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Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Honest Truth About Publishers: What’s the benefit?

You've written that first story, novella, book, or poem. With a thrill of excitement, and maybe a little fear, you ask a loved one or best friend to read it.

You've put it all out there; it's all on the line. You wait impatiently as they read it. Seconds, minutes, hours, or even days can go by. In the end, you receive their answer...
Was it good? Did they like it? Was it spectacular or just okay? Did they find mistakes in your spelling or grammar? These are exactly the same answers we want from publishers, but if that's so, why don't they answer?

A publisher is an investor. Each publisher decides how much they are willing to invest in your product, i.e., story, novella, book, or poem. Some invest by giving you direction: you pay the cost. Others invest by paying to have it edited, and/or designing the book cover (yes, every story should be edited by a secondary party). Still, others invest by the markets they can place your material in.

With today's technology, the world of publishing is wide open. Publishing companies tend to be 'for profit' (just like you). That means whatever they decide to publish has to make money in order for them to stay in business.

They evaluate your loving creation in exactly those terms (Doesn’t sound very romantic, does it?). No matter how much they like it, if they can't make a profit, they either won't accept it or it won't go to print. Don't let anyone kid you, rejection hurts. But wouldn't it hurt more if they accepted it and it was never punished? Or what if it came out and no one ever bought it? That’s the first principle of most publishing firms: is it profitable?

However, when you look at a publisher, it's a two way street. You are creating a partnership with them for profit, and you should expect a profit from the sell. Just as you must answer their questions, they should be able to answer yours. Some of these questions should include:

What advertising are you, the author, responsible for?
What markets can the publisher reach? (magazines, blogs, internet, bookstores, radio, television, etc.)
What cost of advertising goes along with the book? (What do you pay for? What do they pay for?)
Can you use the artwork they design for printing your own marketing materials?
What advertising materials (bookmarks, posters, flyers, key chains, etc.) will be provided?
Do you, the author, purchase books for yourself and at what price?
Can you, the author, sell your own books apart from their marketing, and at what price?
Does the publisher have access to markets, a marketing list, etc., you do not? After all, you will be giving up certain rights along with a percentage of the sells for their help.

Additional questions to consider:
Do you have the money to get your story, novella, book, or poem edited? (More publishers are requiring you to have it proofed before they will accept it.)
Can you develop a professional cover? (Or have access to someone who can)
Do you know the marketing principles for selling your book?

In the world of publishing, even by the big publishers, bad books are published every day. The judge of a good book should be by content. However, it is the first glance at the publisher name, cover, and/or marketing techniques which tends to bring judgment.  Once an author makes a name, their name alone can be enough. That is exactly how the game is played: what about the production has the most drawing power.

There are three principles to all marketing:
Get Their Attention
Keep Their Attention
Drive Them To Action

Get Their Attention:
Advertising gets their attention. Whether it is by word of mouth, internet, magazines, radio, or television doesn’t matter.

Keep Their Attention:
Well written story backs, short descriptions, book covers, and videos help keep their attention.

Drive Them To Action:
This brings the sell. Did you place a link on that blog which takes them to Amazon or Barnes & Noble? Did that video give them the address of where to find the book? Did that radio program tell them where to purchase a copy? That is exactly what ‘drive them to action’ means.

Please remember, finding a publisher is finding a partner. Just like a marriage, there should be give and take for the benefit of both involved. If you don’t like the person and they don’t meet your expectations, don’t get married.

Thanks for listening,

James W Peercy has been an entrepreneur in business for over 16 years. He deals with advertising for business on a daily basis. This includes: graphic design, websites, computer and technical services. If you have any questions, please leave a comment.  He'll appreciate the feedback.

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