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Lauri B
03-12-2005, 04:58 AM
Hi all,
I'm not trying to resurrect a locked thread, but I was reading through the Stone Bench one and came upon a discussion over the value (or lack thereof) of publicity. There may be huge differences between fiction and nonfiction, and probably even between markets within the genre, but without a huge effort to generate publicity, we'd be dead in the water as far as book sales go.

I wonder if we are all considering the word the same way? For us, publicity means we create and send out press kits and review copies, contact the media, offer excerpts, obtain author interviews and we hope that these efforts result in column inches, radio interviews, and tv time. If we have quantifiable results, we can then tell our sales reps, who can in turn pitch our books to accounts and have a stronger argument (or sales pitch) why the chain's buyer should take the title. It's also pretty easy to track the small blips in sales almost immediately after we've had even minor publicity hits.

So I have to disagree with the argument that pr is useless, at least for this small, nonfiction publisher, and I would be really interested to know why people who view it as useless feel that way--was it the result of a personal experience with it, professional background using or not using it, etc.?

James D. Macdonald
03-12-2005, 05:02 AM
... without a huge effort to generate publicity, we'd be dead in the water as far as book sales go.


That is just flat not true for authors.

Publishers do marketing and promotion. Hurrah for them!

But for authors on an individual basis -- it's a waste of time and money.

karenranney
03-12-2005, 05:16 AM
Amen! Listen to the man. He knows of what he speaks.

Plus, this year marks my tenth year of publication. Almost 2 million words in print. Trust me, no amount of money spent on publicity/pr/promotion equals writing a great book.

maestrowork
03-12-2005, 05:46 AM
Are we saying publicity won't sell books? The book will sell itself?

CaoPaux
03-12-2005, 06:09 AM
Nope, only that publicity driven by the author ain't worth the time/money/effort. (Unless the guy's hawking his seminar material, etc.)

James D. Macdonald
03-12-2005, 06:26 AM
Here's what sells books (in the world of fiction):

The reader has read and enjoyed another book by the same author.

Recommendation from a trusted friend.

Everything else is down in the single digit percentages.

What's required: The book must be on bookstore shelves.

The publisher's marketing efforts are driven toward getting that shelving. Reviews, catalogs, advertising to the trade, sales reps -- those get the bookstore shelving.

Why? Because if the book isn't on the shelves, the guy who's looking for that neat book his pal recommended won't find it and won't buy it, and the guy who picks up the new book by his favorite author every time he spots one won't. Special orders are tiny.

maestrowork
03-12-2005, 08:05 AM
Another question: does Amazon.com and BN.com, etc. change that landscape ("books have to be on shelves")? Or is online book shopping still in its infancy? That most books are still sold in stores?

JustinoXXV
03-12-2005, 08:42 AM
So why then, do best sellers go on interviews on all sorts of media outlets, if these individual author attempts are totally useless and fruitless.

Why do we see authors like Steven King and Ms. Morrison on television?

No offense to James, but I don't think any one person is the authority on any industry. PR may not be for every writer. But apparently some writers feel that it helps them tremendously.

And these days cross selling is quite common. Since very often publishers are owned by the same companies that own studios, authors who have their agents sell movie rights may find their careers at a whole new level. I've bought books from some rights because I liked a movie based on that book.

I don't necessarily buy books because a friend recommended them, or because I went in the book store. I do take interest in what I see on television and in magazines. And people do buy books because of the name of the author.

Even if I'm introduced to a novelist by a friend, I may not know that said novelist has a new book out. I may very well be alerted by television, or by what I read in a magazine.

As for non fiction, there are obviously different types of non fiction. But non fiction written by a name has a better change of majorly selling than non fiction with no name.

As for how necessary PR is, unfortunately on this forum we don't have the J.K Rowlings of the world who might beg to differ from MacDonald.

And yes, clearly everything I said won't be applicable to every novelist. Many novelists will never see a book of their made into a movie, or be at that point in their careers. And their nothing wrong with that.

I also think part of the disagreement of some people maybe that different people have different career aims. Some people maybe happy to be published writers. Others may very well want to be in the news or on television all the time.

JustinoXXV
03-12-2005, 08:46 AM
In a nutshell, if you're the kind of writer who wants to be a superstar, yes, you'll likely want and need PR people. If you're someone who has no interest in being in the public eye and just want to be sold, PR isn't all that necessary.

