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Thread: Life After self-publishing

  1. #76
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    Marketing after self-publishing - lessons so far

    Excellent thread for those not knowledgeable but curious about print on demand or limited run publishing. Seems some lessons about marketing "after life" are:

    • Be realistic at the outset about potential market. Say I'm a well known rock climber in the west, already have lots of articles published on climbing and an active website and blog. I may have a "pocket market" -- maybe too small for a mainstream publisher but pretty sure fire for at least a few hundred regional or maybe statewide sales of, say, a biography or "tips on climbing" manual. Far different from doing some grand literary, porno-philosophical S&M erotic fiction epic with thin diffuse market worldwide, if any. Oops, maybe I said too much.
    • Have a marketing plan. Sounds like one has to be ready to put resources into all the right stuff, from website, blog, speaking engagements, getting reviews, the works, and build those costs in up front, never mind figure out where the best market audience is and how to reach it.
    I suppose another conclusion is be wary of self publishers who claim they can help with the marketing, for whatever extra fee. Of course there was a time when traditional publishers did more marketing for and with authors, but shall we assume for now few if any self publishers offer effective marketing services?


    For instance, note below how Mill City Press promises "cutting-edge online, viral marketing ("viral" marketing?) to get people to start talking about your book. The result is a comprehensive campaign that combines traditional book pr and highly-targeted online pr designed to get the people most likely to have an interest in your book to find it."

    Hmm, shouldn't we be suspicious of how effective such strategies will be until we here some reports from authors to the contrary? Thoughts?

    See:
    http://www.millcitypress.net/book-publicity-campaign.aspx

    Another

  2. #77
    practical experience, FTW MickRooney's Avatar
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    If memory serves me correctly, Mill City Press is owned, or part-owned by Mark Levine, author of 'The Fine Print of Self Publishing'.

    While I agree, the proof is in the pudding, and it would be interesting to hear the personal experiences of Mill City Authors, I actually think Mill City have the correct approach. Marketing now, whether from an author themselves, a company offering self publishing services, or even a traditional publishers, has to market across all fronts, and can no longer simply rely on the traditional methods of sending out ARC's to the trade and a simple press release push.

    More and more, traditional publishers are increasing their own on line presence as well as their authors through social networks, publisher blogs and author webpages. With the advance of e-readers like the Kindle 2, Sony, Irex, and many other formats combined with the steady rise in ebooks and on line sales, no publisher of any kind can afford to ignore the change and diversity in the book industry.

  3. #78
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    Self Publishing Company Marketing Strategies

    Quote Originally Posted by MickRooney View Post
    If memory serves me correctly, Mill City Press is owned, or part-owned by Mark Levine, author of 'The Fine Print of Self Publishing'.

    While I agree, the proof is in the pudding, and it would be interesting to hear the personal experiences of Mill City Authors, I actually think Mill City have the correct approach. Marketing now, whether from an author themselves, a company offering self publishing services, or even a traditional publishers, has to market across all fronts ...
    I agree. In fact, the Mill Creek approach sounds, well, impressive and in tune with newest trends in how cyberspace can and must be used, though with a second reading of their pitch I feel the need for some sort of details or examples. And, perhaps like other readers of self publishing threads, I'm feeling cautions if not skeptical about self publishing company marketing services and think, generally, the marketing burden (and other big burdens too) will fall on the author. Writer Beware seems to make the point well (and gives lots of other cautions and good info on self publishing):

    Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart, however. You must be prepared to shoulder the entire burden of publishing, distributing, and promoting your book, a process that will eat up not just time but finances, and requires a huge amount of energy, creativity, and determination to carry off successfully. See: http://www.sfwa.org/beware/vanitypublishers.html

    Here is a Cooler thread on Mill Creek, a little dated and I didn't see anything about their marketing services, at least first pass through the thread.

    http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=77910

    So, anyone have latest info on how their marketing plays out, or like marketing strategies of other self publishing companies?

    Another

  4. #79
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    "Suprising success" for fiction authors?

    Quote Originally Posted by MickRooney View Post
    Reluctant Artist,

    I did some research over the past few months regarding what kinds of books sell well with POD publishers, and while I'm very circumspect about large POD publishers and what exactly they can do for a self published author, I have to say one thing that did come out was that iUniverse had a suprisingly strong success with fiction authors in particular, and some non-fiction authors. I've always said that fiction just doesn't work with self publishing services, that fact remains that iUniverse have had small but notable successes.
    MickRooney,

    With all the good warnings about small sales (putting aside personal promotion burdens and costs) on various threads under the topic of self publishing, yours is an interesting finding. Any further thoughts or updates? Still seem true for IUniverse? And/or other self publishers?

