The Novelist’s Publicist

In an earlier blog, I mentioned that I now have four, count’em jobs. To refresh your collective memories, they are:
1. Father, grandfather, husband which is job numero uno.
2. Day job in the consulting business. It pays for my writing habit!
3. Budding novelist trying to build a brand and waiting to hear about book two and while at the same time editing/polishing book three in the series; and
4. The newest one, the budding novelist’s publicist.

This blog is about number 4 – the novelist’s publicist.

Publicist also includes being the novelist’s secretary, logistician, market research and any other gofer job the novelist doesn’t want or have time to do!!! Because of some uncertainties about when the book would be released, I probably waited too long to start setting up book signings and other activities to help promote BIG MOTHER 40. I didn’t have advance copies to sent out for reviews so that they would appear about the same time the book was released.

And, there was another problem and which is that the novelist’s publicist is in a fierce battle for mindshare and wallet share with the novelist and his day job as well as his father/grandfather/husband role. The bad news about small independent presses is that they have limited resources to help with the promotion of the book once it is off the press. So there’s no army of PR people to do all the work. I’m an army of one!

I know understand Fireship wanted to see my marketing plan as part of the acquisition process. They wanted to see if I had a clue as to how I was going to generate publicity for the book. Now I understand why. I had/have a plan that I am executing and time will tell if it works, but so far, it seems to be, but waiting and patience are hard to come by when one is trying to generate book sales and you don’t have the generation/publicity power of a big publishing firm.

One would think that the Navy Exchange Service would be really interested in carrying a novel by a Naval officer. Au contraire! One has to go through their independent distributors who are beholden to the large publishing firms which are their bread and butter. The distributors not interested in books from small presses and for sure, their big customers don’t want them paying attention to small presses because it diverts them away from selling their books. So, my plan has me waging guerilla warfare around the edges of the distribution world to get around the big publishing houses “monopoly”, but it takes time to research, patience and money, not a hundreds of thousands, but not pennies either.

As much as I like to hurry the process along, book reviews take time to get scheduled. One, they magazine has to assign it to a reviewer who then has to read the book before they write a review. And then, assuming they like book, the editors have make space in the magazine for the review. Once that’s done, I have to wait until the magazine comes out. Here it is in mid-October and we’re talking about reviews that will appear after the first of the year!

Book signings and special events are another way to generate publicity. Finding them is time consuming because they are all over the net. Book fairs, balloon festivals, aviation museum events, etc. are all out there, but like book signings one has to balance the event and audience with the prospective gain.

First realization – no matter how many you sell at a book signing, it is very hard to pay for the expense of going. What I am, and most authors are hoping is that the promotion around the event will generate book sales. Second realization – there’s no simple formula you can use to determine how many books to bring to a book signing or special event. It is guesswork and I’d rather bring books home than run out and not make a sale.

Net net, like getting published in the first place, it is a learning experience. Most important, the book is selling. How well, I don’t know. That will be the subject of another blog.

Marc Liebman