Writer’s Reality Check

Today’s post is about books, traditional publishing and selling. Sometimes there’s a difference in what certain authors and promoters believe and what publishers and booksellers actually do. Over the four years I worked at a bookstore, some phrases were repeated often but were half-true at best. They are entertaining and worth sharing (with explanations).

Writing - Book round“My book is out, now it’s time to promote!” Start sooner. There is an odd policy in the book distribution industry that says you can return any items for credit and get something else within a period of time. Some companies are six months, some twelve. Most businesses allow some returns, but publishing allows practically everything. Gaining momentum takes time. However, if your book doesn’t move quickly, many book store owners will consider sending it back to get something selling better.

Writing - Copyright“My name is unusual; just remember my book title.” A unique title is important; however, you copyright your work as a whole, but you can’t copyright the title by itself. Someone could have the same title or a similar one. And if it’s successful others might try to spin off your title. Make sure your audience knows your book title and your name.

“I don’t need business cards or a website/blog.” Sure, your pre-teen cousin has a website, but why would you need one? There is a website for Uncle Ben’s rice though it has sold well for more than 50 years (you need one). Every other profession understands the importance of business cards. It’s hard to appear professional when you whip out an old receipt to scribble your contact information.

“It’s not about the sales; it’s about encouragement.” This may work as a philosophy, but don’t preach this to a book store owner/manager. It’s astounding how many times I overheard some variation of this. The owner is concerned with selling books, keeping the lights on, and not sitting on inventory that is not moving (see point number one). They would be captivated to hear how you will help to sell the book.

Available eveWriting - huge book salerywhere books are sold – Every author and every promoter wants this to be true – it isn’t. Can’t they order it if they don’t have it? – not necessarily.

* Every store works with certain distribution companies and the book might not be available from the ones they have accounts with.

* Orders from large retailers are filled before orders from small independent book stores.

* Smaller stores may not want to order the multiple copies of a book a distributor requires, and therefore they choose not to carry it.

* Bookstore owners are often charged more for the book and the shipping to purchase copies directly from the publisher.

* It may be available on the East coast before it’s available on the West coast.

* It  sold so quickly that book stores and publishers are scrambling to get more on the shelves…one can hope!

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10 comments on “Writer’s Reality Check
  1. Good advice, and thanks for liking my “Unexpected Christmas Card” story.

  2. wendymc12 says:

    Thanks for the follow. Your blog is just what I’ve been looking for. 🙂

  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks for this advice. Having a book in progress, I’m glad there’re lots of things I can do to help it sell before (fingers crossed) publication. 🙂

  4. Great advice. Happy Holidays! And I hope you have a happy, healthy and successful 2013. 🙂

  5. Thanks Peter. Great ideas and proven advice.

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"A writer looks at a screen or piece of paper like a canvas. They see a country unexplored, a picture unpainted, a tale not told. They dare to venture into the barren land, explore its dark corners, and paint its pictures. Then they unveil the epic with the goal of compelling people to visit their newly discovered territory.”
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