Much has been written about, discussed, dissected and scrutinized about self-publishing phenomenon Amanda Hocking and her reported $2 million deal with St. Martins. Before that there was the news that bestselling author Barry Eisler turned down a six-figure deal and opted to self publish. Both authors are receiving significant press and publicity. It’s hard to say if Eisler would be such a household name right now if he hadn’t chosen to self-publish or if Hocking’s books would be downloaded at such an intense rate if she hadn’t just translated her self-publishing success into a multi-book deal.
We have witnessed success in self-publishing from many different angles and seen the success an author can acquire by building their platform through self-publishing and attracting mainstream attention. In some ways, self-publishing can be a great way to get your foot in the door, show publishers what you are capable of, and build a strong and supportive readership. With the multiple outlets for social networking and exposure that we have at our fingertips, it does change the rate at which authors can get the word out about their work and build a strong buzz.
Here’s what I like about Amanda Hocking, she writes! She’s written more than 15 books. She blogs regularly, constantly recording her side of the story, her views on publishing, her life as a writer. She actively and enthusiastically self-promotes.
Self-publishing offers writers the opportunity to jump right into the thick of things, to get their feet wet and get their words published. It is a risky and dangerous jump but it can have great rewards. Amanda Hocking offers her readers good stories at a cheap price and available at the click of mouse. These are all opportunities that were not available to writers a few years ago.
The changes we are witnessing in the publishing industry are complex and constantly shifting but they are showing us one thing, writers are being given more and more opportunities to do what they love, write and have their words read. Self-publishing is not going to harm or take business away from traditional publishers. Most writers, even those who have chosen self-publishing, still have the ultimate goal of being picked up by a traditional publisher. Traditional publishers can offer greater opportunities to authors immediately, the support and reception that comes from being with a recognizable publishing house can give an author a leg up. While self-published authors can steadily build significant careers (see JA Konrath) it can feel more like an uphill battle. There are many book review websites, magazines, and newspapers who will not review a self-published title.
There tends to be a stigma attached to self-published work that it is poorly edited, was rejected by publishers and is an authors “last resort.” However, with stories like Eisler’s and Hocking, as well as our clients Brunonia Barry and Lisa Genova, self-publishing can prove extremely fruitful and part of an authors journey towards a successful and fulfilling career. For many, self-publishing is a step towards a specific destination, the goal of being traditionally published. For others, it is a way to fulfill a simple dream, to see their words in print. Whether self-publishing is part of your journey or the culmination of a dream, it is up to the author to build their name and get exposure for their work. Traditionally published authors have the same goal, bring their work to the attention of readers.
What I love about Hocking and Eisler and Konrath and Barry and Genova is that they make people talk about publishing, about books about an industry that has been around for hundreds of years and continues to grow and change, thrive and inspire.
Great piece by Jonathan Fields in The Huffington Post about the changing face of self-publishing. It is especially delightful because two of my clients, Lisa Genova and Brunonia Barry, are referenced in the piece.
We worked with Brunonia Barry when THE LACE READER was self-published and we were able to secure her coverage that brought the attention of agents and a major seven figure deal with William Morrow. We were then hired by Lisa Genova to help promote her self-published novel, STILL ALICE, about a woman suffering from early onset alzheimer’s. Once again, the coverage we secured led her to a dream agent and a major deal with Simon & Schuster.
Here is a quote from the Huffington Post piece.
“What so many people don’t realize is that self-pubbed writers are not a group of frustrated, no-talent writers. Rather they include established authors like Stephen King, intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and Lisa Genova and Brunonia Barry, writers who couldn’t find anyone to publish their books, did it themselves, and landed on the NY Times bestseller list. It is my belief that there are many more great works and writers out there, just waiting to be found by adventurous readers.”
I was thrilled to work with both of these authors at the very beginning of their careers and to help provide them with the guidance and publicity they needed to lead them to immense success. As the publicist, I am the behind-the-scenes person, but I truly love seeing my hard work and dedication to my clients pay off…BIG TIME!
