Your Narrative – Is Your Ignition Switch in the ON Position?

May 19, 2014

ignition

Lots of stories – fiction and nonfiction – have characters who undergo some sort of change. Like in real life, characters don’t normally experience something and punch through on the other side completely unaffected. Those experiences (basically the plot of your story) is what alters their way of looking at themselves and the world around them.

Transformation.

In a writer’s perfect world, the character’s evolution and plot resolution come together like the Rescue Beagles and margaritas. But there are times when stories become unbalanced, and one overtakes the other. When this happens, it’s because the literary ignition switch is in the OFF position.

Sure sure, I see you scratching your head and cursing me for being confusing – so let me offer an example. I recently read a story about a man who lost his father and decides to go on a surfing Walkabout. Totally get that…when something horrible happens, escaping the confines of the everyday can be an attractive solution. The problem was that the author spent most of his time in his own head with long lyrical and esoteric passages of talking to nature and the waves, asking for answers – but he never fully developed the relationship between him and his father – his humor, his wisdom, his love for his son, and sadness knowing he was dying. The result was that I couldn’t appreciate the author’s sense of loss; the achingly long narratives; or the journey itself. In fact, there was very little attention paid to the actual physicality of the surf Walkabout, so he could have easily stayed home and knit toilet paper doilies,  replacing the surf and sand for knitting needles.

In this case, the key wasn’t even in the ignition, and the action was AWOL.

If you’re going to take some sort of action (walkabout, live on a boat, join the Hari Krishnas/join a group of space trash collectors) due to an igniting experience (divorce/death/threat to world peace/alien invasion), then it’s vital readers understand how influential the ignition and action are in altering you/your character’s life.

When writers strike a perfect balance between cause and effect/affect – ignition/action, then I can happily follow them into the depths of hell because I get it. I feel what they’re going through, so I’m silently sobbing/cheering them on to find their happy place, and I appreciate the lengths they went through (walkabout, live on a boat, join the Hari Krishnas/join a group of space trash collectors) to find equanimity. It’s impossible to have one without the other. Write without the ignition in the ON position, and your readers will toss your book against a wall.

How about your story? Is your literary ignition is on? If so, how? Is your character’s inner journey in balance with the plot?

 

 


Ah, Spring

March 21, 2014
price fam in pitts

The Price Clan attempting to stay warm. Pure folly.

As a So Cal gal, Spring came with my having never really paid much attention because all the seasons are pretty much the same. Oh, we may have the occasional rain or wind, but for the most part, our seasons pass without fanfare. “

“Duuude, the waves are gnarly, wanna hit the beach?” That’s when we know it’s Summer. Or Fall. Or Spring.

“Duuude, had to put on a hoodie over my t-shirt and shorts.” That’s when we know it’s Winter.

My trial by fire in Pittsburgh has been a delicious ride. Snow! Rain! Weather! Hell yes, baby! No more getting away with a hoodie over my t-shirt and shorts. No, siree. I’m thinking in layers these days. Sweatshirt, jacket, scarf, hat, hood, mittens…in between mutters of “holy grits and weenies, it’s cold outside!” Takes me a half hour to get dressed, only to remember that I need to go pee.

So the arrival of Spring yesterday brought promise of warmer weather. Tossing off the coats. Skipping through the yard with sandals. Um. Yeah. Got 1.5 inches of snow, instead.

Looking outside, the snow has all but melted, and replaced it with a sense of renewal. I know those little flower buds are eager to belt their bad selves out of the ground and make the world all gorgeous. Even the Rescue Beagles seem more eager to sing the song of their people by baying at every moving particle that floats past their window.

So it’s with that sense of renewal  that we bid adieu to our beloved Pittsburgh and head for our next adventure in…Burlington, Iowa. Where, you say, scratching your head as you google Mapquest. Yah, it’s right on the Mississippi River. In the middle of nowhere. It’s a quaint little town that’s home to some burgeoning new projects, one of which the hubs is on for the next couple of years. Wow. We’ve been Westies, then Easties. Now we’re going to be Mid-Westies. There’s symmetry in being a part of all the major food groups.

