book promotion, book sales

Self Publishing is the Way to Go

I’m not crazy. Having a publisher promote my book onto the NYT Best Sellers list is almost preferable to winning the lottery. The odds are similar. But, that’s our world now, ain’t it; not enough publishers and most of them incapable of promoting any book onto any best seller list?

So skip the middleman and upload directly to a major retailer’s book site. How is that worse than not getting a publisher to promote your book?

My point is, publishing is easy. Getting the book to retail is easy.
Marketing is the difficult part.

What businesses exist today that will market our books?
A quick Google yielded
JKS Communications: http://www.jkscommunications.com/
Smith Publicity: SmithPublicity.com
Author Marketing Experts: amarketingexpert.com
Do you know anything about these, or similar companies?

Do you know of any company that markets books for a commission?

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44 thoughts on “Self Publishing is the Way to Go

  1. mimispeike says:

    Interesting. Do you have any ballpark figures on what these services cost? I looked at their web pages quickly and did not find that information. I’ll spend more time on it later.

    I am willing to spend money, a fair amount of it, to promote my book. The question is, where to put it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • GD Deckard says:

      Great question, Mimi. I’m hoping to get feedback from someone who has used their services or at least communicated with them about using their service. Lacking direct evidence, we have no way of knowing if they are even worth talking to. Experience tells me that when a sales site cannot tell you exactly what they will do for you and quote a price, they are just selling whatever they can get you to buy.

      I think we are all willing to spend money to market our book. The fairest way is to pay a commission on book sales. That means we only pay if books sell. It’s the only guarantee worth a damn.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mimispeike says:

    The big question is, what companies have the clout to plant a mention (of a book they truly believe in) beyond the standard paid effort, where it might be widely seen?

    Two weeks ago I submitted a short piece to Salon, having seen a similar item published there under the by-line I am nobody. I am not going to give up on that sort of guerilla action.

    I don’t know how to do it, but it may be useful for us to have a Writers Coop YouTube channel. There are plenty of writer-advice channels there. Maybe not terribly well patronized, but I watch them. We, putting our heads together, might come up with something eye-catching.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mimispeike says:

    This is an experiment.

    Nope, that didn’t work. I tried to embed an image, the cat head poking through cardboard, a dinosaur body drawn around him. That would be one way of going at it. Paired with appropriate music.

    I could photoshop cat heads on famous paintings. Music will still be key. Or maybe readings from a book.

    Like

      • Yeah–unceremoniously deleting all Book Country-published content from Amazon.com might indeed have impacted the writers concerned. Gee whiz; I wonder how the f#ck that happened? And why? (HEAVY SARCASM ALERT: I think that article makes it pretty clear what happened, and why.)

        Liked by 1 person

        • GD Deckard says:

          Thanks for pointing that out, Carl. The Book Country login page now says, “Peer review, discussion forums, and publishing are no longer available. If you already have published books, please access your Dashboard to track your publications.” So, the old stomping grounds are now just an access for publication tracking.

          That’s sad. Book Country, backed by Penguin (backed by Harper Collins?) were sitting on tons of books and could find no way to sell them at a profit?

          Like

  4. mimispeike says:

    Susanna Clarke was in a writing class. Her instructor sent her short story, first, later her unpublished novel (Jonathan Strange) to Neil Gaiman. Who recommended it around.

    If you don’t have connections, it comes down to visibility. I’m going with a cat thing on YouTube.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Perry Palin says:

    The few writers I’ve known who have been published by one of the Big Five all spend their own time marketing their books. They’ve had very little direct help from their publishers. I am sure, however, that just being picked up by a large publishing house is a strong recommendation for the book.

    So, if the large publishing houses don’t help much with the marketing, maybe self-publishing is the way to go. But what will these marketing services do for us that even the large houses don’t do for their authors?

    As Mimi said, connections are everything. I told the publisher of my short story collections that my first novel is not a good match for his stable of books. He asked me to send it to him, and he said he would help me find a publisher. I haven’t done it, and that makes me a fool. My novel is languishing, probably unread, in a big pile of unpublished MSS in the office of a regional publisher. How long do I wait before I go another route?

