1. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    Marketing plan?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by jo spumoni, Sep 24, 2010.

    Hi all,

    I'm starting to look into publishers for a fantasy young-adult novella I've written and I've found a lot of them ask me to submit a marketing plan along with the query letter. What does that mean, exactly?

    This is my first book--I'm extremely new to writing, and I'm only 19 years old. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sounds like a self-publisher/vanity press. Real publishers handle those details themselves.
     
  3. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    It actually does not appear as though the publishers I am looking at are vanity press. They're a small independent company I found through duotrope.com. They're called Eternal Press (if you know anything about them, good or bad, please let me know), and they publish a lot of e-books (they say they have books in print, too).

    Thanks for answering, Cogito.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In truth, larger publishers will expect the author to get out there/be available and promote (interviews, signings, blogs and other events).

    What the smaller publishers want to know is if the author has a plan or an idea of how they intend to help get the word out and promote. They're looking to avoid an author who only writes and has no idea or no intention on helping with promotion of their novel(s). No matter how good a novel is, if word isn't gotten out--it won't be a success. The publisher will lose money, and the author will not be offered a contract for another novel with that publisher, and it could be more difficult to find another publisher willing to give the author a shot.

    Small publishers don't have large marketing budgets, but they should provide some assistance. Even major publishers don't support midlist and first-time authors with that much marketing money/support--or not as much as many believe they should. (That's a debate for another thread)

    There are websites such as Preditors & Editors and Absolute Write that can be searched to begin the evaluation to determine if a publisher is one that you'd want your work to be considered by/published with. Cogito is correct. There are 'publishers' out there that should be avoided.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know about the US but in recent years in the UK there has been a change even with the big publishers in the UK they want to know about the author, and the author's skills. An Agent wants to know how they can best market the author. A combination of the economic crisis, being burned by big payouts with no returns and Harry Potter have changed the way they view things.

    Smaller independent (not vanity) but successful publishers here do ask for a marketing plan or ideas about how you intend to assist marketing your work they want to know what you are willing to put in to them getting their 1000+ sales they need to make it worth while publishing your book.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Still, there's a big difference between an author who is unwilling to do his or her part in promoting the book, and being an author who isn't a marketing maven. It's part of the publisher's job to design and launch the marketing strategy, and it's part of the author's job to cooperate by attending book signings and author appearances/interviews, etc. Coming up with the exact terms are part of the negotiations for the publishing contract, and really do not belong as part of the initial query process.
     
  7. Horizon Noise
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    Horizon Noise Member

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    Next they'll be asking if the author minds popping round and making them tea, or doing a bit of filing around the office. If I am ever published I will attend my first interview naked with a pair of plastic elephant ears attached to my testicles. That will ensure that a) I obtain maximum publicity for myself and my book, and b) I will never again be called upon to do the publisher's job.
     
  8. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In the end, publishing is a business (both for the author and the publisher).

    Focusing on the publisher: If a publisher doesn't make a profit, it stops publishing. There is only so much time/man hours available. Employ more editors/slush readers without appreciable increase in sales to match? Loss of money. Out of business.

    Some publishers use the marketing information request to determine if the writer submitting work has a clue or any plan. No clue? No semblance of a plan or ideas? Why bother reading the submission? There are literally dozens to thousands (depending on the size of publishers) coming in each month, competing for the publishing slots--including proven/successful authors.

    Going with a new/unproven author is a risk--even one with an awesome manuscript. But it takes time and energy to get that manuscript ready for publication and to aquire cover art and to set up for print/ebook formatting etc. ISBNs, copyright, listings, even the advance...all upfront costs before the publisher sees the book in print and can begin to recoup the investment.

    Some publishers consider it reasonable to find out ahead of time before taking the time to read the first three chapters, and then the full manuscript, compare it to what's out there, do the cost analysis (the process is different from small to large houses), etc.-- before offering a contract and going through that negotiation process. Only then to find out that the author has no clue or isn't interested or is ill prepared to participate in marketing/promoting of the novel?

    Sure, you as an author submitting, know who you are and what your strenghts and weaknesses and connections if any are. But the publisher doesn't. The publisher might also know what has worked--what their audience reponds to and what they don't.

    I know of some legit publishers who ask for information up front about marketing. Each writer has to determine if it's appropriate or not to include that as a factor in their initial decision to consider a novel. Not every publisher/author relationship would be a good one anyway.

