Congratulations! You have found a publisher well suited to your acim. The contract has been signed. You are a published author! What’s next? What will your publisher do? What should you do to enhance the publisher’s efforts?
Authors covet traditional (trade) publishers because those publishers are experts in taking a book from manuscript to retail stores with perfection. No matter how many articles you might have read about the enticement of self-publishing or “vanity” publishers, trade publishers know what must be done, how to accomplish the tasks and they can do it in a timely manner. They have the artists, printers, distribution channels and retail connections that you require. That’s why you should be willing to share some of the profit with trade publishers.
Without a publisher, you would need to be an expert at cover art, graphic design, editing, printing, acquiring distribution channels, web site design, marketing to retail booksellers and all facets of sales. Very few excellent writers are also experts in all of those areas. And, even if you were an expert in all of those fields, would you have the time to accomplish all of those tasks, as well as restock retail stores? In today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing retail book market, even trade publishers cannot do everything. So, unless your last name is King or Clancy, you will need to chip in with some time and effort to make your book a smashing retail success.
What can you expect from your publisher?
A trade publisher will edit your book, create cover art, print the books, contract with distributors and then place your book on the Internet sites of Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Target and other major global retailers. Your publisher will market your book globally and arrange for distribution in all relevant countries. The publisher will then process the books to sales outlets and restock them on a regular basis. Your publisher may also promote your book at book fairs, through catalogs, through an e-mail or fax blast, generate media publicity, arrange book tours, create a web site, solicit reviews and arrange book signings. And, despite all of this effort on the part of your publisher, you’ll receive royalties, which a pretty nice feeling.
However, in today’s ever-changing book sales market, a great deal of additional work remains to be done by the author. Much of this is electronic marketing. Because of the changing nature of the publishing world and the revolution in electronic book purchasing, someone needs to market your book throughout the Internet world. Because this work is extremely labor-intensive and detail-oriented, few publishers have the time, workers and enthusiasm to make it happen. This is where the author must step in, with the motivation to work hard on behalf of his or her book. The bad news is that there is a lot of work for the author to do. The good news is that almost no expertise or money is required to accomplish these vital tasks.
The Internet has turned the publishing world upside down. Even mammoth publishing houses are today petrified with this abrupt change. People can purchase on the Internet, bypassing brick and mortar stores. They download books to their Kindle. They can even download books on the Internet for free. People today make purchasing decisions based upon what they can see and read on the Internet. For example, Amazon not only allows you to describe your book, display its cover and details; it also has a feature called “Search Inside” that allows prospective buyers to sample many pages of your book before buying. Bookstores and publishers are frightened and losing profit margin. But here is where you can step in and help your publisher.
What should you do to help your publisher? You can contact your local newspapers, magazines and on-line Blogs in order to solicit articles about you and reviews for your book. You can contact local bookstores and arrange for book signings. You can sell books on your own through local organizations. You can try to obtain reviews and interviews about your book everywhere in town. One of the fastest ways to solicit business for your book is through the media. Since you require positive reviews to sell your book, newspapers, magazines and book clubs are a great place to start. When you encounter serious interest, send them a review copy. If your publisher runs out of review copies, send them the e-book as a review copy, or ask them to purchase the Kindle version.
But, the world is a lot bigger than your neighborhood. If you want a great many people to read your book, you will need to create a global electronic marketing campaign. Fortunately, almost all of this can be accomplished with your computer. Better yet, it won’t cost you a dime.
First, create a viral marketing campaign. Viral marketing means many things, including web pages, Blogs, social networking, video marketing and all other electronic means of selling your book. It sounds difficult. In reality, it is simple and free. Use effective search terms in Google or Yahoo to find places and people related to your book. For example, a book about the history could be promoted to schools, public and private colleges, universities, historical societies and organizations dedicated to historical preservation. Thousands of people, places and organizations that might use such a book can be located with Internet searches.
Once you uncover these people, places and organizations, all that remains is to contact them with a sales pitch for your book. E-mail marketing is cheap and fast. However, your sales pitch must grab the reader’s interest quickly. You must construct an e-mail cover page that is informative, has embedded links to your web sites and the publisher and will sell the value of your book instantly. More about e-mail marketing later in this article.