Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wish I had an Advertising Budget

Absolutely, publishing a book today is a miracle dream for people like me. It's marketing it that's a challenge.
When I was a kid (the last few years before the home computer began changing the world) getting anything published meant typing up a manuscript double-spaced on 20lb paper and sending it out snail mail to agents to read. They'd read a few pages and give a yea or neigh, and if you wanted it back you had to include a self-addressed stamped envelope. There were no public photocopiers, and when they finally came along in the late 1970s copies were 25 cents each. So copying a 300-page manuscript meant $75. Kookie.

I remember I wanted to turn a short story I had written into a book. Just one book, just for myself. I didn't even have a decent typewriter so I tried to lay out the pages by writing the story in calligraphy on parchment paper. Well, my hand shake a lot, even then. That didn't work out so well. Somewhere in a box I have several shaky pages of handwritten story along with a cover I tried to use from another old book. Oh well.

Fast-forward to 2008. Internet-based printhouses are advertising printing for self-publishing authors at incredibly low rates. Instead of buying 1000 books at $4.00 each, you can get a short-run of high-quality books for as little as $5 each. So you can upload your Word file to their site, design a cover online and buy 100 books for $500. Still sort of out of the money for most of us, but a great improvement.

Fast-forward to 2010. Amazon very sneakily has started their own publishing print works to support their web store. Basically they realized they could make just as much money off of authors buying copies of books as readers. So they launch, and offer aspiring authors the opportunity to design their own books and covers and upload the files quickly to the site with $0 money out of pocket. That's right, I said $0. Once the files are reviewed by CS, the author simply has to buy a proof copy...generally around $4.00 to $12.00...and that's it. You get your proof which is a full-quality printing of your book. Done. Ok the proof and start selling your books one-off at no cost to you. In fact, you make royalties every time a book is sold. Not a lot, but something.


Now here's the problem: I wish I had an advertising budget. Now that Murder Behind the Closet Door is in printing, is available for purchase online, and will soon be available in Kindle format, the only thing holding me back from making it a best seller is getting people to find it.

I've done a lot with social networking and have sold several copies through that route. But if I could spend a few hundred dollars a month on marketing, I think I could really get it to take off. Of course I'd lose a lot more money than I'd make, but the point is to get the book out there, get it in the hands of people who can get it looked at by agents or publishers to get a mainstream book deal. Well, that's the plan, anyway.

In all modesty I now know the book is damned good. I've talked to dozens of people who have read it, most who don't know me from Adam, and they've all had great things to say about it. Some have even left reviews on great, four and five stars. So it's commercially viable. It's a great story with fun characters and the subject matter has a wide appeal. All I need now is the right set of eyes to fall on it.

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