#Book #Marketing: Expectations vs Reality

June 21, 2011

My Writing Posts

Every author is good at one thing at least: writing a book.

We all have a story to share or an idea to convey, and writing a book is our very own way to express these. But when it comes down to selling that idea or story, many challenges await.

It is a very common misconception that many authors have that once they find a publisher to print their writing, the work is done. I know that first hand, having had high hopes and expectations when signing my own publishing contract.

The reality of things, however, was almost a brutal eye opener for me. Brutal, but beneficial. Why? Because it empowers YOU, the author, and really gives you control over the fate of your book. It removes this illusion of reliance on the publisher or publicist, and allows you to discover the true potential of your book.  Let’s see how and why.

Expectations and Misconceptions

It’s a very common misconception for new authors that once a book contract is secured, the hard part is over. Terry Cordingley, Tate Publishing’s Director of Marketing, recently posted a blog article intitled Is it Good Business, or is it Vanity? In it, he does a very good job at demystifying the world of publishing for new authors. Here is a quote I really liked:

Many new authors have a fantasy of what it will be like when their book is finally released to the public.  Their phone will ring off the hook from all of the national TV talk shows that want them as a guest, there will be a line of people at the local bookstore eagerly waiting to buy their book, and the book will be in every bookstore, grocery store and airport gift shop in the country.  There will be instant fame and fortune.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

If this happened every time someone wrote a book, everyone would write a book.  We could all just buy each others’ books and become rich and famous.  Where do people get this idea?  I blame movies and TV shows which show an idealized version of authors who become instantly famous when their book is released.  That is about as realistic as most cop shows on TV.

I must confess that in my mind, I was certaintly had some misconceived expectations. As a person of shy nature, I am litteraly scared of public engagements. Book signings, readings, or other public promotional events are hard for me. I was hoping for my new-found publisher and marketing agent to put all their available resources into marketing my book and making me rich. Well, not that bad, but you get the idea right? My point is, a publisher runs a business. Businesses are there to make a profit. Which leads me to my next point.

Your Book, Your Reality

Kim Satflung, a blogger for Suite101.com, very aptly described what I think to be the very core principle of any author’s business plan:

To be a truly successful author, you have to treat book publishing, sales, and marketing as your own business no matter which type of book publisher you’re working with.(Read more at Suite101: How Proactive Authors Sell More Books: A Canadian Author’s Guide to Book Sales and Marketing | Suite101.com)

Your book is your business. If you have high expectations for your book, high hopes of sales volumes and recognition, the promotional work starts with you.

Your publisher is in the business of selling books. It will do what it can to help you with the task (Tate offers radio adds, TV adds, and even assigns a publicist to every author they have). But the core of the business rests on the author’s shoulders.

I’m not trying to be harsh or mean (I was there, remember?). But if you are an author, and you have a beautiful story or an amazing idea you want to promote, you need to believe in it. If you can believe in it, you can also truly grasp the potential value of it.

Now take that potential, and market that value. Don’t be shy, like I was, to put yourself out there and sell your book in every shape and form you can. Your publicist is definitly there to assist you, and share their expertise and experience to help you achieve your dream. They will answer your call, reply to your email, and send out queries if needed. But they will not hold your hand, as they probably have another few authors to help as well. Kim Satflung does a great job at putting this bluntly (source: Authors are Entrepreneurs, polishedpublishinggroup.com):

You don’t move books by hiding behind pieces of paper and email campaigns and websites. You move books by getting in front of your customers and talking to them; and you do this by setting up book signings, readings, craft sales, art shows, media tours, and speaking engagements whenever and wherever you can. You “pound the pavement” as we say in the sales world. You do the work that’s necessary to make yourself stand out among all the rest.

The process is not instantanuous. It may take time, according to circumstances and the effort put into it. As Terry Cordingley aptly put it in his article:

If fast is what you want you could always become embroiled in a Washington DC sex scandal, like former Congressman Anthony Weiner, or operate a Ponzi scheme and steal billions of dollars worth of money, like Bernie Madoff.  The truth is there is no quick path to fame.   Nearly every successful author has worked several years to become an overnight success.

As a relatively new and young author myself, I believe that the true potential of a book lies in the value an author puts into it. If you truly believe in your book, then you must also truly believe that it is your business and your  responsibility to make it reach its potential.

Simple tools and tips

So you are now convinced and ready to go forth and promote your book like your life depended on it. Thankfully, there are many tools and tips available to authors today to help you do just that.

Here are a list of the usual suspects:

  • Book Signings
  • Virtual Blog Tours
  • Craft Fairs
  • Book Readings

But you have heard about those before I’m sure! So why not visit Book Marketing 101 for a few more in-depth ideas to promote your book online?

Finally, I would LOVE to hear about your own ideas, marketing strategies, failures and success you have had with your own books.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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About Elizabeth Marcellin

Author of Element Keepers fantasy Novels

View all posts by Elizabeth Marcellin

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