    The Friends of the Public Library in our little town will hold a fundraiser next month, and I will be drafted to move furniture around and maybe keep bar for a while. The big draw is William Kent Krueger, a NYT Bestseller crime author, published by Simon and Schuster. “Kent”, as we knew him back in the day when he flipped breakfast pancakes with us at the church’s state fair dining hall, spends a lot of time in public appearances and speaking at writers’ workshops. I will greet him at the door, carry his books in from the car, and hang up his coat. What questions should I ask Kent about any of the stuff we wonder about here?

    Liked by 2 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Some great points, Perry.
      I havta, grudgingly, agree that “…being picked up by a large publishing house is a strong recommendation for the book.” But only as a writer. As a reader, I never cared.

      Publishers were only necessary because writers lacked printing presses.

      Ask Kent, if you feel it’s appropriate, to identify specifics that have actually sold his books.
      & thank him for us 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kris says:

    A read a post about this very topic this morning: The 3 Paths To Publishing & What You Need To Know – http://wp.me/p3Gpmm-mg She outlines things to watch for in publishing partners if you opt for hybrid publishing. Personally, I don’t have a ton of money, so I’ll do most of it myself – J. F. Penn’s How to Market a Book and Dana Kaye’s Your Book, Your Brand offers useful strategies if you don’t have thousands to spend. Half the battle is writing the book, the other half is promoting it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Thanks for the link, Kris. That’s useful information.

      I also appreciated the info on your own website
      http://www.krisbowes.com/
      We writers tend to confuse our opinions with practical advice. Sites like the one you recommended and your own are always refreshing.

      Like

      • Kris says:

        Too true! Opinions, like advice, are often rooted in personal experience and circumstance, and my exemplars are no different.

        For example, people who have trouble watching their tone in emails or don’t like responding and elaborating on inquiries from contractors would benefit from a publishing partnership, while others who have those skills don’t. The same goes for publicity, crafting author websites, and so on. If you know you can’t or don’t have time; it’s worth hiring someone for their expertise. There is no one size, fits all approach to publishing a book.

        Personally, I had to prioritize because of budgetary restrictions — I’m an adjunct college English professor with a severe (and expensive) rheumatological condition. I’ve already paid for a cover designer because of my limited knowledge of box-model design and typography. Sure, it took me months to save up for it.

        But that’s the thing, I know my limitations and came to the conclusion that readers do judge books by their covers. I do, however, know enough about fantasy mapmaking to get away with producing those illustrations myself.

        Like most writers, I’m highly introverted; were I a meme, I would be a socially awkward penguin. For that reason, I’m toying with the idea of hiring a publicist. For someone who thrives on social interaction, they likely wouldn’t need to hire one.

        Thanks for looking at my site — It’s my first crack at an author site, and it will evolve as I continue to learn more about best practices. I wanted to thank you for your site and your article. I’ve followed so that I can keep abreast of your new posts!

        Thankfully self-publishing is shedding some of the stigmas historically associated with it. And I’d like to think that all of us here are part of that process. Have a great day, Y’all!

        Liked by 3 people

          • Kris says:

            Great to meet you, Carl! I’ve followed Writers Coop – unless there’s another ritual featuring blood oaths and the like…

            Weird is wonderful – love your site title. I’ve also followed your site so I can watch it grow. I think the theme you’re using suits your subject matter, which is often harder to do than it seems.

            I was sorry to read that you’re a Book Country casualty 😦 Tonight I tip my glass to self-publishing because don’t we owe it to ourselves? There’s a niche for everything. Even the weird stuff.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Let’s hope so, Kris! PS. Please scroll to the bottom of this comments section to read a more detailed response. (Otherwise the dreaded “column text squeeze” will format my words into a two-across, fifty-down response, heh!)

              Liked by 1 person

      • Kris says:

        By night, I write science fiction for young adults; by day, I teach writing to college students. I also write non-fiction in my research area (medieval literature and history) during breaks between semesters.

        For non-fiction, I’m currently working on a monograph related to emergent Nationalism in England during the fourteenth century, which I intend to argue became a prototype for general European nation formation.

        With respect to fiction, I’m working on Oz and the Fury. Here’s the back cover copy:

        Tommy Oswald doesn’t go to school, and he’s never had a friend. He lives in the dingy attic of a rundown house, on a farm that doesn’t grow much of anything. He’s never visited another town, much less met a griffin, fed an amphisbane, or caught a fireball. His grandmother would never allow such things.

