Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On Marketing

So you’re an indie publisher that just released your first book. You get thousands of hits a week on your web site, and you thought to yourself, if even ten percent of these people buy a book, we’re going to be in good shape, so you printed up a thousand copies. You held a book release, and it’s packed, and you sold plenty of books. Your author blogs, spreads the word to his or her extensive network, gets out and does readings, helps sell a modest amount of copies. You go to as many book fairs as you can, sell enough copies to cover gas and diner food, maybe a little extra.

However, here’s where the problems begin. As a first-time publisher, you can’t garner many reviews in places where more than a few hundred pairs of eyes will see. Your book is only carried in a handful of bookstores, and by the time they take their cut, you’re making less than 50% of the cover price, minus packaging and shipping. Amazon takes an even bigger cut. And all those people you’ve published, who have thanked you profusely for supporting them and publishing their work, you emailed each of them to let them know about the book, but you got more manuscript submissions and people asking you to publish their book than you got actual sales.

And you still have 850 copies sitting around in boxes.

What’s a publisher to do?

Here’s one guy who gets it:

For the entire month of November, Orange Alert Press will be offering free shipping on all orders of their debut novel Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine by Chicago author Ben Tanzer. The orders must be placed through In addition, the first ten orders placed in November will receive a signed copy of the book. All packages shipped in November will include a limited edition Orange Alert Press pin made by MidWest Love Art and Design, a chapbook from Kendra Steiner Editions, and a copy of Orange Pulp.

Merch is nothing new, and free shipping doesn’t necessarily make my heart race, but a three-spot of merch (which doesn’t count the signed book), including a chapbook and a CD that has indie music and spoken pieces from small press heavyweights Spencer Dew, Karl Koweski, and Aleathia Drehmer? That’s the way to do it.

1 comment:

P. H. M. said...

Well, I hope I was one of the first ten.