Authors unfamiliar with the book publishing industry can sometimes stumble on the path to publication by not understanding the definitions and roles of people in editing, production, distribution, and sales. By having clarity on the function and purpose of service companies and freelancers, authors can be smarter about hiring the right help.
I’ve been speaking at writing conferences since 2002, and over the last 15 years, the one topic of conversation that has changed the most dramatically is self-publishing. Not only has the substance of the conversation changed, but everyone’s attitudes have completely transformed. The trouble is that while this change has been largely welcome (at least from my point of view!), it hasn’t always been for the best.
Book marketing and book promotion packages are a common offering from author service companies as well as publishing service providers—and for good reason. There’s demand for them and first-time authors, whether indie or traditional, need guidance.
If you’re one of the many authors who tried to get traditionally published first, and are now considering or pursuing self-publication instead, then this post is especially for you. Some authors really want that “traditional” experience, but don’t know exactly what it looks like, where the most value lies, or what aspects of it can be feasibly translated over to the publishing process of an independent author. Having been through both experiences myself, here’s what I would give the most thought and consideration to when deciding how to publish a book.
Think of it as the Oprah effect: whenever someone with a bigger platform than you pays attention to your book, you are nearly guaranteed a significant sales boost that can sometimes jump-start your author career.
Whether you’re an unpublished or published writer, one area where everyone should exercise caution is when entering book contests and competitions. The rewards of winning them can be very low, and the cost to enter very high. Still, contests can play an important role in helping emerging writers get noticed and achieve recognition for work that might otherwise go unnoticed.
One of the key elements of a professional book marketing and publicity campaign is the advance review copy (ARC)—also known as a galley—usually produced and distributed three to six months before the final book goes on sale.
The back cover copy you write for your book is among the most important marketing messages you’ll craft. It’s the essence of your book’s most exciting features, distilled into a few hundred words. It typically serves as the foundation for your online book descriptions, as well as any press releases or pitches you make to the media. It will get re-used and re-fashioned for dozens of purposes. Whatever labor you expend on perfecting it will reward you in the long run.
In every profession, there are little details that reveal the time, attention, and care you’ve put into your work. For independent authors and small presses, paying attention to these details can make a favorable impression on potential customers, especially those inside the trade—booksellers, librarians, and others who are intimately familiar with book publishing standards.