    Yep, it is possible for an author to write a novel, get a high-powered agent, have a bidding war between publishers for the rights to publish, get a high six or even a seven figure advance and multi-book contract, and just sit back and wait for the phone calls/text messages from the publisher's marketing department, informing the author when to show up at the airport (or maybe the limo will pull up to the author's home) for the first leg of the author's book signing tour to the West Coast before hitting NY and some of the other big venues later that month--Oprah, Jay Leno, Good Morning America, NPR, plus that big one page ad in the NYTimes, run once a week for a month.

    It's more likely that there will be a limited budget and time allocated by the publisher. Books sent out for review on the author's behalf, and willing to send them to reviewers the author is able to identify. A targeted advertisement here or there, paying for a table at a writer conference/convention every now and then, providing leads for the individual author to follow up for podcast interviews, etc. Everything else? Author identifying local book festivals, bookstores for signings, arranging with the venue or through the publisher for books to be available, the author setting up/maintaining his own online presence (beyond a listing on the publisher's website), be it blog, Facebook, website, etc. Author identifies speaking events for promotion, networks with other authors/writers, etc. Author finds additional reviewers, places for interviews, interacts with readers and customers, etc.

    Like anything else, each writer has to blaze their own path to success. No two are exactly alike.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    jo... they have a 'not recommended' listing on p&e [which you should always check first, before considering any agent/publisher/whatever!]... here's the listing:

    and their site looks so amateurish i wouldn't think you'd want your work associated with them... plus, this disclaimer on their home page also gives pause:

     
  10. Horizon Noise
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    Horizon Noise Member

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    I just despise the concept that a groundbreaking writer could submit work and be rejected not on the basis that they're not good at their craft, but that they're not a media whore. There are no such things as authors any more, there are only celebrities, and I find that very sad.

    Personally - and I'm well aware I don't speak for the majority - I don't give a stuff about the views of authors or where they go on holiday or what they have for breakfast. With the exception of Will Self they should be read and not heard. I don't want to hear them whitter on about nothing; I don't want to see their faces; I don't want to read their blogs, listen to their podcasts, be their cybermate or interact with them in any way whatsoever. If these good authors want to lock themselves away and write ('Author In "Likes Writing" Shock Horror') and never speak to a living soul then so much the better. If I like their writing I buy the book, otherwise I don't. And although I'm not the most dynamic person in the world I find it relatively simple to browse book review sites and Amazon.co.uk, and even visit a few bookshops, rather than sitting on my arse waiting for the next author to pop up on TV and tell us all about her cats and when she plants her f***ing rose bulbs.
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm kind of with Horizon Noise on this. The author's job is to write the book. That should be enough. Besides, what if the author isn't good at public speaking? What if he just doesn't come across well in person? Maybe he writes brilliantly but he's a total dud on a talk show. Maybe putting him in front of the public actually hurts the sales potential of the book because his personality doesn't effervesce at Oprah's command.
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Surely like with any other job it is beholden on the person to be suitably qualified? If that involves public speaking then that is what it takes etc. There are plenty of 'clubs' around the world that help people develop the skill, or some drama classes etc. Any career is what you make of it and writing is no exception. I know that many successful authors in the UK that make a good living from their writing are also competant public speakers.

    One way of supplementing the writing income and marketing a book is packing out a theatre for 40 minutes of talking them and reading to them. There is work in libraries where authors come in and present their work etc can sell 90 books in an hour. Appearing at and speaking at conferences. Then there is radio interviews on the local level if you are lucky here there is the national option. Local newspapers here like to talk to local authors etc
     
  13. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I agree with Horizon Noise and minstrel. A writer's primary job is to write. If he doesn't want to give interviews or appear on TV or radio, then that's his choice. I don't see public speaking as being a prerequisite to becoming a writer. Besides, there have been many reclusive writers in history, the most famous being J.D. Salinger.
     
  14. Horizon Noise
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    Horizon Noise Member

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    Being an author is not 'like any other job', however. It's like some, but very few, and certainly not most. I can't believe you would be happy to forgo the pleasure of a fantastic author producing books that you love purely because he isn't good at public speaking, or because he isn't willing to spend several years of his life becoming so.

    This sort of thing happens in other areas too. I've been asked in my own job (illustrator - book & game) to either give video interviews or, once, go and give a speech (in America, of all places, expenses not paid). I said no on every occasion. I am paid to illustrate and, at a push, produce workshop tutorials on my craft. I am not paid to motivate or share my life history with people I don't know and will likely never meet. Someone gaped at me open-mouthed when I told them I didn't advertise on Facebook. When I tried to explain that I would only set up a Facebook account when someone manipulated my cold, dead fingers they simply didn't understand how anybody could hold such a view, as if Facebook were somehow essential to life itself, or I'd told them no, thank you, I don't breathe oxygen. I was informed by a different person that I must (must, note) get a Twitter account, presumably so I could waste my time fapping out snippets of trivia to a bunch of unknowns with the attention spans of goldfish. Madness.
     
