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Books and Self-Publishing by Author Robert George Reoch Part 2 Marketing

Books and Self-Publishing by Author Robert George Reoch Part 2: Marketing

Books Don’t Pay Unless . . .

Books don’t pay unless:

A) Your book comes with built-in name recognition, or a signed book deal with a major publisher eager to profit from your celebrity (in other words, you are already rich and famous, or at least in the midst of your 15 minutes of fame), or

B) You’ve written a true literary masterpiece and have a well-connected saint for a book agent. There’s a caveat to the latter too. Most agents won’t touch you unless you can show you’ve already sold at least a thousand books! (See A).

Books Only Profit When They Sell Tens of Thousands of Copies

If you’ve been thinking of having your book published in hopes of making tons of money from royalties, read the above paragraph again. Depending on the price of your book, your cut will be small
compared to the actual retail price. Printers, distributors, and retailers (even Ebook retailers) take a big cut. If you sell 100 books, you will likely receive less than a thousand dollars. If you sell 1,000 books, you’ll probably make less than $5,000. If you are distributed through a site like Amazon, you’ll be
competing with millions and millions of books. Millions!

Why Your Book Won’t List at the Top

On Amazon’s site, your book title won’t necessary be listed in order, alphabetically. Algorithms decide how to list your book as befits the retailer. These secret formulas are dictated by consumer demand and will determine how early-on in the list of publications your book appears—even if your book should be first alphabetically. More popular books with similar titles will be positioned near the top of the list. If you are a new author, or unpopular, your book will quickly be lost in the morass. Again, even if someone searches for your book title by typing it in alphabetically exactly correct, it won’t pop up near the top of the list unless it’s already a big seller. (I know this from experience. Go ahead, experiment with my book titles if you like.)

Travelers' Shorts

Travelers’ Shorts—Short Stories by Robert George Reoch

Marketing is Key

I ran out of time for marketing my books. You may laugh. Seriously, I had an entire strategy, but life happened and I had to move away from my book projects before I could delve into serious marketing. I had given myself a timeline. Even with a solid year dedicated, life gave me too many interruptions. I finished self-publishing my books, but I needed to go back to my day job. I didn’t have time to market my books properly. However, I missed a window that would likely have been fruitless anyway. (See A in paragraph 1).

Book Marketing Requires Research

Even though I ran out of time, I still made a modest effort to market my book. I quickly discovered that book agents put up walls. While searching Online, I found websites for agents who advertised, openl, that they don’t take clients whose books have not already sold at least a thousand in number. Was I discouraged? Of course, so I moved on. I could have continued looking, however I feared I might spend more time and money for naught by falling victim to someone preying on another new author’s dreams. Some unscrupulous agent might take my money and just make a few empty promises. Perhaps they would make some weak gesture such as offering to issue a press release—something I could have done myself. That’s how things panned out.

I put up a couple of websites for my books, which was a hopeful idea, but even that doesn’t help  if people never see the websites. Meanwhile, social media explodes. This could be good. Yet, even putting one of my books on Facebook did nothing measurable.  Facebook wanted me to purchase ads (like the ones you can block). Those Facebook ads cost me more than all of the royalties I’d ever received. Ouch! (Yes, you can laugh.)

My Books Have Been Purchased

The few purchases of my books were probably made by distant relatives of whom I’ve never heard. Perhaps I made a few sales from people who happened across one of my websites, or one of my Twitter accounts. Maybe they saw the poster I tacked up on a bulletin board along the bike trail near my house that was later mowed down by an errant bicyclist. (How’s that for sophisticated marketing?)

If you want to market your book and you don’t fit the profile in item A of paragraph 1 above), you’ll need a lot of luck, plain and simple. Maybe you have a big congregation at your church who can be easily guilt-ed into buying your books.

At the end of the day, at least books should be written if only for the love of writing. Keep writing…or don’t. Be happy.

Robert George Reoch

 Copyright Robert George Reoch Publishing

Books and Self-Publishing by Author Robert George Reoch Part 1

Books and Self-Publishing by Author Robert George Reoch Part 1

Book World and Self-Publishing

In the book world, self-publishing has taken off over the last ten years. I learned about self-publishing in 2009 as I was writing my first book of short stories, Travelers’ Shorts: Stories That Move. I discovered on the Internet a company called iUniverse and decided to give myself and them a try at publishing my stories. I had no idea what I was doing, yet I was determined to give it my best shot. I was certain people would love my short stories. Once my books were published, and once people began buying my books, I would get rich! I’d have a best seller!

