Category Archives: publishing

Getting Ready to Launch

You’ve written a great book and someone wants to publish it. You take a deep breath and sigh. You can relax now. The hard work is done.

Wrong. The hard work is just beginning.

Both Patricia Santos Marcantonio and I have books releasing this fall. My book Waiting is scheduled for release by Booktrope in September. Pat’s book, The Ghost Sisters and the Girl in Hallway B, is also scheduled for release by Sunbury Press. Any given day you can watch us scurry, like the busy squirrels outside, as we get ready to launch our books.

Countless times we’ve been asked which is better, to self-publish or to go with traditional publishers? Over the years we’ve learned it doesn’t matter. Regardless of how our books are published, the work we, the authors, have to do to launch a book is the same. We’ve also learned it’s good to start early, before the book is released. Once the book is released is often too late.

Here are only some of the things we have to do to launch our books.

1)    Build an online presence. In addition to social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) create author pages at Amazon and Goodreads. There are also other sites like Shelfari and Smashwords. Every day more opportunities arise for social promotion and it’s up to the author to make sure this happens (unless you’re lucky enough to have a publicist willing to do this for you).
2)    Have a website, a blog, and update it regularly.
3)    Have a public email address where your fans can reach you.
4)    Your publisher may ask for back cover blurbs. Have some ready. Ask readers/fans you respect and admire, preferably someone who writes in the same genre, and be willing to reciprocate.
5)    Ask for reviews and be willing to give one in exchange. Remember to say something nice about the book, even if it is only that you like the title or the cover.
6)    Make a budget and stick to it.
7)    Build a mailing list and an email list.
8)    Make sure your media/press kit is up to date with current pictures and information. Spend time writing an interesting bio.
9)    Design and order swag, something like bookmarks or postcards you can sign and handout at book signings and events.
10)  Schedule giveaways and perhaps a Facebook launch party.
11)  Seek out book clubs. Offer to attend through Skype. If you haven’t done so, develop a reading guide list of questions.
12)  If you don’t have a publicist, prepare press releases and contact the media.
13)  Determine whether or not to promote your book with ads. Is there money in your budget?
14)  Schedule blog posts, blog tours, and guest posts. Be sure to reciprocate.
15)  Schedule book signings.

These are only some of the things you need to consider before you launch your book; there are countless more suggestions online. Make some time now, before your book releases, to develop a plan and then try to stick to it. Take a deep breath and try to stay calm as you plan your book launch. But most of all, remember to smile, and enjoy the journey. Then kick off your shoes and celebrate, you’ve earned a nice reward.

-Bonnie Dodge

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To self-publish or not to self-publish, that is the question

At a recent book-selling event that was a topic of conversation among many of the local authors.  We had time to talk because a snow storm put a damper on sales.

Given the opportunity to self-publish thanks to companies like Create Space, Book Baby, Lulu and more, authors can put their books into print, at least print on demand. This route is the alternative to the more traditional one of seeking an agent who will negotiate a sale of your work to a larger publisher.

As a writer who has gone both ways, there are pros and cons to each.

Make no mistake; the largest obstacle to the more traditional route is getting an agent because most of the very big publishing houses won’t look at you without one. Your writing and/or subject matter (hopefully both) must be compelling to get their attention. Once you land an agent, they will do the work to present your book to a publisher. Publishers will provide editors to make sure your work is the best it can be, as well as cover designers. Once published, they roll out their formidable marketing machine.

With a publisher you will get a percentage of the profits from book sales, and don’t forget the cut to your agent. But hello, an established publisher had enough faith in you to publish your work. I felt very, very proud of that when a New York house picked up my children’s book, “Red Ridin’ in the Hood and Other Cuentos.”

More and more writers, even ones who have been published by traditional publishers, are looking at self-publishing. In this route you will have to take care of the things publishers do from editing to cover design to marketing to distinguish your book from the many, many more books there are out there because of self-publishing. That is a downside because the time you spend doing this takes away from your writing time.

If you take this route, my best advice is to spend money on an editor. Readers usually don’t care who publishes a book, but they will care if it’s poorly written and full of grammatical errors that bump them out of the story. Then they’ll ask, “Who the hell published this book?” On the plus side, there are lots of editing services and cover designers available and plenty of advice online about how to market. All the profits from the sales of your book go to you.

The end product is also a published book.

So when asking the question to publish or not to publish, remember both ways mean work. Ultimately, you will never get paid for the hours upon hours you put into writing and rewriting your book unless it makes the bestseller list and you sell the rights for a movie starring Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock.

In the end, no matter what route you pursue — love the writing.

Patricia Santos Marcantonio

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Agents do consider self-published authors

This article has mostly good news for writers of self-published books.

http://www.alanrinzler.com/blog/2010/09/25/literary-agents-open-the-door-to-self-published-writers/

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