  15. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    There plenty of fantastic authors out there only small amount get published If I was an agent/publisher I would be choosing the one that can confidently and passionatly assist in the marketing of their book, selling the number of copies that need to be sold to make a profit. Why should someone who is going to invest in your book do so if you are not willing to. I personally think my book is worth the effort it is good, the story is fun, it is reasonably well written. I want people to read it.

    Public Speaking can be learned -there is no excuse with the resources available for someone not to learn the basics. Any person no matter how terrified can produce a competant public speech when it is about something they are passionate about it is easier. It doesn't take years - most people it takes about six hours tuition. Breathing exercises can be used to help with nerves etc Over the years have seen many people start full of nerves and within a few weeks be speaking confidently. Alternative is join a drama class/Am Dram for a season. It is not an expensive or labour intensive skill to learn. This for me is the difference between a good storyteller and a writer and imo the combination of the two produces a better work. I want to tell my story in all its guises.

    As an archaeologist/museum worker it was simple if I didn't include public speaking as part of my skill set I wouldn't get paid no matter how good I was at the other stuff.
     
  16. Horizon Noise
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    Horizon Noise Member

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    You're missing the point, which is all about division of responsibility, something inherent to any professional structure. I'm sure the boss would love it if the shop-floor worker painted the outside of the factory in order to attract more business but that's not their job so they should not be asked, let alone forced, to do it.

    Not willing to invest? You mean other than the 10, 20, 30 years spent learning the craft and the five years slaving over the novel and submitting relentlessly to hundreds of agents? If the author wishes to promote themselves then that's great, I wish them all the best, but to suggest an author who declines to do this is not dedicated to their work strikes me as bizarre. What next, should he dump his books in the back of his car and deliver them to the book stores to show willing?

    If you're happy to do the publicity thing then that's fine.

    I won't go into the ins and outs of public speaking other than to say IMO it takes many months or years to become accomplished (and what's the point in doing it if you're just going to read from a scrap of paper - an amateur will do more harm than good) but again, this isn't the point. The point is being required to do it in the first place.

    That's a different thing. First of all, it was part of your job, therefore you got paid for it. It wasn't something your employers decided you should do in your own time, outside of work, in order to bring more people to the establishment. And if it was you were under no obligation whatsoever to do it.

    Of course there is some validity in the argument that an author benefit themselves by promotion. However, I would suggest that most authors are more interested in writing than making a little extra money, otherwise they wouldn't be in that profession. Given a choice between selling 5000 books whilst getting on with my next books, or selling 6000 books and faffing around talking about my childhood to people I don't know then I choose the 5000 every time. Indeed, 80%+ of the money from book sales does not go to the author, so let's be clear, the promotion doesn't benefit them directly as much as it does other people.

    Additionally, I've seen no evidence that self-promotion by someone who isn't proficient in that area has any effect above and beyond that which could be attained by their publisher actually doing the job they're paid to do, and as I've said, I could well imagine that the effect could be detrimental. Had I read a Stephen Donaldson interview I would never have bought any of his books.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    horizon...
    you'd be foolish to ignore the realities of the publishing industry if you want to succeed as a writer... this is not the 'ideal world' you wish it were and writers do have to do things beyond writing, if they want to make money with their work...

    if you only want to write as a hobby, then all you need do is write... but being a serious writer who makes a living at it is a business, not simply a pastime... and promoting your work is part of the job...
     
  18. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Publishing is a business and to survive it has to make a profit.
    Put yourself in the place of a publisher for a moment.

    No matter how good or well written a book, would you as a publisher invest you limited time and capitol nurturing and unknown author with no track record, if that author was not prepared to spend time helping to market their own book?

    I believe that marketing is part and parcel of the author's lot. If you're not prepered to market you're book then I wouldn't waste your time writing it.
     
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  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yep.

    This is more true now than it was 25 years ago, and it is becoming much more true every year. It's a reality that a writer should be aware of before entering the business.

    There are always exceptions, but as a rule the author should be involved in the promotion. And traditional publishers are expecting authors to take an ever greater role in this.
     
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  20. Joules03
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    Joules03 Senior Member

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    I have definitely noticed in my search for publishers that more and more of them want the author to take a part in the marketing plan. That's the way the industry is going, it seems.
     