It’s funny in a way. Most of my friends are looking at retirement in the somewhat-near future, settling down, looking at ocean cruises to Mexico and Alaska, yet the hubs and I feel like we’re just getting warmed up. Oh, we’ll return to California when we retire, and the kids start sprouting grandkids. But for now, it’s fun to see new things, and meet new people. So I guess you could say my life is stuck in Spring mode – even in the dead of December…or end of March.

Spring is about newness and getting all twitterpated about wonderful possibilities. So it’s no small wonder that I’m editing two fabulous new books that are scheduled to come out in the Fall. Hoo boy, talk about excited.

FSO - lo RESAmy Biancolli’s sense of humor is so deliciously dry and witty, that I find myself routinely gasping for air in between gusts of laughter. FIGURING SHIT OUT: Love, Laughter, Suicide, and Survival is destined to be one of those books that people talk about in the grocery line, or the bank (does anyone go to the bank anymore?), where someone is guffawing, “I’m telling you, this book is hysterical.”

The inciting moment is anything but funny, but Amy looks at life through a different lens, and it’s refreshing and honest. We aren’t issued a set of Life Instructions when we’re born. The Cosmic Muffin sits back and pats us on the head and says, “Sorry, but you’re gonna have to figure Life out on your own.” Amy’s take on life is like putting a sprig of mint in my tea.

 

Finding Dad- loresConnecticut is lucky because they have Kara Sundlun as their morning wake-up call on her show Better Connecticut. But we’re all lucky because in November, we’ll have her fascinating book FINDING DAD: Love Child to Daughter. Kara discovered she was the love child of her mother and Rhode Island’s governor, Bruce Sundlun, and made the tough decision to meet him…even though he didn’t want to. And it all played out in the media. And you thought you had it tough?

In so many ways, Kara had to be the bigger person and meet her father nearly 80% of the way. But what happened because of her decisions is what makes me believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns, and unicorns. Human nature is a funny thing, and where I would have tossed in my towel and punched out, Kara hung in there, and ended up with exactly what she’d always dreamed of.

So happy Spring to y’all. Hope it doesn’t snow on your parade. But if it does, go read a good book. A Behler book. I guarantee that you’ll walk away muttering, “I wish it’d snow, so I can read more.”


FANCY FEET Author, Heidi Cave – Global BC tv interview

August 4, 2013

FancyFeet-sm

Major huzzah to our beautiful author, Heidi Cave, with her TV interview on Global BC in Canada. She is the perfect example of why we don’t act like idiots behind the wheel. Slow down, relax, and enjoy the ride. Be a survivor, not a victim.


Be Consistent With Your Book and Your Promo Plan

July 9, 2013

Promotion

I’ve come across a number of book proposals that appear to be at odds between the book’s focus and the author’s platform and/or promotion plan, and the result is usually a rejection letter. It’s like in math, and 2 + 2 has gotta equal 4.

What do I mean by that? Let’s say your book is about knitting, and your premise is that knitting is a great therapy tool for easing tension and phobias. However, if you’re not a well-known name within the knitting community and your promo plan doesn’t include some serious contact with therapy groups, or well-attended classes where you’re teaching people to knit, then I’m going to have a harder time taking your book’s premise seriously.

Anyone can have a fabulous premise/focus/intent for their book, but the promo plan and author platform must support it. Otherwise, I’m going to have a much harder time promoting your book. Imagine if said knitter sits at home knitting toilet paper doilies or pickling eggs, who is she going to talk to? She’s not in touch with any audience, so this makes promoting her book an uphill battle.

Let’s say she works in a bank, and her idea for promotion is to give a talk to her bank mates during their lunch break. That’s also a misfire because it’s a gamble that her fellow bankers will be interested in her book. The genre buyers at bookstores would look at my sales team like they had just gulped down engine grease.

How is she in touch with her intended readership?” they’d ask. And they’d be right.

