Saturday, May 07, 2005

If It Was Easy...

I’ve decided if publishing and writing were easy, everyone would do it. It’s not—for any of us. Each project has many different twists and turns and wrinkles.

Yesterday I was watching Larry King Live and his guest was the actress Lauren Bacall.  Larry King asked her about the life of an actor.  She said, “Well, it’s a life of rejection. I mean, anyone that goes into the profession of movie actor must know that it's a life of rejection.” Then Larry King followed up, “You hear “no” a lot?” and Lauren Bacall said, “You hear “no” a lot. Yes. And you hear “testing” a lot and “auditioning” a lot. And how great you are and then they cast somebody else. You get that a lot unfortunately.”

The words are almost the same with in publishing where editors want you to write on “speculation” instead of “testing” or “auditioning.” And you receive rave comments about your proposal or manuscript or idea, then someone else’s project gets the book contract or the magazine assignment.

I’ve mentioned in the past, how challenging it is for any writer to get their idea contracted then eventually published in a book. You will need an editor to shepherd your work through the publishing house then guide it as the title is selected and the cover is designed. Then the editor will also champion your work as it goes into the marketing and sales phases. Each book is different in this process and the actual results are different. For a book to become a bestseller, many different factors have to come together including the “buzz” factor where people are recommending the book to others.

For the majority of my books, I’ve only entered into the marketing phase half-heartedly. In many cases the publisher hired an outside publicity firm to set up radio interviews and push the book for review with editors. Or I wrote the book as a collaborator. Then the “author” generally goes off and promotes the book. The majority of my responsibility in this area was over because I carried the weight of the partnership to get the book written, work back and forth with the editor about any final changes, and any other editorial aspects.

For my new Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success, I’ve taken a different approach. Because a small press published the book, there isn’t a lot of marketing energy from the publisher. The majority of this responsibility will be on my shoulders as the author.  I’ve taken a proactive approach to this aspect of the work. I’ve created a website for the book. I created a marketing plan for the book—which the publisher gave to the distributor. He told me the distributor is more likely to do something active with the book if they see an active author is involved with the book. Step by step, I’m working through my plan and adding to it.

For example, I decided to sell books direct to readers through my website. It means that I will personally be fulfilling the orders—more work and more time yet with the benefit that I make more money on each sale.

I’ve also been proactive to get reviews for the book. I created some advance review copies and sent them to specific places—and followed up to see if they were used. I sent a number of review copies in advance to different writers who volunteered to review the book on Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.com or other places. I appreciate these writers taking the initiative to help this process. These reviews make a difference to people when they look at the book on these sites and determine if they will order it or not. Yet—it takes constant follow-up on my part.  Today I sent a short note to each of these reviewers who haven’t posted a review yet—reminding them of their commitment, giving them the links for each site—and seeing if they needed anything additional. It isn’t easy—and consumes time from other efforts. But like I began this entry, if it was easy many people would do it. It’s not.

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