        But when an unusual stranger knocks on his door with an invitation to a school he’s never heard of, on a planet he didn’t know existed, everything changes. There he finds legendary creatures, friendships he’d only ever read about, and someone who he thought died long ago. If twelve-year-old Tommy survives his adventures, he’ll find the tremendous destiny that’s been waiting for him… but first Tommy will have to face the Fury.

        What kind of writing do you do? It’s nice to meet you!

        Liked by 2 people

        • mimispeike says:

          I am excited to hear of your background. I am writing a faux-historical comic adventure set in late sixteenth century Europe, for which I do heavy research. May I call on you in a pinch, for advice about the plausibility of one or another matter?

          I have a certain amount of leeway, my hero being a talking cat. But I am trying to be as accurate (within reason) as I can be. For instance, one of my major characters is John Dee, Elizabeth’s Royal Astrologer. I have read speculation that he was an undercover operative for Walsingham, and I am going with that possibility.

          The core caper of my strung-together episodes is an attempt on Elizabeth’s life by Robert Dudley, which my cat and Dee work to prevent. It is a dangerous business. Robert Dudley! Who is going to believe them?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Kris says:

            Oh, lovely! I’d love to check it out when you’re finished. And, yes, feel free to run anything you’d like by me. In fact, my first paycheck as a teen went to an annotated copy of Shakespeare’s corpus. Spenser’s Fairie Queene is one of my favorite works from the period, and I am also extremely fond of Christopher Marlowe.

            While most people gravitate toward Doctor Faustus, I think Tamburlaine the Great is better. Incidentally, my undergraduate thesis advisor (Dr. Keefer) published an annotated version of Doctor Faustus.

            Like Dee, there is some controversy surrounding Marlowe’s role in the secret service. Here’s a brief article on bio.com: http://www.biography.com/people/christopher-marlowe-9399572#marlowe-as-a-secret-agent%3F

            I thought I’d send that to you just in case you’re interviewing other undercover operatives for Dee and the cat to interact with; Marlowe would certainly be a plausible candidate. He was also quite the character (atheist, smoker, and possibly gay) and purported events of his death are intriguing, to say the least.

            Liked by 2 people

            • mimispeike says:

              Thanks for the link. I have meant to get to Marlowe, but haven’t yet. And Dee (what I know of him) suits my plans so well.

              After things get too hot for them at the English court, Dee and Sly (my cat, short for Sylvester), hearing of an opportunity to pick up a good chunk of change in the north German town of Hamlin, figuring their combined talents (Astrologer/ rodent specialist) will make the gig a snap for them, hie themselves thither.

              Liked by 2 people

  7. GD Deckard says:

    Hi Kris
    I love where this thread is going. WritersCo-op blogs seem to invite wide-ranging discussions.

    Your reference to emergent Nationalism especially intrigues me. I’m working on a blog (for another site) in which I argue that the Globalization swept in by the 1960s no longer exists, that Nationalism has re-emerged and the world today is more like the world I was born into during WWII.
    🙂 Give it to me straight, Professor, am I bonkers?

    Be sure to let us know when Oz and the Fury is published. I, for one, will happily buy a copy and review it on Amazon.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Kris says:

    Writers Coop seems to be a friendly place; I am delighted to have found you. And no, you’re not bonkers. Depending on where we’re talking about, some of the acute nationalist structures we see now are a byproduct of both decolonization (a nation asserting dominion over its territory) and deglobalization (dissolving international integration).

    For example, some argue that the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916) had a hand in ISIL (and other nationalist imperatives before it, like the nationalist coup in Iraq in 1958 when the British still occupied it). Still, other regions are turning to modular aspects of nationalism in response to labor and environmental crises, to name just a couple of reasons. I don’t know if you’ve read Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, but it’s a fun read on the subject.

    From what I know of WWII, you’re not wrong – in fact, two of my great uncles were part of the Danish Resistance movement. (My father emigrated from Denmark in the ’60s.) One of my great uncles was a pastor who let the Resistance use his church to send radio messages, and the other was an active resistance member who was shot by Nazi soldiers for putting bombs on the rail to disrupt a supply shipment. My grandmother and her whole family went into hiding after he got caught and shot. Nazis had a tendency to wipe out resistance member’s families.

