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

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

Monday, April 03, 2006

Establishing Your Career as a Writer: Part XI

Baseball season started last night. Doesn't the sun shine just a bit brighter today?

I'll take some time to answer a few important questions folks asked about Friday's post.

So if those budgetary guidelines are set up at acquisition, are they ever reviewed and adjusted?

Yes, they are reviewed and can be adjusted. I doubt a "blurb" would cause that but if somehow your book was going to get national media attention (Today show, Oprah, 20/20, etc.) that might spike the budget. Sometimes the folks down in marketing read a manuscript, fall in love with it, and decide editorial undersold it a little. This is perhaps more common for books contracted at in proposal stage...where you're not sure what you're getting.

What if you know of a magazine/newspaper which might welcome your type of manuscript--in my case, a military newspaper--can you suggest that? Or even buy the ad yourself?

Definitely. Marketing and promotional departments should be in contact with you for your suggestions on the best places to feature your book. I'd hope you could make a pitch or three or five for certain opportunities. And hopefully if they're strong suggestions, they'll be looked at closely. Authors can buy ads; I believe we've provided a designed ad for a magazine while the author covered placement cost. That's certainly not a trend however.

So if your novel belongs to a niche market, then the first time book sales numbers will be smaller and the promotional budget tighter?

If it's only a niche book, likely. But general publishers don't often pick up "only" niche books. They want books that will appeal at general bookstores (CBA and ABA) but then also will have performance in niche markets. You've got to figure out how well your publisher understands your niche. If yours is the first book they've tried, then they likely won't be 100% experts. Info about the best stores, bestseller lists, conferences, etc will be valuable to pass along.

Also, can't these predictions become self-fulfilling prophecies?

Ah, yes. The Catch-22 of the publishing world. You can't sell books without a sizable marketing budget, but you can't increase the marketing budget unless you're sure you can sell books. To me this is where expectations become most crucial. Both for authors and publishers. Authors need to be aware of how their book is "supposed" to do. They need to accept that figure, or else you wonder why they signed with the publisher in the first place. Then they need to help sell the book so it meets that goal. Or hopefully exceed it.

Publishers need (at least) two things:
1. A strong discernment for risk management. Playing not to lose is good way to ensure you'll never win.

2. An ability to celebrate the small victories. If you plan to sell 8000 copies of a book, you budget for that, and you sell 10,000 copies--that book may not be even close to your best selling title, but it's a success. And it's something to build on.

For me, this series is all about establishing "something to build on." That's what leads to the next book and the one after that. It's about communication with your publisher, teaming together to take intentional steps, and finding "success."