The Misfire

Publishers promote and sell memoirs based on the author’s platform and targeted promotion plan. It’s not how many people you know, but how many people know you for your book’s topic. You could be the cop who writes true crime, or the partner of someone who had a heart attack – the clincher here is how you put your experiences to work in the public eye – and then base your platform and promo plan around it.

Take a look at your book proposal (for info on how to write one, click here). These are the #1 elements I see in a promo plan in book proposals that make me want to toss myself in front of a herd of rabid camels:

  • I’m available for book signing events
  • I have a Facebook page, Twitter account, and a blog
  • I have public speaking experience

Let’s take ‘em one at a time.

I’m available for book signing events

This is a tepid thing to say in a book proposal. You’re available? Well, I should certainly hope so. What you should be asking yourself is how and why would a bookstore want to host your signing. Do you have the ability to draw people to your signing event? Which gets us back to your platform. How many people know you? We schedule book events for our authors, and I can tell you that bookstores aren’t as willing to host author events unless they feel confident the author will bring in paying customers.

I have a Facebook page, Twitter account, and a blog

This has never flipped up my Victoria Secrets because I have yet to see an uptick in sales because someone started a blog, FB page, or spent hours tweeting. Establishing a following takes a long time, so if you’re waiting for a book deal to start that blog, then you’re already too late.

Showing your pretty face sells books. Whether it’s on radio, TV, print, or at a live event, people get excited seeing and hearing the author. Very few authors know how to effectively utilize the magic of social media, so their efforts don’t yield a lot of result. Unless I see that your blog is wildly active with huge numbers of comments and participation, I’m not easily impressed.

Call me an idiot (not really, please), but Twitter eludes me. Every time I visit it, I see tons of tweets flying by, and I wonder if anyone is listening. Unless you happen to be in the Twitterverse at that moment, all those tweets that happened hours ago have passed you by as well. It’s like nailing Jell-O to the wall. Unless you cook with Elmer’s Glue, the experience will slide down the wall.

I have public speaking experience

This is nice, but what does that mean? I have experience filling my car up with gas, but this doesn’t make me a mechanic. What is your speaking experience, and how does it relate to your book? Do you do seminars, or warm up the gang waiting for the train with dirty jokes? Do you speak for a living, or does this equate to calling the kids in for dinner? See, I can’t use this is information because it doesn’t tell me anything. If you’re vague, then I have to wonder why.

So in the end, it’s important to be focused and deliberate with your promotion plan and establishing your platform. If you’re a soccer coach who wrote a manuscript about the joys of baking as a stress reliever, then you have some serious work to do so editors will jump on their desks and scream, “We got us a live one!!!”

The idea is to make yourself an attractive target that showcases you and your book in the best light.


Who needs reality shows when you can read

July 8, 2013

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Who needs reality shows when you can read Behler books – unbeatable, unforgettable, soul-swelling memoir.


Do I Need a New Book? Yes, you do…

June 24, 2013

need a new bookAnd since we have established this fact, may I suggest our newest release:

Testicles-smLEARNING TO PLAY WITH A LION’S TESTICLES is excellent reaching for the beach/vacation/avoiding work/general malaise. We’ve rated this as a 3 on the Boxes of Kleenex Scale, and a 5 on the Laugh ‘Til Your Abs Hurt Scale, as author Melissa Haynes travels to South Africa to volunteer on a game reserve, blithely believing she’s helping save the animals when, in fact, they end up saving her.

So yes, you need to buy a new book. This book.


Have You Planned For Success?

February 4, 2013

sorels

I never thought I’d see the day where my daily shoes would be *Sorels. I’m a SoCal native, and my shoe choices leaned more heavily toward Rainbows or deck shoes. Socks? Phht, we don’t need no steekin’ socks. It’s SoCal, baby.

Then I moved to Pittsburgh, and the idea of wearing Rainbows or deck shoes became pure fantasy during the months of October-March/April. Had Baby Daughter not spent a year in Boston, I wouldn’t have known about proper footwear in frigid weather because I hadn’t planned for it. I know squat all about cold climes, and believe me, it’s all about the planning, baby.