    Another
    Last edited by Another; 03-04-2009 at 11:58 PM.

  5. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Another View Post
    MickRooney,

    With all the good warnings about small sales (putting aside and personal promotion burdens and costs) on various threads under the topic of self publishing, yours is an interesting finding. Any further thoughts or updates? Still seem true for IUniverse? And/or other self publishers?

    Another
    I have not looked at recent titles by iUniverse this year but the general trend still holds fast that the self publishing model best suits non-fiction and books which have a very definable market and can be reach by treating the publishng of a book as an 'e-commerce' project.

  6. #81
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    Informative life after self publishing tale

    Maybe readers here have seen this Cooler thread, but if not, it gives an informative picture of "life after self publishing," including issue of costs, promotion and marketing burdens, valuing one's time and comparisons to regular publishing for a particular kind of book:

    http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=109963

    Another

  7. #82
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    Sef Publishing Marketing Books

    Don't know the quality of resources listed here and I have no affiliation, but subject matter seems to be on target for the thread (maybe some have already been referenced somewhere along the line):

    http://booksjustbooks.com/0%7Ewebring.html

    Another

  8. #83
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    Two More Good Marketing Resources

    Guess I'm developing a completion complex on this thread topic, but two other good resources for marketing after self publishing are mentioned by "tombookpub" and "researchguy" on this Cooler thread, where there also is some information from brandonfromOhio on his marketing via interviews he was able to cook up (somehow):

    http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=107442

    One resource is The Well-Fed Self Publisher by Peter Bowerman which talks about developing a "marketing mindset," use of review copies, promotion at events and seminars, sales from the trunk of your car (sort of), and more.

    The other is Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual. Looking at that one, it seems the relevant chapters are 5 and 7. Five is on listing services and catalogues to get attention at large buyers. Chapter 7 gets into promotion generally and thinking through your best prospect audience and how to reach it. Then there is Chapter 10 hitting upon "fulfillment services" to get your book into reader's hands - maybe relevant too, based on first peek.

    General lesson: seems there's a lot out there on marketing after self publishing to bring one up to speed.

    Another

  9. #84
    practical experience, FTW Nandi's Avatar
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    Thanks, Another, for the tips. I have been reading Poynter's book, and it is certainly comprehensive.

    One of the companies I contacted also suggested the following two books which I was able to pick up from my library:

    The Savvy Author's Guide to Book Publicity by Lissa Warren and Publicize Your Book! An Insider's Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention it Deserves by Jacqueline Deval. Both of these guides assume that you will be using the services of a publicist which, as most of us know, can and will cost thousands of $$$s. But there are also some good tips here that can be adapted for authors who will not be hiring a publicist.

  10. #85
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    Sobering

    Quote Originally Posted by Nandi View Post
    Thanks, Another, for the tips ... The Savvy Author's Guide to Book Publicity by Lissa Warren and Publicize Your Book! An Insider's Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention it Deserves by Jacqueline Deval. Both of these guides assume that you will be using the services of a publicist which, as most of us know, can and will cost thousands of $$$s...
    One of the sobering lessons in doing all the reading on marketing a self published work is just how daunting and/or expensive it all can be, which of course, steers one's head back to regular publishing. But of course, there are plenty of author marketing challenges there too, I remind myself.

    I think it was the villain in Little Mermaid who said, "Life's full of tough choices, ain't it?" Indeed.

    Another

  11. #86
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    Thanks everyone so far for showing both sides of the coin here!

    I too am in the position where I must now choose to go the self publishing route. I like everyones comments and certainly the questions to ask yourself. So far it is leaning heavily towards self publishing

  12. #87
    Quote Originally Posted by OKperson View Post
    Quote" Do you really think anyone is interested in your life story?"
    I thanked him for his constructive criticism.
    Frankly, and with no intent to be rude or insult your life, I think it's a legitimate question. It's just the sort of question I was asked regarding the book I co-authored about Alfred Hitchcock. The book was written in the first person, what "we" thought and what "I" think and so on. Observations and analysis directly from my co-author and I. An interested editor asked, "Who are you guys and why would anybody care about your opinions?"