James D. Macdonald
03-12-2005, 08:54 AM
Please stick to things that you know about, lad. You'll be happier for it.

Medievalist
03-12-2005, 10:36 AM
So why then, do best sellers go on interviews on all sorts of media outlets, if these individual author attempts are totally useless and fruitless.


That is NOT PR driven by the author; that's entirely driven by the publisher. The publisher arranges the interviews, the transport, the entire schedule and expenses for a press junket. It takes months to do that, and depends on coordinating the efforts of several people, and it's far too much for the author to foot the bill. You can't buy that kind of PR. Even in film/tv, that kind of exposure is arranged by the studios, not the actor/director.

James D. Macdonald
03-12-2005, 10:46 AM
That is NOT PR driven by the author; that's entirely driven by the publisher.

More than that, unless and until you're a bestseller, no one is going to be interested in interviewing you, and if you do get an interveiw, no one is going to be interested in reading/seeing it.

Does anyone really think that Rowling got rich by hiring a publicity firm?

Galoot
03-12-2005, 11:13 AM
I've never bought a novel based on an advertisement. Ever. I don't rule out the possibility of it happening some day, but it would have to be a print ad and it would have to be about, oh...the length of the book's first chapter.

Those "Try These Other Authors by Publisher X" ads you see in the back of paperbacks are about the only ads that might--might--make me think about buying an untried author's book. But that's a big maybe, and I'd be likelier to ask for opinions first.

The only advertisement that is guaranteed to get me to try a new author's novel is, well...a free novel.

James D. Macdonald
03-12-2005, 05:44 PM
I've never bought a novel based on an advertisement. Ever.

I wouldn't be too sure about that. But it would have been an ad that you never saw, in a trade publication aimed at bookstore owners, that got the book onto the shelf in the first place.

Medievalist
03-12-2005, 06:48 PM
I wouldn't be too sure about that. But it would have been an ad that you never saw, in a trade publication aimed at bookstore owners, that got the book onto the shelf in the first place.

I have purchased books (technical, and SF and Fantasy) because of writers saying smart / useful things on the 'net. But the public tends to buy "discretionary" books for three central reasons:

1. The reader is making a "branding" purchase; she has read books by the author in the past.

2. The reader has looked at the book, the cover, the back, and browsed inside. Most initial buy or not buy decisions are made in five minutes to seven minutes. There's a lot of research about this, sponsored by the chains, and in part, because of the early e-book industry in '95. Random House and Borders sponsored lots of research on how to get buyers to buy ebooks, and they looked at how buyers buy the codex.

3. Word of mouth; a trusted source has suggested the book is worth buying.

4. Reviews. This is not always treated separately from 3 in research, and it should be. There are also "reviews" which are really product placements. Consquently, we don't really have adequate data about the efficacy of reviews and sales. There's also a difference between a "review" on Amazon, and a review in, say, Locus, or the New York Times.

Tiaga
03-12-2005, 06:57 PM
I think it depends on what type of publicity.
Tom Clancy sent a case of his first book Hunt for Red October to the Pentagon for generals and Navy brass. One of them liked it and gave a copy to President Regan. He was seen reading it and when asked on T.V. he said it was a good yarn. Sales went ballistic. Some PR definitely can sell books.

Sheryl Nantus
03-12-2005, 07:10 PM
I look at it as a simple case of numbers.

Can *I*, the author, spend as much money and find resources to promote my book as a major publisher? Even a smaller one with a catalog and a small marketing department?

Not likely.

;)

CaoPaux
03-12-2005, 07:19 PM
Some PR definitely can sell books.The argument is not against PR, but against the AUTHOR paying for and coordinating the PR. Leave it to the publisher. They’ve got the money/contacts/resources to be effective.

Jaws
03-12-2005, 07:44 PM
The real problem with this whole thread is that some people are misusing the term "PR" to mean "any reaching out to the public in any fashion." That's not what the term means in the publishing industry. PR, in the publishing industry, is restricted to effort to publicize the author, usually "coincidentally" with the release of one or more books. Efforts that focus on a single title are "marketing."
Bluntly, even inside of the publishers, PR is usually viewed as a means of building brand identity for products not yet on the shelves and of stroking delicate author egos. There is virtually no verifiable evidence or correlation between PR efforts and sales of currently available works; all of the evidence with any correlation at all—and it's extremely low, barely passing the 60% confidence level, which means "it's somewhat better than random"—relates to marketing, not PR, and even that is at best both sketchy and undermined by intervening causes and self-fulfilling-prophecy problems.
On the other hand, one can look at this like a chemist examining a flask filled with an unknown gas. (Smartass implications intended.) There is nothing whatsoever I can do to predict or influence the speed or vector of any individual gas molecule inside that flask. Nothing. If, however, I heat (or cool) the entire flask, the probability of increasing (or decreasing) the speed of that molecule is higher, just because I have changed the median behavior. Of course, if I throw the glass flask on the ground, like the industry is so wont to do, my predictability definitely decreases…
OK, that was a fascinating tangent, but what does it mean to this discussion? My point is that Justino (among others) is using the term "PR" in a way that publishing industry people like me, like Uncle Jim, like Victoria, etc. do not. In other words:

"What we have here is failure to communicate."
None of us place any store in PR (as we understand the term) having a predictable effect on sales of any particular book; only perhaps—and that's a big perhaps—the flask of books from a particular author. The implication of that should be pretty clear: PR (as we understand the term) probably won't work at all for single-book authors. And on this latter conclusion, to quote the young Jed Bartlett, I've got numbers.

JennaGlatzer
03-13-2005, 01:54 AM
This thread is confusing me.

You know my bona fides: I'm a full-time nonfiction author with a good track record.

I do PR. I think it's important. When I do more PR, I sell more books.

My publishers (Nomad included) do PR-- e-mail campaigns, galleys to the trades, review copies to other publications, etc.

I set up a lot of my own interviews, occasional book signings and workshops, writing articles in exchange for a bio with my book info, etc.

Sometimes the results are quantifiable: I can do a radio interview, then check if my Amazon rank goes up or if people have called the toll-free # to order from my publisher.

I think this thread is too full of generalities. I know the Chicken Soup guys... their series exploded because of their own PR efforts. They set up all their own interviews (radio was a great medium for them), speaking engagements, contacted companies for co-op advertising, etc.

Where I think it becomes dangerous is when authors pay a great deal of money for a publicity firm or their own efforts (to get direct mail lists, take out ads in guest-finder services, ads in the paper, etc.) and the distribution isn't in place.

In other words, when you have a self- or vanity-published book that isn't in bookstores, for God's sake, don't spend thousands of dollars on publicity! It just won't work. The book has to be readily available to the general public FIRST. Then, if you choose to take the risk, at least it's a risk that has the possibility of paying off. But never, ever put yourself in the poor house to publicize a book. Too much like gambling.

I've asked people how they learned about my books. Many of them have learned about them through reviews and interviews (especially the books I've written for writers). I do believe that this is more useful for nonfiction than fiction.

Anyway, my point is that whether the publisher gets you on the Today Show or you get yourself there, it's PR, and it works.

Are we miscommunicating somewhere? I'm still confused about the general premise of this argument.

Daughter of Faulkner
03-13-2005, 03:05 AM
PR is very important!

Galoot
03-13-2005, 04:40 AM
Everything I had to say above dealt with fiction. As far as non-fiction is concerned I can accept that self-promotion might work. I'll use "self-promotion" rather than "PR" and "marketing" so as not to incur the Great White wrath. :D

Being such a vague term, though, it's fair to say that everyone here has self-promoted their writing to me in one way or another. I'm far more likely to pick up a book by AW User #X now, assuming I like their style in the forums, than I would have been if I'd seen an ad or heard an interview.

I think I just wasted a reply. I don't know if this has anything to do with the current discussion. Oh well.

JustinoXXV
03-13-2005, 02:18 PM
"In other words, when you have a self- or vanity-published book that isn't in bookstores, for God's sake, don't spend thousands of dollars on publicity! It just won't work. The book has to be readily available to the general public FIRST. Then, if you choose to take the risk, at least it's a risk that has the possibility of paying off. But never, ever put yourself in the poor house to publicize a book. Too much like gambling."


I agree with this. I hope it didn't sound like I was advocating anything like the above comments.

Publishers, production companies, and studios do hire PR agencies for new releases. And yes, depending on the case, these people may get the authors or other talent on television exposure or magazine exposure. However, authors and other talent often have their own efforts as well.

Things vary considerably, and different author/artists will of course have different needs.

karenranney
03-13-2005, 11:03 PM
I think I'm speaking more about promotion than PR. Public Relations, to me, is the building up of the author's brand. Promotion is more narrowed, to the book itself. I've rarely seen any successful promotional efforts, but a great deal of money expended on it. For example, the romance community seem gung ho on flyers, bookmarks, posters, etc. Save your money.

