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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.