Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: traditional publishing

Continuing Our Conversation about Traditional vs Self-Published Book Promotion


book promotion Our current conversation began on June 27th

You may want to take that link to see what was said…

And, I’ll break my usual pattern of posting to share the questions I asked at the end of that post:

> Have you had a book traditionally published?   Was the marketing for that book sufficient?

> Have you self-published a book?   What promotional strategies are you using?

Or, do you have a book nearly through the revision and editing stages and you’re considering which form of publishing will help your book end up in the hands of a “sufficient” number of readers?

Just before I share the reader comment that let this conversation continue, I’ll share my own basic views of traditional and self-published book promotion:

Traditional — Some promotion — at first — usually quickly withdrawn (especially for a first book…)

Self-Published — Completely up to you — only stops when you stop it — certainly can be wildly creative…

The first part of this conversation was responded to by an author in the UK:

“My first self published book sold over 200 copies and, although I was new to promoting I did all the usual things, local radio, local press, a website, offering talks etc. Any approaches to national papers or celebrities came to nothing. I built up a local following of about 50 people who then bought every book I wrote ( now seven) and poetry books I edited. They supported me, rather than the books. This may be the secret to marketing – self promotion. I don’t know. I’m still waiting to be discovered by the public at large.You know me, I write for fun, not money.”

Do take note what was “usual” for her—local promotion tasks…

And while she said nothing came of national efforts, many folks consider the normal first approach to be International, via blogging and social media—quite often with scant response, at First, since it seems to take awhile for any promotion to take hold…

And, I can’t find a thing wrong with going local first—having 50 local fans is something most writers never attain…

I find one statement from this seasoned author utterly critical:

“They supported me, rather than the books.”

All the promotional methods I’ve checked out that make rational sense and come from folks who know exactly what they’re talking about bring up the idea that you need a promotional strategy that embraces people, first and foremost — if folks like You, there’s a great likelihood they’ll like your books…

In traditional publishing, when the writer relies completely on the publisher to promote their book, the factor of human connection is invariably lacking; and, many traditionally published authors only got real promotion going when they took the reins into their own hands…

In case you didn’t read the first post in this conversation, here’s one book every self-publishing author needs to read:

Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience

To further encourage you to check out that book, here’s some of the blurb:

“As writers and artists, we feel the drive to do meaningful work, but we get overwhelmed by the process of connecting with an audience. We follow best practices in marketing that never seem to pan out, don’t produce results, and make us feel lost and frustrated. But creating doesn’t have to feel this way. Be the Gateway offers practical, insightful ways to build real relationships with your audience.”

And, while reminding you that it takes only one reader’s comment to continue this conversation, I’ll pose the same questions I started this post with:

> Have you had a book traditionally published?   Was the marketing for that book sufficient?

> Have you self-published a book?   What promotional strategies are you using?

Or, do you have a book nearly through the revision and editing stages and you’re considering which form of publishing will help your book end up in the hands of a “sufficient” number of readers?

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If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send me a free Voice Message
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Blog Conversation about Traditional vs Self-Published Book Promotion . . .


book promotion Our last conversation—Choosing What to Read—was only one post long, due to no reader comments…

So

I get to start a new discussion about traditional vs self-published book promotion :-)

I prefer “promotion” rather than the more common term “marketing” since promoting sounds less aggressive—to me, “marketing” means “business” and “promotion” means “relationships”…

Some of you may want a bit of background reading before the conversation really gets rolling; so, I’ll choose just a few appropriate past posts:

The Various Flavors of Publishing . . . (interesting comments on that one)

Will Traditional Publishers Survive? (two authoritative comments there)

Indie Authors Are Learning How To Act Like Publishers

The major issue I know about book promotion with traditionally published authors is lack of significant marketing help unless you’re already famous

Traditional publishers rarely have the generality of authors squarely in the sights of their all-consuming nurturing and care…

Also, even if there is a splash-bang beginning to a traditionally published book, low initial sales can instantly stop all promotional efforts as well as removing the book from the market…

So far, I’ve been saying what I’ve happened to learn; so, perhaps I should let Jane Friedman say a few words…