When you write a great book, you begin the "word of mouth" cycle, which in turn feeds the PR cycle.

Bottom line for me? Promotion - ehh. Public Relations - great.

James D. Macdonald
03-14-2005, 12:00 AM
We've all heard of authors who have spent their entire advance on a PR firm (or even borrowed money to hire PR firms) and not earned it back in royalties.

karenranney
03-14-2005, 01:30 AM
One more clarification: PR firms. I've rarely seen an occasion when hiring a PR firm was justified. Maybe I haven't reached that stratosphere yet. Avon sends people on great author tours - I'm trying to reach that level. How? I do a ceremony by which I sacrifice a chicken (from the grocery store, already wrapped in plastic), don a ceremonial headdress and do the bunny hop around a cauldron. I also have a lot of candles that smell like mulled wine which I burn until I almost pass out, all the while reading something from Charles Dickens. That one seems to work well.

I had a friend (with his own PR firm) do some PR for one book. He was not the most helpful person (dear God, but I found myself in some weird places) , but he did get me some great interviews. Whether or not those interviews helped my branding, I have no idea.

I'm known as a "dark" author, a label I've had pinned on me from around that time. Another one is "queen of angst". I guess all I can do is write a damn funny book. I should start incorporating the Three Stooges into my rituals (which brings up another point - why do guys LIKE the Three Stooges?)

JennaGlatzer
03-14-2005, 01:22 PM
LOL @ Karen!

Two of my author-friends regularly use PR firms and have success with that. I've used a PR firm, too, and they did an excellent job of landing me lots of radio interviews, though it wasn't a big success for me in terms of immediate sales.

(Oh, and Justino, I didn't think you were advocating what I mentioned earlier. I was just making a general point.)

Nomad (Lauri) and I are nonfiction people. Maybe that makes a difference in our views. Don't know. But I do both: "brand-building" for myself overall, and promotion for individual books. I've seen results from each method. I find that either way, what carries the book long-term is word of mouth and branding, but you get there (sometimes) by doing the individual book promotion... for example...

I did a lot of book-specific promotion on Outwitting Writer's Block. People bought it. If it was a lousy book, I would still have made some sales, but no buzz would have built beyond the initial promo push. Instead, lots of people wrote great reviews on Amazon and in their blogs, got some good word-of-mouth going, and I've gotten several letters from people who told me they bought Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer because they read and loved Outwitting Writer's Block first. In other words, my book-specific promo of that book wound up helping my next book, too, because it started the chain reaction and the brand-building.

PR/promo/whatever term we want to use is always a gamble-- may wind up being a waste of time and money, may pay off big-time. That's why I advocate "responsible PR" ;) -- getting your ducks in a row first, then doing some test-run PR before deciding how much more to do and what kinds of promotions are working for you. With my latest book, we found out that e-mail campaigns worked better than radio, book signings, etc., so we kept up with that (and the best news is that it's no-cost, just effort-based). For my next book, I may find that different media works better. But in short, I think a lot of books that would have otherwise languished in a remainder bin took off because PR/publicity started the buzz.

The whole Outwitting series got its real start when the author of Outwitting Squirrels sent Rosie O'Donnell a copy of his book because she'd been complaining on her show that squirrels kept getting into her bird feeder. He got on the show. Quirky topic, and not something most people would even think to go searching for in a bookstore. But if I remember right, he sold about 500,000 copies as a result of that appearance... of a book that easily could have been "invisible" otherwise.

biotales
03-14-2005, 06:55 PM
The question is not whether you should use PR to promote yourself and your work. But finding a firm (or individual) that is accredited and knows the Book Publishing field.
A good PR person is worth their weight, and can make a big differance in the sales of your book and of you.
I say you because I am assuming you will be writing other books. So to me your name and face are just as important as the current work that is being promoted.

Lauri B
03-14-2005, 09:45 PM
Finally came back to this thread and read through what everyone else has to say. Thanks for clarifying what you meant by publicity, Jim--I should have read your posts more carefully in the first thread.

There are lots of ways authors can help promote their books (and thus themselves) without spending a lot of their own money to hire a pr firm or publicist. The first step (duh) is to find out what kind of marketing and promotion plan your publisher has for your book before it goes to press so you know where you'll have to help pick up the slack. Lots of publishers have marketing budgets only for selected titles: the other titles on their list are "sink or swim" books that have shown (usually via a P&L statement) that they'll probably break even regardless of a lack of promotion.