    If we’re talking about the US, there are some striking similarities between the USA PATRIOT Act, now known as the US Freedom Act, effective until 2019, and the 1933 Enabling Act (Germany) for sure; likewise with the terrorist attacks that prompted each piece of legislation. The historical circumstances do offer some disturbing parallels, and we also see a similar shift away from centrist politics and a rise in blatant propaganda.

    A good example of that is Barstow’s article on the Pentagon pundit program (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/us/20generals.html). More recently, Lee wrote a piece outlining similar concerns (https://www.thenation.com/article/whos-paying-pro-war-pundits/). In the meantime, “Make America Great Again” is, in it’s most basic (and linguistic) frame, something that seems to assert a national agenda, which, as you suggest, trumps (pun intended) global concerns – e.g., ‘deglobalize’ industry (“bringing jobs back”), etc.

    The global mechanism (e.g., the UN) we have to deal with these issues is ineffective, but it gave off the impression of efficacy until – yes, you called it – the late ’60s and arguably early ’70s. Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine as well as Chomsky and Herman’s Manufacturing Consent come to mind in that regard. (Sorry, it’s a hazard of being a huge book nerd to suggest books to others.) While I am by no means a modernist, I’m inclined to think there is some credence to rising national agendas, which by their nature tend to suggest ‘deglobalization.’ (I use single quotes for things that I’m not sure have become accepted terms yet.)

    With respect to my book, I will gladly send you an advance copy for an honest review. I plan to print 100 copies to send to reviewers and so on, so I’ll add you to my list. I don’t anticpate that it’ll be ready until the beginning of next year though. I’m taking my time with it, and the illustrations will take awhile.

    Liked by 2 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Hi Kris
      Thank you for the well considered reply.

      My Mary also argues that al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham (thank you 🙂 I’ve been wanting to say that!), or Daesh, is linked to Sykes-Picot. She claims that splitting tribes into “Nations” so you can conveniently divide up their resources causes resentment. Go figure.

      I missed the name change of the USA PATRIOT Act to the US Freedom Act. That’s pure SPIN. I didn’t spot the Pentagon’s “Generals Pundit” act, either. My first reaction to those articles that you linked to was, “Unbelievable!” Then, I remembered Catch-22 and Yossarian realizing that everybody lied to him, his parents, his teachers, the Army, etc. The unbelievable here is that I actually believed the news readers. And thanks for the book suggestions. I appreciate being pointed in the right direction.

      I’ll happily accept an advance copy of your book to read and review. But I’ll still buy a copy so that Amazon will tag the review, “Verified Purchase.”

      P.S., Kris, we really would like to offer you membership to WritersCo-op.com. This would allow you to post an article as a draft, which would then be scheduled for publishing as our home page post. You would receive all the privileges of membership, including a bio on the Authors Page and access to our WiP section.
      There’s no cost or obligation to you, we just believe that your participation would benefit everyone.
      eMail me, GD @ Deckard.com & I’ll send you an invite?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. mimispeike says:

    Kris, we are a small group that bonded on another site, and watched it go downhill, and finally, for our purposes, implode. The site is Book Country. We picked up and moved on, and created this site. And we are happy here, but we would surely like to grow our membership. You sound like a catch to me.

    Hey, how’d you find us?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. mimispeike says:

    GD, at the top of my YouTube page is suddenly a huge banner for SmithPublicity.com: Powerful Book Marketing With Proven Results.

    It occurs to me that Proven Results might be taken to mean No Great Results. No results would be a result, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • GD Deckard says:

      Mimi, an experience I had with online advertising suggests that you visited SmithPublicity.com & they put a cookie on your computer that can trigger their ad when you browse sites that accept ads.

      You are exactly right to suspect their ambiguous “guarantee.” The only guarantee I’d trust would be to pay them a percentage of book sales.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. @Kris: re: officially joining the co-op: No secret handshake or password required, heh! But by doing so (1) you’ll be included on private group e-mails, (2) have a brief author bio and pic listed on-site, (3) be able to write blog posts for the co-op, (4) gain the ability to have your posted WIPs commented on by other writers here [no one else can see them], and finally (5) you’ll be able to read and comment on our WIPs. I know that I value timely and pertinent feedback because I’m always submitting something, somewhere . . .

    Liked by 3 people

  12. mimispeike says:

    The upcoming competition has given me the energy to rework the opening of my novella, which I have felt was too calculated, too obviously in service to a comic reveal. This is the wind in my sails that I needed. I claim the right to post chapter one as my entry.

