For a Kinder, Gentler Society
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:

• In 2010 "the new title count is approaching a million a year" that is 1,000,000 new titles each year,
up from just over 400,000 books in 2009,  and up from 38,000 in 1984.
Wow! That means that EACH DAY 2,740 new books were published!
2,739 other books came out the same day as yours.

• The 5 leading publishers sell 80% of all books. 
• The majority of Americans never see the inside of a bookstore; 75%of all books are bought elsewhere.

"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
Algora Publishing produces serious nonfiction books — which means they are not suitable for the “mass market” and are not suitable for most mass-marketing techniques. Books of a fairly specialized nature appeal to a fairly specialized audience. The question is how to reach your ideal audience in a reasonably efficient way.

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.

What Algora Will Do to Promote Your Book
Algora lets the book world know you are coming, and primes the pump for any reviews, advertising, word of mouth and other promotion that may occur.

  1. We advertise all our forthcoming books in several publications. The flagship of the industry is Publishers Weekly (a principal resource that bookstore buyers use in making their decisions), where all major publishers are present on a bi-annual basis, according to the calendar of the major book-buyers. We also advertise every season in Library Journal, which targets public and academic libraries, which are interested in your kind of book.
  2. Reviews are probably the most effective means of promoting your book. We routinely secure favorable reviews in publications read by those who make book-buying decisions. We are engaged with all major pre-pub reviewers, such as Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Choice, Booklist. Once a book is mentioned at this high level, a ripple effect can start. Smaller or more specialized publications may notice the book and announce it or write a review of their own. This is ideal.
  3. We constantly test new marketing opportunities, from on-line press release distributions to special sales events in cooperation with Amazon and others. This type of program tends to be expensive, and we sometimes offer cost-sharing with our authors.
  4. We also help authors prepare publicity materials for their own promotional use.
  5. We cover the cost to provide an allotment of “free” or discounted copies of the book for authors who have a promotion plan in place.

And we welcome any input or contribution from you, at any time.

What the Author Can Do to Promote the Book
The good news is that most bookstores stores are happy to place a special order for any customer who asks. If your friends and neighbors want the book, they can ask the store to get it for them. The store should have no trouble getting your book through their usual distributors, but if they tell you they are having difficulty, you can put them in touch with us.

  1. Bookstore events. Bookstores often can plan an event for an author. Ask your bookstore to work with you, as a local author, to plan a book signing event. (In New York they plan some 6 months in advance; less time should be necessary in other areas.) If you get an event, your job includes having something interesting to say, and most important, working hard to help ensure that some people show up for it! The store’s interest is to increase “traffic” in the store. If your event is a success, they may be willing to host you again later.
  2. Reviews. As someone who has been researching a given topic, you may have come across associations or other groups or interest areas where your book might have some appeal. How can you reach them? What magazines, journals, and websites cater to people interested in your subject? Do they publish book reviews? While everyone will say “yes” if you offer to send a free book and you need to be judicious, such possible review sources would be a good use for your free or reduced-cost promotional copies. You can start by sending people just the table of contents, etc., and then ask if they are interested.
  3. Announcements. Is there a list you can use to send email announcements?
  4. Many of Algora’s titles are suitable for college classes, as part of the formal syllabus or as recommended readings. How can you bring the book to the attention of college professors who cover your topic?
  5. Radio talk shows. You might do a little research to see if your topic could be of interest to certain radio shows etc. Local/regional shows often favor local/regional authors, and if your topic impinges on any major news stories, or anniversaries, or any other curious “hook,” from congressional elections to Alexander Hamilton’s 300th birthday, you can approach them with an offer to be a guest. (Hold off on sending them one of your precious books until you have a tentative show of interest from them.)
  6. Lectures/conferences. You may be able to get your name around as an expert on the topic. Follow the suggestions above.

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.