If for some reason your publisher doesn't have a marketing or publicity plan for your book or they are open to suggestions for continued promotion, go for it--your efforts can only help your publisher--or take charge and promote on your own: come up with a press kit or ideas for what can go into a press kit. Help come up with a list of publications appropriate for your book that may be interested in reviewing it. Send out review copies to them on your own, if you need to. That's a much better use of your money than hiring someone to promote you when no one has heard of you or your book. You can do it yourself: all the information is online or at your library.

Come up with a list of topics you can write about that either you or your publisher's marketing department can pitch to trade or consumer publications. Find publications that need experts in your field, then write articles that include your book's name in your byline.

It's not glamorous, and it's not the same as getting an invitation to sit next to Oprah and talk about your new novel (which isn't likely to happen, ever). But it's free, and you have a far greater likelihood of getting a review, excerpt, or even an op-ed on a topic related to your book where you promote the title tangentially than you would a spot on any talk show.

Your publisher is unlikely to tell you not to hire a publicist or PR person if you want to: why would we? it makes our job easier, and we're not paying for it. But of the few Nomad authors who have gone this route, I have only known of two who thought it was worthwhile, and it's impossible for me to track whether sales jumped because of the pr firms' efforts.

Publicity is vital for early sales, and great if you can get some later on, when your book moves into backlist. But it's the grinding, onoing book marketing and promotion that is even more important--and authors' new ideas and participation along the way make a big difference to backlist success.

What authors should not do is write their book, send it in to the publisher, and then wait for media to come calling. It's not going to happen. And don't even get me started on book signings and author tours.

brinkett
03-14-2005, 10:03 PM
And don't even get me started on book signings and author tours.

Oooooh, but now you've got me curious. Do tell. (Please)

Lauri B
03-14-2005, 10:33 PM
Ha! In my experience (as both an author and certainly as a publisher), author tours for everyone but the most well-known authors aren't worth the author's time, the publisher's money, or the bookstore's efforts. Author talks at select venues--for a workshop, a festival, a conference, etc.--those can be great. But to schedule an author to come sign at a bookstore doesn't do much for anyone. We might see a slight increase in orders from a store or chain, but they are almost always followed up by a hefty return rate (which we pay for) as soon as the author goes home. As an author, I've gone to signings set up by publishers and had a great time reading and/or signing--but there have never been more than 20 to 30 people at most, and not all of them bought books. And those are the best-case scenarios. If authors want to do signings, I say, great--but set them up yourself, and do them where you have a local following (or at least friends to come). I wouldn't spend money on organizing or paying for an author to go out on the road; I'd rather put my marketing dollars to work getting the books into the stores and showing book buyers that my authors are promoting their works in their chosen medium, through articles, interviews, etc.
A great review in a trade publication, an excerpt or op-ed in a national daily with a by line and a book mention--those help sell books. An author sitting at a table hoping someone will stop by so they can sign a book doesn't.

DaveKuzminski
03-14-2005, 11:03 PM
I should start incorporating the Three Stooges into my rituals (which brings up another point - why do guys LIKE the Three Stooges?)

Well, it's because we can see a lot of other guys we know in the behavior of The Three Stooges. Haven't you ever seen a guy say, "Hey, watch this!"? Or have you ever heard one retort, "Hell, I can't!" after being told it was impossible for him to do a certain activity?

Of course, in the real world, those are generally famous last words for Darwinian awards given out in the form of death certificates at an emergency room, but in the movies it's fun to watch just like it's fun to watch Wile E. Coyote create that little dust cloud just after falling a thousand feet from the cliff to the desert floor. But it's funny only because they survive.

brinkett
03-14-2005, 11:14 PM
Thanks.

I remember feeling sorry for an author doing a signing. He was sitting behind a huge table with a healthy pile of shiny new books, watching everyone rush by. He looked forlorn. I knew who he was--he's a well known history buff in the city I live in and has regular spots on some of the radio stations (his book was related to the history of the city)--but you wouldn't know it because the whole time I was there, not one person stopped by. I read somewhere that if you're going to do a tour, make sure you know where the bathrooms are at each stop because that's the question you'll get the most. :)

James D. Macdonald
03-14-2005, 11:25 PM
And don't even get me started on book signings and author tours.

IMHO, more fun than oral surgery without anesthetic, but not by much. Waste of time, waste of money.

