Slow Burn or Wildfire
I’ve seen that starry-eyed look from a new author with a new book. They are dreaming about becoming the next bestselling author. I applaud their enthusiasm yet if you took this little quiz, you learn that bestsellers are a small percentage of the overall market. Yes, everyone wants their book to catch on like wildfire and soar into the marketplace. Except too often the author doesn’t want to do anything to reach that market and delegates the responsibility into the hands of the publisher.
Publishers spend their days trying to educate their current authors and also locate authors who understand the importance of marketing (besides the key quality of creating an excellent manuscript). You’d be surprised how few authors understand and appreciate the ongoing work to let people know about their book—and encourage them to purchase it. With the volume of books published each year, it’s fair to say that some good books simply don’t make it in the marketplace.
I have a fairly worn out marketing book on my shelf called Publicize Your Book! by Jacqueline Deval. Several years ago I met Deval and listened to her at a seminar in New York City. The publisher at Hearst Books Jacqueline has worked inside a number of general market publishers as the director of publicity. She’s been on the inside track to watch how books enter the marketplace. I love the realistic view which begin this book, “The reality of book publishing is that there are too few resources to support every book. This means that some books will get publicity campaigns and budgets while others will go without.” I continually turn to this book because it helps the author mount realistic plans to promote their book alongside their publisher.
When I worked at another publishing house, I worked with the marketing department and we purchased several boxes of Publicize Your Book! and sent them to new authors. It was a small investment in author education but a hopeful one to encourage the authors to be proactive in their efforts. As for the results of this effort, I’m uncertain since I’m no longer connected to this publishing house but if even a few authors used the methods in this book, I believe the publisher received a solid return on this investment in their authors.
It’s true that in general a book gets it’s greatest publicity push in the months ahead of its release then three to six months after the release. But what about after that period passes? Does the author press on to other books (probably) and stop promoting their book (hopefully not)? The effort to tell people about your book and get the word out is ongoing.
After you pass through this initial period, look for other ways and other methods to spread the news about your book and encourage people to purchase it. Some of the strongest books at different publishing houses are their backlist or previously published books. These backlist books click along year after year with steady and increasing sales. These books may never appear on any bestseller list yet publishers love the consistent sales (and earnings) from them. Can you tap a sector of the market that will have a continual need for your book? I’m thinking of schools (which use textbooks) or conferences (ongoing needs) or even a church Bible study group.
Many books are more of a slow burn than a wildfire and slow is OK and works—for the author and the publisher. My Book Proposals That Sell just returned to second printing. I cheer because this event happened in less than a year (always a healthy sign for any book) and gives me something else to trumpet and promote. Yes all of us want to become pyromaniacs yet it takes consistent effort from the author. You have the greatest passion for your book—much more than any publisher.
Something new in this area is Amazon.com Connect. If you haven’t seen it, it’s another way for authors to connect with their readers in a consistent basis and involves one of the largest retail spots on the planet. I recommend taking a few minutes to check it out and learn about it. It might help you spread the burning enthusiasm for your book.