Time to Shop My Book? Advice from Three Who Know

With more than a half dozen great reviews of my book up on Amazon and a successful book signing last weekend, I wondered if I should take John Austen’s advice to shop my book. I have had increasing evidence that I have produced a quality product. People appear to connect with Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on a variety of levels. Maybe if I put together a press kit with book reviews and newspaper articles my book would be well received by a publisher. Having the assistance of a established publisher should make it easier to get Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories into bookstores and gain greater attention by national media outlets.

I queried Jane Friedman at Writer’s Digest. I was interested to hear her opinion? Can you guess her answer?

She recommended I keep focused on my indie route. Friedman’s counseled it wouldn’t be time to shop the book until I could claim a couple thousand copies sold.

Question: When I sell a couple of thousand books should I consider a publisher? It seems too much like the story of the Little Red Head. Remember the story of the farmyard shebird who planted wheat, nurtured it, harvested and then baked it into bread before any other farm animal was willing to help. When the bread was baked they all volunteered to help the hen eat the bread.

Surrendering my book to a publisher after I’ve sold several thousand copies on my own doesn’t make sense. The primary reason is that many books are considered a success if they generate a couple of thousand sales. If that’s the expected limit why would I want to share any of the profit with people who haven’t done any of the work?

Kathleen Okeefe Kanavos, author of  Surviving Cancerland: The Psychic Aspects of Healing, pointed out: “Big publishing houses are not in the business to publish books. They are in the business to make money. Until the day that you become an author of Dan Brown’s caliber, you will be required to show the steps of how you plan to market and sell your book beyond what the publishing houses can or will do.”

Okeefe Kavanos says authors need a business plan in order to interest an agent or land a publishing contract. One of the first steps in developing the plan is to identify the audience. Authors need to identify their target market and demonstrate that they are equipped to capture that audience. Those are the two most important components of a successful marketing platform.

Friedman responds to the obvious question: “Why don’t publishers market and promote the books on their list? According to Friedman the answer is that publishers don’t have enough money, time, or staff to target books to a variety of audiences. Publishers are good at putting books into physical and retail distribution. Once there the hope is readers will find the books.

In October I made the decision to pursue indie publishing. I believed in the power of the Internet, digital publishing, and the value of the message contained in my book. I hadn’t bargained on the amount of work and time it would take to make a success of Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories. I admit I was naïve in this regard. In the first two months after the book appeared on Amazon.com I experienced a number of frustrations with little success. I have just finished the third month. As I said at the start of this post the book has received good reviews, some media coverage, and I can attest to forward movement.

Marketing is HARD work. There is a LOT more work ahead. However, I see only two options: digging in for the long haul or shelving the book.

Find out about my new book which is the reason I write this blog at Amazon.com.

Click video preview to see the YouTube video of my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories.

My other blog is Living in the Heartland.

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Filed under agents, book, book signing, distribution, frustration, good read, guarantee, hopeful, indie writer, media, on demand publishing, on publishing, Pamela Ferris-Olson, publishing, self-publishing, social media, success

2 responses to “Time to Shop My Book? Advice from Three Who Know

  1. I totally hear you. I just wrote a blog post about when and if I should hire a publicist but so far no one has responded. I self-published in mid-December and it sounds like we’re having about the same degree of success — great reviews, some media shout-outs, but relatively low sales. One of my friends told me I should hire a publicist, but I don’t know if I want to go to that expense. I’ve heard they’re very expensive but there’s very little they can do unless you’re a well-established author.

    I also know some of the writers who ended up with those Amazon Encore contracts. They sold a few hundred (around 500) copies and Amazon decided their books were selling enough to give them a bigger platform and publish them. It seems the bar on self-published books should be much lower than Friedman quoted you since everyone recognizes how much harder it is to get enough distribution to really sell well. It seems that the Amazon Encore number is more realistic — ie: if a poor self-published author managed to sell 500 copies on her own, how much more they can sell with wider distribution. But the big houses don’t seem to think that way — they want you to do all the work on your own. Hmmm…

    • Pam

      So glad to hear from you Tonya. Misery loves company 😉 Actually as the months go on I’m less miserable. Partially because I am more aware of the realities of independent publishing (some wise woman suggested using this term vs self-publishing). I’m also less stressed because I understand how to manage my twitter and facebook accounts as well as two blogs. I now realize that social media is NOT the IT. SM will help get the word out but it won’t substitute entirely for traditional person-to-person networking. Maybe the biggest realization is that promoting a book is HARD work and LONG hours. There isn’t going to be a huge, immediate success because the book is listed on Amazon… As for publicists, there are a lot of people on the Internet who offer help, but the bottom line is that you’re the promoter. When I first looked in to publicists the rate was about $1500-$2000/month. Writers aren’t going to make that back in a month or two, as you already know. These costs make sense now that I know how much time went into establishing my Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. I’m also a member of a writer’s tribe, learning about SEO, and defining and reaching out to my target audience. What I NEED is someone who can get me national exposure. I’d pay a set fee for each guaranteed contact. But, such a person doesn’t exist. My advice to you? Unless you’ve got the money or your in a rush, forget the publicist. A coach is a good idea though. Someone who can advise you where you feel you are weakest. I can recommend a SM coach. If you need a writer’s tribe, there may be an opening in mine. If you want someone to coach you overall, I’d be willing to do that. I’d consider doing it free depending on what you can offer in helping me spread the word about my book or I’d charge a small fee. ‘Cause us writer gals need to stick together.

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