Monday, September 14, 2009

Authors and Publicity

Dear Rejecter,

My manuscript has made it to the desk of a large NY house. Not one of the big 5 (or is it 3 or 4 now?) but still a large and well-known house.

I have no agent and followed up with the editor’s assistant after 3 months with an email. He informed me he has given the ms and a “report” to the editor and I should hear from her when a decision has been made.

Obviously, this is exciting since I’ve made it through the query and first full review stage.

Now it’s on the editor’s desk I am wondering if I should follow up and let them know a couple of things.

From what I understand this house encourages its writers to publicize their books and take ownership of pushing the book.

I work in the software industry, have a degree in computer science, develop web sites and have a good idea on internet promotion and using the internet as a useful sales channel.

My question (finally!) is this: should I follow up with the assistant and let him know I have this background and am willing to throw myself 100% into helping promote the book using my skills?

Would this sound desperate or amateurish? Or would it help possibly sway a 50/50 decision?

Amateurish. If you made it this far I don't think they would toss the book just on that, but they will laugh at you behind your back.

Many authors put this sort of thing into their initial query, and unless you have big media connections, it's irrelevant. Yes, you're willing to do publicity. Yes, we want you to do publicity. Guess what? If minimal publicity is actually budgeted for a first author, we expect the author to participate in publicizing their book. I think there's a line in the contract about how the publisher will do all it can and the author will do all they can to promote the book. Today, in the world of tight publication budgets, this generally means the author being asked to make a website and write up guest blog posts. Publishers will help the author do this if they are inept. I was recently offered web space for my books on the publisher's site, and I told them thank you, I already had a site. Then they made recommendations for mine.

Publishing companies expect that the author, if required, will be part of the publicity. They often won't contractually require it, especially if it involves traveling a lot, and the author can always turn it down, but authors generally don't. I did everything my publisher asked of me, and then some, but they don't expect you to go door-to-door with copies of your book. At most that would sell a couple dozen out of guilt, and publishers think in the thousands, or tens of thousands.

Also, while it really helps if you can launch some national media campaign, it doesn't mean that the book is good. And, at least on principle, we don't accept books that suck, even if Oprah is on your speed dial.


Anonymous said...

Gotta disagree with the Rejecter.

They won't laugh at you; most people in publishing do not have that particular personality dysfunction. At worst they'll think, 'Oh, here's another overeager newbie,' but honestly that's all. Anyone spiteful enough to laugh about a pretty common question has non-publishing-related issues.

The Rejecter said...

To be fair, the laugh comment was kinda harsh.

Anonymous said...

"I was recently offered web space for my books on the publisher's site, and I told them thank you, I already had a site. Then they made recommendations for mine."

Why turn down free web space?! So what if you already hae a site--why not have a second presence that, if nothing else, just points to your site? The more you can splash yourself around the web, the better.

Take advantage of the free hosting sites as well--freeservers, geocities, etc. Set a page on each one that does nothing but link to your official site. Gives you a larger web presence overall and makes you more visible to the search engines.

Anonymous said...

I also don't think publishers would laugh at an author saying he's willing to promote, but it does scream NEWBIE!

Of course you're willing to promote! Who's going to write, "P.S.: I am not willing to promote this novel, as I am too busy with work and writing the next book."


Rebecca Knight said...

Thanks for this :). We newbies are always trying desperately to hide our inexperience as part of putting our best food forward.

It's hard to be smooth without knowing what makes you look amateurish.

We appreciate the tips!

Unknown said...

Hahaha, you guys don't think people that work in publishing laugh at authors behind their back? How naive...

News flash!! People laugh at other people... all the time. If you think there is ANY industry that is immune to the darker side of humanity, you live in a dream world.

The Rejecter was dead on here, as usual.


Jm Diaz said...

Of course they laugh! I'd more worried if they didn't. Who'd want to work with THAT bunch?

Anonymous said...

I think they do laugh at writers, but that newbs saying they're willing to pormote is so common that it's just not funny.

Chazz said...

One wonders where all those books n the bookstore come from. You know. All those that suck. Everybody is afflicted with the same disease. They all think their books don't suck.

However, if the author had Oprah on speed dial (her best friend, say)you bet she'd have a publisher tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Contacting someone you queried for anything but a status update is the sign of an amateur. If you believe that info would've helped them decide in your favor it should've gone into your query letter. If you contact them about it now, you'll look like your pushing them for a decision, which is not what you want.