At JDPR, we believe in great stories and “the diamond in the rough” which is why we work with a selected amount of self-published authors. However, many self-published authors contact us with good intentions, but a book that is not ready to compete in the market place with traditionally published books. To make sure our self-published authors are adequately prepared for the publication of their book and beyond, here are the vital steps to keep in mind:
1. PRE-PUBLICATION CONSIDERATIONS
1.1 Edit, edit, edit!!! You MUST hire a professional editor (for content and grammar) and designer for the interior and exterior of your book. The content, grammar and design has to be flawless in order to be up to par with traditionally published books. Make no mistake, readers do judge your book by its cover!
1.2 Distribution is king! You MUST publish a physical copy and an e-version of the book and make sure to seek the widest distribution options (Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, Powell’s, Books a Million, Indiebound, Indigo, etc.,) as well as physical placement in brick and mortar book and other retail stores) in order to maximize your chances for significant review coverage and media and public exposure for your book.
1.3 Get your own imprint/publishing company name and website: Again, the first impression is everything when it comes to trying to get in the door with media contacts and readers. With the proliferation of self-publishing and POD opportunities, supply has overwhelmed demand: the volume of books in the market place has tripled, but the volume of readers has remained the same and the number of media publications has decreased. That’s one of the many reasons why most media contacts will reject a book that is published with Createspace, iUniverse, Bookbaby, and other self-publishing entities, because their desk is towering with 20-50 other books by major publishers and writers they trust. So the most important way to establish credibility is to create your own imprint, i.e. name for your publishing company, which shows that you take this publishing endeavor seriously and have put time and thought into this publishing endeavor. You also need a website for your publishing company, which should be simple and professional, featuring all pertinent information about your book, any upcoming books, and a simple mission statement for the company.
In short, in order to compete with traditionally published books, you need to follow the path of traditional publishing as close as possible and basically act as a publishing company for all intents and purposes, even if you only have one book to show for.
1.4 Get Paid Reviews from Recognized Book Review Publications: In traditional publishing, there are a number of pre-publication trades that cover books before they are released. This coverage has considerable impact on how the book will be received by the book industry and literary media, bookstores and major book retailers (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Sony, iTunes). The four major pre-publication trades are: Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly. Traditional publishing houses send out “galleys” (pre-release copies or uncorrected proof copies) to these outlets hoping for a good review to create awareness and a good reception for the book, in order to maximize their chances of getting significant orders from online retailers and brick and mortar bookstores.
Booklist will not review self-published books and Library Journal very rarely considers them, but Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews now offer fee-based reviews for self-published books. So do San Francisco Book Review and Foreword Reviews––both very reputable outlets. We suggest purchasing a review with 1-3 outlets to maximize pre-publication buzz and give your book the best chances for a head start in the PR and marketing game.
Fees and Links for purchasing a review:
Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/indie/about
The Kirkus Indie program curates the self-published segment of the industry to help consumers and industry influencers (such as publishers, agents, film producers, librarians and booksellers) discover books they may otherwise never find.
Fee for Review: $425
- Standard (7-9 weeks) 425.00
- Express (4-6 weeks) 575.00
Publishers Weekly Select Program: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/diy/index.html
PW Select is a quarterly supplement that presents self-published books to PW’s trade audience (agents, booksellers, publishers, distributors, librarians, and media). Like their announcement issues, these features will include author, title, subtitle, price, pagination and format, ISBN, a brief description, and ordering information. Authors are required to pay a processing fee for their listing; for PW subscribers, the listings are including with the price of your subscription.
Registration Link: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/diy/form/index.html
PW Select: the quarterly compendium of titles. $149.
PW Plus Vook package. $199.
As part of the registration you receive a 6 month digital subscription to Publishers Weekly Magazine.
Book Reviews: In addition to the above coverage, if your book is chosen for review (25% of submitted books are picked), there is no extra charge and it will appear along with the listing above in the quarterly supplement: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/corp/submissionguidelines.html
San Francisco Book Review Sponsored Review Program: http://sanfranciscobookreview.com/book-submission
• Standard Turnaround (6-10 weeks) – $125
• Expedited Turnaround (3-5 weeks) – $299
• 30-min Podcast Interview (published on AudibleAuthors.net) + Review (6-8 weeks) – $450
• 30-min Podcast Interview (published on AudibleAuthors.net) – $300
Kill Two Birds With One Stone: If you like your review, you can choose to also run it in Portland Book Review, for only $99.
Foreword Reviews: https://www.forewordreviews.com/services/book-reviews
Online only review: $125
Clarion reviews: The review will be posted on the ForeWord website (if the publisher desires), licensed to the three top wholesale databases, and made available to the book’s publisher. This service is ideal for books that haven’t received review attention elsewhere: $335
1.5 Submit Your Book for Awards:
Garnering awards for your self-published book is another great tool to stand out from the pack. Here are some sites that list awards for self-published books:
2. BUILD YOUR ONLINE PLATFORM/BRAND
You need to develop your message and brand and how to position yourself with media and consumers. This begins with a professional website that should be up and running between one year to 3 months prior to your book launch. The website should look professional, so unless you have a knack for visual design and are tech savvy, engage a web designer.
