Is the future bright or bleak for authors? From marketing and “direct to reader” sales to audiobooks and subscription services, here is a great article from The Written Word with publishing predictions for 2018. Well worth the read, my friends.
Song of the Day: Empire by Queesnrÿche
What would you do to get on the New York Times bestseller’s list? How far would you go? How far is too far?
Oh, sure. Many of us have tried to manipulate the algorithms and sales numbers in various ways to our favor. We might offer a book for free for a limited time. Loads of people will take advantage of freebies, not thinking twice about downloading a book. It’s free, for crying out loud. We beg shamelessly, if not apologetically, for ‘Likes’ and ‘Tags’ to maneuver us to the top in genre specific search engines. We’ve had our family, friends, writing pals, and street teams do buying blitzes to get our names up on the board. These efforts are in hopes to reaching a prestigious list and inching our way up the Top 100 or Top 10 lists. These lists validate us, offer recognition, and generate interest, thereby increasing our book sales organically—preferably in a snow ball effect which launches our careers into the stratosphere. Look out JK, Nora, Stephen, and James. There’s a new kid in town.
We explore endless marketing options, participate in blog tours and book signings, deliver our souls to social media, lug ourselves to conferences and conventions, invest our hard earned pennies in ads and swag. And even some of us hire PR assistants. All in the name of success. It’s what we do to build our enterprises. Who doesn’t want to be a household name, lounging on a private beach with muscular, oiled, deliciously bronzed gods fanning us with palm fronds, massaging our tired shoulders, feeding us grapes and adult beverages, and whispering in our ear how wonderful the movie-version of our book is doing at the box-office, or at least make a comfortable living as a writer?
But what if you could buy your way onto the New York Times bestseller’s list at the debut of your book upon your release date? Got deep pockets and a guarantee of 11,000 pre-orders of your unreleased book? You can purchase a spot. The practice is termed the bestseller campaign.
In short, you hire marketing firm ResultSource (cha-ching!) which specializes in bestseller campaigning and secure a pre-selling commitment of bulk sales that reach into the thousands.
Read more on how one author did it here.
And here’s another article in Forbes on the subject.
The argument is the same for those of us who have done freebie days or book bombing or any one of the multitude of ways to reach a list—getting your name out there long enough to glean status and interest It’s an investment into your career.
This is surprisingly not a new practice, nor is it exactly a secret. But it seems to be one that isn’t widely discussed. And while I can’t say for certain, I would wager that publishers aren’t rocking the boat if their clients decide to hire a firm to catapult them onto the bestseller’s lists. It is business, after all. And business good for the author is good for the publisher.
That said, I do want to point out that the articles I listed above are focused on business non-fiction books. However, the methodology could be applied to anyone who has written a book, has spare change burning a hole in their pockets and 5,000 Facebook friends who aren’t afraid of commitment. For me, I’d rather make a list based on my talent and merit.
So is this practice moral? Is it fleecing book buyers into thinking a title is popular and in demand? To an author, should it matter, so long as they get their ROI and, possibly, a fan base? Is this business savvy or deception? Does this make the bestsellers lists a sham? If you were able to work the system, would you?
Let’s hear your thoughts.
by Ruth Hartman
When I saw the advertisement in a children’s digest on writing, I never dreamed it would be the start of something wonderful. I’d recently taken a course in writing for children, and decided to apply to some publishers.
What ended up happening though was a far cry from kid’s books.
The publisher, Pipers’ Ash, listed children’s books as one of their departments. I sent in a fictional short story about a girl with OCD. They rejected it. And I almost didn’t read their e-mail past that announcement. But boy, I’m glad I did! Even though my children’s story wasn’t what they were looking for, they asked if I could submit my own experience with OCD. (To this day, I’m not sure how they knew I had it, just an assumption on their part, I guess.)
I’d never even considered writing my memoir. I knew next to nothing about writing one, and at first felt the task was too huge to tackle. But, more than anything, I wanted to be published. I’d had so many rejections for various children’s stories, I gave it a try. What would I be out, except time and effort?
It wasn’t easy writing that book. Believe me. There were things I’d forced myself to forget that were dragged out of my closet, hidden behind other skeletons. I wasn’t at all sure I wanted the world to know what I’d been through. But honestly, since writing that, I’ve had so many people tell me it’s helped them or someone they love.
Even with that, though, I wondered if that would be my only published work. I didn’t seem to be having any luck with children’s stories getting a nod from publishers. But…I began wondering what would happen if a dental hygienist (I happen to be one) fell in love with her patient? That idea clattered around in my head for a while. I ended up writing a 40,000 word sweet romance. Imagine my absolute shock when a publisher wanted it!
Unlike my memoir, I went through countless submissions and rejections to get to that point. As a matter of fact, I was just about ready to call it quits. Study a publisher’s guidelines. Send in my submission. Sometimes with a synopsis, which I hate! And wait. And wait. Each time I got an e-mail from yet another publisher I’d hold my breath. Would someone finally want my book? But…no.
When I received the e-mail from Midnight Showcase (recently re-named Melange Books), I fully expected another rejection. I mean, why would they want my book when no one else did? One thing, I think, that helped was that they are a smaller publisher. All of my publishers are small. But that doesn’t mean they are less of a publisher. Published is published!
I guess one thing I would suggest to someone who isn’t published yet would be to not give up! And always make sure your submission is exactly what they’re looking for. Otherwise you’re just wasting your efforts when they could be better used somewhere else. Study their submission pages. Make your manuscript exactly what they ask for down to the last asterisk between scenes. I’ve heard complaints even lately from the publishers I work with, that the submissions they’re getting don’t follow what they’ve requested. And believe me, they’re all different. Some want single lines, some want double. Some want chapter headings and others only want scene breaks. It’s tedious work to read through their submission process carefully, but it’s so worth it!
So what are you waiting for? Send out your story to some small publishers today!
Ruth J. Hartman