book promotion

Many a slip…

keep-calm-it-s-only-postponed-4

Not a lot can go wrong if you have a publisher, can it? Obviously, the promotion effort is on you, but that’s to be expected. If you’re lucky, the publisher will do their bit – after all, it’s in their interest too to let the world know you’re launching a book. At the very least, you’ll discuss with them what sort of promotion campaign to run – when, where, for how long and so forth.

But there’s many a slip etc. Your publisher could go bankrupt – that’s happened to me before. Or else go silent – that’s happened to me now. We’d planned the release of Perfume Island for 20th September, but as the date drew nearer and I had no news, nor any answer to my emails, I somewhat reluctantly called a halt to the whole operation. Then I finally got a response apologising for the absence.

This post is not a gripe. I’m not complaining or denouncing or accusing. On the contrary, although this has thrown me off kilter, I’ve been happy with our relationship up to now, and the ending has been amicable and fair. But obviously, I can’t pretend it never happened. After all, a few people were aware that Perfume Island was due out shortly, and some were poised to write a review, so I needed to clarify the situation in order to be able to move on.

Move on where? Self-publishing. It’s the only option I have. I could hunt for an agent or publisher but none will ever accept the second book in a series if they don’t already have the first. Besides which, the book is ready for release now, not in some distant, uncertain future.

In terms of promotion, the strategy remains the same, more or less. When you have a series, the central plank of your strategy is to offer the first book free, or heavily discounted, using it as a ‘reader magnet’ to draw people on to the second. So what we’d planned was a two-week promotion, offering One Green Bottle free, starting a month before the launch of Perfume Island. That way, people would have time to read OGB, love it (or not) and hop over to Amazon to buy Perfume Island (or not). Cunning, eh? But when the time arrived, I saw that the price on OGB hadn’t changed. Clearly, there was a problem.

The cause of the problem? KDP Select. Now, I did know that OGB had been enrolled in KDP Select at the outset, but I thought it was just for the first 90 days. So I’d assumed that it could now be offered free for a full two weeks, rather than just for 5 days, as stipulated by KDP Select. I repeat – I blame no one here, or at least, the blame can be shared. I should have made sure the book was no longer with KDP Select, rather than just assume so. A misunderstanding, shall we say.

As I see it, KDP Select can be useful, but probably not at the beginning. Fantasy author Suzanne Rogerson has a slightly different take on the matter, which she details in two helpful posts (one and two). My view is that once you have an established readership, fine, but until then, you need the flexibility to make your first book free for as long as you like. Permafree, if you’re up for it. Which is what I intend to do.

As soon as I saw what had happened, I started a novella, prequel to OGB. It’s now turned into a hybrid – part novella, part explanation of the writing of OGB. I’m aiming for a November release, with Perfume Island to follow shortly after.

Phew! As if writing itself wasn’t hard enough, getting it out there and (maybe, conceivably) noticed can be harrowing! Still, the initial dismay having passed, I’m now feeling more serene. I’m not saying that one day, I won’t have another crack at the traditional route, but for the moment, I’m savouring the truth of what everyone says about self-publishing – however much of a struggle, you’re in control of the process.

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20 thoughts on “Many a slip…

  1. Pingback: A few more miles | curtisbaussebooks

  2. GD Deckard says:

    On the bright side (and no, I’m not being cheerful. What happened sucks) we can self-publish. If all a publisher does is publish the book, and leave the promotion to us, they are redundant. In a world of self-publishing, who needs them? For what? Converting the manuscript to epub? Copyrighting it? Acquiring an ISBN? Uploading it to e-retailers? Hell, for $149, Book Country will do all the above plus custom design the cover. I used them, they did it all in a month, they held my hand during the whole process and now over a year later, I still get a prompt response when I email them. $149 is cheap to have your book professionally published by a subsidiary of Penguin. (And, I keep 85% of the sales after the retailer’s charge, which averages $3 to me for a $4.99 book sale.) But no matter who publishes your book, paying for the service is still the best way to keep control of the process.

