Book Marketing

 When it comes to book marketing...
If you don't do it, it doesn't get done! Vanity publishers infer or lead you to believe your book will be on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. It won't. It will be available if someone orders itbig difference. If people don't know about your book, they won't order it. Honest vanity publishers will tell you marketing is your responsibility, not theirs.

*Read a fabulous article by Burke Allen and learn how to Maximize Your Book Marketing Dollars. If you have resources to pay a marketing firm, this article will interest you.

True subsidy publishers invest in marketing (how much depends on the publisher). You still pay to get your book published, and then some (usually in the thousands). A good subsidy publisher spends money marketing and advertising your book much like a traditional publisher. But the subsidy publisher only shares the cost. The author makes a considerable investment. You really need to know the credibility of any given subsidy publisher. Personally, I would never go the subsidy route. Truth be known, subsidy publishers are rare. Honest subsidy publishers will tell you exactly how they will market your book and how much they will spend to do so. I would avoid the subsidy route.

I questioned whether I should even talk about subsidy publishers, but decided to when someone I knew went with a subsidy publisher claiming to be a traditional publisher. The publisher's contract required the author to pay several thousand dollars up front, and claims they spend thousands on marketing. This publisher is on the "Thumbs Down" list at Writer Beware.
Traditional publishers pay the authorthe author never invests a dime. 
Traditional publishers, statistically, publish less than 4% of the manuscripts they accept and only 2% of those make the publisher any money. Very few traditional publishers even accept unsolicited manuscripts. Good luck finding the few that do. That is changing of late in favor of self-published authors.
BIG QUESTION: What if I find a traditional publisher that accepts proposals or manuscripts from authors?

ANSWER: Get ready to sit on the Slush Pile of unopened book proposals and manuscripts.
*I found two Websites where new authors can list their books in hopes of being picked up by traditional publishers who periodically scan these lists looking for new books with potential. The cost to be listed  is $95-$99 every six months. Some writers have been picked up from these lists. You are required to submit a book proposal (not a full manuscript) to be listed.
These two original Websites are: and (Michael Hyatt, former CEO for Thomas Nelson Publishers, recommends the latter site for Christian authors).
> Read the Writer Beware Blog for an overview of these submission sites.
*Keep in mind—anyone can view these Websites. Also, be aware: dishonest literary agents cruise sites like this to hook and take advantage of new, unsuspecting authors. Any person or alleged publishing company who contacts you from such a list asking for any up front fees, is NOT a traditional publisher or a professional agent. Professional literary agents used to never solicit an author to represent him, but that trend is changing. Just remember: agents never ask for any upfront fees, nor do traditional publishers.
There is a growing trend worth mentioning. Traditional publishers and a growing number of literary agents are starting to notice self-published books that have good sales records. More and more self-published authors are being offered publishing contracts and represention. In 2009, over 133,000 authors self-published their books. Major publishing houses, on the other hand, only published in the neighborhood of 250,000 titles (down about 10,000 from 2008). Read between the lines. Major publishers are feeling the squeeze.
To repeat: If a publisher or someone claiming to be a literary agent contacts you claiming to have seen your book proposal and wants you to pay money up front to publish your book, or represent you, they are a vanity publisher or a less-than-honest agent and should be avoided.
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The difference between a subsidy publisher and a traditional publisher is considerable, financially. Traditional publishers absorb the total cost of printing and marketing, and make the lion's share of the profit per book. The author makes 5% to 15%. That doesn't sound like much, maybe one or two dollars a book. But if your book sells a million copies, you're rich. As a rule only recognized authors are selected by traditional publishers. You and I don't have much of a chance.

*A few literary agents won't consider you unless you already have one book published and, while self-published books didn't qualify, now they do. 


Self-publishing does not hurt your chances of eventually signing a contract with a traditional publisher.

Your safest bet is self-publishing your first book and doing your own marketing (my opinion). If your book takes off, a traditional publisher may contact you. You may also find it easy to land a professional literary agent if your book sells well (300-400 online sales the first few months).

It is quite possible to self-publish first, then find a top literary agent who can land a deal with a traditional publisher.

A friend of mine wrote a book on dreams several years ago. During the first few years she sold over three thousand copies on her own. A traditional publisher noticed and called her personally asking to republish her book under his label. She agreed and the publisher sold several thousand copies in a matter of months. That situation is rare, but it, as I said, it is happening more and more often. You can see her book at Worth visiting.

Self-publishing can, indeed, open doors to a publishing contract.

M.J. Rose wrote an article in 2002 suggesting a growing trend among traditional publishers to contact self-published authors whose books are selling well. By now the trend is even more prominent. Literary agents are also joining publishers in pursuing self-published authors whose books are selling.

Back to book marketing for the self-published author:

Do yourself a favor and buy 1001 Ways To Market Your Book, by John Kremer and plan on doing your own marketing.  I also encourage you to subscribe to John's monthly marketing tips. His advice is gold.
Another good book on this aftermarket is Brian Jud's, updated version of Beyond The Bookstore which is titled, How to Make Real Money Selling Books (Without Worrying About Returns). It is the ultimate do-it-yourself guide to selling your books to non-bookstore buyers in large quantities with no returns. Not just who to contact, but when and how. More information can be found at:
Meanwhile, don't worry too much about getting your book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. If your book takes off, at best, only 25% of sales will come from bookstores. According to a Harvard Business School report, 84% of books in large US bookstores sell 2 copies or fewer each year; only 2% sell 10 or more copies in a year. 
John Kremer says 90% of books in major bookstores are limited to one copy. Other studies suggest the bulk (75%) of book sales comes from alternative markets (personal sales, online sales, sales from your personal Website, libraries, local book signings and events like local TV and radio appearances). Another good book on this aftermarket is Brian Judd's, Beyond The Bookstore.

*If you have financial resources to promote your book, check out Fern Reiss's Web site: She also offers invaluable books, articles and other free resources for authors.

While you're at it, go ahead and try to get on Oprah. You could just as easily go to the moon in a spaceship you built in your basement out of aluminum cans and a vacuum cleaner. (I have her address if you still want to try.)

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Updated February 24, 2015