Promotions, yes it stinks, but here's some soap

Dear Miss Snark,

It would seem that all the cards point to authors having to be more proactive in their own promotions. Okay, fine.

Assuming we aren't all Lizzie Gruber, even the best efforts of most authors will get them a nice big buzz locally, maybe even regionally. But what about the rest of the nation? How many units sold is considered good enough that a publisher will consider extending another deal to an author?

If an author's ability to promote and market their own work is so important and has a direct impact on sales, what about the flip side of it all - when even the best efforts doesn't move enough units?

Does the publisher take any accountability when a book's sales aren't best-selling or even good-selling?

It's already been drilled into my head that I'll have to promote my snarkilicous buns off to sell my books. But if 90% of the burden is on me and my resources allow me only to build a buzz within a 4-hour car drive..okay, maybe six, that still leaves a heck of a lot of potential readers out of my reach.

When is my best good enough, so that my publisher will say - hey, we like her writing and she tried...Meh, let's go ahead and extend a new deal?

Frettin' the promo circuit,

First of all, your agent has an arsenal of stock phrases to get around bad sales. Some of them even work.

Second, you're assuming that you need national reach to sell "enough". Absolutely not so. If every single one of your 50,000 hardcopies sell in a particular zip code, it's still 50,000 copies.

Third, one word: internet. Even the most remote of authors (hello again Winnemucca!) can reach past the 775 into the 212 via her trusty ISP. If you want to reach readers in far flung ports, well, this blog is a great example of the reach of reader sites. Go click on the fan club link and follow the links to the map of where the Snarklings are located. World wide!

Fourth; Lizzie Grubman isn't a book publicist. I knew that instantly when, queried about which six novels she was taking with her to jail, she said simply "Danielle Steel"

Fifth: you can do a lot of outreach to indie bookstores via phone and email.

Sixth: you can do a lot of outreach to book discussion groups via phone.

Don't worry about this. Yes, you have to do it but it's not the Mt Everest you think it is. It's not a walk in the park either, you'll have some elevations, but one step at a time, and the next thing you know you're over the mountain and into the undiscovered country.


Paula said...

Thank you! Seeing your simple breakdown, I know that I'm heading in the right direction.

But if all else fails, I'm loving the agent arsenal of "why my author is still the best thing since sliced bread."

Miss Snark rocks!

Kitty said...

Just write.

Glenda Larke said...

This is tough. I have a day job, a family, deadlines to meet for the next book, corrections to make on the current one, I have to promote myself (in which country? I am published in several but NOT the one I live in!!).

I seem to spend half my life on the internet, when the reality is that I have another 100,000 words to write and polish by the end of July. And there are people out there who still want this job? You gotta be crazy...

Anonymous said...

"Education will not take the place of persistance; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

--Calvin Coolidge

I don't know if "Just write" is good advice regarding this particular question. It seems that the Snarkling has already done the writing. Your response was super snotty.

Anonymous said...

I think kitty's point might have been that instead of spending a lot of energy on worrying about promotion, try to put that energy into writing the next one or writing letters to those independents if phone calls make the author uncomfortable.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Anonymous #1: What super snotty response? Did you post on the wrong thread? Are you sugessting that Kitty, above, posting "Just write," is super snotty?

If so, it's snotty advice that many many authors have given over the years.

Paula said...

Since I'm the snarkling that wrote the letter, let me jump in for a second...

The advice to "just write" works in a lot of cases. I tend to follow that advice often and give it to other writers when they're obsessing over certain hurdles.

But I asked this ?? because I wanted insight on how to ensure I could continue to "just write" and still get paid to do so, if my books fail to sell - due to lack of promotion.

It's just a 'what if' thought.

If you don't promote well enough and you don't sell enough, there's always the chance a pub won't take another chance on you.

So I was curious about jumping this hurdle. If indeed Miss Snark believed it was a legit hurdle.

Miss Snark's advice was exactly what I was hoping to hear on both sides of the issue (promotion and future contracts).

In this case the tried and true advice to write my way out of it doesn't do very good if a publisher has decided that as good as my writing is it's not moving enough units to justify a healthy advance and a marketing push.

Anonymous said...

Self-promo will not, in & of itself, get your name out there. We all have a limited reach. Sure, web sites are great, blogging is fine...how many people are we going to interest in reading our Great American Romance Novel?

The publishers who insist that authors do 100% of the promo are, IMO, lazy. If they can't assure you distribution, via one or more of the book distributors, there is little the author can do to get their book in the hands of potential readers.

T2, feeling a bit Snarkicized myself

Paula said...

Term said "publishers who insist that authors do 100% of the promo are lazy, IMHO."

Maybe I should have made the distinction. I tend to use "promo" to encompass all marketing.

B/4 I get pelted on that, I know they're very different.

So, I wasn't speaking of distribution. I've signed with a large pub, so I expect they'll distribute well.

I've seen their past catalogs and the marketing and distribution activities they list are pretty impressive for some of their authors.

In my post, I was referring to supplementing their distribution and touching the readers - school visits, print and broadcast media (not ads, PR), website and all those other areas where the publisher is likely to have little primary control.

Even if the book is widely distributed I'm just one of a zillon books in the bookstore. So my focus is on what I have to do once I'm on the shelves.

Anonymous said...

Most excellent, Miss P, to get on the shelves in the first place. Would that books from small presses were assumed to just go there.

Not so. I'm talking mega-hours spent in author-promo before the book is on store shelves. If indeed it ever gets there. Some stores won't even talk to an author unless your book is "on their database." And who gets it there? The publisher, not the author--if they remember to do it.

T2, going back for another cuppa to desnarkicize herself

Paula said...

Term, you make a good point.

When discussing general issues of publishing/promo/distribution and
marketing, it should be identified up front if the author is talking big or small press.

On another group I belong, the question of promo came up and one author said she started doing her own promotion three months out. That it worked great for her.

Another author piped in and said they didn't think three mos. was nearly enough time. But immediately pointed out, their book was printed by a small press and thus they had to do most promo solo.

So valid, valid point!