Tips For The Self-Published

January 11th, 2006 · 2 Comments
by Booksquare

As we’ve noted in the past, there are a lot of good reasons to go the self-publishing route. Most who choose this option don’t understand the sheer effort involved with this option — in fact, if you look around at advice for the self-published, it often seems overly optimistic with a bright red halo of unrealistic. Be prepared for hard work.

Getting your book on the shelves of a major retailer can be done, but is that your best option? Before we look at the big boys, let’s look at another option. Claire Zulkey, writing at Media Bistro’s “MBToolBox”, suggests looking at your local bookstores first. Working the local angle is a key selling point and you’ll be dealing with real people:

They are small-press and first-time-author friendly and will not laugh at you if you reveal that you are moving your own books, as opposed to your publisher doing so (something I was worried about, honestly.) Since these places had dealt with authors similar to me, they were able to hold my hand throughout the process of giving them books to sell. And best of all, I felt that their customers would probably find my book of interest more than would those at Barnes and Noble, where the book could easily disappear (it doesn’t hurt that many small bookstores have sections highlighting local authors.)

At Absolute Write, Joel Eisenberg details how he made the Barnes & Noble cut. Eisenberg suggests using a Lightning Source, POD printer affiliated with Ingram — meaning the books are returnable, a huge hurdle for self-published titles. Once you’re hooked up with a name printer, then you can call stores (or hire someone to do sales for you) about your book. Eisenberg provides his script — meaning that, frankly, everyone who reads his article or Googles this subject will be saying the same thing. Make your pitch unique — think first.

It’s an intriguing system. Though my book contains contributions from such luminaries as Clive Barker, Carolyn See, Stuart Woods, Brad Meltzer, Father Andrew Greeley, Laurell K. Hamilton, Larry Hagman, and nearly seventy others who explain their experiences dealing with one of the most difficult of all creative conundrums, this appears to have had minimal effect on my store orders. Ditto a host of glowing reviews. The stores were more interested in whether or not the book was returnable. Go figure.

File Under: Marketing For Introverts · Non-Traditional Publishing

2 responses so far ↓

  • Michael J // Jan 16, 2006 at 10:00 am

    Great advice about working locally/with indie bookstores to promote your book! It is tremendously helpful to be able to meet with the people whom you are asking to stock your book face to face, as opposed to being just a voice on the other end of the line.

  • James Aach // Jan 27, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    Another option if your goal is to get your book out there and read (versus a profit motive) is to put it on the internet in an easily retrievable form, such as short episodes on a blog, or as a PDF file. When I expressed to noted futurist Stewart Brand my frustration at trying to get my insider look at nuclear power onto the bookshelves, he suggested that option. The result has been a decent readership in the US and around the world and generally positive reviews (via comments at the site). Perhaps this is not as fulfilling as being published by an established outfit, but it is still better than nothing.

    (“Rad Decision” is at “I’d like to see Rad Decision widely read.” – Stewart Brand, founder of The Whole Earth Catalog.)