For those with questions on how publishing works I recommend checking out http://www.ian-irvine.com/ where you will find ‘THE TRUTH ABOUT PUBLISHING’ and his slightly tongue-in-cheek ‘GUIDE TO SUCCESS.’ These were written with Australian authors in mind but the advice, facts and opinions he offers are universal. This is information I wish I’d had before rather than after my first book was published. And Ian still practices what he preaches, even with multiple titles in print. We have the same agent and at the annual seminar she hosts for writers, would-be writers, publishers and those just interested in books Ian can always be seen papering the tables with flyers for his latest work. And just a heads-up for the starry eyed, the facts ain’t always pretty. I'd be interested in reactions from the about-to-be or recently published. Anyone offering similar pages in the US or UK?

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This is a very useful summary of what you should know. And yes, the process is extremely painful and frequently shocking to newly published authors.
I would differ on the assumption that your publisher has your interests in mind. In fact, you are purely a potential money-maker. If you turn out not to make a fairly quick profit, forget it. As for the risk: the author's risk is far greater. Having put himself in a publisher's hands, he is at the mercy of the publisher's marketing and promotion. Marketing and promotion go primarily to the established sellers of the publisher or to high-profile authors. And if the new author's sales don't meet expectations, he will not find another publisher for his next book.
I've spent the last year doing all kinds of signings, talks, ads, conventions, and library shows. Best results: Meeting booksellers and the store staff, pitching them (when asked) about my book. I think this guy's advice is very good and fits with my experience.
I can improve on that: My two-hour signing (never were two hours longer!) in a Barnes & Noble was graced with a snoring homeless man who woke up from time to time to object to my talking. Still, those who were awake asked a million questions and kept me there. Then, when it was all done, nobody bought book!

It went a long way to prove to me that author tours are not the way to promote books.
Well, you could buy ads. Usually your publisher will help with design. I expect radio appearances work, though I haven't had the courage to pursue that. Good reviews work. Interviews also work a little. And you should have a web site and answer all your fan mail.

But to the best of my knowledge only causing a buzz works really well. Off hand, I think you'd have to do something pretty outrageous or have a very large number of motivated friends to achieve that. Of course, once you make the best seller list, opportunities arise everywhere: your publisher will buy lots of ads and arrange to have you appear on national television. People will beg you to give speeches for large amounts of money. And any book store you deign to sign in will arrange for press coverage and roll out the red carpet. And you'll have to do nothing but sign books and smile.
Booksellers are your direct point of contact with the public and a good place to start. A quick visit, a chat, an offer to sign some books (one of my local bookshops has LOCAL AUTHOR stickers) and maybe you could ask to leave some printed postcards on the counter with your book cover on one side and reviews on the other.

I also put together an email postcard with reviews that gets sent out to every bookseller we can find with an email address – I do the same to announce book trailers on YouTube and audio books releases. These are sent directly to each individual email address rather than as bulk bcc’s - takes a bit of time but is a lot more personal. I also use my company email address which is a touch PR firm like.

Actually one of these mailers for my second book got a reply from a bookshop owner in Perth, who wanted to point out that there were peripheral characters in Book 2 from Book 1, and Book 1 was definitely worth reading. I emailed back as the author to a fantastic response.
Distance wise Perth is to Sydney as SF is to NY. Perth is in Western Australia, the only state where I’d had no newspaper reviews and it turns out this book seller and all his staff are avid fans. They push all my books like crazy, even to book reps from other publishers. This guy even offers his own money-back guarantee. I owe my profile in that state to one bookseller getting behind me. Plus the bloke is an ex-military demolitions expert who has worked with police bomb squads and the SAS. Handy if I need background on things that go BANG!

Radio interviews can be heaven or hell. The best interviewer is the one who has read and liked the book, which can be rare. The worst is the bored personality with another ten minutes of airtime to fill and who leaves it to you to do it for him. For radio interviews I always try to anticipate what questions I might be asked, and I make up a cheat sheet on the book in question because by the time they interview you on one book you can be in the middle of writing another.

