Joe Wikert’s blog – Publishing2020 – has a post referencing a blog that lists the top 10 items publishing editors and book agents dislike. Joe applied comments that referenced the traditional publishing world – but it’s a list that has application for everyone interested in self publishing – not so much because some editor or agent might be interested in seeing a book proposal, but because each of these items is important for creating a truly valuable and salable product in the market.
I ‘cherry-picked’ the items most relevant to self-publishing – here is a link to the full article at the Small Publishers Association of North America website. I cover some similar thoughts on the Dog Ear Publishing site regarding writing a book marketing plan.
The author of the article is Rich Frishman – he’s an author, speaker, and founder of Planned Television Arts (a very successful PR firm). He also happens to have an interesting blog that focuses on book marketing – though more for the ‘traditional’ author.
Unless you are intent on self publishing a book that isn’t intended to sell – these rules make a lot of sense:
#1: Writers claim no competition exists.
Competition exists for pretty much anything and everything ever written. It is critical that you as an author understand how and where your book fits into the market. Even if you are writing fiction or a narrowly targeted biography – it’s unlikely that Amazon doesn’t have some other title that the potential reader won’t be comparing to yours. An extension of this thought – is that if your book truly has no competition, does it perhaps mean there isn’t any market?
An extension of the ‘no competition’ rule is the ‘my book is for everyone’ rule – an audience that cannot be define more narrowly than ‘everyone’ is really, really difficult to market…
This is a critical component of your book marketing plan – having competition doesn’t mean you don’t write your book (in many ways it may be an incentive to write a book), it just means you need to be aware.
#2: Writers claim their books will be the next blockbuster.
We here this frequently – usually accompanied by the statement “if only it can get the exposure / marketing / shelf space it needs to succeed.” While we look for a high level of author enthusiasm and expectations, it is often a warning sign when an author expects their book to be the next blockbuster – here’s a slightly dated quote from Publishers Weekly:
“…950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. The average book in America sells about 500 copies.”
– Publisher’s Weekly, July 17, 2006
That means that 96% of all books sell less than 1,000 copies – and 98% of all books sell less than 5,000 copies. We don’t need you to try and convince us that your book is a best-seller (in the self-publishing world in most cases it’s honestly not relevant, since the author is carrying the financial risk of publishing a book) – If you want us to market your book, we need to know that you have reasonable and thought-out expectations.
#3: Writers say how much others liked their books.
This is critically important with self-published books. It is, however, only important in two ways – as book reviews on your cover / web site / Amazon / B&N book page; and as anticipated purchasers of your book. Most folks who liked your book don’t have any way to influence OTHERS to BUY your book – if they do (their name is Oprah Winfrey or they happen to run a web site / blog / magazine that has tons of readers) then you need to get them promoting your book once it really comes out and is available for purchase. If they don’t use their comments as a way to help other potential buyers understand what is good about your book- but don’t assume it means anything in the way of sales.
#8: Writers send submissions in strange formats and colors.
I’m modifying this to refer to how authors submit their manuscript and what they expect their book to look like when it goes to press… Please, please, please – let our book design team build the interior of your book. We welcome your suggestions and comments, and we want you to review the design our team creates for your book – but very seldom is a great writer a great book designer. As a service provider, your self publishing company will (or rather should – it’s one of those items to watch for in choosing a self publishing company) give you exactly what you ask for … just be careful what you ask for – ultimately if you want to publish an ugly book, most of us will let you. I’m not saying any publishing company’s design team is infallible, but it is what they do every day of the week.
Complex or unusual interior book designs rarely ADD to the saleability of a book – too often complexity will be a detriment to sales. Keep it simple.
#9: Writers have a bad attitude or act superior.
There are times when you will need to be firm with your publisher – it happens all the time, with almost every publishing company. Just don’t start out that way – if the poor soul you are calling dreads your calls… how much better do you expect things to get? Constant, unrelenting confrontation isn’t usually the way to get what you need. If you feel the need to start the process in this manner, you’ve probably chosen the wrong company to work on your book. Every company in the world has its own personality – and it is certainly acceptable to say “Hey, this isn’t working out; I’m not comfortable; we need to move on…” If you’ve been through several publishing companies and felt you had to use the same tactics or attitudes with each one… well…
#10: Writers reject professional advice.
This sort of addresses the ‘don’t be cute’ post also – a good self-publishing company (and good editor or agent) will offer competent advice, from book content to design to pricing / wholesale discount issues to book marketing. Ultimately, you may reject any and all advice and follow your own path. You can go it alone, as the saying goes, and there are plenty of examples of authors who rejected all conformity, advice and common practices to do something ‘unique’ and who consequently ‘made it big.’ There are far more that took no ones’ counsel other than their own and consequently failed miserably.
Filed under: book marketing, Book Marketing Plan, Joe Wikert, self publishing | Tagged: book marketing, book publishing, book sales, self publishing, Self-publishing blogs | 2 Comments »