The same can be said about your writing career. Most writers get an amazing idea and increase their BIC index (Butt In Chair) to 24 hours a day in order to bang out their tomes. But at some point, you need to take stock of what to do after writing The End. This is where reality slaps you upside the head and you realize This. Is. A. Business. And successful businesses take planning.

So you need to ask yourself, “Am I a Rainbow gal walking around in Sorel Land?” If so, then you might want to consider these points:

Writing/Research

I reject many manuscripts because the authors didn’t do any research. I remember reading one story where the main character was taking a romantic moonlight stroll along the Amazon River. I nearly broke  a rib laughing. I’ve been to the Amazon and the last thing anyone (with a brain, that is) would do is stroll outside at night. Not unless they were interested in seeing how long it took for the mosquitoes to drain your blood supply. Research, baby.

If your character has MS, then you better research the snot out of MS because you’d be amazed at how vital and active many MS patients are.

Stamp this on your forehead: If you don’t research, then you haven’t planned for success.

The same goes for writing. My last post said something about authors whose writing skills are still at the remedial stage, then they don’t need a good editor, they need to learn those skills. And it’s true. You can have a great story idea, but if you write like you barely made it out of 8th grade, then no reputable editor will take pity on you and offer you a contract. They’ll kick you to the curb. Quickly.

Being an expert in your craft should take precedence over your desire to be published. Sadly, I see the opposite in large quantities.

Stamp this on your forehead: If you haven’t learned how to write, then you haven’t planned for success.

Editing

I know I beat this particular drum to the point of excess, but it bears constant comment because not all editors are created equally, as I mentioned in a recent post. If your book is poorly edited, then you are going to suffer the ultimate humiliation of having everyone tell you how many mistakes they found.

You must, must, must be absolutely certain of the kinds of editors your publisher hires. Do they have experience from solid houses, or did they serve a small internship and were set loose to wreak havoc on unsuspecting books? Be especially aware with e-publishing because these houses  oftentimes have a much smaller operating budget, and can’t afford to hire experienced editors. Keep your focus on those who have been in business for at least 2-3 years.

Stamp this on your forehead: If you haven’t checked out potential publishers’ editors, then you haven’t planned for success.

Publishing Intent

Before you begin the query process, you need to have a dialog with yourself about your writing intent. Are you a hobbyist who’s simply having some fun? If so, then you should probably take trade presses off your list because they’re not looking for hobbyists. They’re looking for career writers. Instead, you could think about slapping it up on CreateSpace and see what happens. But the idea is that you have a realistic vision of your writing and arrange your publisher query list accordingly.

Stamp this on your forehead: If you haven’t analyzed your writing career, then you haven’t planned for success.

Marketing/Promotion – You vs. Your Publisher

With the advent of DIY publishing and the need to self-promote, many authors have forgotten a very important element in the equation; the publisher. They have a responsibility to you as well, besides assuming production costs. You need to find out exactly what they will do for your book once it comes out.

Do they send out physical ARCs to media and reviewers? Do they schedule signing events and interviews? Do they provide you with free books? Do they take out ads? Marketing and promotion differs for each house, and you need to know which houses will best enhance your exposure to the marketplace.

Stamp this on your forehead: If you haven’t found out what publishers do to promote your book, then you haven’t planned for success.

Distribution

You may love your editor like you love Twinkies, but if they can’t get your book out to the marketplace, then all the niceness in the world won’t make up for the fact that your book is circling the drain.

When I talk about distribution, I’m not talking about Ingram and Baker & Taylor. They are warehouse distributors who simply fulfill orders placed by bookstores and libraries. I’m talking about independent distributors who have sales teams that pitch your catalog to genre buyers. It means those publishers have store placement.

The same goes for e-publishers. I’ve run across many who only sell their e-books on their own sites. In cases like this, you need to ask yourself what is driving the marketplace to their website. In most cases, nothing. And so your e-book circles the drain. Your e-publisher should have your e-book available in every digital online site in order to increase your footprint.

