I would like to introduce you to my new self-help book for authors, Calling All Authors.
isbn 978 1 78507 547 6 Available from Amazon. Paperback £7.99, eBook £2.99, and all good bookshops
Do contact me if you have any contacts or suggestions for updates
Calling All Authors is aimed at everyone who writes fiction or non-fiction, including the established author, the self-published, the eBookers, and those of you who are still fighting your way through the options of seeing your work in print.
I undertook to write this book because I wanted to produce a valuable insight into the publishing industry – and your options within it – as seen by an ordinary working author of fiction, struggling to make sales in a marketplace that has changed out of all recognition in the last five years. Over many years I’ve been mainstream published (with three houses), self-published (both paperback and eBook), written two editions of this current self-help book, and co-written an acclaimed series of anthologies (the Oxford Stories). Although I’ve had a great deal of experience and personal success I’ve also been subjected to disappointments and let-downs. Thus, I will try to advise you on how to deal with the publishing industry.
I’m not a professional publicist, nor a journalist, and have no influential contacts or work experience in the publishing industry. Neither am I wealthy, young and beautiful, well connected socially, or with a far-reaching network of career and leisure contacts to boost my sales. Had I not put my shoulder to the wheel it’s doubtful I’d have made many sales at all! I call myself a kitchen table author: hard-working, ambitious, dedicated to my craft and determined to use any opportunity to the best effect. So many self-help books on the subject have been written from a corporate or theoretical point of view, and not by someone like me who has pounded the pavements, and spent hours on the computer, trying to devise unique ploys to get my books ‘talked up’.
The original version of this book was published as A Seriously Useful Authors Guide to Marketing and Publicising Books in 2009, and in the following six short years, the publishing world has turned on its head. The industry, at all levels, is now experiencing a cut-throat desperation to make a profit and survive. Why? Lots of reasons. The bite of the economic downturn started the ball rolling, and many well-known companies and imprints were forced out of business. Some very worthy and well-respected ones survive, but some, although calling themselves leaner and fitter, only do so by very close profit margins, and so often seek a quick turn round of sales by publishing ‘the celebrity author’. Whilst it’s true that sex sells everything, the second contender must be the ‘celebrity’ factor; so often a Z-lister, scooped up from current popularity, and exploited while their fleeting presence survives. This means that professional career authors find they have to compete for publicity attention. I know this must sound like sour grapes, but the market is swamped with biographies, comedy stuff, cookery books, and show-biz novelists, with accompanying scepticism that the actual ‘name’ has put very little blood, sweat and tears into the production – unlike writers of integrity and talent who take a pride in their work. Us!
Now, more than ever, we have to stand right at the back of the queue, alongside (and this may surprise you) many established household names who are told to ‘get off your backsides and get out there’ to make sales. Thus, the advice and guidance I’ve included is aimed at a very large crowd indeed.
Calling All Authors also includes valuable pre-publication advice. You all want the quality of your book to be presented in a first class way, so I will attempt to lead you through the essential stages of manuscript preparation. In addition I’ve included the state of mainstream publishing, approaching literary agents, and looking at why many people are considering self-publishing, both paper print and eBooks. I’ve also explained the many stages your manuscript goes through, from the completed computer version you send off as an attachment, to seeing the finished product appear. A complicated process!
The ‘explosion’ of the eBook has become a very important part of the industry and is here to stay, so there is a fully dedicated section, from getting one ‘put up there’ to the profits you’re likely to make. This part of the industry has very different publicity and marketing methods to that of paper versions, and thus, I’ve included the help and advice of five eBook authors who have proved to be successful.
This leads on nicely to the most significant change in the marketing and publicity of books in the last five years; the huge explosion of social media networking, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Inevitably, some of you will already have some knowledge of the publishing world, but in order to encompass those who don’t, the content will be fully comprehensive and simplified. I’ve aimed to produce a ‘grass-roots’ handbook, catering for a range people from those who know absolutely nothing, to those who have had some initial experience. The aim is that Calling All Authors will be chock full of seriously useful information that will help you to become a successful author. I make no false promises that the advice given will catapult your book into the national bestseller lists, or turn you into a household name. Not everything will work first time, and some things never work, no matter how many times you try. Yes –we all hear about a mega-selling sensation that has appeared ‘out of nowhere’, or an eBook that has ‘gone viral’, but it’s a rare occurrence. You may be surprised to hear that only 5% of mainstream published books sell over three thousand copies, and if some of the residual 95% only sell a few hundred they feel incredibly pleased. The reasons for this? As already mentioned, the largest proportion of publishers marketing budgets are allocated to a tiny handful of their most famous authors, and thus, the market place is saturated with both first time and lesser-known authors, all fighting to get their heads above the parapet. With these statistics you might be better to self-publish and much more on this will be comprehensively detailed. With either method your job is to work hard, to create a reputation for your book, and hope it’ll be the one that goes that extra mile.
I must repeat that I can’t promise you instant success – some things that work well for one person will fall flat for another – and you have to get used to the ‘custard pie’ treatment. However, if you truly believe in your book you stand a very good chance of succeeding, and books that have active authors behind them do substantially better than those that don’t.
I hope you find my book lively, highly readable, and very useful. Please do not skip any of the chapters you might think are irrelevant, as a great deal of it will apply to your manuscript production, and knowledge of the book trade. In trying to ‘make it’ as an author you’ll need energy, innovation, commitment and a very thick skin, so I will conclude with my own personal mantra:
If you want to succeed you must never say, ‘I can’t be bothered’! You must always be bothered, even when you’re tired, demoralised and pig sick of the whole thing.
Good Luck to you all. And more than anything, enjoy yourselves.