Wednesday, May 23, 2012
As we all know, the economy is not healthy, the entire Borders chain is history, the majority of independent bookstores have closed their doors, and those that are left have limited shelf space, questionable balance sheets, and little appreciation for how to actually SELL a book.
Into this environment steps two SB authors. Mollie and "Robert." Mollie is real. Robert is a fictional name, and his story below is a composite of events and times spread over two or three of our titles, but the main point remains accurate.
Each of these folks has published a book with me, and each has pitched a second project onto my desk.
MOLLIE: She learned how to master social media, maintains a vibrant blog with an equally vibrant email database, schedules one event after another from county fairs to service clubs to you name it (and has for years--YEARS), checks Amazon and every time it says "only 10 copies left" sends out a blast to her base, constantly asks for feedback. She sets Google alerts, writes articles for magazines, newsletters, etc. She never goes anywhere without a copy of her book, and she never fails to mention it when she meets someone who converses with her. Her book is still in hardcover in its fourth (and maybe fifth) printing. Total returns year over year as a percentage: about nine percent. Industry average: about 35%.
ROBERT: His first book was well received critically speaking, won a prestigious history award, and is just now selling through its first printing after years in print. And it is a DAMN fine study. In fact, I have never heard a negative word about any of it.
So what's the difference? Yes, the topics are different, but the real constant is promotion. Robert does not maintain a blog, and won't despite request after request. He did a slim handful of signings when the book came out--and quit. He is not writing for magazines, newspapers, or historical society newsletters. He does not pen anything for other blogs (many of which would love content). He does not maintain an Amazon author page. He does not jump into bookstores to see if his book is present (and then sign any copies), and if they are not there, ask the manager to stock it.
Both have pitched another book project. One is a no-brainer for a publisher. I KNOW in advance what support I will get from the author. The other? Well, that's also a no-brainer.
Authors, if you choose to go the independent trade publishing route, support your years of research and writing by helping spread the word about YOUR book.