She’s joyously freelancing now but was working with F+W Media (which included Writer’s Digest) and “…oversaw the transition of what was a predominantly print-driven business to one centered on digital media, being responsible for the business strategy and financial performance of a brand that generated $10 million in revenue each year…”

She has an article where she discusses, 3 Things Your Traditional Publisher Is Unlikely to Do:

Send you on a national book tour
Invest in your book as much as their lead authors for the season
Market and publicize your work after the initial launch period has passed

So, there are the main failures of traditional publishers when it comes to promoting a book…

If you’re willing to self-publish, the promotion never has to stop as long as you’re alive and kicking (and, if your will spells it out, for much longer…).

Here’s a link to a discussion I started back in May, that never got off the ground—A Blog Conversation about Book Promotion

One mistake I made with that post was not specifying that it was only about self-publishing book promotion…

So…

Here’s a bit of what was said:

“‘As writers and artists, we feel the drive to do meaningful work, but we get overwhelmed by the process of connecting with an audience. We follow best practices in marketing that never seem to pan out, don’t produce results, and make us feel lost and frustrated. But creating doesn’t have to feel this way.’

“That quote is from the book Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience, by Dan Blank.

Dan’s blog has this to say:

“‘Too often, writers and artists rush into marketing without first finding clarity on what they want to create and who they hope to reach. The result? They flounder, jumping from one marketing trend to the next, each one with results that leave them feeling disappointed.’

“In my own forays into book promotion, I’ve met many folks who had plenty of decent tips and tricks to snag a few folks’ attention; but, until I read Dan’s book, I hadn’t come across someone with a complete philosophy of how to engage others…

“Over the seven years since I published my novel, from a sentence there and a treasured paragraph over there, I pieced together the plan I now pursue to promote my writing…

“When I read Dan’s book, I met a kindred soul, since he was laying out everything I’d labored to learn over all those years…”

> Have you had a book traditionally published?   Was the marketing for that book sufficient?

> Have you self-published a book?   What promotional strategies are you using?

> Or, do you have a book nearly through the revision and editing stages and you’re considering which form of publishing will help your book end up in the hands of a “sufficient” number of readers?

Perhaps you’d like to share a few of your experiences or problems…

It only takes one comment to have this conversation continue; though, leaving a comment with topics from the realms of Reading, Writing, or Publishing, that you’d like to see discussed, is just fine, too :-)
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If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send me a free Voice Message

More Conversation About “Genre” . . .


Genre My new “mode” of blogging isn’t all that old, so I’m very grateful the last post had as many comments as it did—when taking baby steps, a few more than none are to be treasured…

Plus, I recommend reading that first post in this particular conversation—Blog Conversation About “Genre” Writing . . .

What I’ll do this time is bring each comment into this post and follow it with my own ideas and feelings…

First one:

“I think ‘genre’ is a term fostered in modern times by publishers who found it easier to market their books to readers by putting them into recognisable categories. This way the publishers can develop a marketing approach for a wide number of folks who are placed in one huge niche. But if an author has their own individual niche and if there are too many of these individual niches the publisher will have to promote each one of these separately in a more individual way…the publishers often imagine that readers want to be told which blanket ’niche’ a book fits into – not that the book is unique and different and exciting in a new and indescribable way, that sounds unmarketable, because they don’t know how to present it. But which book, as a reader, would you go for?”

This comment is most interesting to me since it comes from an author who’s been traditionally published. The idea of “genre” is so ingrained in the book world’s culture it seems like a “given”—perhaps like thinking cappuccino is a “given” in the order of nature…

One reason I recommended reading that first post in this conversation is because I’d shared the etymology of “genre”, which included this: “Used especially in French for ‘independent style.'”

If it’s truly independent, it could hardly be something that mobs of other people slavishly copy…

One important note: When you self-publish, you can afford to avoid cramming a unique work into predetermined “genres”.

