Today’s guest post is brought to you by Jason Sizemore of the small press publishing house, Apex Book Company. Apex Books has been embracing both traditional publishing methods as well as new technology through their Apex Book Company e-books on DriveThruSciFi.com. In this post, Jason talks about why it’s important for authors to embrace online marketing and promotion from his perspective as the owner of a small press publishing company.
Are you an author who doesn’t believe in doing your fair share of promotion? If so, I don’t want to work with you. And it’s not just me, but most other publishers, as well.
Trust me when I tell you this isn’t because publishers are lazy and don’t want to do the work to make you (and them) a success. On the contrary, a good small press publisher is a smart, aggressive marketer who will spend late nights on the computer and at conventions promoting their titles. The good small press publisher will wheel n’ deal with magazines, blogs, and websites for prime advertising at a cost they can afford. The good small press publisher will curry favors in return for that half-page ad in the latest Rue Morgue or Locus Magazine. We’re ruthless when it comes to hustling for sales and promotion.
Unfortunately, that’s never enough. Marketing is a hungry beast and most small press owners are working with limited resources (we’re talking the big 3 here: time, money, and people). Many of do what we can with what we have, but due to this lack of resources, part of a successful marketing campaign involves the author.
Here’s something that might surprise some of you—not even my most successful work at marketing can surpass that of an enterprising author determined to sell his/her book.
I’ve had a number of discussions with other publishers and authors about why this is so. In the end, I like to call it the ‘cult of personality.’
Readers share something intimate with a writer that goes beyond the average fan/star relationship. When you read somebody’s book, a connection is built mentally, emotionally that is unique in the retail world. If a reader enjoys your story, they will naturally want to think of you as somebody they’d like, as somebody they’d like to interact with even if it’s remotely through a computer or personally at a convention or book signing.
If a reader meets you and hasn’t read your book, you have an opportunity to earn a fan just by being nice and gracious. If they encounter your blog and you provide something of interest, then they might just pick up your book. I’ve had authors sometimes act like doing self-promotion is a real pain. In reality, it’s little more than being civil and giving the readers a small glimpse into your mind.
Connect with the readers and you’ll do well. Highly successful examples of authors doing this include Brian Keene, Cherie Priest, JA Konrath, Sara M. Harvey, and Maurice Broaddus.
The flip side of the equation is that when I sign an author to a book deal, I consider there to be a ‘bi-directional assumption of trust’ in play. From the author’s perspective, the publisher is trusted to edit and produce a quality product. The author has a fair expectation of review copies being sent, press releases being written, and a reasonable marketing plan being enacted (among other things). The publisher has a right to expect that the author will produce quality edits, they will help promote the title, and to a degree, be a cheerleader for their publisher.
In the end, I’ve never understood the author who refuses to do his/her own marketing. It’s a business, after all. We want to make money. You want to make money. The bookstores want to make money. By not self promoting you’re hurting everybody in that chain of trust.
About Jason Sizemore
Jason Sizemore is the owner of Apex Book Company, a small press dedicated to publishing quality horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Also, he’s a past Stoker Award finalist for editing the anthology Aegri Somnia and his first collection of horror (Irredeemable) comes out in 2010 from Shroud Publications.
For more information, visit www.jason-sizemore.com.