Some Authors Don’t Want a Larger Royalty Check
I admit, it was a “scratch your head” sort of moment. Let me backtrack a bit instead of starting in the middle.
Most small or independent publishers don’t pay much if any attention to marketing the titles they publish. Marketing has always been important to me, and since we don’t get grant money or someone else’s hard-earned tax dollars, we have to live in the reality of the free market. That means we have to turn a profit. We work harder. Having to feed yourself and others has a way of focusing the mind.
Who cares how good your book is if only your mom, your sister (and she lied—she didn’t read it) and three or four of your closest friends are the only ones who buy it?
Some years ago we dedicated first one, and then two, author liaisons inside Savas Beatie to handle media events, signings, TV, radio, and the like. Why? To increase sales.
Every one of our authors is assigned to either Renee M. or Sarah C. As media specialists, they have a very specific mandate from the Head Custodian of Records and Wide Brooms: Spend your time with authors who care about helping us sell their books, and who want to receive a royalty check large enough to buy more than a cheeseburger and fries.
Trust me, these gals know their stuff and work hard. They can keep any author as busy as he/she wants to be. Some won’t do much if anything to help sell their own book, and a few simply can’t.
So let’s swing around now back to the beginning of this article. A bookselling location called us and the conversation went like this:
Bookseller: “We have an event for one of your authors tomorrow and we only have one book in stock!”
Sarah C: “Really? Which author?”
Bookseller: “John Smith” [not a real name], “The Battle of the Growing Belly.”
Sarah C: “I don’t have him on my calendar. Did we book this?”
Bookseller: No, he came in a few weeks ago and arranged it himself when he was in town. I don’t know whether he is bringing books, or what….
That same authored called a few minutes later, all lathered up with no place to go. “But the event is on my webpage calendar!” he exclaimed when Sarah told him we had no idea about the signing.
“I work with dozens of authors, John” Sarah calmly replied. “You work with one publicist. The master calendar is here, not on your blog or Facebook page. If you have any event, YOU share that information with ME so I can help YOU sell more of YOUR books! See how this works?”
One of the first tenets of working with your publisher is to share your calendar! Normally we book most of the events, but we have many authors who are very active and book some of their own. (And that is wonderful, and every publisher wishes he had more of those authors.)
If a book is slammed shut and no one hears it, did it happen? If we don’t know about a media event, we can’t get books shipped from our warehouse in time. We can’t get any radio, TV, or newspaper coverage, or even CSPAN (yes, many of our author have been on CSPAN).
For some events, authors bring copies of their books they have purchased from us at their author’s discount. We still need to know to properly in order to promote it. (See above.)
It is often the ancillary coverage (Radio, TV, etc.) that is more important than the handful of books you will sign and sell at most events.
The takeaway is simple whether it is about editing, promotion, or a book signing: Make sure your publisher knows so we can maximize OUR (as in yours and mine) sales.
You want a new computer. I want another box of cigars.
It is that simple.