Only do 'em if you get off on 'em.

karenranney
03-15-2005, 04:01 AM
The last two booksignings I had - 5 years ago, because I refuse to do another one - one guy came up to me and asked if I wrote "crotch novels". Another guy asked me where the bathroom was. Believe it or not, it was a very successful signing, but it was still ghastly. Shudder.

JennaGlatzer
03-16-2005, 04:08 AM
I still do them from time to time, but on the whole, I agree with Lauri, Jim, and Karen. They can be a nice way to meet your readers, but not a particularly effective way to sell books.

Unless you're Jamie. The "Bachelorette" guy whose book I co-wrote just sold 220 books at his last signing. You might say, "Oh, that's 'cause he was on TV," and you'd be partly right-- but the bigger reason is the amazing effort he put in to setting up the signing: He put fliers in half the mailboxes in the city letting people know about it.

I've had pretty good turnouts at my signings-- never had to sit there and look forlorn-- but even so, it was more helpful in terms of getting to hear the audience questions and knowing what my "fans" wanted for my next book than it was financially beneficial.

BTW, I'm moving this to the book publicity board because it isn't a "Beware" topic.

Galoot
03-16-2005, 06:18 AM
I've had pretty good turnouts at my signings-- never had to sit there and look forlorn
Gosh, y'think?

Let's see. I'm imagining myself at a book store. Sitting at Table A is some guy with glasses and long hair with some gray in it, and sitting at Table B is a young dark curly-haired woman with a lovely smile. I wonder which table I'd go to. :D

Sorry, James. Unless you're giving out free donuts, Jenna wins.

James D. Macdonald
03-16-2005, 06:55 AM
Sorry, James. Unless you're giving out free donuts, Jenna wins.

I put out bowls of chocolate.

sleary
03-17-2005, 07:00 PM
We've all heard of authors who have spent their entire advance on a PR firm (or even borrowed money to hire PR firms) and not earned it back in royalties.

It's also a really bad idea to spend that kind of money on having a website built. You should have one, certainly, but it shouldn't cost you that much (http://www.sillybean.net/archives/645/).

maestrowork
03-17-2005, 07:16 PM
I think advertising and publicity are important if you're already a name. It lets people know your new book is out (go get it NOW) and it's part of the branding. Advertising/publicity doesn't directly sell products, but they rouse awareness, and that's why people spend billions in advertising. McDonald's and Pepsi, for example, spend more than $1 billion each in advertising alone. Not everyone is going to watch a McDonald's commercial and rush out to get a Big Mac. But advertising does work, especially for the "brands." The better known the brands (Budweiser, Nike, Coca Cola, etc.) the better advertising works. Advertising is the bread and butter for newspapers and media companies. Now, I don't know if we can quantify how well advertising works w.r.t. actual sales....

For a no-name writer, however, it could be a waste of money, unless there's something unique about the product. Current events, or something intriguing like the true identify of the Christ or something (the topic of The Da Vinci Code helped push Brown to celebrity status, even though his first few books weren't really best sellers, per se).

JennaGlatzer
03-18-2005, 01:40 AM
James, I put out bowls of chocolate, too, AND candies for diabetic people.

I totally win. ;)

No, really, I've sometimes also put out invites on WAHM boards to tell them that I'll pass out samples or coupons for them at my signings. That can be a cool attractor, too. Learned that from one of our Absolute Writers who talked about how she got a spa products manufacturer to give her loads of samples for signings of her spa-related book. Neat.

awatkins
03-18-2005, 04:17 AM
AND candies for diabetic people.

Bless you, Jenna!

Galoot
03-18-2005, 06:19 AM
AND candies for diabetic people.
Damn. Now Mrs. G will follow me to the table. I'll have to be good. James! Put out some perfume samples or something, would you?

Ella
04-14-2005, 04:12 AM
Wow. Great thread.

Glad to see some debate. I really hope that some of the newer authors can take heed and not get 'taken'.

I believe that a term that should be focused on is RELATIONSHIPS. Here's my perfect example:
I recently attended a reading, invited by a friend who knew the author. We heard a reading from her current novel (nicely on display) plus the next book due out a few months after. Had an extensive Q&A period, then went for coffee & dessert after.

I enjoyed the reading and the author. I bought the hardback book. I've told a few others about it, which may or may not bring some sales. The most important thing is because I enjoyed this book, I will buy the next in the series, and may tell a few more people. Also, I will buy some of the author's other series.
If there were only sales of 10-20 books that evening, they were a catalyst for many more sales.