    Ack! I really do feel bad about what happened. And of course, I don’t have all the answers. But I lack Curtis’ forgiving nature. The way his publisher treated him angers me. It’s natural to seek a solution that drives a nail into the coffin of the perp.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, GD. You’re quite right, these days they are largely redundant. I don’t know if forgiving is the word – I tend to look on it as an opportunity to move on. And at the time, I did truly appreciate the partnership, as it gave me the chance to get on with the sequel. But of course, the promotion is every bit as important.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. atthysgage says:

    I ‘liked’ this Curtis, but of course I don’t like it at all. But GD is right. Traditional publishing really doesn’t offer anything (at least small press publishers) in terms of promotion that you can’t do yourself. When I first got published, I thought they’d spread my book far and wide and all I had to do was sit back and wait for the royalties to roll in. Turns out, the small presses really don’t open that many doors. They edit, they provide a cover, and that’s worth a few hundred dollars anyway, but beyond that, meh. And, as GD also points out, traditional royalties are a lot less than those you get from self-pubbing.

    As far as the whole KU thing goes, I am on KU, and it has certainly added some royalties, but I know a lot of authors who hate it. Amazon in NOT in favor of permafree (I guess because they spend some number of pennies processing the download whether the book is free or not, or they say they do anyway.) If you can show that the book is permanently free elsewhere (like Kobo or Smashwords) then theoretically Amazon will drop the price to match, but I’ve asked several times for my little essay (Why YA? And What is it Anyway?) to be made permafree and Amazon has steadfastly ignored me.

    Anyway, it’s all a bit of a muddle. I’m sure you’ll figure it out. You have a good series going, and I think it will build and audience in time. But there’ll be a lot of frustration and tedium along the way. I see no way around it. (As John Lennon said when asked the secret of the Beatles success, If they knew that, they’d get four more groups and all become managers.)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Atthys. I think I’m ready to confront the frustration and tedium now. I probably wasn’t with the release of the first book, so it did help to have a publisher then. There’s that ‘veneer of legitimacy’ you’ve mentioned elsewhere that was attractive, but I dare say I’ll manage without it. An excellent Lennon quote btw – I didn’t know that one.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Perry Palin says:

    Curtis,
    Sorry to hear about this. I know others who have had long delays of a promised release date, but not with quite the collateral impact as you had on your marketing efforts.
    There are so many writers that want to be published by a traditional house, even a small one, that publishers can get away with these delays.
    The release of my first short collection was delayed for a year. The second not so much. Now every week members of my small but appreciative group of readers ask me when the novel will be out. It is in a publisher’s hands and I am waiting for his response. How long can I afford to wait? Will my readers forget about me if I wait too long?
    I am thinking about self-publishing to have more control over the project. But most self published writers I know personally are still looking for that magic marketing program that will grow their readerships.

    Liked by 2 people

    • atthysgage says:

      I’ve been waiting a year now since signing a contract to publish my next novel with Black Opel Books. I sympathize with a small press trying to operate on a shoestring, but it’s frustrating. I actually had interest in the book from Hodderscape in England, who are a fairly big name, but I said yes to Black Opal first and wanted to honor that commitment. I admit, if I’d known it was going to take so long, I might have tried to get out of it.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Perry. I think if one’s running a series, it’s certainly better not to leave readers waiting too long. With other books, perhaps not so crucial, but still, readers do move on quite quickly. And many, once they’ve found an author they like, will read as much as they can find. As for the magic programme, well, aren’t we all?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. mimispeike says:

    Perry says: “But most self published writers I know personally are still looking for that magic marketing program that will grow their readerships.”

    From what I read, this is the case even with a publisher behind you. I say screw the publishers, do it yourself.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. mimispeike says:

    Oh, GD. I just peeked at Get Off Yer Butts. I thought it was a prompt to us to fill the blog post queue, it’s been pretty low. I’m trying to find another topic to write about. My brain is busy with other matters.

