Thursday, December 15, 2011

To Market--to Market...


"Nobody was willing to take a chance," says Ms. Chan, a 37-year-old lawyer who drafts environmental legislation. "It was too much of a publishing risk."
It’s a shame but true of so many first-time writers and it seems, even though Ms. Chan has sold over 400,000 copies of her self-published novel, "The Mill River Recluse," that even being on best-seller lists hasn't changed anything. She still hasn't gotten that BIG contact that others like John Locke and Joe Konrath have received. Major publishers now claim that with sales of 400,000 copies, there might not be enough legs left to warrantee a large advance for hardcover publication. It's a huge stretch, it seems, for a novel that sells for 99 cents on the internet to be able to garner $27 sales in hardback. My take on this is why bother. Ms. Chen has already proven that mainstream publishing and the way it's always been done is a thing of the past.
So what can be learned from her success? It's just a matter of reading between the lines to discover that, according to Alexandra Alter, the author of this piece, Ms. Chan's success"is as much a tale of digital marketing savvy and strategic pricing as one of artistic triumph."
Ms, Chan, a lawyer "drafting legislation concerning clean air and water, highway infrastructure and climate change," spent around a thousand dollars on marketing her novel, which included a "paid for review" from Kirkus. Yes. If you publish electronically you have to PAY to have a major reviewer read your work.
However, she also admits that the real sales started appearing right after a mention on an Internet site called Ereader News Today. After this mention, her sales on Amazon jumped from around a 100 copies a month to over 600 sales in three days. Large sales in a short time jumped her into the top 100 on Amazon and, possibly because her category is assumed to be literary fiction, her novel probably stayed in the top 100 for awhile.
This is a great example of the power of finding and targeting ebook readers where they live. Self-published or publisher published, marketing is, has been and always will be key to publishing success. Failure to market leads lost in the wilderness which leads to publishing failure. If one truly analyzes any publishing success story, they will find this to be true. For instance, I've watched Joe Konrath since his debut novel, Whiskey Sour. When I was an agent, Joe and one of my clients attended to same conference and she reported back that, even then as newly published author he was a marketing dynamo. During that first conference, he was constantly smoozing everyone he met.
Fast forward a few years and, even though he would probably never admit it, because of his understanding of getting his name in front of everyone, he had no problem entering into ebook self-publishing. Why? Because he had already built his name-brand. However, to get out there even further, he made himself The Ebook Expert at a time when this industry was coming into its own.
Marketing is what sells books. Name brand is what sells books. You can be the best author published but if no one knows your name, you're just a face in the crowd; just another author, one of millions of authors with a book to sell.