Hi, Marta - a question. Is it your publisher who does your reviews? Or do they get someone else to do a review? And what else does your publisher do to promote your books?
To answer the orginal question, from Bill, my biggest problem in getting my books sold, Silent Truth and The Return, are getting people to the web site that promotes them. And how to get reviews? For example, Silent Truth, a murder that happens in a Quaker community, is available at www.quakerbooks.org, and The Return, its sequel, is available at www.thebooklink.com. But what will attract people to even read the blurbs on these sites? Margaret Guthrie
My publisher wrote the blurb for the book, but they didn't write any of the reviews. They have a list of reviewers they mail out to. They also sent me a copy of the ARC and some review copies of the book when they were available and said that I could send them to anyone I thought would give me a review. About 3-4 of the reviews were given by people I contact. So in that respect, we reached nice mix of comments (professional reviewers and authors). Ironically, in spite of the varied backgrounds, all the reviews seem to be very consistent.
As far as getting a reivew, you basically have to make a cold call (e-mail) and hope you spark some interest. Some have agreed to review the book, but never followed through while others post them right away. Unfortunately, since they're doing it as a favor, it wouldn't be right to bug them about it. Therefore it's a constant effort to find reviewers willing to read it. If you're interested, the reviews are all available on my website under, "The Body of Evidence."
My publisher also posted announcements in various Internet sites that attract buyers, book sellers, reviewers, publishers, etc. One such site out of Canada contacted me for an interview and they're also displaying my banner on their rotating system for free. Always go for the freebies.
The publisher has book seller contacts in the States as well as in Europe (The London Book Depository, Bakers & Taylor, Ingram Books, Betram Books, and Gardners Books.) They've placed "Silenced Cry" online on all the Amazon shops (US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Japan, and China), Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Powels, and several others--I keep finding new one all the time. There are numerous online shops in the UK that are carrying it as well. Again, some of those locations are listed on my site. They also have sellers in South Africa. Another thing they routinely do is attend book fairs to promote their authors. The first such event in which they unvailed "Silenced Cry" was at the April 2007 London Book Fair.
Two other things that my publisher is doing is seeking book writing contests to enter my book. We've also had some discussions about selling the language rights.
Now, having said all of this, none of it would make any difference if I didn't follow through with my end of the marketing deal. Placing information in a few locations without follow up is useless. My marketing stratgey has been repeated/constant release of information to a variety of sources. My pub is always sending me links to sites of interest (international news links, author groups, book promotional sites, etc.) that I can take advantage of. As I mentined above, I won't know until I get my first sales report if my strategy has worked. I'll let you know. :)
You've struck upon one of the key paradoxes in publishing, Marta. The publisher produces the book (editing, design & layout and printing) and distributes it. The MARKETING of the book, however, is the responsibility of the author. You are taking a pro-active role in promoting your book. That's great. It's a skill set that many authors don't have. (Another irony of publishing is that being an author is, for the most part, a solitary activity. Selling a book, however, is a social activity. Typically, if a person is good at one activity, that person is not good at the other)
At some point, you'll want to set a marketing strategy meeting with your publisher to discuss your promotional efforts. The outcome of that meeting is to decide how the publisher will support you in that effort. It's been my experience that support doesn't include financial support. More often than not, it means making the books available at a time and place that coincides with your promotion efforts.
You mention the London Book Fair. One of the greatest opportunities for "Silenced Cry" is selling international rights. There are some titles that produce all their profit from international rights sales. Rights are going for around $1,000-$5,000 for first-time authors. That doesn't sound like much until you consider there are 126 countries in the world. $1,000 times 126 countries starts to become interesting. Please don't let me mislead you. You'll never sell all 126 countries. My point is that international rights sales are cumulative.
Selling books is the key, isn't it Margaret? That's where the rubber meets the road in publishing. Nothing sells books like good book reviews. Nothing generates good book reviews like hard work (and a well-written book). In general, you should plan to send out at least 100 review copies of your book. That sounds daunting until you think about the number of publications available to review books: newspapers, magazines, blogs, websites, ezines, etc. Each of these publications is hungry for content.