2.1 Five Key Pages: About the Author, About the Book, Appearances, Media and Contact. A Blog is beneficial if you can commit to creating original and relevant content on a weekly basis. Your website should also be integrated with your social media networks and the content should be social media friendly, i.e. easy to share via social media networks.
2.2 Social Media Platform:
Whether you choose to blog or use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc., don’t wait until your book is out. Build your social media network early (1 year to 3 months in advance).
A NOTE ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA: Some of our clients do choose to not engage in social media marketing for their book (whether through JDPR or their own efforts) for various reasons, e.g. because it saps up the time they want to spend writing, because they don’t feel that their target audience is engaging in social media, or because it’s just not their thing. Although we do suggest engaging in social media for most books, choosing not to do so doesn’t have to necessarily be a detriment. Instead, some authors spend more time on writing articles or essays or blogging, or establishing relationships with local bookstores or media contacts in the book community to promote their book and gain more exposure. These strategies can be just as effective, depending on the audience for the book and the author’s personality.
2.3 Email/Social Media Campaign:
Your personal contact list is gold when it comes to getting the word out about your book before, during and after publication. If you have a collection of emails, use an email marketing tool (ConstantContact.com, MailChimp.com, etc.) to send out an e-announcement prior to the release of your book. Space the releases one month prior, two weeks prior, and the day of the release.
Engage your social media networks to create buzz for the launch of your book with contacts, fans, friends and family. Ask them to post an Amazon review, and/or blog review, and share their thoughts on the book on their social media networks. Offering a free book or other prize, like an eReader, can be an effective incentive.
3. PRE-PUBLICATION, PUBLICATION AND BEYOND
The Media Campaign:
Create a targeted list and pitches for print, online and broadcast media in local, regional and national markets. Timing is important, so the following scenario is ideal:
3-6 months before publication: Create your media list and media kit for pre-publication media (as discussed above, reviews in pre-pub trades need to be purchased for self-published books) and mail books. Create your media list for long lead media (magazines, journals, and other monthly or biannual publications as well as major print and broadcast media with long lead times). Reach out to long lead media with a tailored pitch to pursue media placement (reviews, interviews, features, round-ups, mentions, excerpts, etc.).
1-2 months before publication: Create targeted lists for online media (including bloggers) and broadcast media (radio/tv). Reach out with a tailored pitch to pursue media placement (reviews, interviews, features, round-ups, mentions, excerpts, etc.).
To be mindful of media contacts and your own budget, only send books after media contacts have responded to your pitch and requested the book.
A GENERAL NOTE ABOUT REVIEWS:
The book submission policies for almost every major national and regional major newspaper, magazine or journal clearly states:
“Please note that at this time we do not review eBooks, POD Books and other self-published titles as we only offer books that are available with wide distribution in the United States, online as well as offline through general-interest bookstores and retailers.”
In other words, the chances for a self-published book to get covered in larger magazines and newspapers are a long shot unless there is a compelling national angle. Please also remember that due to the volume of pitches these national outlets receive daily, they often only respond to book review pitches they accept.
How JDPR will get media coverage for your self-published book:
Getting coverage for self-published books is 90% perspiration, persistance, passion and creativity, and 10% luck, because your book will be competing against New York Times best-selling authors, big publishing houses, and an exploding volume of self-published books in a dwindling market for books.
Over the years, JDPR has acquired an extensive media contact database that allows us to open doors for self-published books that would otherwise be closed. That said, we cannot guarantee coverage in a specific media outlet or that coverage will be positive.
In addition, if your book or personal story ties into timely news, a successful “backdoor” approach to getting exposure in a national/high tier outlet is to try for feature coverage in the form of a profile, human interest piece, or an op-ed. We brainstorm with our clients on talking points and article ideas and work with them to maximize story material to leverage for media coverage.
The important thing is to build momentum to gain more and more wide-reaching coverage. It’s a step-by-step process of starting local and going global, i.e., get reviews and word-of-mouth buzz from friends, get coverage in local media to build toward coverage in regional media to build toward coverage in national media. Nothing is impossible, and if you’re in for the long run, you will get there ––maybe not after a year or two years, maybe not after the first or second book, but with persistence, perspiration, passion and creativity it will happen, and we will work with you 24/7 to make it happen.
For our self-published first-time authors in particular, we try to maximize local engagements to draw from their built-in fan base of family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Reading series or joint events with other locally recognized authors, personalities or organizations also offer a great way to build on an already existing audience base and maximize attendance and book sales.
Independent bookstores are generally open to local self-published authors. In most cases however, they will not order the book through their store, but will ask the author to bring his/her own books for a 40/60 or 50/50 split between author and store off booksales. If the event goes well, the store might keep 5-10 copies on consignment and if those copies sell, they might consider ordering more.
5. Have Fun With It!
Don’t expect miracles. Success doesn’t come overnight. Once your book is out there, it will take on a life of its own. In tough times, try to remember why you needed to write and share your book in the first place and that you already are a successful writer for having had the discipline, courage and patience to complete an entire book and making your dream a reality.