Friday, February 21, 2014

Beginning life as a hybrid publisher, Part 2

The continuing story …

In every publishing venture, especially in self-publishing where you are juggling everything, something is sure to go wrong. Usually it's somewhere in the printing. Deciding to use a local Melbourne printer (just over the Westgate Bridge from me) was worth it, and I think now that dealing with a printer in China or Singapore to save a few hundred dollars would have been a mistake. I had a pretty trouble-free experience with Trojan Press, and they were really helpful.
Publishers who print overseas have a lot more experience than me, and are able to explain exactly what they want and couch it in printing terminology. Whereas to get the book size, I was there with the ruler and counting millimetres!

Having had books traditionally published, though, there were aspects that I understood were vital – the cover design, for one. The correct front and back matter, the imprint page, the ISBN, the barcode (which the printer organized), and then the book data. I had to redo the book data four times in the end because some of it (like the release date) kept mysteriously changing in the online databases. 

Also, because this book had been published in the USA, with a different ISBN, I had to contact a number of online booksellers and library suppliers to make sure they knew the correct ISBN and had information about the book. This particular advice came from a session at the Independent Publishers’ Conference, which happened in Melbourne in November, at just the right time for me.

Another thing that I heard at the conference was the frustration felt by review magazines and editors over people who send books for review the week they come out. A review can take up to 3 months, by the time the book is sent to someone, they read it, write the review and then it’s published. So I had my books in my hot little hand by the end of October and immediately began sending out review copies.

It’s not a simple process because quite a few blogs and journals require you to contact them first. I guess they are tired of being sent every book in existence! But several places I took the time to email were responsive and agreed to take a copy. That doesn’t guarantee a review, though. (Again, I already had reviews from the US publication that I could use in my marketing.)

So here is a list of all the things I embarked upon as part of my marketing:
  • ·        Review copies
  • ·        A special book page on my website where I could link to reviews, as well as provide extra materials
  • ·        Extra materials – teaching notes, an author interview, first chapter to download, links to reviews, a book trailer
  • ·        Facebook page for the book where, instead of just hoping people would buy the book, I wanted to provide images (everyone seems to love images, hence Pinterest) related to the book
  • ·        Tweeting about the book (only a little bit – I hate it when people’s tweets are just one endless sales pitch)
  • ·        Launches – one at a great children’s bookshop, The Little Bookroom
  • ·        The second “launch” is part of me giving a free talk about hybrid publishing at my local library, and I have how-to guides on self-publishing to give away
  • ·        Approaching some schools I had been to previously and offering school book launches (my traditional publisher did this a few years ago with a book of mine and I had done it with a keen local school with another book)
  • ·        Two guest posts on blogs that are read by teachers and librarians, as well as other writers

I’m sure there are other small things I’ve been doing but those are the main ones.
I have also been incredibly lucky in that the son of a friend of mine offered to make me a book trailer, and it was just fantastic. He did an amazing job and even found a German Shepherd dog to star in it. The trailer is very spooky! You can see it here.

Other things? well, I did think about having a German Shepherd at the book launch but the bookshop is small and I started imagining what might happen if someone stood on the poor dog’s foot and … you get the picture! So scrap that idea.

Now the book launch is just a week away, and I have to start thinking about cooking cakes for the celebration, and how I will keep the wine chilled if it’s a hot day, and where to park so I don’t get a parking fine.

And then I will have school visits and more photos to put on the FB page and reviews to brace myself for, and then I have to decide if I am going to enter the book for any awards where it’s eligible. I think I will be busy for a few more weeks, at the very least. Finally, if I am lucky and all of this effort leads to good sales, I might be in that happy position of having to decide on a reprint.

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