Saying this, this obviously won't work for one-shot wonders. Newly published authors hopefully will have other works planned, to give the readers a reason to invest in their 'caring' about this author.

On 'tours':
I'll be working with an author this summer/fall on a small tour of our region, within a day's driving distance. It won't cost a lot of money, and it will get us the heck off the computer for a while. :) And we're not just going to do signings. (Yes, seeing that lonely guy at his table is heart wrenching, and unnecessary.) We'll do readings, giveaways, and mini-workshops. There's no reason why people can't be given another reason to show up! Give a small talk on writing, or further info on the subject of your book. We'll contact coffee shops, book stores and libraries. We will send press releases off, and ask the locations to do a little publicizing themselves.
Are we going to sell a lot of books? Maybe enough to pay for gas. But the author is getting out there, meeting people, working in small venues. She is dedicated and has a ten novel contract with her publisher. As her success builds, she'll be facing larger groups, and this is a great start.

Best wishes to all!

writersblock
04-19-2005, 11:18 AM
I just came upon this thread; hope it isn't dead yet. That's because I'd like to hone in on the "author generated" PR: Yes, in the best of worlds publisher will take care of all that. What about self-published books though? How are you going to create a buzz about your book if you don't promote? I know someone who self-published (against the advice of everyone and his uncle), hired a publicist to lay groundwork for a PR campaign, and then worked tirelessly to promote the book. He actually enjoyed it, too. Of course, he didn't have unrealistic expectations of sellling hundreds of thousands of copies, but, in 14 months he sold about 5,000, didn't make loads of money, but some. The way to look at it is, if he didn't go out there and shamlessly promoted his book, 5,000 people wouldn't have read it. Think of self-publishing as any start-up bussiness; you HAVE to spend money to make money (judiciously, of course). Unless you have aspirations to become the next Dan Brown, you CAN be moderately successul self-publishing (even though nay-sayers will tell you otherwise), and for that you HAVE to go the PR route.

Lauri B
04-20-2005, 09:17 PM
I just came upon this thread; hope it isn't dead yet. That's because I'd like to hone in on the "author generated" PR: Yes, in the best of worlds publisher will take care of all that. What about self-published books though? How are you going to create a buzz about your book if you don't promote? I know someone who self-published (against the advice of everyone and his uncle), hired a publicist to lay groundwork for a PR campaign, and then worked tirelessly to promote the book. He actually enjoyed it, too. Of course, he didn't have unrealistic expectations of sellling hundreds of thousands of copies, but, in 14 months he sold about 5,000, didn't make loads of money, but some. The way to look at it is, if he didn't go out there and shamlessly promoted his book, 5,000 people wouldn't have read it. Think of self-publishing as any start-up bussiness; you HAVE to spend money to make money (judiciously, of course). Unless you have aspirations to become the next Dan Brown, you CAN be moderately successul self-publishing (even though nay-sayers will tell you otherwise), and for that you HAVE to go the PR route.

That guy sold 5,000 self-published books in 14 months? Good work! I agree that authors should shamelessly promote their books--in fact, I wish some of our authors would spend a heck of a lot more time promoting their books than asking me why I'm not doing more of it for them. As a small publisher, though, I'm very budget conscious, and would much rather get publicity through grassroots efforts that don't cost much than spend several thousand dollars for the same results--and if you are a new author who has written a book (especially fiction) that doesn't necessarily fit into a specific marketing niche or doesn't have a hook to promote it easily or effectively, hiring a publicist to send out releases that you could do yourself isn't a good use of your marketing funds. I think your friend is very much a minority in the world of self publishing, but I applaud him.

maestrowork
04-21-2005, 03:24 AM
I agree that authors should shamelessly promote their books
That's very difficult for a lot of people, me included. I mean, I have a book coming out and I'm still shy talking about it, even though I really do believe in the book... it's that "poser anxiety" thing, you know... like one day someone is going to find out I'm a fraud, and the louder I am tooting my own horn, the worse I fall...

How can a publisher help those authors who are really shy or just not the type who like to "shamelessly" promote their books?

Ella
04-21-2005, 04:05 AM
Do NOT think of talking about your books as 'shamelessly promoting' or 'tooting your own horn.'. These phrases need to disappear - be gone from your head!

