their roster. Not just a single author.
6. Formatting. Someone needs to format the books to go with different e-retailers. One size does NOT fit all. You have to format your books to look good on a Kindle, and the same goes for Nook, iTunes, Smashwords, etc.
7. 1 on 1 help. This is why I LOVE indie publishers. It’s like a family. Sometimes I’ll send an email and hear back from the staff ASAP. Whether it’s a simple question or I need help designing a flyer or a banner.
And yes, I know that there are some publishers that don’t do half of what’s on this list. But the publishers I’m with DO. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes just to make a company thrive. And before you make the argument about what traditional publishers do and whatnot, the BIG FIVE have the budget to do all those kinds of things. And I’ve been published with a small traditional publisher and have received an advance for my work and they were wonderful too. I had an editor, cover art to choose from, and they added me to their calendar of events and did some initial promo for the book, but the rest fell upon my shoulders. I had to schedule book signings, send it out to reviewers and everything else. It was all on me.
Besides, what’s wrong with a little PR of your own? I like doing my own marketing, publicity and promotions. It helps me stay in touch with my fans and give it a personal touch. It’s not always easy, I’m not gonna lie, but I like knowing what does and doesn’t work in terms of publicity and marketing. I like learning what’s on trend, and what other savvy authors and entrepreneurs are doing. Because while it’s great to be creative, it’s called the Publishing Industry for a reason. Creativity and business go hand in hand.
Here’s a list of some of the things I do on a regular basis to promote my books.
1. Schedule book signings and other events (I do this myself because I know where people go to buy books).
2. Email reviewers and bloggers. Yes, I do this myself because it helps spread the news about my book through word of mouth (which is how books like 50 Shades of Grey and authors like Amanda Hocking became household names). They didn’t become a success overnight. It took many, many years for them to blow up the way they did.
3. Go to conventions and book festivals.
4. Handout bookmarks and business cards. If there’s a bulletin board nearby, trust me, my business cards are on there.
5. Write more books.
6. Active on social media, facebook, twitter, tumblr, google+, Instagram, etc.
And for all the naysayers that think that ebooks aren’t going to lead to anything. Here’s a list of all the amazing things that have happened to me since First Frost was released as an ebook 2 years ago.
1. Marissa Meyer (NYT Best selling author of Cinder) read and recommended my book as an INDIE BOOK TO READ.
2. Maria V. Snyder (another NYT best selling author) purchased my book at an event at the Kent County Library.
3. Was invited to be a vendor at the Baltimore Comic Con.
4. Started my own comic book series (Zombie Ever After via Emerald Star Comics).
5. That lead to another job offer with a different comic book company and got paid on spec. (more details later).
6. Started my own series of workshops and have been making a steady living as an author by presenting my workshops at different libraries, conventions, festivals and bookstores.
7. Interviewed in local newspapers, and magazines.
8. With a fantastic group of like-minded friends, I helped launch a new book and art festival that helps celebrate local authors and artists.
9. Sold thousands of copies of my ebook First Frost and gaining recognition for my work as an author.
So yeah, thanks to a little ebook all of this has happened. And I can’t wait to see what the future brings. There’s nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty and doing some of the work on your own. You know your book better than anyone. You know exactly who your reader is. You know who your fans are. You know where the local events are happening. You, the author, know exactly how to sell your book. I’m proud to be an indie author. I’m proud to have the knowledge and know-how to sell my books well.
If you have any questions about writing, publicity, marketing or promotions feel free to leave a comment here on my blog.