Of all the questions I am asked, many of them focus on the struggles of their favorite authors. We all know that there’s no ONE trick to writing best-selling novels, but in the age of reality tv, we desire to see how someone else does it. We want to know we are not alone, that they have tried that thing and failed, too. It makes us feel more like winners.
I published my debut novel with a small publisher. I emailed book reviewers, book clubs, book box subscription clubs, everyone I could think of. Let me stress that “targeting” your reviewers is important. Research and know why you are requesting that person’s assistance. Don’t just cast your nets wide and see what you catch. It’s more work done and more work wasted, than taking the time to slow down and find the “right” people. Those who have a higher rate of positive response.
The first one is out, but what about the second?
I was planning to self-publish my second novel, but there is a clause in my contract that states my publisher has first rights to publish any books I put out with the same world/characters. Which means I give the finished book to them and they decide if they want to publish or not. If not, then I am free to give to another publisher, agent, or self-publish. This time, my publisher decided to take the sequel.
What does that entail?
It seems much easier this time around, I’ll admit, but I am still knocking myself out to get exposure and reviews for book one. I feel almost silly pushing publicity for book two, when I really want people to read the first book! So, I have been looking for more reviews.
I grew my mailing list by joining a multi-author giveaway on BookSweeps. For a pretty reasonable price ($30), you can get exposure and people who are interested in your book sign up to enter to win a copy. At the end of the contest, you (the author) give away two copies of your book to the winner. If they choose ebooks, it’s free for you. If they choose paperback, you have to send to them. But, the inconvenience pays off because I got 447 email addresses of people who were genuinely interested in my book. Win-win.
I also followed a few authors with books like mine on Goodreads and looked at who their reviewers were. If they were regular book blogging reviewers, I sent them a message asking if they would be interested in reviewing my book. The response was pretty normal. One out of ten usually say yes. I try to research and tailor my requests to reviewers as well, but in the case of reviewers, you pretty much have to cast your net wide.
I got my second cover artist off of Twitter. Someone had made a post asking for help for an artist friend who was down on their luck. The artwork was beautiful and I really wanted to help him out. So I messaged and we made a connection. I really like my artist, and he has been great at showing me sketches along the way. I cannot WAIT to see the finished product. It should be done by the end of February, so hopefully, I will start marketing it in March. (The book releases June 22nd.)
I found beta readers the same way. I made connections on Twitter and Goodreads. Ask another author to swap with you. Read for each other and review. Then find someone else. It’s an agonizingly slow process to publish and market. I just now realized that I turned in my final manuscript without the acknowledgement page. *sigh* There always seems to be more work to do.
Luckily, the publishing process is no mystery to me anymore. However, it doesn’t help knowing the game, if you aren’t winning it. And there’s no way around the current game. If you want a Top 5 publisher or an imprint, you have to find an agent who will go all in with you. And that’s hard to do. But then, in my case, trying to find a big publisher after having a small publisher, is very difficult. You are best suited for success if you work on that debut novel until it gleams and then don’t stop querying until you get someone with contacts and experience.
My other advice is: If you can’t get an agent, or your agent can’t get a good publisher, skip the small publisher and self-publish. There is no shame in it and you will get to keep all your money. Small publishers don’t have marketing budgets for you. You are marketing on your own, and with many small publishers using CreateSpace and Draft2Digital to publish their clients’ books, you are better off using the service yourself and keeping all your money. If you are going to have to do things yourself anyway, you might as well keep the money. That is why I planned on self-publishing my next novel.
Alas, my contract will give my publisher all three books in my trilogy. But I’m not done writing. Not by a long shot.
If you have questions about the publishing industry, the process, or my own story, just let me know. I am happy to share and happy to help other authors succeed. We could really help each other out, instead of being in constant competition. I’m willing to try, are you?
Have a great (and frigid) week!