    He was right to ask that question.

    We revised the book. A far better book was the result. And lo and behold, he took it. (It comes out in two weeks.)

    The question you were asked may have seemed insulting, but at its core it asks something important: Why would somebody want to read this? It's not an insult or a reflection on you to ask that question, nor is it an indication that he saw you as an insignificant person. In fact, it's one of the most basic of questions, really, and one that all writers should be asking. We've GOT to. Why would somebody want to read this?

    Of course, that's not to say the agent didn't lack tact or social skills. Maybe he could have done a better job of presenting the question. But I honestly don't think the question at its core was out of line.
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  13. #88
    Quote Originally Posted by snook View Post
    Good Grief. I discard any agents that are so anal that they reject a good work over a redundancy.
    Look at it this way: If a writer lets a redundancy such as that slip through something as important (not to mention brief) as a query letter, how many other such slips and bits o' thoughtless phrasing are going to be in their novel-length work?
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  14. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric San Juan View Post
    Look at it this way: If a writer lets a redundancy such as that slip through something as important (not to mention brief) as a query letter, how many other such slips and bits o' thoughtless phrasing are going to be in their novel-length work?
    Good agents get so many submissions/queries that they look first for any reason to reject. That's just the way it is.

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  15. #90
    practical experience, FTW Angkor's Avatar
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    I agree with most of what CWFgal has to say about POD publishing. I, myself, have had two good agents who were enthusiastic about my novels and worked hard to get them sold. Unfortunately, the first agent made a career change and the second died. Thus, I was orphaned twice. The death of agent #2 happened to coincide with a big shift in my life: babies, career change, resettlement from overseas. I had zero time either to write or to seek another agent (do I have some voodoo curse on agents??). Anyway, two manuscripts were languishing on a shelf. POD was becoming more prominent. So, I spent a couple weeks while on vacation re-writing both manuscripts. I decided I would POD publish them and promote them myself on a bare shoestring budget.

    I went with Lulu because it's a do-it-yourself, basically no-fee service. I paid $100 per book for ISBN and distribution and $150/book for surprisingly good book cover designs. That's it. Then I discovered avenue after avenue for free advertising and promotion, ranging from local book presentations to coverage on local National Public Radio to free online press releases to local newspaper coverage, etc. I got indie and university book stores to carry my books. I even got a New York Times bestselling author in my genre to write a blurb, which I've exploited to the max. My books are listed with Amazon, B&N and dozens of other online retailers worldwide. The tags feature on Amazon, I'm convinced, has helped sales a lot. To my great surprise, my books continue to sell monthly over two years since I released them through Lulu.

    Now, do I sell in big numbers? No. We're talking hundreds here. I've more than recouped my initial investment, but the payoff is peanuts beyond that. POD pricing is uncompetitive with traditional publishing, chain bookstores won't carry POD books, inter alia, because they can't be discounted and unsold books can't be returned to the publisher.

    For me, the POD route was a last resort, a one-time deal. I'm now back on the query-go-round for an agent for my latest manuscript. I learned that POD no longer has quite the stigma it once had with agents and publishers, but it also counts for little other than proving that an author has the gumption to keep writing. In my query letters, I merely make passing mention of my POD books in the context of my life changes at the time. I do not highlight them.

    I have fulls and partials out with five agents and am hoping at least one bites and makes me an offer. I've been through this routine before so I know how to play the game. I definitely do not want to resort to the POD route again. As CWFgal points out, your gem is lost in a sea of unfiltered dreck. And your best efforts at promotion are highly unlikely to yield big results.
    Last edited by Angkor; 05-21-2009 at 08:37 PM.

  16. #91
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    One of the things I considered POD for was a measuring stick to how good I may become. I realise I'm far from the finished article and I do have doubts about my work sometimes, especially when I get the pre-printed rejection letter that didn't even merit a personal "Dear x". POD would allow me to have some copies of my book, to allow me to continue what is essentially my hobby, and if I manage to sell 1000 copies, give me a boost to continue with my writing...

    I found some old manuscripts in the depths of my parents computer written when I was 18/19. They were my big break back then, but now having seen and read them, they are very poor. Maybe in 10 years time I will feel the same about the current script I'm going through too, who knows...

