f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Establishing Your Career as a Writer: Part X

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Friday, March 31, 2006

Establishing Your Career as a Writer: Part X

Almost certainly, your publisher isn’t going to spend enough money marketing your book. Why? Because they could always spend more. There’s always one more magazine they could put an ad in. One more website they could’ve sent your ARC to. The natural state of an author is to be slightly dissatisfied with their marketing budget.

Slight dissatisfaction we can live with. Total raging frustration is going to cause friction that will make publishing very unpleasant.

A few things to keep in mind:

1. It is in your publisher’s interest to market and promote your book to the best of their ability. If your book sells, we profit too.

2. Your publisher has determined at acquisition some general budgetary guidelines. They have determined roughly how many copies of your book they think they can sell—and based on that how much they’ll spend on marketing and promotion. Usually based on first-year-sales in trade publishing. If they think your book will sell 10,000 copies you’re not getting a $150,000 marketing budget. They numbers don’t add up.

3. You should get a rough idea based on advance, royalties, etc. of how well your publisher expects a book to perform. If you’re not okay with that—if you think your book will sell 150,000 copies and you’re being offered $7500—don’t accept their offer. Seriously. It’ll only end in strife.

4. In the end, it’s best to work as partners with your publisher’s promotion and marketing team. Fill in what cracks they may have left. Make the most of the opportunities they afford. If, in the end, you feel slighted, seek greener pastures after your contract is over.

5. A lot of your publisher’s money may be spent in unsexy ways. Likely, they’re not going to buy a billboard and put your book cover on it. Likely, they’re not going to buy a full-page ad in Time magazine for $246,000. Hopefully though they’re spending money in places that will place your book (as an ad, or a sample copy, or in a bookstore) in front of people most likely to be interested in it. That’s your goal, too. Succeed in that and the numbers for the marketing budget will be higher next time. And higher the time after that.

But convincing a publisher that your book is the next Grisham, having a marketing campaign to boot, and failing to leave the red may have been a fun ride, but it’s unlikely to lead you to a career.


Continue to Part XI of Establishing Your Career as a Writer