    I’ve been agonizing over my web site for weeks, that takes a lot of my energy. I’m setting up all nineteen pages, as far as format and text go. (Three intro pages, fifteen chapter pages, one coming attractions page.)

    Next I have to create the art. At least some of it. Since most of the art will be character studies to build a background motif-repeat, I will be able to reuse most of it, adding one or two new actors per chapter. I want to have the first five pages completely done by Christmas. I’ve decided that will be my Christmas present to my husband.

    I’m kind of worn out.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. DocTom says:

    Well, sorry to hear about that Curtis. I understand what it’s like. When Bookkus published Agony of the Gods I was promised a lot of things regarding marketing, and almost none of them came to pass. Right now Bookkus appears to be on hold – a person I know tried to order multiple copies of my book through the Bookkus bookstore and got no response. After waiting a couple of weeks they ordered them through Amazon, so they’re still available. I guess no one is minding the store.

    On a possibly sadder note – did anyone else get the e-mail about the changes to Book Country? The note I got stated that as of September 30th they will no longer e-publish books. Apparently they are also dropping ms. posting with peer review (which is where they started and first attracted many of us). Sounds like it’s going to be reduced to just the forum pages.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. DocTom says:

    Mimi,
    Here’s the text of the message from Book Country:

    Dear Tom,

    As a valued member of Book Country, we wanted to let you know of some upcoming changes being made to the Book Country platform.

    On Sept. 30, we will no longer offer any publishing packages or promotional services, which means you will not be able to publish any new books with Book Country or add new services to your promotional campaign. The bookstore will continue to be available where readers can leave reviews and purchase your already published books.

    If you have a project in process via a free Book Country publishing package, you have a few options:

    · You can complete your project prior to Sept. 30, 2016, and your book will be available in the Book Country bookstore.

    · If you do not complete your project prior to Sept. 30, your project will be cancelled and your work will be lost. We strongly recommend you visit the eBook Wizard prior to Sept. 30, and save your manuscript to your computer so you don’t lose any work.

    We will also discontinue the manuscript peer review system. Existing manuscripts will still be available as read-only, but users will not be able to make or receive comments. This also means you will not be able to upload new manuscripts for review. However, the beloved Book Country community forums will continue to stay active, allowing you to stay in touch with other members.

    Thank you for being a part of the Book Country community. We apologize for any inconvenience. We are also available at 888-268-9234 or customersupport@publish.bookcountry.com if you have any questions.

    Sincerely,

    Book Country

    Liked by 1 person

    • GD Deckard says:

      Well 😦 that explains why my book never got back onto Amazon.
      The Phoenix Diary continues to be offered by Barnes & Noble, Apple’s iBooks, Google Books & Kobo but all sales go through Book Country and I wonder how long they will continue to forward royalties to their authors.

      Funny, I have been wondering about Book Country’s revenue model. How long would or could they continue to publish unknown authors without promoting them? As we know, it ain’t a real money maker.

      Too bad. I will miss their service.

      Like

  9. mimispeike says:

    Sad. The peer review, I won’t miss that. I am confident enough now in my (quite unpopular, frankly) choices to take the training wheels off. But, sad-sad-sad.

    I’m still adding pages to my site. I’m half inclined to make a page of my BC reviews, for a few more giggles. Cause I think my thing is brilliant fun. A few (fixable) issues, perhaps, but lunatic fun.

    The abundant rambling footnotes stay put. Ditto the buttinski voice. And a host of other (I’ve been told) irritations. My long-aborning tale is a marvelous basket of deplorables.

    Hey, if we don’t believe in ourselves, we’re sunk, right?

    ______________________________________

    We have to be creative marketers. That’s the only answer. Here is some of what I have just inserted in the footer on my site:

    CYA: A few words on my Kitchen Sink style.

