Don’t Depend 100% on Your Publisher


By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin)

In 2007, America’s Publicist Rick Frishman invited me to participate on the faculty of MegaBook Marketing University in Los Angeles, California. At that time, I was running a small literary agency and representing authors in Scottsdale, Arizona. Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul was leading this event. Besides meeting with authors who pitched their books, I attended every single session of the event and took notes. Throughout these sessions, I learned that traditional publishers are skilled at making beautiful books with well-designed covers and interiors. Book publishers also know how to get the books inside the bookstore and available to the public.

My first book, a children’s picture book for David C. Cook, was published in 1992. Since then I had written over 50 books with traditional publishers, received a couple of six-figure advances yet most of my books had negative royalty statements. A little known but important publishing fact is ninety percent of nonfiction books never earn back their advance. All my books are nonfiction. 

While I loved writing books, I did very little promotion for my work. I had a small website (www.terrywhalin.com) but I had not blogged and had no social media presence or email list or consistent and on-going connections to my readers. I believed because I was working with traditional publishers, receiving an advance against my royalties (sometimes thousands of dollars) that my books were going to be selling. I had fallen for the myth that my publisher was going to promote and sell my book. 

During MegaBook Marketing University, I learned a key truth about publishing: publishers know how to make beautiful books and get them into bookstores, yet these actions are only one part of the process. The other key element (mostly up to the author) is actually selling the book to the consumer. Attending MegaBook Marketing University transformed my life. I could no longer assume the responsibility for selling my books would be in the hands of the publisher (or someone else besides me). I made a decision to change and take action.

Every writer needs to be able to tell stories and create an excellent book manuscript. The writing is a foundational skill for every writer. If you don’t have this writing skill, a developmental editor, ghostwriter, co-author or any other person in this role can help you create an engaging book. But marketing and selling yoiur book requires a different set of skills. . The good news is: every writer can learn to market their book

Writers are looking for a simple formula to sell books. If such a formula existed, then publishers would use this method and every book would make a lot of money. In fact, some unexpected books are hits while some well-written books do not get purchased. One of the keys to selling books is building relationships. John Kremer, the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book says marketing is about building relationships with your readers. 

Consider your reader or target audience. How much detail do you know about them? Where do they live? Where do they shop? What other books do they read? Are they active in book clubs? What are their needs and how can you write material that will meet those needs? Can you answer these and other audience questions?

One of the most effective tools for every book author is to create their own email list. As an author, you control your email list including what you say and how often you use the list. While not everyone looks at Facebook or a website or Twitter, most people open and read their email. If you email too frequently, they might not open your email or they might unsubscribe. When an author has an email list and uses it properly, it is the best way for them to reach their readers. If you are a brand-new author, how to you start a list and use it effectively?

As an author, you take control of what you can for your book. You cannot depend on your publisher to sell your book. You have the greatest passion for your book, so you need to show that passion and create an email list and different ways to connect with your readers.  

Tweetable: 

This prolific author and editor was lulled into depending 100% on his publisher to sell books. He learned this publishing myth the hard way. Get the details here. (ClickToTweet)


W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

6 comments:

Karen Cioffi said...

Terry, thanks for the book marketing insight from years of experience. And nicely put as to why an email list is important: "While not everyone looks at Facebook or a website or Twitter, most people open and read their email."

Terry Whalin said...

Karen,

It sounds old fashion to emphasize email. Other new fangled things come and go but email remain the main way to effectively reach our audience--and it is something under our control as authors.

Terry

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

So glad you mentioned that list thing. It’s at the root of most everything we do for our writing careers and right now I am rewriting a chapter for the 2nd edition of my How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. I call it a master list because we can make one list do the job of many and do it more effectively. Many programs like Excel do a magical job of merging, selecting, printing labels and more but we have to input the information it needs to do so.
And, Terry. I want the name of that children’s book, please!
Hugs,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Terry Whalin said...

Carolyn,

Thank you for this comment affirming the importance of an email list.

As for the title of my first book, it has been long out of print but was called WHEN I GROW UP, I CAN GO ANYWHERE FOR JESUS. The book covers different occupations and uses a cartoon character combined with real pictures from Wycliffe Bible Translators (where I was working in 1992) to show children they can go anywhere in the world.

Terry

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

It’s probably still available on Amazon’s Used book feature, Terry, though I don’t think they call it that anymore!
Best,
Carolyn

Terry Whalin said...

Carolyn,

The used version of my book is still available and I emailed you the link--and it's the same title.

Terry

Build Your Brand

  Contributed by Margot Conor While you are writing your novel, or even when it is just an idea in your head, start to build your brand. Res...