Stamp this on your forehead: If you haven’t asked potential publishers about distribution, then you haven’t planned for success.

In short, if you truly honor yourself and your writing, then you must plan for your success. You can’t leave it up to the four winds or chance because the streets are littered with broken-hearted authors whose new mantra is, “Shoulda, coulda, woulda.”

*Sorels are deliciously warm and waterproof bundles o’ love. You can slog through rain or snow, and your tootsies will remain in Nirvana.

About Those Books Crowding Your Home…

February 3, 2013

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Now all you need is a spare piano…


I Love My Authors, and so Will You…

January 31, 2013

Three of our brilliant authors had wonderful radio interviews the other day, and I thought I’d share.

pulse-smBrian and Patty O’Mara-Croft experienced the worst nightmare a couple madly in love could ever face; Patty’s widow-maker heart attack. Their fabulous book PULSE OF MY HEART is a testimony to a love that can overcome horrible odds, role reversal, and the frightening world of conflicting medical advice. Through all the horrors and pain, Brian and Patty’s love and wicked humor not only maintained their sanity, but increased their love and appreciation for the ability to step up to the plate. Le sigh…I love a good love story, don’t you? You can listen to Brian and Patty’s interview here.

 

 

fourgifts-sm

Father Joe Bradley, author of THE FOUR GIFTS, puts to rest the myth that our lives are cemented in granite, and that we never get a second, third, or fourth chance at happiness. This is a man who battled addiction (even during his beginning days in seminary), and congenital heart failure that killed his beloved father many years earlier. This book is about reaching rock bottom and loving yourself enough to seek help and make positive changes in your life in order to save your life. Father Joe can be found giving amazing rock-it talks to audiences in San Francisco, and points beyond. Look out world, Father Joe has a mission to make people happy. You can listen to Father Joe’s interview here.


The Book Deal – Channeling Goldilocks

January 29, 2013

goldilocks

We all remember the story of Goldilocks and the whole “this bed is too hard, this one’s too soft, ahhh…this one is just right.” Well, a book deal is a lot like that. One may be feel too right, the other, all wrong, and the other is absolutely perfect. In order to figure out which book deal is juuuust right for you, it’s important to consider some factors that you may not be aware of.

For this post, I’m going to use Big Gun publishing, commercial trade press publishing, and e-book publishing. The golden thread that weaves its way through all types of publishing is MONEY. If you gots it, the more you can spends it on cool things like advances, editing, production costs, marketing/promotion.

Advances

Traditionally, paying an advance allowed the author to survive while writing his book. So the higher the advance, the more the publisher believed in the book’s potential. Along the way, the whole advance idea exploded into Mr. Stay-Puft marshmallow man in Ghost Busters. The reasons are many, but the end result is advances have often exceeded the publisher’s ability to earn back what they’d paid out, which resulted in many editors and sales people being handed their walking papers.

Big Guns:  They still pay out far larger advances than their smaller counterparts, but they pay them out to fewer authors because their cash flow isn’t what it used to be. They are beholden to their corporate leaders, and those books have to make a ton of scratch to continue feeding the corporate monster.

A giant payday is a lovely thing for the first-time author, but it’s also wrought with the demand to perform – a daunting task. If you don’t earn out, your Big Gun publisher may not be so happy, and you could be the one out on the sidewalk. As all publishers do (or should), they do a P&L statement and weigh the risks. Most of the time, it’s a matter of Pay It and Forget It…meaning that the advance is the only bit of money some authors may ever see because their books don’t earn out. In short, Big Guns, on average, are learning to be smarter because they’ve seen fellow Big Guns go bankrupt.

Trade Press:  Used to be called Indie publishing, but the self publishers sorta stole the verbiage, so Trade Press is used to define publishers who aren’t owned by corporations. They’re independent. And since they’re independent, they have to work smart. They can’t spend more than they have, and they have to feel confident the authors they sign will sell well. To that extent, advances are lower because they are more risk averse than their corporate brethren. If the book sells well, the author will make big bucks via royalties.