Also make it a point to ask the producer BEFORE the interview if they can mail you a CD or email you an audio file of the interview. If it isn’t good try to learn from it, and if you sound halfway interesting ask for permission to post it on your website – I have a couple up on mine. The interview may also be a pre-record for later broadcast so if it isn’t live-to-air ask for the air date so you tell your friends and post on your website – and even here.
Canada is on my list for a research visit. My father who was in the RAAF trained as a navigator there before dropping spies and SAS troopers into occupied Europe by night, towing a massive 17 ton wooden glider to Normandy in the opening assault on D-Day, almost getting his head blown off, getting shot down after Arnhem, sheltered by the Dutch family for six weeks, being captured trying to cross the Rhine to safety and eventually enduring a 16 day forced march from a POW camp in Poland back into Germany in the worst blizzards for a 100 years to be finally liberated by the Red Army. There is a fully restored Halifax bomber from his old RAF squadron on display at Trenton, Ontario. And yes there is a book in all that. This of course explains my interest in the thriller/spy genre.

As to the whole public speaking/interview/radio chat business, I teach photography and a common question is ‘I feel awkward about asking people if I can photograph them or just taking pictures in public generally. What should I do?’ It is a bit simplistic but sometimes you need to invent a second personality and let them do that particular job. I was a chronically shy person (you didn’t want to go to a party with me) but I become Teacher Geoff when I need to be and Hard Nosed Photographer Geoff when necessary. It was a little weird watching myself say to the CEO of the largest telecommunications company in Australia in effect, ‘if you get your act together we can get this done and then I’ll be out of your hair,’ but it worked.

So when you get introduced as ‘well known and successful local author’ that is who you are.
Go for it! Everyone listening actually wants to be you, so you are ahead from the ‘off’. As to the listening to your radio interviews bit I always have my wife do it first. I trust her if she says it isn’t too gruesome. And when it is gruesome learn from it, let it go and move on. It is very rare to see the headline ‘AUTHOR GIVES BAD RADIO INTERVIEW.’
I have to say, I often look at an author's book and mull it over before buying. Of course, the author doesn't know this, so he or she may get discouraged. But it is not unusual for a customer to wait before buying..small consolation as that may be.
What a great article!!!!
I'm a debut author - my first novel came out in January- so it's all very interesting too me.
I realise I have been very, very lucky.

1. This is the first book I've ever written. I know some people only get any where with their third or fourth and I certainly was expecting that nothing would ever come of Damaged Goods. I think I was in the right place at the right time.
My agent had a gut feeling that a female crime writer with a ballsy, female lead would play well...and my tatty mss landed on his desk.
Despite what some people think of agents mine has been a star. He has guided me through this whole process with patience and charm. Whatever he suggests I usually go with as a. I trust him and b. I figure his many years in the game mean he knows what he's talking about.
Ditto editors. Why wouldn't I listen to someone who lives and breaths fiction?

2.My advance was neither small nor large...my agent concurred with the author of your article that getting the most out of the publishers would force them to take promotion seriously but as a newbie I could hardly expect six figures. I'm very fortunate in that Husband Who Lives In Hope can keep us in bread and jam - lord knows how other authors live!!

3.My publishers have promoted me as best they can considering I'm an unknown. I've done radio, TV, newspapers etc.To be fair I have the face and arse for the former. I think the advice from Geoff to have a second personna is a great one. Because my protagonist does the same job as me, much of the time in interviews is spent asking about me and like a lot of writers I LOVE talking about writing - but me? are you kidding? what's to say? So now I put on my Helen Black hat and go for it - it's liberating.

4. Sales. I never expected to sell more then three - my Mum, my husband, and my best mate . The figures in the above article are very enlightening. Each week I've been getting a mail from my editor confirming my figures are great but I don't know if it's true. They're bound to say that right? I now know they're not bad at all.

But another point from my agent was that a debut novel should never sell too strongly as the second must beat it. An upward trajectory is imperative if you want to make a career of writing. I can see how that makes sense.

If I could add any advice of my own it would be to leave arrogance and thin skin at the door. Listen to your agent, editor, PR. They know what they're doing. Also some of the stuff on this site is very useful. Some people are argumentative and unhelpful but for the most part members seem to want to support one another and share what they can.

I don't think I've seen anything like this article here in the UK. Some books by agents etc make it clear how it is but they spread it out over 200 pages. This is so concise and honest - perfect really. Many thanks.
HB x
I've done book signings where about all that happened is that I was asked if I knew where the bathrooms were. Browsers would come across my table, rock to a halt, then wheel around in the opposite direction, never making eye contact.

Conversely, this past March 6th, I did a book signing (for a non-fiction book co-authored with my wife, Melissa) and we were mobbed. The Barnes and Noble ran out of books inside the first hour. People were milling about, complaining bitterly that they had no books to buy and for us to sign.

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