Thursday, August 26, 2010

CHAPTER EIGHT: Misconceptions, marketing and mass madness most mock

I talk to authors and writers everyday and one thing I am finding or hearing a lot is this: "I want to be published by a traditional publisher because they will market my book for me." or "POD or Self-published authors have no help marketing."

This opened up a world of questions and tells me that if these are your thoughts you do not understand publishing. Here is what I mean.

Publishing is a business, writing is a art but if you want to do it for a living or even if you don't but just want to have people read your book, well these all have one thing in common. You need to get your book into peoples hands. To make a living and to be a well read author.

To do this you need to market your book or books. The misplaced idea that a traditional publisher will do all the marketing for you if laughable if not absurd. Most of these publishers are spending their money on a sure bet like Dan Brown or James Patterson. For all the rest you may get some bookmarks and a press release but that is about it. If you do not believe me as someone that is published by a "BIG" publisher and see what they say.

The best person to sell your book is you. You have the passion, the ideas and people don't look at the author as a salesman, you are a artist and therefore you can sell them the book and say just about anything and get away with it. Now just so we understand each other... No matter how you are published most of the marketing will be on you. If your book does well or fails will be on you in the end.

I am finding out that the writing community is split up into groups. One group is the "High Brow" group. These scholars are made up of professors, poets, book critics and they play in the literature area of the game. Most of these well meaning people have never written anything or are still working on their masterpiece and it will never see the light of day. Some do finish and go on to win huge literary awards and bask in the glory of the five other scholars who tip a hat in their direction.

I am not in this group and would not want to be in this group even if I was the best writer of all time. They know nothing of marketing and will only aid you if your work is up to their standards. These look at writing as art and even if no one buys the book or understands the writing, (This must be a requirement) they look down on the ones who actually sell books.

Group two is the write a book to fit the need sort of like if Vampire book are hot they will write a vampire book. I call this group the "copycats." They do not care to copy others and try to ride the wave and most of this writing is lame with no thought going into it at all. I am not in this group but do see some of what they do to market and take note. You can see this author a mile away, no matter what you like to read this book is for you. "Oh, you like romance, yes this book is a amazing romance." You like science fiction, yup, this is a... oh, a western... yes, got shoot outs, it is all in here. It is hard for some to understand that their book may not be for everyone.

Last group is the "Realist." This is the author that writes for fun and enjoys the art of telling stories and does not take themselves to seriously. They are looked down upon from the High Brows as armatures and not worth their time. Yet these sell the mass majority of books. Their novels are not filled with large words because they write for the masses which do not speak with said words. They understand who their market is and sell to them without trying to force their work on someone who will not like it just because they think they are the best writer to walk the earth.

I think it is funny how many people are down on James Patterson because his writing is not good or he is boring and predictable ect... He sells more books and writes more books and they are mad because they can't sell one. It is not a matter of beautiful writing or content, it is a voice and speaking to people. The people hear him and will keep coming back for more but it is not because of the writing. This fact is what makes so many authors and book crazy people mad. He sells well because he markets well. He sells millions because he is out there selling himself. It is not about the writing, it is about the marketing.

Selling books is a business and if you don't understand that you may never be able to make a living writing. I know a ton of authors that write better and I know I have so much to learn and I am earning everyday. However I sell books. Not trying to be arrogant but why would you want advice from someone who can't sell a book? The reason I sell books is because I market. I talk to people and do book signings and get out there. If I had a bar of soap I was selling I would go to dirty people and try to talk them into using my soap.

You my author friend have a bar of soap. Who wants your soap? Why is your soap the best? Now go to the dirty people and sell them your soap! Now if your soap sucks... you will find out quick enough and work on the formula and make better soap. But sell like this is a real business. Because it is...

I am a perfect example of this... not because I am any better or because I have something you don't have. You should look at me and my books and say, "Wow, if this hack can sell books, so can I!" Really, i mean it, you can do this, but don't spend your life waiting on others, (Big Publishers) you are in control, if your work is good they will come. I never even tried to submit my books to a publisher, I emailed one but soon saw the error in wasting my time when I could write and if I made a big splash they would come to me. Now I have them calling me because they want a piece of the pie... make a splash and turn them down for a change... it might be fun.


  1. Fabulous post, Aaron! I feel EXACTLY the same way you do. I know both self-and traditionally-published authors, and have yet to see one of the trad. published writers whose books are marketed solely by the publisher. You are correct in that these publishers generally cater to the big names, and everyone else is pretty much sink or swim. Kudos for a very enlightening post, and I hope every author who reads it takes it to heart. It is all so very true--I know from experience, trust me!

  2. I wrote a blog post about this very issue just last week. I do a lot of skulking around the Amazon discussion threads, and one elitist decided to look down his nose at the rest of us who went the self-publishing route (I would never turn down a publisher, however. I'm not an idiot.), because he said he needed the aura of prestige that came with one of the big 6. I then tried to explain why his logic was flawed.

    10 years ago, before the explosion of eBooks, sure--a publisher might have worked a little harder on your behalf, setting up your book tours, your promotion, your distribution.

    But today, they do less work for the same amount of money, and with the eBook craze not having yet reached a tipping point, they're giving you a mere 4% of your eBook sales, AND doing everyone a disservice by pricing them out of the stratosphere at $9.99 or above, essentially shooting themselves in the foot. Publishers are SCRAMBLING right now because they didn't see the eBook train leaving the station, and now they realise they're not on it, and finding every way imaginable to get back on that train. They're failing miserably at it, however. So, it's making it more difficult for new authors who are still concreted to that old model.

    The guy didn't want to hear it. In fact, we were engaged in a week-long battle that eventually got ugly when he started to make it personal. After I did the math for him, showed him the statistics, laid out the reality that a publisher won't give you the Konrath prestige he was seeking (and even told him where Joe still had to do the bulk of his own marketing and publicising), he still basically dismissed me and called me an idiot.

    I've recently found a LOT of other authors who also subscribe to this notion. It's no skin off my nose, but they are in for a VERY rude awakening.

  3. I should add a P.S. and say I HAVE been published with a DTB publisher, and because it was my first publication and encounter with a publisher, I didn't know that I was responsible for my own marketing, thus, my book didn't get much exposure, because the publisher sat on his butt.

  4. I used to published with Big New York pubs...Those books are out of print. Now I enjoy agented deals, such as the one I have with The Remains, with an indy publisher who embraces the new world publishing model of ebook followed by trade paper. I market the crap out of them. Those books are bestsellers...Will I ever entertain a traditional big nyc pub deal again? It's up to my agent, but I do know this....the upfront money would have to be amazing....