    In regards to only making a passing comment, that depends on the circumstances. If I've done ok surely it's worth mentionng that you have a published book with lulu and that it had sales of such and such. They will find out anyway, plus as you pointed out, it shows you have the desire to be published and that you are looking for a long term career as an author too...

  17. #92
    practical experience, FTW Angkor's Avatar
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    Mercs:

    With a company like Lulu, the good thing is you retain rights ownership. On the downside, virtually no traditional publisher will touch a POD product unless it has sold at least 5,000-10,000; and the odds of that happening are extremely small. And ballyhooing your POD book to agents and traditional publishers is largely a waste of time. As far as they're concerned, you are not published. They will not be impressed. Sorry to sound so negative. My advice is to turn to POD publishing only as a last resort and to carry the ball in self-promotion as a learning experience. My own experience was actually surprisingly positive. But I don't kid myself that I'm impressing agents and traditional publishers, nor that my sales will "break out" of the small bracket they are in. Utilizing the POD route (for fiction anyway) is also fine as a "hobby," as you say. But do strive constantly to learn and to improve your writing to reach that stage of enlightenment when your writing is truly competitive with the market. Feel free to PM with any detailed questions re POD.

  18. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angkor View Post
    . . . virtually no traditional publisher will touch a POD product unless it has sold at least 5,000-10,000. . . .
    However, consider this book, first published informally via Lulu.com, with probably few sales, and then picked up by a commercial publisher.

    It is probably risky to overgeneralize on this topic.

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  19. #94
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    Wow - ecellent thread everyone. Thanks to all who have contributed.

    I was myself considering the self publishing routem but this thread has given me reason to stop and think for a while. I haven't come out of all these posts with a negative view of self publishing, but my spectacles are a bit clearer now, not so rose tinted anymore. I've put most of my thoughts down on my blog, here.

    One thing this thread has made me do is realise that it's important to really feel you have exhausted fully the path of traditional publishers, before you self publish. For me, personally, anything else would be a compromise.

  20. #95
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    I have never considered the route to self-publication because I had heard the other extreme - that no publishing company or literary agency would take me seriously afterwards. Going through ebooks (as I did for my first novel) did open the door slightly, but darn if that door isn't a hard one to get through!

    I know I have dreams of writing that amazing novel, and wondering if all those agents/pub houses won't kick themselves afterwards for not taking a chance.


    Best wishes for those who have self-published. In the end, it's about sales, I think.

  21. #96
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    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by ResearchGuy View Post
    However, consider this book, first published informally via Lulu.com, with probably few sales, and then picked up by a commercial publisher.

    It is probably risky to overgeneralize on this topic.

    --Ken
    But how often does that really happen?

  22. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by ealexis View Post
    I have never considered the route to self-publication because I had heard the other extreme - that no publishing company or literary agency would take me seriously afterwards. Going through ebooks (as I did for my first novel) did open the door slightly, but darn if that door isn't a hard one to get through!

    I know I have dreams of writing that amazing novel, and wondering if all those agents/pub houses won't kick themselves afterwards for not taking a chance.


    Best wishes for those who have self-published. In the end, it's about sales, I think.
    I think if you have something that will appeal to a niche market, it's a viable option.

  23. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by brainstorm77 View Post
    But how often does that really happen?
    Rarely, but that is not the point. The point is that it is an error to imply that it cannot happen or that rules/practices/prejudices are inflexible and universal.

    Want another example? Fellow I know wrote and self-published a book on gambling. A copy came to the attention of a major international publisher, which contracted with him for a much larger book, paid him a nice advance, and published the book.

    A tangential example: fellow I know runs a one-man publishing business specializing in textbooks on a topic in which he is an expert. (Best selling among his books has topped 30,000 copies.) A commercial publisher offered to buy his whole publishing company. (He ended up refusing.)

    The point is that each book should be taken on its merits and potential, not lumped into an assumption that an author-published book is a dead end -- or an assumption that every author-publisher is just dying to turn over his or her work to a commercial publisher, for that matter.

    My views, for whatever they are worth, reflecting years of interest in and observation of this subject.

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  24. #99
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    I'm not saying it can't happen. How about fiction?

  25. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by brainstorm77 View Post
    I'm not saying it can't happen. How about fiction?
    I could cite one. The author rejected the publisher's offer and continued on her own, expanding her catalog to include books by other people than herself. (It was far more profitable and she retained creative control.) But I suspect instances are rarer in fiction. That's a guess, though.

    --Ken
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