E-publishers:  Since the digital technology has exploded, we’ve seen an explosion of e-publishers because it’s cheap and there is little risk…which means they don’t need a lot of money or experience to hang out their shingle. It’s not unusual for e-publishers to pay zero advances. Many authors who sign with e-publishers are new writers, and are willing to accept these terms.

Production Costs

For the print trade, there are a lot of production costs associated with publishing a book, so the more you gots, the better the product – or so the saying goes. The standard costs are wrapped up in editing, cover design, layout, interior design, sales and promotion planning, print runs and other stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting at the moment.

Big Guns:  They gots money, so they can afford just about anything they want, depending on where the book fits on their list. If it’s a top list book, they’ll pull out the corks. If it’s midlist or lower, they will put less resources into the project, which translates to lesser effort to promote and market your book. That isn’t to say it won’t get out there because it certainly will. But it also depends on the genre and how it syncs up with their current lineup.

Many of my midlist author friends are very happy with their publishers, and a few have been sorely disappointed…and it all went back to genre. Some sell better than others, and the Big Gun is going to put more money into what’s selling better.

An unhappy byproduct to print runs is returns, and it’s the bane of every publisher. The odd thing about the Big Gun is that they’re all about shipping books out to market, and they don’t care as much about returns. Yah, sounds insane, and there is a huge explanation for this, but it doesn’t play into this discussion. Suffice it to say that if your editor says they’re printing up X number of books, you should ask how many they plan on shipping.

Trade Press:  Their budgets are smaller, but that doesn’t mean they can’t put out amazing books, and sell a ton of them. They have great cover designers, interior designers, and do a great job at layout. They meet with their sales teams to discuss marketing and promotion. For example, we are distributed by Consortium/Perseus, and I just had my sales meeting with them yesterday, where we discussed everything; titles, cover design, marketing and promotion strategy, and print run forecasts.

Depending on the book and genre, print runs aren’t as large as the Big Guns. Where they might do a print of 15k-20k units, the trade press might do 5k-8k units because they want to avoid returns. Books that are returned can’t be sent out again because they often look like they were repackaged by bipolar baboons…so that’s a loss.

Conversely, if the book explodes, it takes a week to get another run done (provided you have a very good relationship with your printer). It’s all about working smart and conserving costs, so those resources can be utilized with promotion.

E-publishing:  Production costs are, on average, lower because the e-publisher doesn’t have as large of an operating budget. They can’t afford to shoulder too much risk, so they need to conserve costs as much as they can. They don’t have print run costs, and their promotion costs are lower because everything is done digitally. For instance, we send out around 100 books to reviewers and media, so we not only have the printing costs, but the mailing costs, which have gone through the roof.

Since there is no physical copy, traditional media is less likely to pay much attention to the book, so this is an important consideration to factor in.

Editing

Editing is part of the production costs, but I wanted to talk about this specific issue because it’s the blood and guts to any publishing company. You can slap on a gorgeous cover and market a book ’til the cows come home, but if a book is poorly edited, you ain’t got nuthin’. Do this on a consistent basis, and your publisher will be known as a dud…and so will you, by association.

Big Guns:  It’s hard to find fault because they are the Great Yoda of the publishing industry. Since they were here first, it’s natural that they would have the greatest stable of fabulous editors.

But the Big Guns have a problem that others don’t, and that’s turnaround time. They still publish more books than everyone else, which means they have a lot of authors in the queue waiting their turn to be edited. The general waiting time for a book to be published is two years. And because they have so many books to publish, editors need to work very quickly.

I have some editor buds who work at the big houses and are exhausted at the lack of time. More than one bud has told me that books simply went out that weren’t editorially ready, but they had to meet the schedule. Ouch.

Trade Press:  Trade presses are smaller, they specialize in one genre, and their publishing schedule isn’t nearly as frenetic (on average). But they still need great editors. With the Great Publishing Implosion a number of years, we saw many editors walking the streets looking for an editing gig. Many have hired out to the trade presses on an independent contractor basis, provided they will pay them what they’re worth.