Next, a long but engaging comment:

“Genre is definitely a funny thing.
I myself find that I prefer stories that, at first glance, feel very different from the world I live in.
Whether it’s fantasy, sci-fi, suspense/horror, or comedy/romance, I prefer stories that take me to far away places.
And yet, underneath those cosmetic differences, the characters struggle with the same issues, and often come to the same conclusions.
I think there’s a way in which genre is often what initially draws us to and keeps us reading or watching a story, but whether we are satisfied afterwards speaks to the underlying patterns that are common to all stories.
I’m of the opinion that any strong story could be adapted to any genre, if you understand that underlying pattern of character identities, primary conflicts, and universal meaning(s).
The classic, to me, is how many of Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted to countless frames; ranging from high school to outer space.

“I think a lot of it is in response to how many stories are out there, and audience’s need to quickly and easily narrow down the range of possibilities.
My unconscious wants to see two characters clash in a brilliant display of swordsmanship, while my conscious mind wants to find complex meaning in that simple sword fight.

“I’ve definitely heard some authors discuss how they have to choose whether they want to thoroughly play to the horror genre or the “slice of life” “everyday relationship” genre. There’s that way in which artists first have to win the trust of the fans with conventional storytelling, and then, once they have a name, they can, if they feel comfortable taking a risk, step out of their prior patterns and try something new.”

I’m glad they said genre is funny…

To consider that the “story” of a work isn’t part of its “genre” is brave thinking…

As far as the reason for genre existing so folks can “quickly and easily narrow down” what they intend to read… Perhaps this is a result of genre being instituted by traditional publishers, then readers becoming used to it, with it then changing the way they choose books—culture shaping people instead of people shaping culture…

Next:

“I always have to put ‘General’ for my novels as they contain romance, crime, elements of a thriller, humour, and read like mini-sagas. The nearest explanation I have had from reviewers is that they read like ‘soaps.’ What genre would you call that?”

I told that reader that I’d call it “YOU:-)

Finally:

“Best expression I’ve found for my first novel is mythopoetic. The adventurous story unfolds as an odyssey, containing universal conflicts every reader can relate to, but mythopoetic is not a recognized genre. I had to use ‘fantasy’ as the nearest fitting genre, though the story evolved from deep roots of the imagination. Fantasy and imagination are not the same thing. Ib’n Arabi pointed this out centuries ago.”

I told this author that they could consider using “N/A” for the genre; but, then, I’m sure they chose an existing “category” because of “marketing” considerations…

I believe that self-publishing will more than likely supplant traditional publishing as the most common way to deliver a book to readers; and, readers are way more intelligent and adept than traditional publishers seem to believe—way more able to think outside any boxes the Big 5 impose…

Sure, there are plenty of folks who obediently read whatever the Big Brother publishers tell them they should read; but, addictions can be cured; and, self-publishing is re-educating readers so that they can be their own gatekeepers—choose they own particular brand of reading, satisfy their unique needs, take charge of what they use to fire their imaginations…

Also, Independent publishers would be more nimble and able to adapt to self-publishing’s tendencies toward infinite genres…

If each person expresses their own unique “kind” of personality, why can’t each book do the same?

My favorite fiction author is successful in a genre-world; but, to me, her books are all brilliant independent works of literature…

And then, there’s my best friend’s first novel, shoved into “Detective and mystery stories” by her home country’s National Library; when, in my review of it, I found it to be, “…a quilt of meanings that evoke many levels of feeling—moving in space and time to mine yet more meaning… pulling one’s heart into the events, attracting the mind to fresh thoughts about sadly well-worn topics…”.

Perhaps a book can be “categorized” by what it does to the reader rather than what the publishers use as a “hook” to lure profit for their stuffy conglomerates…

Care to comment and move the conversation forward…?
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If you don’t see a way to comment, try at the upper right of the post :-)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Great Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
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~ My Bio
Google Author Page

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message :-)

Our Blog Conversation Continues ~ Comparing Traditional Publishing & Self-Publishing …


Traditional publishing vs self-publishing Monday’s post—Continuing the Conversation ~ Readers as Gatekeepers—compared the experiences of two writers (me and a friend) who both prefer self-publishing but have favorite authors who traditionally publish…

