3 S.R. Johannes: Publish or Perish?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Publish or Perish?

Marketing Tips - Review Copies
Don't be afraid to send out copies for reviews. Beyond the popular ones your publisher may try to get. Figure out key decision makers or key influencers in your market. Query the reviewers first to be sure they will use and consider doing a review. You don't want to waste copies. But for every 100 copies you send out, you will probably get 10 reviews. Those 10 reviews will touch at least 10,000 people (this is on the low end) Budget 5-10% of your first printing as review copies. Overall it is cheap advertising. The PR from a good book review in your target market is priceless.

Publish or Perish
I love books.

I love to write.

So anything that touches, hurts, or catapults the publishing industry - impacts me. One way or another.

The publishers/editors
I am very sad for all you wonderful, brilliant people who have been affected by the difficult times in publishing. Often - I get so wrapped up in my writing, my journey, my agent process and my publishing future, I forget that there is a whole world out there of people just like me who love books, who want to find a great book they love, who do this everyday b/c they love it.

But this week - I have been really thinking about all you people out there scared and impacted - Thought I don't know most of you personally, I feel cosmically connected. I am thinking about all of you affected. Those that may have lost their job before the holiday. Those who know people like that. And those who are scared of being next. I know most - if not all of you- love books to or they would not be in the biz.

The Agents
This must be a scary time for you. I cant imagine how you all are feeling. I know you do this job because you completely love books and you love kids. You all work so hard and get paid solely on commission by busting your butt day in and day out for people like me to have a chance at their dream of writing.

That in itself is so amazing and so commendable. Your job is so risky that I know it must be your passion which sparks my utmost respect.

It must be hard to find a book, love it, and not be able to sell it for whatever reason. It must be scary when announcements come that threaten your livelihood, your connections, your friends.

I get so caught up in finding an agent, I forget to say thank you for all you do to get us writers published and those kids reading.

The Writers
I know this is a scary time. Everyone who writes obviously loves it and wants to positively impact kids. Don't stop. Don't give up. Keep doing it what you love. Even if you don't ever get published, I assume you write because you need to, have to, want to, and love to.

This is one career that no one controls but you. No matter how bad things get - you can always escape to your writing. You can always tell your story. No one can take that away from you.

Books will NEVER go away. Have faith that you are where you need to be (advice I need to use myself sometimes) Your journey is your own, no one controls it though it may feel differently. Please don't let this fluctuating time drag you away from writing and writing what you love, what calls you.

Stay strong. The book world will bounce back and you will be ready. We need your stories. And you each have one to tell.

A special shout-out to Jessica Burkhart - who just signed a 4-book deal!!!! Good news in a difficult time. I believe she did her first one in NaNoWriMo!

Me - the aspiring author
I realized something this week. Someone asked me - "I heard about the publishing layoffs. what are you going to do now?

At first, I said "I have no idea."

But on my way home, my real answer popped into my mind. "What do you mean? I am going to write?"

I will never stop writing. I love it. No matter what happens, I will always write as long as my fingers will allow me. I love it. The market does not affect my story. It doe snot affect my passion. It really only impacts others. Others who may not read it. Others who may not experience my view. And of course my ego of not being on the shelf in a Hardback.

I am keeping my head down and writing. That's all I can do.

When my times come, and I know it will someday, I will have experienced and truly loved a fabulous journey.

An old quote reminded me of this:

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it.

So I wanted to give a hopeful and thoughtful shout-out to all of you. I'm sorry. I'm thinking about you all in some way. And I hope you are OK.

Oh yeah, and if you want to agent or publish my book, I am here waiting...I mean writing :)


Stephanie J. Blake said...

It's scary, but all we can do is keep writing, keep submitting, and hope for the best.

Thanks for your post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for covering this topic in a positive manner. I see so many posts where people just cut and paste the news and their immediate, panicked reaction to it. It's nice to see someone putting good energy out there in response to bad news.

You are, of course, 100% correct about continuing to write. If you think about it, the idea of not doing so doesn't even make sense. Really, when the odds are so stacked against a new author to begin with, what difference does this news make to our chances? I'd guess that if you looked at it on a percentage basis, they're not all that much worse. The real issue with the bad news is people losing their jobs, which you also addressed in a very compassionate manner.

Suzanne Young said...

I love how you covered all the angles! Great post! And good books always will sell, so keep going!!!


Anonymous said...

Just read an article about fear and about how communal fear can spark an economic downturn. The moral? Try not to get sucked into the morass. So hard these days...

Anonymous said...

Just reread your post on sending review copies. That creates so much anxiety for me but I know it's something that must be done. I'm working with Larry Rosler at Boyds Mill on a NF book and he casually mentioned one day that he was getting back only minor comments from three top Egyptologists in the UK who were reading the manuscript. I about coughed up a lung. Good think he didn't tell me BEFORE he did that. The anxiety would've killed me. Luckily, it was all good. But I imagine I'll go through the same thing when its printed. All you need is one person--for an NF book anyway--to say, 'NO! the writer got it way wrong' and your cred is gone. Sigh.

Carrie Harris said...

I know what you mean here. I have this notebook that says, "Publish or perish" on the front, and as much as I love the person who sent it to me, I'm not so crazy about the message. Of course I want to be published, but that doesn't mean that I have to dissolve into tears when the market goes a little wonky. I'm not going to die. I'm going to write a book that's so bleeping good that they want to buy it DESPITE the crappy market!

Anonymous said...

"I am keeping my head down and writing." Good advice. I should take it.