What does it mean to promote a book in 2011? What can/should an author expect from a publisher when they get signed?

 

At a bare bones minimum, I'd expect a publisher to:

 

1) Make the book for sale on its website

2) Get the word out about the book on social media

3) Send copies to reviewers

 

Ideally, I'd add these others:

 

4) Get the word out about the book through an e-mail newsletter using e-mails it farmed (i.e. not renting a list)

5) Arrange blog tours, book signings and interviews.

6) Send out press releases to media outlets.

 

From the author's perspective, a publisher never promotes enough (or at all). From the publisher's perspective, authors should shoulder the majority of the promotion.

 

Thus, an immovable object meets an unstoppable force.

 

So, 'Spacers, what do you think? What is "promoting" a book in 2011?

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My hope would be that publishers start promoting all their authors equally. At the moment they throw huge money at a few titles and do nothing for the rest. That automatically handicaps their other authors who now have to compete with the stars.  And if the money for promotion and marketing (that's where they spend money on book stores) is tight, then cut back on the number of titles published.

 

Yes, I know.  Wishful thinking.  But surely they must be aware of the fact that a lot of good people are very angry.

I agree and it makes no sense, I.J. Why do pubs even pick up titles if they don't intend to promote them? Some books they already have it down they are gonna give them the big promotional push and some they won't even try to. I don't understand it. Seems to me you'd wanna give all your books the same push so they'd be successful. What's so bad is that a lot of those books the pubs throw all the promo at fail too. They don't sell either then the poor author is blamed and you can forget them getting another contract. Everything's the author's fault. The pubs want books to sell well yet they expect us to do it all on our own.

You've described well what an author should be able to expect in the way of marketing. Unfortunately, too many publishers now consider the advance to be the marketing budget ,though i doubt they account for it that way.

If I really thought a publisher would do what you describe, I'd still be trying to get a traditional contract. I'm now convinced all of the above will now be my job, so I might as well go direct to Kindle ad save myself a lot of aggravation from listening to the publisher tell me what I should have done that they weren't willing to do themselves.

I think you've confirmed what I've suspected for a some time. There is no difference between a publisher offering no marketing support and self-publishing.
Except that no one who might hear about your book can find it in the bookstore.
There's at least one difference: the book produced by the publisher won't look like crap. Not just talking about the cover either. There's also the typesetting, which nobody seems to think about. Making the text look good on the inside is an art.

The odds are, I think, a traditional publisher who is unwilling to promote an author is not going to be found on the bookshelves for very long.

I suspect that may be correct.  My last publisher, who turned out an excellent quality product and had distribution both in the UK and the U.S. also does not accept returns.  Bookstores won't like that at all.  Though mind you, I support this completely.  The return policy has gotten totally out of hand, what with chains overordering to juggle their inventory and then returning. Meanwhile, publishers hold earned royalties in reserve against such returns.

Really, the ebook mark is exploding in growth at an exponential rate, the idea of a single author hitting all the markets and pushing his material successfully does not seem viable. J.A. Konrath even states he has no idea why his books sells so well.  And I think he has said he really doesn't much to promote them.

 

So, frankly, it's a crap-shoot for the writer.

 

But if a ebook/traditional publisher comes along that just marginally creates an effective advertising campaign for their authors--I think you will find asuddenly very successful company.

Timing has something to do with it.  Konrath is a pioneer, and he made himself a name early on. Meanwhile, the field has become very crowded.  Those who got in early do better than newcomers. Also Konrath had a name before he went to self-publishing.

Dana: I'm with you. If author are going to have to do everything anyway, why not go Kindle and other outets and do it yourself. We may not get into brick-and-mortar stores, but the way things are going that may be the best place for your books.

BR: I remember a post from Joe Konrath on October 20, 2010 when he and another author did a marketng blitz trying to force the novel into higher Amazon rankings.( I've inserted the link above on the date posted). Actually, they did quite a lot to promote the books. I found their efforts worth noting. 

 

Benjamin: As always, another great discussion generator.

 

 

Good point Mark but some authors don't want to do it alone. Some of us like to have a pub behind us for various reasons. A lot of authors just want to write and not deal with the business side. True a lot of pubs don't promote the way they should but the minimum of what they do is more than most authors could do on their own. Also, some authors don't have the money to spend on making their self-published book look wonderful in order to compete. A lot of folks can't pay for editing, typesetting or all the other services. It depends on the kind of person the author is. I never wanted to be a publisher and deal with that side of things and I never wanted to self-publish for many reasons. Now I might put some shorts or something up on Kindle one day, yeah. But I'd never self-publish my primary work. Just not what I ever wanted to do.

 

Also, let me say again NOT ALL pubs don't promote. Like I mentioned on my post in the thread, a lot of smaller presses and epublishers promote the heck out of their titles. So it's not every pub that doesn't promote. The bigger pubs are the ones who really are promoting less and less. Still, it goes to what an author wants to do for their work. Some authors still want their books in print and in stores, etc. It's a whole lot of reasons why some folks might not self-publish. People are different and we all have different goals and desires. I say whatever makes the author happy is what they should do.


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