Before I share the comment on Monday’s post that kept this conversation going, I feel I need to mention that there are great writers who are published traditionally as well as great writers amongst the ranks of the self-published; and, contrary to some folk’s awareness, there are mediocre writers who self-publish and writers, just as mediocre, who are published by the traditional houses…

Now, the comment from Monday that continued the conversation and stopped me from starting a different one :-)

“I enjoyed your responses to Nicholas Sparks’ comments on traditional publishing and I have a few more excerpts from him I’ll share:

“’Publishing is a business. Writing may be art, but publishing, when all is said and done, comes down to dollars. Keep that in mind. I say this because of the volume of mail I receive from unpublished writers who believe that “having a good story”, is enough to guarantee success. It’s not. I hate to say it, I wish it wasn’t true, but it’s not. Some of the best novels I’ve ever read never hit the best-seller list, then faded away before sadly going out of print. There are also some poorly written novels that do become best-sellers. Writing a great novel is the most important thing you can do to become a success, but sometimes it’s not enough these days.’

“While he focuses on the need of a good story, at least, he warns that in the traditional realm one of three things must happen. I’ll share these but I don’t like that this particular writer, in his traditional world, works directly with agents and editors who require a certain flare in the art. He even tells his reader he has 3 unpublished books and Stephen King has 5 because they were rejected by the traditional folks for lacking that ‘flair’.

“’These days, it seems there are only three ways for an author to hit the best-seller list with a first novel:
(1) have the novel recommended by Oprah (most if not all of the books she’s chosen for Oprah’s Book Club have become best-sellers, first time author or not, like “Deep End of the Ocean” by Jacqueline Mitchard);
(2) have the novel receive wide and lavish critical acclaim, thereby triggering the interest of the major media, like “Cold Mountain” by Charles Frazier; or
(3) write a novel that has good word-of-mouth, i.e., a well-written book that people read and enjoy and feel compelled to recommend to others, like “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” by Rebecca Wells. This doesn’t mean you can’t become a success with a later novel. Over time, quality work will lead to an audience for your work. In the end, readers always choose.’

“I believe this third category is where many of us self published devotees can excel. It seems he only clearly mentions self-publishing once:

“’If you only want to get a book published simply for the sake of finding it in a store for a few months (it won’t stay in the store forever unless it sells), keep your day job and consider publishing the novel yourself.’”

I feels to me that our commenter has presented an understandable case for self-publishing; but, I need to reply to a few of Mr. Sparks statements:

“Writing may be art, but publishing, when all is said and done, comes down to dollars.”

Well… When All is said and done, why does publishing Have to come down to dollars? Is it never possible to imagine a writer self-publishing at low or no self-cost and then offering their work for free?

Are all writers Doomed to chase dollars?

“Writing a great novel is the most important thing you can do to become a success…”

I realize Mr. Sparks has hit the Big-time with his books; however, I truly feel he should have used the phrase “make money” rather than the phrase “become a success”…

In my universe, writing a great novel is success enough…

Why does writing, in and of itself, not qualify as “success”?

Here is the word history of “Success”:

“1530s, ‘result, outcome’, from Latin successus ‘an advance, a coming up; a good result, happy outcome’, noun use of past participle of succedere ‘come after, follow after; go near to; come under; take the place of’, also ‘go from under, mount up, ascend’, hence ‘get on well, prosper, be victorious…'”

All of that can happen for a writer without them earning a cent…

And, “be victorious” is a wonderful description of the feeling so many writers have when all they’ve done is to finally edit their drafts into a good story…

Over time, quality work will lead to an audience for your work. In the end, readers always choose.”

While Mr. Sparks is keeping that comment inside the realm of traditional publishing, it’s equally valid for self-published work; however, even in the traditional world, many “quality ” works have not found their readers fast enough to avoid being taken off the shelves…

Those same works, if self-published, would stay on the “shelves” as long as the author wanted them there…

And, finally, this remark by Mr. Sparks:

“If you only want to get a book published simply for the sake of finding it in a store for a few months (it won’t stay in the store forever unless it sells), keep your day job and consider publishing the novel yourself.”

