& 'Don't's for Self-Publishers
by Julie Duffy
There is so much to think about when self-publishing a book. The 21st Century Publishing Update brings you a 10-point checklist of what to do and what not to do when publishing and promoting your own book. Based on conversations with self- publishing authors and marketing experts, this is not an exhaustive list of everything you should be thinking about, but it is a list of some of the most important.
DO: Proof everything...
...especially cover copy, press releases and promotional copy. Better yet, have someone else proof it (it is notoriously hard to see your own mistakes). If your promotional materials contain mistakes, editors and readers will assume that your book is also riddled with mistakes. This looks unprofessional and makes for an uncomfortable reading experience. It can discourage people from buying or reviewing your book.
DON'T: Advertise in Publisher's Weekly...
Yes, it's the industry bible, but you should target readers not bookstores. Why not sell directly to readers instead of 'selling' to bookstores who may return your book unsold?
Advertise to readers, tell them to order the book directly from you or your supplier, and make more money! By selling directly you can avoid the 55% distributor discounts (saving more of the profit for yourself). You can also receive feedback faster, from the people who are actually buying the book. Wouldn't you rather have your book in the hands of a reader than on a bookstore shelf?
Instead of advertising to the-bookselling trade, promote your books in publications your audience is likely to read.
DO: Learn about the-bookselling business...
You need to know the rules to know how to bend them. Readers are used to buying from bookstores. Bookstores are used to buying from distributors at a large discount. Distributors are used to buying from publishing houses, at a colossal discount. Booksellers, wholesalers and distributors think they can order books on consignment, returning them at any time for any reason.
If you want to sell your books differently, it helps to know how things usually work, so that you can work out special deals with the trade.
DON'T: Think bookstores are the ticket to big sales...
Even if you get a bookstore to take your book, just placing it on their shelves is no guarantee of sales. Your book is sitting on a shelf showing a one-inch spine, blending in to thousands of other books' spines. Why are people going to choose your book? They will look for it only if they have heard of it - which means promoting your book to readers is more important than promoting it to bookstores. If the store doesn't carry the book, they can always 'special order' it if readers ask for it. If readers don't ask for it, there is no point in the- bookstore carrying it.
And don't think a large chain bookstore is going to feature your book on one of those tables at the front of the store. Publishers pay tens of thousands of dollars in 'co-op marketing' to place their books there.
Bookstores are good, but don't think they naturally lead to sales.
© 2000-2002 Julie Duffy
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Go to Part Four
Duffy (www.julieduffy.com) is the former
Director of Author Services at Xlibris. She is a
freelance writer and has been published in newspapers and
magaizines including the Writer's Digest special issue
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