We received a letter the other day from a small publisher asking us to post these truths as they have become increasingly frustrated with what they see as a lack of understanding from authors who want to be traditionally published as opposed to self-publishing. We understand the frustration and decided to post these five publishers frustrations. We hope it will be a helpful benefit to authors looking to still get published traditionally and for those who are to have a better understanding of the role of a publisher.
1) Expecting the Publisher to Do It All for Them
Publishing is a business. If you go out and start any other business, you don’t expect the bank who gives you the loan to do the marketing for you. It is the same with book publishing. Publishers take on titles based on the assumption that you will actively sell your book, and they are expecting you to deliver. They take on your title based on the assumption that you understand that the public wants to hear from the author and not the publisher. Remember, it’s your career hanging in the balance if the book doesn’t sell.
2) Not Knowing the True Role of a Publisher
The role of a book publisher is NOT to make your book a bestseller, that is YOUR responsibility. It is the role of the book publisher to make your book look professional and make it available to the public. Marketing is NOT the role of the publisher. Just like the bank has the role of making available to you a loan to get your business going, it is the role of the publisher to make available your book and make your book look professional so as to get your publishing career started. The publisher, just like the bank, is investing in you. When you sign with a traditional publisher you don’t have to pay for anything. If you get an advance that is a loan further investing in you. Other than investing in making sure your book looks great and is available for sale, there is no other responsibility that the publisher. Marketing is your only responsibility, just like it is in any other business that invests in you.
3) Authors Thinking This is a Parent/Child Relationship
Nothing is more frustrating to a publisher than to find out that the author has the attitude of, “just tell me what to do and I’ll do it” or “tell me where to go and I’ll go.” That is how parents raise their children, not how grown folks interact with other grown folks in a business environment.Publishing is a business just like any other business and no other business just tells you what to do and you go do it. Publishing is the ONLY industry in which folks expect to have this parent/child relationship and for the publisher it is frustrating. The publisher that signs the author believes in the author but this relationship attitude looks as if the author does not believe in themselves.
4) Authors Not Realizing the Public Doesn’t Want to Hear From the Publisher
Authors don’t realize that when the publisher is always in the face of the public screaming, “here’s my author, here’s my author, here’s my author” that the public starts to tune the publisher out. The publisher starts to look like a snake-oil salesman and nobody likes those guys. The public wants to hear from the author. They want to question the author, they want to see the human side of the author. When the publisher is around it only shows the business side and most folks could care less about the business side. The key to success for EVERY author is showing their human side. Again, it goes back to marketing. Marketing it the responsibility of the author. Marketing is about building relationships and no publisher can build a relationship for your audience for you.
5) The Author That Does Not Do Any Marketing At All
We’ve repeated over and over again that marketing is the responsibility of the author. As publishers we try to do some marketing for our authors despite the public backlash. We try to do blog tours, get on blog talk radio, talk about them in social networks, etc. Again, the expectation of the publisher is that the author will do some marketing for themselves. The expectation is that the author who knows about a blog talk radio show, or blog tour will tell their audience ahead of time and not the last minute, if at all. The expectation is that the author will blog about their book, tweet about their book, Facebook about their book throughout the entire process and after the book is published. The expectation is that the author will do some form of marketing, some form of telling the public about their OWN book.
The truth is that not every book gets a marketing budget and publishers save those budgets for authors who take the initiative to regularly market their book. If you can’t invest the time to tell folks about your book, I, as the publisher am NOT going to invest money into fruitless marketing. It is a waste of money for the publisher to be out there and the author is not, especially since it is clear that the public wants to hear from the author.
The other truth is that the authors who build relationships with their public do better than the ones who don’t. All those New York Times Bestsellers and regular Amazon bestsellers happen to authors who market their own books regularly. Nobody is going to buy your book just because you wrote it, you have to go tell folks about it and do it so much that you stay on their minds.
We hope this blog has been helpful to those traditionally published, looking to get traditionally published, and even those embarking on self-publishing. At the beginning, middle and end of the day, marketing is YOUR responsibility as the author. It is your responsibility to be the spokesperson for your book, your baby. Nobody can tell your child’s story like you. Nobody knows your child better than you. A bank, a publisher, a reporter, can’t tell it like you can, so go out and tell it. Don’t be shy. Your babies success depends upon you.
Until the next blog!
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