Books Don’t Sell Themselves

“…once people began buying my books.”—that’s the telling phrase. Nobody buys your books if they haven’t heard of you. I worked for nearly two years with iUniverse and finally finished my project. When all was said (written) and done, I eventually realized that if iUniverse had things their way, I would have bought hundreds of my own books myself.  They actually expected me to buy caseloads of my own books from them so I could peddle them on the street myself. They aggressively offered me discounts for buying quantities of my own books. I live in an apartment. I don’t have room to stockpile books. Fortunately, being a salesman from way back, I could see their angle. Get me all happy that I’ve written a book, then turn around and sell it to me for their own profit! Nuts. I’m the type of person who has foresight. I can usually see the end-game coming. iUniverse had already charged me hundreds of dollars for holding my hand and doing some minor editing (which mainly threw me off my rhythm). They reformatted my pages to fit the printed book (tasks that, later, I realized I could have done myself for free). Yes, I was that green.

Books on the iUniverse Shelf

iUniverse offered marketing and distribution options for my books, including some expensive ad campaigns. I remained leery because they were still constantly trying to sell me box loads of my own books (and I wasn’t biting). Once—just once—I paid them a large sum to show my book at a book fair in Miami. Unfortunately, there was never any concrete evidence that my book even made it to the fair. I never received any sales as a result of the fair. In fact, in following-up, I checked my account records online at iUniverse and discovered that nobody at iUniverse had procured a copy of my printed book prior to the fair, which they would have needed in order to show it. When I mentioned this to iUniverse after the fair, they refused to refund the promotional fee. There later appeared a post-fair record of an internal request for a copy of my book on my account records. Someone had attempted to manipulate the records and backdate an order to make it appear as though they had procured a copy, but the system wouldn’t allow it. It showed the true date confirming the internal book request was made well after the date of the Miami book fare. They were trying to cover their tracks, it was obvious. It wasn’t worth  pursuing. Without having flown to Miami on the day of the book fair, I couldn’t prove anything. I laugh at the absurdity of the book fair ploy (and my gullibility). Nobody bought my book in Miami, and it took months before anyone purchased my book through iUniverse, or from any of the other bookseller’s to whom they claim to distribute. By the way, your books are not sent to retailers at all. These books are printed on demand by those who sell the printed copies online. iUniverse did nothing to promote my book. It sat on their online shelf in virtual reality. Of course, they offered other advertising options costing thousands of dollars, but . . . are you kidding?

Second Book Similar Fate

I also published my second book, Travelers’ Shorts 2: Tethers, with iUniverse. Am I crazy? Well, since I already knew the process, I went ahead with iUniverse again. Once you understand the mechanics of self-publishing, the venue at iUniverse works fairly well—enough to get a book out there. Your books find their way to Amazon (see Part 2). I wanted to get my second book published quickly as a way to show legitimacy. I had written several good short stories. People who read them loved them. For my second book, I made the mistake of using one of iUniverse’s book cover designers. (I designed the cover of my first book myself and was quite happy with the way it turned out. It kept with my vision.) For the second book, instead of trusting my gut and going with my own cover design again, I used one of iUniverse’s “professional” designer’s. That was a mistake. I had created a design of my own, but I took a chance with the iUniverse designer and it isn’t what I had pictured. I should have taken the time to change it. One day, when I publish a compilation of all of my short stories, in a single volume, I’ll design that cover myself. I may republish the second book and use my cover. At least, I discovered I’m a better cover designer than at least one paid professional. See my book cover (below) for Travelers’ Shorts? Those shorts are an actual pair of mine that I photographed and photo shopped.

Travelers Shorts

Travelers Shorts

Travelers’ Shorts 2: Tethers

Travelers Shorts 2

Travelers Shorts 2

Travelers’ Shorts Contain Gems

My books are gems. Of course I say that because I wrote them! The stories speak for themselves. In my first book, Travelers’ Shorts: Stories That Move, my prose leans toward being overly rich, or “purple,” as my aunt would say. However, I learned to move the story telling at a more contemporary pace in my second book, Travelers’ Shorts 2: Tethers. You can click on the image below to find out more. Don’t let me stop you.

Travelers' Shorts

Travelers’ Shorts—Short Stories by Robert George Reoch

Self-Publishing Book Companies Have Their Own Agenda

Most self-publishing companies are in it for their own profit, not yours. They profit from the process of publishing your book for you. They will charge you for editing services, formatting, cover design, advertising, etc.  They will then push your finished book right back at you to buy it from them (in quantities) so you can go out and peddle it yourself. They want you to buy your own book from them in large quantities (at discounted prices, of course). Just remember, the marketing onus is on you. Nobody sees your book if you don’t market it, but that’s another story which I’ll cover in my next article about self-publishing. Also, in my next article, I’ll talk about my positive experiences in self-publishing with Amazon and their affiliate company CreateSpace.

Good luck with your writing. For more information, read Part 2.

Robert George Reoch

Copyright Robert George Reoch Publishing