Again, self-published works stay on the “shelves” as long as the author desires—digital shelves as long as there’s an Internet and physical shelves as long as the author “works” the bookstores and libraries…

And, it’s a shame I have to say this in relation to a comment by a wildly “successful” traditionally published author; but, there are an increasingly large number of self-published authors who have ditched the day job………

Feel moved to make a comment?

If not, you could certainly express a desire to have another topic discussed… :-)
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Continuing the Conversation ~ Readers as Gatekeepers . . .


Readers as Gatekeepers For new folks—we’re having a continuing conversation on Mondays and Wednesdays; and, in about 11 weeks, it will also be on Fridays (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday will remain re-blogs from a select group of writers...)….

I said “continuing” because, even if no one comments on a post, I’ll keep the conversation going by myself :-)

So, the post last Wednesday—Continuing the Conversation ~ Shifting to Self-Publishing—looked into certain myths of Traditional publishing and measured those against certain truths of Self-publishing.

And, there was a comment on that post, by a good friend of mine—author and prison librarian; but, before I began writing this post we had a rousing discussion about the comment he made and it helped me clarify what he was aiming at.

That discussion happened in a virtual world (Kitely) that we both visit regularly…

Here’s his comment on Wednesday’s Conversation post:

“I admit I enjoy Nicholas Sparks and his clichés, heartstring pulling predictable formulas. I need it sometimes. He offers advice to writers on his webpage and explains:

“‘Publishers are generally less willing to take big chances in “growing” an author. They want books that will sell, and usually sell right away. If they don’t think yours will sell, odds are, they won’t take a chance on it. Why? A major reason is because authors in general have become more prolific. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner have fewer published novels combined than any number of contemporary novelists—Roberts, King, Koontz, Steel, etc.

“‘Why does this matter? Suppose a person reads about eight books a year. Odds are, the person also has a list of contemporary authors in their mind who are already favorites. Then there are the backup authors who they sometimes read. Then there are those authors whom they’ve heard of over the years who they might be willing to try out if the circumstances are right (at a rack in the airport, for instance). For most people, that’s coming up on eight books already. So why would they take a chance on someone new?’

“His solution was to write those easy tear jerking formulas. My feeling is this is why you should consider self publishing. I don’t want my metaphors and scenery to be written because they are perfect for the beach vacationer. That being said I never miss a book or movie of his.”

So…

My friend likes a bestselling, traditionally-published author…

And, I made my friend’s Main Point go blue so it would stand out…

And, he’s given you many words from that author he likes…

I’ll comment on a few of the things Mr. Sparks said:

Publishers are generally less willing to take big chances in ‘growing’ an author. They want books that will sell, and usually sell right away.”

There are Self-publishing authors whose books sell big and right away—they work hard to make that happen; but, at least, they maintain control of the copyright and everything else that happens to their books…

“If they don’t think yours will sell, odds are, they won’t take a chance on it. Why? A major reason is because authors in general have become more prolific.”

While Sparks commenting on authors being more prolific is, in essence, true, I think a more important reason Traditional publishers won’t take a chance on a book they think won’t sell is they’re totally profit-oriented…

Plus, when you dig a bit, you’ll find that the big publishers are quite often wrong about what books will sell—and, there are plenty of self-published authors who sell well and their books aren’t what trad. publishers think will sell…

And, the paragraph about folks reading 8 books a year so why would they take a chance on something new?

Well, the Self-publishing World is in the process of changing the “gatekeepers” of traditional publishing into Readers as Gatekeepers.

All the forums and book blogs and social media and other sites where readers can give their opinions are a “leveling effect”…

I feel that, eventually, most publishing will be by the individual authors; and, who sells most will be the ones who engage readers enough so they’ll give the authors a shout-out…

I’m a Self-published author—my all-time favorite fiction author is C. J. Cherryh; and, her 60+ novels are all Traditionally published…

And, my librarian/author friend loves a Traditionally published author; yet he can say:

“My feeling is this is why you should consider self publishing. I don’t want my metaphors and scenery to be written because they are perfect for the beach vacationer.”

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So…

Did this part of our conversation make you feel like you want to say something in the Comments?

If not, are there other topics you wish we’d discuss here…?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com