    > I take outrageous liberties. I beg, borrow, and steal (I call it adapt) all kinda things. Concepts. Words. Whole sentences. After years of mucking with the stuff (I’ve been on Sly for decades), I feel I’ve managed to make it my own. Most of my snatches are out of mid-century and earlier discards, found at the library sales.

    Now, the classics are, yes, classics, still read. I tread lightly there. The second-tier stuff is pure gold, often pap, but the technique is almost invariably gorgeous. The Cloister and the Hearth, Victorian melodrama with a vengeance, but jam-packed with seductive description, is one of my very-very favorites.

    > If the heirs of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. are upset that I’ve scavenged bits out of The Poet at the Breakfast Table, (that no one reads anymore, but for a nut like me), all I can say is, Take it as a compliment, eh? Margaret Cavendish, Countess of Something-Newastle. I do think you’d be hugely amused by what I’ve done with your  delightful scholarship.

    Some grabs, I remember the sources. Most, I do not. I wish I had jotted attributions all along, but until self-pub came along, I never dreamed my book could be foisted on the public. I’ve written for my own enjoyment. 

    > I’ve got a piece, In Search of Silly History, explaining my methods. Find it on page Odds and Ends. [A drop-down, under page A Taste of Things To Come.]

    > In one case, I’ve sought [and received] permission to lift some lovely bits on rocky landscape. A Fool and His Money: Life in a Partitioned Town in Fourteenth-Century France is a beautifully written history of a divided town in a mountainous area of southern France, not far from my imaginary Haute-Navarre. I reread it every year or so, that’s how much I enjoy the prose style. Thank you, Ann Wroe. 

    > My contact info, for anyone who may want to sue me: ____(I’ll set up an email dedicated to Sly)___. If and when the shit hits the fan, I’ll probably be dead. I’m seventy-fucking-years old. I’ve had my fun out of this, which is all I ever expected of it.

    > An offer you can’t refuse? Getting my relatives to look at Sly is a fool’s errand. If it hits, makes any real money, I’m leaving it to – maybe you guys. Why not you guys? Sign up for my newsletter, so I have you on record. This is not a joke. I am absolutely serious.
    ___________________________________________

    My writercoop friends will be the major beneficiaries. Those I hook with this bait (brilliant, right?, in terms of publicity, at least) will get a fraction percent share. My relatives give me no kind of support, no feedback, though I’ve told them I don’t ask that they read the entirety, only give it a go and tell me where they stopped. If they throw in the towel at paragraph two, fine.

    From all but my sister, I’ve heard nothing. OK, you too-busy cousins, nieces, you creeps just wrote yourselves out of my will.

    ___________________________________________

    My strategy in a nutshell: I aspire to be the P.T. Barnum of self-publishing. Any kind of stunt to attract attention.

    ______________________________________

    Well, this is a small disaster. My husband googled MyGuySly and it took him to some kind of adult site, Adult Friend Finder. One of the members goes by the name MYGUYSLY. This is new. Before I bought the name two years ago I googled it and brought up nothing.

    Maybe I can make a joke out of it. You land on A-F-F and open to an informational page. To get to the good stuff, you have to register as a member. So it’s not anything offensive that displays. Looks quite corporate. No body parts in sight.

    What a revolting development this is!

    Liked by 1 person

    • GD Deckard says:

      Mimi, if you own the domain name, myguysly.com, then people entering that name into their browser will go (only) to your website.

      And where is your newsletter that I might sign up for?

      Like

  10. mimispeike says:

    The porn site came up on google because myguysly is a user name of someone on it. The newsletter has to wait until the site is done. It is far from ready, half laid out, whole pages still missing, art still missing. I have got the design direction pretty in hand. Here is the address of the a-building site:

    http://mimispeike.wixsite.com/myguysly

    The first page is empty but for the header and footer and left over bits from the previous try. Hit the menu items to see more.

    Lots of fake dummied-in interactive, to assess style. Lots of dummied-in type. Most of the art will be replaced by mine. One of these years.

    Liked by 1 person

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