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PROMOTING YOUR BOOK
The author and the publisher team up to publish and then promote the book. No major organization in the book publishing industry can deal directly with millions of authors or would-be authors; that's why publishing houses represent the author when it comes to wholesalers, retail stores, and review magazines, and foreign publishers looking for international rights. That being said, the publisher and the author together are responsible for promoting the book, and without the author’s full cooperation the publisher cannot make the book a success.
We expect the author to contribute a fair share in the process. After the publisher invests time and money, give the initial launch and place advertisements in major publications of the publishing industry, it is the author’s turn to play the leading role. We also make efforts, for the most part successfully, to secure good reviews. But after the initial efforts, it is mostly the author’s ongoing involvement that is required to keep the book alive. It is, indeed, important that the author is part of the team and not an outsider.
It's An Up-Hill Battle
Are you sitting down? You won't believe these numbers:
"BOWKER: US PUBLISHING OUTPUT HITS RECORD HIGH: Bowker, a leading publisher of bibliographic information in North America, released statistics this week showing that book publishing in the U.S. has reached record numbers. According to statistics compiled from its BOOKS IN PRINT database, Bowker projects that U.S. title output in 2004 increased by a robust 14 percent, to 195,000 new titles and editions. "2004 marked a return to pre-9/11 patterns of publishing," said Andrew Grabois, senior director of publisher relations and content development for New Providence, N.J.-based Bowker. Leading the way was adult fiction, which reversed a three-year plateau and surged an amazing 43 percent to 25,184 new titles and editions, the highest total ever recorded for that category.
Despite a tough economic climate, university presses also showed solid growth, increasing their title output 12.3 percent to 14,484 titles and editions, reversing a 4.3 percent decline in 2003. Since 1995, new titles have increased 72 percent for all U.S. publishers, including 12 percent for university presses. In fact, Bowker stats show that university presses posted increases in almost all disciplines, with only philosophy and psychology experiencing significant declines." --Library Journal Academic Newswire ™, The Publishing Report, May 26, 2005
"How much of a help is a bookstore anyway these days? There are roughly fifteen thousand such stores from sea to shining sea, one bookstore for every 20,000 Americans. But only 6,000 of them have visited a bookstore in the past five years, and 14,000 have not. Only 30 percent of all people go to a bookstore now and then; 70 percent of all Americans can not remember the last time they did. And of the ones who do enter a Barnes & Noble, a Borders, or a Brentano's, 60 percent come in knowing exactly what they want. They walk in, find the book they are coming for, pay, and leave. Only 40 percent of all bookstore visitors, a meager 2400 per average bookstore, over a period of five or so years, are potential impulse buyers [...] And of all bookstores, the big chain bookstores account for only 25 percent of all book sales. Seventy-five percent of all books are sold elsewhere." PublishAmerica: The Inside Story of an Underdog With a Bite You can find the whole discussion here. For a complete list of statistics on book sales, etc., see the articles and disscussions under the "New York Times".
About Book Stores and General Advertising Campaigns
Ads in the New York Times and the general press will reach a million people who are NOT interested in your book. Similarly, “brick and mortar” bookstores must aim to appeal to a very wide audience. The bookstores in your home town or local mall, you may notice, for the most part sell big-name books like Bill Clinton’s memoirs and other “major” books with promotional budgets of hundreds of thousands of dollars, throw-away fiction, and how-to/computer books. Since the emergence of online bookselling, even B&N's flagship stores in Manhattan stock only one or two racks (out of two entire floors) of academic-quality nonfiction books. And 90% of their annual revenues come from just about 15 titles.
Stores make their own decisions on what to stock, based on their own profit motives — that is, their experience as to what type of books sell best in their area. With their limited shelf space, they have to make their own selection out of the 200,000 titles published every year. Understandably, they only keep a given title on their shelves for just a few months (three months is standard).
For books like yours, B&N.com and Amazon.com are a better bet. With them, your book will have a long, even endless, "shelf life" and will always be available. It will probably be easier for you to suggest any interested readers place their orders through one of these two online stores rather than the local bookstore.
And we welcome any input or contribution from you, at any time.
What the Author Can Do to Promote the Book
Don’t be discouraged if things move slowly. Even major works often do not get the attention of their contemporaries immediately. Such developments are as predictable as the stock market.
See the articles and discussions under the "NY Times View" tab in this website.