My day job is that I am a book publicist. By saying, “Day Job” that can be kind of misleading because it is actually an all day, all night, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week kind of job. I love what I do because I love working with authors, coming up with original, unique and authentic ways of marketing my favorite of all commodities…BOOKS! However, there are days when I don’t 100% love my job, when the frustrations outweigh the victories. Those are usually the days when nothing seems to be going right. No one is biting. There is bigger news going on in the world and editors and producers don’t seem to care a flying fig about a book…especially if that book happens to be fiction.
Fiction tends to have the wonderful ability to land like a lead balloon on the doorsteps of most editors and producers. They really don’t know what to do with it. And that’s where my incredible originality and overall ingenious ability to turn fiction into the most newsworthy of subjects comes in handy. I am not just trying to flatter myself, I really am that good.
Who else can turn a book about a stay-at-home dad into a political platform? (Ad Hudler’s MAN OF THE HOUSE) or turn the promotion of a romance novel into a gender issue (Susan Mallery’s SUNSET BAY)? I brought a medical thriller writer into the Hollywood spotlight (Michael Palmer’s THE SECOND OPINION) and turned a columnist into a public promoter (Lisa Genova’s STILL ALICE).
This is why I love my job. I love finding the clever hook that is going to turn a book into a hot topic. I love making people become aware of an author or novel they may have overlooked. I love creating that one spark that can launch a career. (Lori Culwell and Brunonia Barry)
Kelley & Hall had a wonderful time speaking at Grub Street’s annual Muse & the Marketplace. Here is a description of our “hour of power” session, Blueprint for Book Publicity.
What makes a book a blockbuster? What pushes it to the top of bestseller lists, onto bookshelves across the country, and into the hands of eager readers? What helps an author create a strong following? If an author learns the strategies and secrets, can he propel his book in the direction of bestseller status? Do you have to be published by the biggest and best publishing houses in the country in order to make a presence for yourself and your work?
The answers to these questions will surprise even the most cynical of writers. Whether you have already written a book that shot up the bestseller list or are a debut author wondering how to navigate the confusing maze of publicity, this course will provide all of the secrets, tips, strategies and advice that every writer needs to learn. We will help you create the best possible path for you and your work. The advice we offer is lasting, and the suggestions will inspire you to learn every angle of this business from the inside out. We pooled our knowledge from various industries; public relations, sales, advertising and journalism to provide you with the most complete reference for creating a successful and powerful publicity campaign.
It is always inspiring to see so many writers with passionate stories to tell. You never know who the breakout writer is going to be. Last year, at this time, we were there with our client, Lisa Genova, author of STILL ALICE. Since last year’s Grub Street, Lisa has gone from having a self-published book to being picked up by Simon & Schuster and now being a fixture on the New York Times best seller list!
The event is so informative and a great networking tool. Authors at this year’s Muse included Tess Gerritsen, Ann Patchett, Lois Lowry, Sue Miller, Lynne Griffin, Amy MacKinnon, and Jennifer Haigh. I have to admit, I was very sad not to get a chance to meet Lois Lowry. Anastasia Krupnik, was one of the first books I remember devouring as a child and dragging my mother back to the bookstore to get the next book in the series. I credit Ms. Lowry with my absolute, undying, love and passion for books. And now she blogs! It rivals the childhood excitement I felt when I started following Punky Brewster on Twitter (Soleil Moon Frye).
If you didn’t get a chance to attend our seminar, and are interested in learning everything you need to know about marketing and publicizing your work, we are currently working on the only instruction manual you will ever need on book publicity, BLUEPRINT FOR BOOK PUBLICITY. Here’s a sneak peek:
New York Times article on Lisa Genova and her journey through self-publishing with Still Alice.
Tonight I finsihed this 12x12 inch scrapbook paper design keeing to Illustration friday's theme this week: Hats