  21. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It seems to be true in the UK -without exception the agents I have approached in the last two months want to know about the author, they want to know how they will work with them. Unlike most authors the agents need a fulltime wage to eat, most are based in London and those extra books make all the difference to their lifesyle. It costs more to produce books - and the publishing industry have been bitten on several levels over the last few years. Authors here supplement their income by talks, visits to libraries, reading their books in shops - if your popular enough gigs in local theatres brings in a good income better than the books.

    And to answer the question about my time working in archaeology/museums no I did not get paid for it, and the only thing that required it was doing my bit to keep the establishment that paid my wages open. If I was working on the shop floor and my boss suggested that painting the shop front would help keep him open and increase sales then yes I would do it - because if the store doesn't survive goodbye my wages. I have always done extra in my jobs because it benefits everyone - whether it was spending time organising the shop, reading to the old people at the care home before bed or making sure the bar was clean before I left (that way it doesn't smell so bad the next night and is more pleasant for me and the customers).

    I know I am very lucky to be a talented public speaker but most people learn the skills they need quickly it doesn't take much effort - I have been with Speakers Club on and off for years (having children is currently eating into it), people come for just six weeks all the time because public speaking is required in their job. A season with an amateur dramatic society would do the same thing - or taking exams in Spoken Poetry. No matter how phobic you are it is a skill that doesn't cost much to learn.

    Like with any career/job you either take it seriously and do everything you can to succeed or you don't. Usually those that put the effort in are more likely to suceed.
     
  22. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    Totally agree on the issue that if a writer wants to be published then they will have to get out there and charm the public.

    It's like with any other industry, you need to go out there and sell yourself. If you go for a job interview then you have to impress the interviewer, if you want to sell a book then you will have to impress the public. This can be through interviews or public events, either way with the increase in media technology the people want to see who writes the book and get to know them.

    You have written what you have written and whoever wants to buy it wants to know about you. Don't feel discouraged by this, after all what are they going to ask you. "What was your inspiration? What drove you to write in that genre? What do you feel about the characters?" These are simple questions and as a writer you should be able to answer these.

    I'm not saying that if you get published then your first few public appearances are going to be easy, but as you do more and more then you will get used to it and hopefully in time you will become experienced enough that you will know what is going to be asked and it should become easier over time.
     
  23. Perdondaris
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    So essentially, things are not as Horizon would prefer them to be, but rather in a state which they see as objectionable. I think that that was their point, so I'm not sure why people are seeing it as significant to point out that what they are protesting against is the case.

    I'm fairly sure that an author is somebody who writes. If somebody wrote a great book, but are unwilling to market it, and would rather write another great book, whereas somebody else wrote a mediocre or fairly awful book but was willing to market it, it would seem somewhat perverse to say that \ the former shouldn't have bothered. It's all well and good for publishers to look at things from the point of view of profits, but authors far predate both profits and markets, and using what publishers would prefer in order to gain maximal profits as a basis for determining whether a book was worth writing is somewhat strange.

    As it is, a fair few great authors have been rather obscure in their lifetimes, and didn't sell a load of copies; indeed, to take an extreme case, one could have an author who writes a novel, and only gives a copy to a few friends or family, but is later discovered by others after his death, and becomes acknowledged a great writer (and actually is one, in this case, although such is not necessarily a requirement for being acknowledged one). They didn't market their book at all, so then was writing it a waste of time?

    Sure, he may not have been able to be a 'serious writer', if one means by that somebody who makes a living through writing, but that doesn't mean that their books weren't worth writing; all that matters regarding that is whether or not the books were any good.
     
  24. Auskar
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    Auskar Member

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    If you're an author, you may be a great author or a mediocre author - If nobody knows you, nobody knows you. You have to promote yourself enough that someone (a gatekeeper) will publish your book (unless you plan to publish it yourself). Then enough people have to learn about you that they will buy your book AND buy the book you plan to write.

    I'm interested in strategies on how to get published - strategies that make sense, not just strategies that someone compiles to make a buck off prospective writers.
     
  25. Lee Shelly
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    Lee Shelly Member

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    This. I wrote a novel, it's sitting in a drawer so I won't look at it until it's ready to be published. I have a blog that I started, it's in my sig. It's gotten 30 views since I started it. I have a facebook that I started, I have no friends. I have a twitter, and I've posted once because twitter is drivel. It's hard for us introverted types to get ourselves out there. I don't want to advertise, I hate advertising when it's focused at me. I hate having to divert work from writing to doing unimportant things online. And yes, it is work to keep everything up from my 'advertising' standpoint. If I have a good book I want to be recognized for that, not the fact that I can't get someone to friend me on facebook to save my life. That's stupid. Any publisher that wants an author to market themselves is, in my opinion, harming the industry.
     

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