A trick I often use to "expand" my thinking about potential reviewers is to search the book for references to real-life people, places or things. I make a list of those organizations and contact them to see if they will review the book and provide an endorsement. For instance, I used this technique on a book, "The Spirit of David (ISBN 1-881474-50-X)." It's a book of inspirational and motivational stories of people overcoming handicaps. In the book, there were several references to LA Children's Hospital. I contacted the hospital and asked if they have a newsletter that would review the book. I also contacted the hospital bookstore to see if they would sell the book. (This technique works for thinking of alternative channels of distribution, too).
Since your book is about a Quaker community, scour the book for references to businesses that support the Quakers. Use the references in your book to set up those businesses as dealers for your book. Have them buy your books at a 40% discount on a non-returnable basis. It's a win-win for both you and the business.
With regard to Uk based online stores, books are fed onto these automatically as by the ISBN agency, as long as you have a) an ISBN and b) an account (or your publisher does) with one of our main wholesalers - Bertrams and Gardners). This is not then something that publishers have to work hard at to achieve, hence the fact that you will see books on so many sites - not just Amazon, but the supermarkets but also stores like Borders, Waterstones and the new Bookrabbit.
Quite possibly these agencies didn't know what to do with the rights once they had them. Publishing books is not their strength. Feeding the poor is. My experience with charitable organizations and books is that the author must not only show the value of the book to the organization, but must also orchestrate the entire project for the charity.
I am planning to relaunch the marketing effort on my book Call to Liberty: Bridging the Divide Between Liberals and Conservatives in Fall 2007. I am going to try to chronicle the effort on my ning blog, so people can check it out. Here's some background on where we are at:
Book published: December 2006
Publisher: Scarletta Press, a small press with little background or experience. They provided no marketing and some, but not much, distribution. I had expected more.
Book did pretty well in local Barnes & Nobles, but there was no real national distribution. A few times I went to cities for events, which were fun, but no stores had the book, so the selling was really rotten. Could not justify that expense. Some have said it was a mistake to not do more of it, but I could not see the return. All expenses were from my pocket, with only a traditional royalty, and a hand full of sales.
I've done about 50 small speaking events in my local area, the Twin Cities. These average 20-40 people, and we sell on average 35% of attendees. I've been on one local radio station frequently, and several local cable TV pograms. Very comfortable with that. Would love to do more. Published two OpEds locally as well, and one review appeared. All in all, not bad on a first book locally.
However, I have to sell some books and help to make a difference in the country. We are attending a big political conference in Washington DC the week of June 18, but the problem is I am an attendee, not a speaker. I need to be a speaker.
Anyone interested can follow my blog. For now, I could use any ideas on accessing conferences and other large events far in advance in order to get my hat in the ring as a speaker.
In many ways your timing couldn't be better, Anthony. Next year is a national election. The campaigns have already begun—18 months before the general election. Partisan politics has never been so divisive as it is today. So the topic is timely in this environment.
No doubt you've already thought of this hook. If you haven't, I'd tie everything back to the 2008 election. Send review copies to all the major candidates looking for an endorsement. Fortunately, the field is wide open in both political parties and there are many candidates vying for attention. That means more potential endorsements for your book. Expand beyond the national figures to US Senate, US Congressional, state and local officials.
As for your immediate desire to be a speaker at the political conference in Washington, DC, it may be too late to be a speaker for this year, but there are things to get your name out there in 2007 and plan to speak next year.
First, develop your "author's block." This is your signature file you use on all electronic communications that describes you as an expert in this field and author of your book. Perfect this. Make it concise and powerful.
Second, contribute to the organization's blog. Many conferences and conventions have blogs. Write your impressions as an attendee. Use your Author's Block whenever adding to the blog. Write frequently so you increase your exposure to that group.
Third, offer to write a review for the organization's newsletter following the conference. Verify before hand that you can use your Author's Block at the end of the review.
Fourth, contact the conference's organizers and send them review copies of your book. Offer to speak at the next conference. This establishes you as a published author and expert in the field.
Fifth, offer to blog here (and anywhere else you have a blog) about the organization and it's conference. Tie back to the organization's web site. This will raise their rankings in the search engines, not to mention your own.
Sixth, offer to write reviews for the conference in other publications. You probably know the correct publications that reach your target audience. Submit conference reviews from the perspective of an attendee. Such publications are always looking for content and may appreciate having a review that wasn't generated by a press release from the conference's organizers.
At every opportunity, tell readers where they can purchase your book, whether it's on Amazon, your own website or in the stores.