Sunday, February 28, 2010

Back To Press

The words are simple yet loaded with power: Back to Press. People who do not work in book publishing (as I do) often believe books sell by themselves. They do not. In fact, depending on the amount of books that you print for your first printing, many books never go back to press for a second printing.

Yes, the books on the bestseller list return over and over for new printings--yet it is a rare book which lands on the bestseller list. What about the books that most people write? They do not return for another printing. In fact, many of them fade quietly into out of print status. It may shock some of you but I'm a realist and understand the Rule of Seven, which is a long-term advertising adage which explains an individual has to see an ad or learn about a product a number of times before they act on it (buy it).

As a publisher, I'm speaking with many people who have dreams and aspirations and visions about their own publishing. We provide the printing information to our authors and encourage them to be conservative and realistic in their plans. Some individuals follow our advice and others do not. Then a month or two passes after their book is released. They will call or email wondering why their book isn't selling in the marketplace. They discover that we are actively fulfilling what we have promised for our marketing efforts but it takes a partnership--the author and the publisher--to sell books. It does not happen in a vacuum or without the author assuming responsibility for the sales of their own book.

Ok, I'll get off my soapbox but I'm passionate about books getting into the hands of people--not just for the sales but because of the life-changing message they contain. That message only changes lives if the reader acts on the information. Over thirty-five years ago, I had my own personal transformational experience with a book. You can read about it here and notice the key involvement of a book called Jesus the Revolutionary. It is one of the major reasons that I'm still involved in book publishing.

Let's return to the topic at hand--a book going back to press. In the last couple of days my Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets To Skyrocket Your Success went back to press for a new printing. It was not a simple reprinting. Throughout the book, I referred to my literary agency which has been closed for over a year. In the process of reprinting, I removed those references and changed them to my current role as a publisher at Intermedia Publishing Group. Also with the first printing, I've received some suggested changes to the book from different readers. I kept these changes and have carefully gone through my book and handled each one with the reprinted book. Finally, I needed to add a dozen more pages of content to the book because the optimal length of the book was 12 pages longer. This request gave me an opportunity to revise, expand and update a chapter on marketing in the book. Also these changes have allowed me to label the book not simply a reprint but a revision. I've noted this information on the copyright page and the book has been issued a different International Standard Book Number (ISBN). Why is this detail important?

As Dan Poynter explains, "Always include a new ISBN when you publish a revision so the book industry will treat the book as new. Your distributor will put it back in the front of the catalog as a new book. The book trade is new-product driven. Make a legitimate revision, assign a new ISBN and bar code to keep your book new."

With the revision release, I will be producing new press releases, new marketing efforts and doing other things to boost the presence of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams in the marketplace. My new efforts are tied to the revision of this book into the marketplace.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Do Book Reviews Matter

The Sunday edition of the Arizona Republic Newspaper has a circulation of over 500,000 copies. Each week in the Arts and Entertainment section, they review four books. I normally read these reviews because I'm interested to see which four books are selected each week.

Last week the Republic reviewed a new thriller from a first-time author, Steven Gore called Final Target. With the limited review space, all four of the books are always positive and the review for Final Target was no exception. I looked for a copy at my local library but they did not have it so when I was in a local bookstore last week, I picked up a copy of the book, which is an oversized paperback (tall for a mass market-sized book). I've not started to read it yet but I would not have known about this book or purchased it without reading the review in my local newspaper so it had significant influence for me. The newspaper's choice of a thriller from a first-time novelist struck me as unusual. Most of the reviews are from well-established writers who have released a new book but one which will likely become a bestseller. What drew the book review editor to pick that thriller out of the stack?

Years ago I was the book review columnist for Christian Parenting Today (a magazine which no longer exists). I selected ten to fifteen books in a broad range of topics and genres for the audience, read the books and wrote my reviews. The magazine circulation was about 150,000 copies and I received stacks of "review copies" from various Christian and general market book publishers. In fact, it took my continued maintenance to open the packages and see the various book possibilities--much less actually read and review the titles. My limited experience made me wonder how many books each week the book editor at the Arizona Republic receives for review consideration.

Last year, Janice Harayda wrote a Soapbox column for Publishers Weekly called "Critics Don't Need Free Books." She worked for 11 years as the book review editor for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Here's the sentence which stood out to me in her article: "At the Plain Dealer, I got more than 400 books a week from publishers, a landslide hard to handle even with another person helping me." The Sunday circulation of the Plain Dealer is similar to the Republic or 400,000.

See the long odds to get your book reviewed in a major city newspaper? It's somewhere in the range of four books get reviewed out of over 400 books that are received. So do you give up and not try to get book reviews? No, you simply try more niche oriented markets where your probability is more likely of getting your book reviewed.

Recently Publishers Weekly wrote about this topic of book reviews. Peter Hildick-Smith who works for Codex Group, a company which tracks the impact of reviews on sales said in the article, "reviews help both to raise awareness of a book and to persuade people to buy it."

Here's a couple of websites with lists of places that review books:

Karina Fabian has a length list of review sites. The Complete Review contains 240 book review sites. Midwest Book Review has another great resource list of book review sites.

As with any marketing effort for book reviews, there are several elements to keep in mind. First, select your targeted publications carefully. Do they review your type of book? If so, how frequently? Which editor handles the book reviews? Make sure you address the right person. Second,. a key ingredient is follow-up. After a short period of time when you are certain the book has arrived, place a short phone call to simply see if the book has arrived and will be considered for review. Your conversation isn't chatty but short and professional. If the editor says they will be considering it, then call back in a few weeks and see if they had a chance to read the book. The follow-up shows you are professional and are expecting results from the review copy. Possibly your publisher is handling these book reviews. The time and number of books that they push for review are limited. In a proactive way which encourages your partnership, ask your publisher's publicist for a list of where they sent your book. You want this list not to criticize their efforts but to go to the places they did not promote your book.

Book reviews matter and are another element to include in your arsenal for marketing and promoting your book.

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