First and foremost – the economy sucks.
This fact is the one on which this series of blogs pivots. Traditional publishing (the Big Six) has fallen afoul of both the economy and changing times. The good news is that sales were steady this last year. The bad news is agents are saying things like this – "I'm passing on really good novels because currently I believe that really good might not be good enough in today's market."
There is a virtual sea of manuscripts, washing through the slush piles of editors and agents – a well-spring they won't risk tapping. They claim the Big Six only want blockbuster books, the next Dan Brown, J. K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyers.
Is DIY the answer to clogged marketing channels?
Technology has provided the writer with unprecedented access to markets – should they dare to take the plunge into self-publishing in these troubled times. Some publishing insiders compare them to lemmings – following the crowd, going to the sea. I'm not so sure – after all a faint heart never filled an inside straight.
Many writers take the self-publishing plunge; more are teetering on the edge, not ready to jump, yet. The bad news is most will sink, unable to gain enough attention to make significant sales. Quality issues will sink many more. Yet there are still more indie authors, who are having a blast, gaining notice, actually making a little money.
Do we need a benchmark to put this into perspective? How many books does the 'average' mainstream published author sell?
You are going to love this!
The Daily Mail website posted this little gem. "Nielsen Bookscan has found that of 86,000 new titles published in the UK in 2009, 59,000 sold an average of 18 copies."
Well, hell – if that's the new benchmark for a mainstream novel – looks like we have a level playing field. Anybody can outsell 18 copies!
I'm posting, word for word – what Ray Rhamey is going to do to promote his Vampire Kitty book. Note that this is not his first time at the rodeo – oh no! Check him out on Flogging the Quill. For now I will content myself on quoting his marketing plan.
Vampire Kitty-cat rules
Ray Rhamey of Flogging the Quill has my favorite vampire's website ready. Check it out: The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicals Ray and Patch are gearing up for a big push. And Ray's not shy about sharing all the things he's ready to do to get noticed.
1. I'm going to launch with a POD trade paperback, a bunch of e-book formats, a free podcast and, if I can get it listed on Audible.com, the gatekeeper for the iTunes store, an audiobook.
2. I'm putting up a website at vampirekittycat.com (it's not live yet). It includes special promotional features such as:
- I donate a percentage of each sale to the ASPCA. The ASPCA is willing to consider the book for placement in their online store.
- There are two cat "social" features: a photo gallery to post a pic of a Cat You Love; and a "tell me a story about your cat" section.
4. I've hired a copyeditor to do his thing with the manuscript.
5. I've bought an ISBN number, and been assigned a Library of Congress control number.
6. For the POD book, I've
- Designed a cover and the interior
- Created an account with Lightning Source, the biggest print-on-demand printer around, I think, and a partner with Ingram, the biggest distributor around. I'm signed up for distribution, too. Lightning Source doesn't offer the kind of complete service that Lulu.com or Create Space does—you have to provide your own press-ready material.
Just after dark, death grabbed me by the tail. The moon was full, and cool September breezes were scented with earthy hints that fall was coming. I trotted over a mound of fresh dirt, not an uncommon thing in a graveyard, my mind on a svelte little Siamese who was coming into heat--and a hand shot up and grabbed my rear extremity.
I twisted and went for it with my claws, but another hand burst out and seized the scruff of my neck. I went limp, just like when I was a kitten and my mom picked me up. The hands snapped my body straight, and then a woman's face poked out of the ground. She sat up, holding me in front of her. I figured I was about to kiss my furry butt goodbye, and I was right.
8. I'm going to send an ARC (advance review copy) to
- Authors for blurbs
- About 20 vampire websites
- As many cat websites as I can find—surprisingly, there aren't many
- The makers of Vampire Wine (I have a bottle, to be opened on publication day)
- The makers of top cat food brands to try and sell advertising space and product placement in the book and on the website—hey, this is a business, right?
10. The free podcast, taking a page from fellow WU contributor J.C. Hutchins, will be performed by me. A nice plus—there's a song by the Grateful Dead, Dire Wolf, in which the chorus says "please don't murder me." It's my character's favorite song. I've secured permission, subject to seeing the book, to use an excerpt of that song for the intro and outro on the podcasts and the audiobook. I'm going to credit the song everywhere I can, and they're not charging anything for the right to use it.
11. Through Lightning Source, distribution will be open at Ingram, Amazon, Baker & Taylor, and other national distributors and book marketers.
12. Oh, and I'm going to send an ARC and my marketing plan to a couple of likely publishers on the extremely unlikely chance that they'll partner with me on the production of the paperback, which would give it the advantage of being available in bookstores. If they like the book, my design work, and the promotional plans, their production costs will be quite low.
13. I've designed graphics for t-shirts and coffee cups to sell on Printfection.
14. And I'll put ads on my Flogging the Quill blog.
Now, that's a marketing plan!
I'm hoping he will keep in touch, and share some sales numbers. (I'm so geek when it comes to statistics!) The thing to keep in mind is that this is going to start slow. He may get a few hits here and there. But remember – he only has to sell 18 printed copies to equal the 'average' mainstream author.
I'll make a prediction – his e-book sales will be the first to take off. Once his pod cast of the book is finished and posted he will see the real increase in paper book sales. It will be steady from there but I do believe that the e-book sales will come first.