When you talk to people, you are going to tell them about your book, just as if you are speaking to a friend - only without the foul language. Do not think of making a sale - think of at least bringing it up to talk about it. This is half the battle.

Your approach after that will depend on the individual situation. If you're at a signing/reading/booth, you're going to say "We have copies for sale and everyone who makes a purchase receives a free t-shirt."
If you're talking one on one, you're going to tell them either A)You have copies in your car/briefcase/backpack if they'd like to take a look, which is preferable to B) You can find them at such and such a store.

I personally loathe the sales tactic of not giving the customer a yes-or-no-answer question. (Would you like the hardcover or the paperback to take home with you today?) It's so obvious what's going on.

I find selling is like writing. JUST DO IT. Take the plunge and open your mouth. It's surprising at how much feedback you can get by just getting out there. And no, nothing is ever 100%, but it's better than 0%.

Ella
04-21-2005, 04:11 AM
Publishers can be offended and put-off by an author who is not willing to promote their book. Publishing a book is a partnership. The publisher puts a lot of money into a book, and then more money into sales and promotion. Why should the author do nothing? An author who is putting some elbow grease into the promotion of their work will be far more successful than one who isn't.

maestrowork
01-25-2006, 11:53 PM
The argument is not against PR, but against the AUTHOR paying for and coordinating the PR. Leave it to the publisher. They’ve got the money/contacts/resources to be effective.

Bringing up an old subject, because lately I've been thinking about publicity and publicists again...

What if the publisher can't/won't corordinate the national PR effort? Should the author consider it (given that she could afford it), or should she forget it. Meaning, the bottomline: Does publicity (interviews, etc.) sell books or make people aware of who you are as a writer? Or is it a waste of time and money?

maggie2
01-26-2006, 04:12 AM
I agree with Jenna, PR is very important. You can do all kinds of things nowadays to generate publicity and never even have to leave your own home. Many radio interviews are done over the phone, and cost you nothing. You can do all kinds of interviews and different things to create attention for your books on the Internet and it doesn't cost you a dime and again, you don't have to leave home. You can use some of the tools on Amazon and that doesn't cost either.

What it does take is time and effort to create interest in your books. I have had five books in print over the past ten years and I know for a fact that the books that sold the best were the ones I did the most publicity for.

I am just now in the process of self-publishing a book on spirituality. As part of the work necessary for me to generate interest in the book I have probably spent at least 150 hours finding places on the net where I can get book reviews and or be interviewed. I will write articles to give away to several sites that deal with spirituality. I belong to forums where I'm getting known as one of the regulars and making contacts that way. I am also doing a ton of other things to generate interest but don't want to go into more detail at the moment. From my past experience I know that I need to do these things if I hope to sell a reasonable quantity of my books. It's just part of the business of being an author.

If you have any other questions about my marketing plans I'll be glad to answer them for you. Don't let anyone tell you marketing and publicity isn't important because it is vitally important. Don't set yourself up to fail with your book by being unwilling to do the hard work of getting out there and getting known. It pays off and you deserve the positive results you will reap by working to promote your book on a regular basis.

Good luck with your book.

maestrowork
01-26-2006, 04:31 AM
It seems, though, that publicity works best with non-fiction writers who have something to say, something to tie back to their expertise. For fiction writers, it seems like it could be a waste of time if people don't know you or your work, unless the novel touches on something that is noteworthy such as War on Iraq or something.

Opinions?

reena
01-26-2006, 07:58 PM
I think if we all writers come together and help each other to promote all the books,it can really help.A proper setup should be made and all will hlp each other.
Come up with some extension to this idea.

Thanks
Reena

writaholic25
03-07-2006, 08:32 PM
i think both have to advertise, EXCEPT, the publisher is the one to that needs to spend the heavy money. you as an author, should make sure there is alot of word-of-mouth ref. to your book, ensure you get some book signings yourself, do some of the free work, that the publishers, dont like spending time on, b/c they dont think it gets enough attention. u never know, that just may b one more sell.

priceless1
03-10-2006, 12:59 AM
This seemed like a good thread in which to list this link: http://www.writersreaders.com/
Jerry Simmons, the owner of this site, is a lovely man whose nearly thirty years in the bookselling industry offers wonderful insights to this very topic being discussed. He retired as V.P. of Marketing for Time/Warner books three years ago and now spends his time working with authors and small publishers.

We had dinner with him last week in Phoenix and he offered us some great ideas for getting our authors and books into the market. I hope you find Jerry's site helpful.