Thanks to those of you who left comments on my blog today. I’m going to respond to some of them and defer the rest to Jeff Gerke, who’s been sharing the spotlight here for the last several days as I interviewed him about the new publishing house that he’s launching, Marcher Lord Press, which will release its first three books in October, 2008.
Could you talk a little more about the online marketing and distribution process?
Randy sez: I’ll defer that question to Jeff.
Randy, as a prepubbed author who is taking on as much marketing as my skill level allows, I want to thank you for stressing the importance of starting this before the product (book) comes out. I guest blogged at the Christian Author Network about how to grow a newsletter, our major focus, and gave you credit for the inspiration.
Randy sez: It’s great to see how you and your mom are doing! I think you two are close to selling a book, and once you do, you’ll be glad for all the groundwork you’ve laid in your marketing efforts. I know your goal is to have 500 readers of your newsletter by year’s end. Imagine if you have 1000 or so on your list when you sell your first book. Then you have another year or two to grow your list before your book hits the shelves. Contrast that with most authors, who start their list AFTER their first book comes out.
Now I’m going to give Christina and her mother Sherrie some free advice. The rest of you reading this blog, pay attention here. First, check out the signup page for Christina and Sherrie on their web site. There are a couple of things that I see missing on this page:
1) What is the newsletter about? It doesn’t really say here. If you know Christina and Sherrie, you might be willing to take it on faith that they’ll have something interesting to say. But if you don’t, then likely you won’t. So Christina and Sherrie–put a description of what people will get when they subscribe. And how often it comes out.
2) What do people get RIGHT NOW for subscribing to your newsletter? You’ve got a contest going where you’ll give away some free books when you reach 500 subscribers. But what about everyone else? Do you have something you can give away RIGHT NOW to everyone who signs up? When people sign up for my e-zine, they get a free e-book on Tiger Marketing right away. They also get a 5-day e-mail course in how to publish a novel. Those are valuable reasons to sign up RIGHT NOW.
Donna wrote a question for Jeff:
I’m also curious about the online marketing and distribution process. I like the thought of POD from a legitimate publisher. It’s frustrating when a friend recommends a book or series to you and when you try to find it, either it or the first in the series is out of print or at least not available (I buy a lot of books from Amazon for that reason).
I’m also curious about promoting the book. Does this type of process leave all/most of the promoting to the authors? Even with friends/website things you’re not going to be searched until your name is known, which makes it hard for first-time/unknown authors.
Randy sez: I’ll leave it to Jeff to answer this. I will simply add that it’s frustrating as an author to have a book go out of print and be unable to get more copies. When my first novel went out of print, there were NO copies left for me to buy. I had recently bought a couple of cases. When I ran out of those, I had nothing left for people who wanted them. GRRRRRRR!
Jeff, go ahead and send me your comments on how you intend to help your authors promote their books and I’ll post it here.
If you’re not distributing the book to stores, not paying an advance, and not even publishing the book unless it’s ordered, why shouldn’t the author just do it himself through Lulu.com?
Randy sez: I know Jeff will want to respond to this one, but I’ll jump in and point out that Jeff is developing an online marketing platform precisely because he wants to help his authors promote their work. As an aside, in the industry these days, all publishers expect their authors to promote their work. I don’t know of any publishers who want to do all the promotion themselves. So no matter who you choose as a publisher, you need to be thinking about self-promotion.
Lulu.com charges about $10.00 wholesale for printing 1 paperback and not much of a price break for printing 1000’s.
Do you have a better deal on POD?
What would the customer be charged plus the shipping? IOTW, what would the net be on that 50/50 split?
Randy sez: I leave it to Jeff to email me the answer to that question. I know that the numbers are lower than $10 per book, but Jeff will have the exact figures.
I read on a Christian writing markets blog that it is best to wait to send queries until after Christmas, when things settle down mid-January.
Is this true for Marcher Lord Press? I have a science fiction query I would like to send.
Randy sez: Virtually all publishers in America are pretty busy with doing holiday stuff in December and are very likely NOT looking at books that come in right now. But it really doesn’t matter when you send it in. Send it when it’s ready and it’ll be looked at when the editor has time. I once mailed in a proposal on December 17. It sat in a stack over the holidays and got opened in early January. But I had prepared the ground well for that book. The editor was expecting it and before January was over, I had an offer. So things can happen quickly at this time of year, if you’ve done everything else right.
I am an aspiring fiction writer who has submitted the proposal to Jeff at MLP. Before I did, I asked if he were going to be able to list the books on Amazon, and he replied that was possible. Since so many books (and the audience we aim for) use Amazon, that was a selling point.
Randy sez: Yup, this is easy to do, especially with POD companies such as the one Jeff will be using to print his books. Of course, Amazon will not do much to market your book; they just sell it. These days, the fact that they stock it is critical; the fact that a POD publisher can always have copies available is critical. I really do think that we are seeing a sea-change in the way publishing is going to work. I hear that some publishers are inserting clauses in contracts so that the books they publish will never technically go out of print, because they’ll be set up with a POD printer to handle orders on books that are no longer in the warehouse.
Some of you may be wondering if I’ll be publishing anything with Jeff. The answer is probably not. I have no plans to be writing the kind of fiction Jeff publishes. Some of what I’ve written in the past would likely qualify, and I would consider re-issuing some of my out-of-print books, but I don’t need Jeff to do that for me. I already have a strong marketing platform (and it gets stronger every day). But the direction I’ve chosen for my future writing is different than Jeff’s direction.
So I don’t really need Jeff, but I know of hundreds of authors who write exactly the sort of thing Jeff wants to publish. Most of these are Xtremely frustrated with the current market.
Jeff, please send me answers to the questions I’ve flagged above. Tuesday is my day to write my e-zine, so I will probably not blog Tuesday night. See you all on Thursday with Jeff’s answers!