Without great editing, a book is nothing more than an empty suit, so trade presses make sure to have nothing but the best. Their business depends on having strong books, and experienced editors are worth every dime.

E-publishing: Here’s where things get really odd. Since e-publishers, on average, have a much smaller operating budget, they can’t hire the most experienced editors. Nor can they pay them a standard editing fee. Many editors at many e-publishing houses are paid a percentage of sales on the books they edited.

Not only is this incredible, but it forces the editor to shoulder the same kind of risks the publisher is…yet they’re not an owner. If a book they edited doesn’t sell well, that editor is going to make peanuts, and it’s not their fault.

Who would agree to such an arrangement? And this is the rub. Many e-publishing editors have little to no experience in the industry. Invariably, they are writers, which is fine, but just because you write doesn’t mean you understand editing. It’s an art.

So what is the quality of these editors? I’m sure they’re trying their very best, but that shouldn’t be a standard by which someone should be hired. And what about the attrition factor? You can’t ask someone to work for peanuts and expect them to remain loyal. What if they simply decide to just stop editing a book, midstream? Since many e-published authors are new, they don’t know this is out of the ordinary.

Sales

Sales are the lifeblood of publishers. We needs ‘em to keep errant beagles in designer chewie bones. So how do the various kinds of publishers get sales?

Big Guns:  They have a well-oiled machine, so their books (for the most part) are going to be shelved in bookstores. They have teams of sales people who put together a catalog of their upcoming releases and pitch to store buyers at the corporate and local levels. They have teams who  deal with national accounts like Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, etc. They send out advance copies to the media for review and publicity purposes. This is all done to make people aware your book exists.

This works well for many of their authors, but it depends on genre and what’s hot. The Self-Help book, or midlist mainstream fiction may not get the attention that a Young Adult. The big guns have a lot of mouths to feed, and they can’t feed them all.

Trade Press:  Since trade presses have a smaller lineup each season, they have more time to dedicate to each title. Since they specialize in a genre, chances are strong they have established relationships with media, which helps a great deal during promotion. For example, I had a radio host call me a couple weeks ago asking to interview a couple of our authors because he so enjoyed interviewing one of authors last year. If you have these guys in your Rolodex, it’ll go a long way to getting the word out to your author’s intended readership.

Since most trade presses are too small to have their own sales team that have enough clout to get the attention of the book buyers, they have agreements with distributors, who have sales and promo teams – and they do the same things the Big Guns do. Their experience and long reach go a long way to getting books shelved in stores.

If you’re considering a trade press, make sure you know who distributes them. If they say Ingram and Baker & Taylor, they’re telling you a hot one because those companies are wholesale distributors, meaning they fulfill orders placed by bookstores or libraries. They don’t have sales teams who pitch their catalog to store buyers.

E-book Publishers: Sales are online. Period. There is no other venue where your book will appear. I’ve noticed that the successful e-publishers do a great job at branding their company, so a book will sell well because of the publisher’s name recognition – not necessarily the book. This means that if you’re with a brand new e-publisher, you may not be happy with your sales. Simply put, no one knows who they are.

To date, I haven’t been able to nail an e-publisher down as to the specifics of their promotional practices, so I’m still, sadly, in the dark about how they promote individual titles. One thing I do know is that the successful ones publish a specific genre. Romance still seems to be the leader among successful e-publishers, so I’d be leery about an e-publisher who publishes all genres. They would have to have the editing expertise for all those genres, and I just don’t believe they have it…just as I don’t believe the small trade press can do justice to all genres, and they need to specialize.

How Long You Been ‘Round?

This is the most important thing to consider. How long has the publisher you’re considering querying been in business? My suggestion is to wait until a company is at least two years old because that’s about how long it takes for the warts to show, and for them to run out of their seed money.

No matter what publishing option you choose, you gotta channel Goldilocks. Their porridge can’t be too hot or too cold. It’s gotta be just right, which means that they have sufficient working capital, experienced editors, good distribution, healthy sales, and are adept at selling your genre.


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