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Posts Tagged ‘book marketing’

Write, You Fools!I’m not telling you anything new when I say that the publishing industry has changed a great deal in the last twenty years. However, throughout these decades of upheaval, there are two things I’ve observed that have remained pretty damned consistent:

  1. Writers worrying about how much effort they should put into marketing their books.
  2. Writers’ efforts at marketing their books doesn’t work.

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Kurt R.A. GiambastianiReality is a test. Are you going to face it? Or are you going to reject it?

I’ve tried the latter. I don’t recommend it.

Example: for decades I believed I was a dog person. Then I lived with a dog. I’m not a dog person. I’m a “let me play with your dog” person. Don’t get me wrong; I love dogs. I just don’t want to live with them. At least, not at this point in my life. It wouldn’t be fair to the dog.

So, I’ve learned the lesson that facing reality is always the better choice.

Therefore, I took a long look at the hard numbers from my Amazing Free Book Giveaway Weekend (AFBGW). [For those of you just joining, the AFBGW was a three-day event wherein I was giving away Unraveling Time, my time-travel romance/adventure novel, for free in the Kindle Store.]

The results are pretty grim. (more…)

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Kurt R.A. GiambastianiQuestion:

When is a “debut author” not a debut author?

I recently saw an ad for a new book by a “debut author.” Amazon was flogging this book hard, and the publisher had placed adverts in the trades and bought ad space on websites and magazines. Much buzz was being generated about this “debut novel” from a brand-new author.

Thing is…I’m acquainted with this “debut author.” I’ve met her a couple of times, at signings and readings. Signings for her books. Readings of her books. This author is a very nice person and a very good author–I’ve read her work and enjoyed it very much–but she is not a “debut author.” She’s just branching out, writing under a pseudonym.

Pseudonyms are a common practice in writing, and there are many legitimate reasons for using them.

  • An author doesn’t want to be directly identified. A pseudonym creates a buffer between the author and the reading public.
  • An author has failed with his own name, and his track record makes him the literary equivalent of “box office poison.” A pseudonym provides a fresh start with a clean slate.
  • An author has succeeded with her own name, in a specific genre, and her name is now associated with that genre; but now she’s branching out, writing in a different genre. A pseudonym allows her to “rebrand” herself, and write in multiple genres without confusing (and possibly alienating) her faithful readers. I mean, if the latest Stephen King book was filled with epic poetry, some readers might be pissed off (at least in theory).

But it is not the pseudonym that bothers me; not at all. It’s the publisher’s use of the “debut author” label. Yes, this is done all the time; yes, it’s a common marketing practice. There’s nothing illegal about it, certainly, but still, it bothers me. First, it is vaguely insulting. I mean, are readers so dumb that they can’t figure out that Stephen King’s latest (hypothetical) book, titled Odes to Mothers: A collection of epic poetry in the Gothic style, is probably not his usual fare?

It is also unethical, dishonest, and disingenuous. This isn’t a “new voice” in the literary world. In all likelihood, this author’s style is going to be similar to past works, regardless of genre or what name is on the cover.

And more importantly, what does this do to all the other, real debut authors? Does this cheapen their work in comparison? Does this harm their debut? Will people miss their book, in all the noise about this other “debut?” Will buyers think less of the title because the publisher hasn’t put the same kind of oomph behind it?

This is just publishing at its most cutthroat, at its most businesslike. It’s a marketing tactic, designed to maximize ROI, nothing more. It isn’t that the buying public is getting a lesser quality work; on the contrary, these ersatz “debuts” arguably provide something of higher quality than legitimate debuts, so the public is not cheated. But a person can be duped and not be cheated.

Why do we accept dishonesty, if the outcome is not harmful?

k

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A lot went right with the release of Beneath a Wounded Sky and the completion of The Fallen Cloud Saga. Overall, I’m very pleased with the product, inside and out. Don’t kid yourself, people do judge a book by its cover…and by its font, and even by the quality of its title page. A good product, a quality product, will sell better than something that looks like it was put together by a grade-schooler.

But I did not do everything right; far from it. And there was one Big Item that I actually ignored purposefully, and it bears mentioning for any of you out there who are taking notes.

So, where can I improve for next time?

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