    After this, I have an easy patch, until I hit chapter six or seven, which has a problem with the differentiation of voices. The remainder, to chapter fourteen, I believe is fine. These two areas rehabbed, I may be ready to publish. I will then join the rest of you in the marketing war for real.

    Kris (the others know this already): My novella is the teaser for a three book series that I have been working on for +/- thirty years, with long periods of discouragement. When I have my several problems worked out, I would be glad to send you a pdf of the thirty-thousand word sample.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kris says:

      Sure! If it’s any consolation I wrote two novels in my teens but wouldn’t publish any of them… they were too experimental to torture others with. I’m about to email GD – sorry for the delay. Wednesdays are crazy for us at work.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. mimispeike says:

    You find many tips on Scribophile. Whether they are any good or not, who knows?

    Promote on Twitter using:
    #DealOfTheDay
    #FreebieFriday
    #Amazon #Kindle or #AmazonKindle

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kris says:

      Joanna Penn suggests using the 80-20 rule on social media – repost/share 80% of other people’s stuff (news, funny images, etc.) and 20% of your own. I’ve only been on there actively for less than a week, but her strategy seems to work. I’m @KrisBowes82.

      Liked by 3 people

        • Kris says:

          Do you use Publicize (WordPress plug-in) on here? https://en.support.wordpress.com/publicize/ That’s how I share my blog posts to social media (the 20%) then I use Buffer for news stories, books, funny images, etc. (80%). I’ve also got MailChimp going with the MailMunch WordPress plug-in so I can send out a WeeklyDigest email/share on Sundays without having to do anything – it’s a set it and forget it deal… It pulls the new posts off the blog into an HTML email template and sends it to the subscriber list and posts on linked social media accounts.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Not for the moment, we don’t. We don’t have a twitter account but it would be easy enough to open one and play with it. Facebook also; I’m less familiar with its workings but it’s no doubt more effective in reaching people than twitter. That’s for spreading our own content wider than the blog itself. The other way round involves us reblogging other people’s posts on this blog, I initially, that’s probably the best way of getting others to take notice – anyone we reblog will appreciate it. Leaving comments on other blogs is also effective.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Kris says:

        I will say this, you can tell a lot about people’s politics when they unfollow you. I retweeted something about how great it is that The Expanse has women of color in lead roles. Two of my followers disappeared. I just about died laughing… then I got another 8 followers overnight. It’s probably better that way since some of my characters aren’t white… Incidentally, I also use Buffer to schedule posts when I have a couple of busy days ahead but try to squeeze in ten minutes to contribute to trending hashtags. (Buffer is free.)

        Liked by 3 people

        • GD Deckard says:

          You’ll enjoy the people here. We ain’t so full of ourselves. We even put up with Carl’s manics, Mimi’s meanderings, Atthy’s evanescence- he’s due to reappear & Curtis, our webmaster- don’t even mess with El Jefe. There are more great people here, but I’m probably the only sane one.

          Liked by 2 people

          • mimispeike says:

            Beg pardon, GD. At seventy, having been forced to sleep on couches once or twice, but never having become what I always feared, a bag lady – I have survived life fairly well, considering – I certainly am full of myself. I try to keep it in check, don’t much succeed.

            Liked by 1 person

  14. mimispeike says:

    We should maybe take a lesson here. There’s Slate – a free read – and Slate-Plus – you gotta join and pay. They tend to post inflammatory, eye-catching headlines for the Slate-Plus articles. I have once been really tempted to join up, so’s I could read the very interesting-sounding piece on Tristram Shandy. I almost did. Another $9.95 a month. A nibble here, a nibble there. It drives you crazy.

    I haven’t checked out those hashtags on twitter that I posted. It may be that a really outrageous comment on your book draws attention, like some of the headlines on Slate-Plus grab me.

    OK, I took a look. Here’s some good news: you get a limited number of characters to play with, but you can pair them with a huge graphic. So, promising. (I hadn’t realized that. I registered last year but only started to be active a week ago.

    #DealOfTheDay, I bet a lot of people check that out. There must be other good places to insert yourself. This may the secret to twitter. I have been pretty baffled by it. If you’re not a celebrity, how do you get people to look at your stuff?

    I’m still baffled by Facebook. I mostly use it a a parking lot for ideas, notes to myself.

    Liked by 1 person

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