GREAT post from Author @NcDavidMenconi – Pushing Your Book in the New World of Publishing #ASMSG #IAN1

Posted: September 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

….  re-post of great article by   David Menconi,     here’s his Amazon link  

http://www.amazon.com/Ryan-Adams-Losering-Whiskeytown-American/dp/0292725841/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379447384&sr=8-1&keywords=david+menconi

 

Ryan Adams Author on the New World of Pushing Your Book

By David Menconi | OCTOBER 26, 2012

In an ideal universe, every book would find an audience on its own. You the author would sit alone in your cork-lined room painting pictures with words, and then your publisher would handle all the publicity and marketing details to draw the eager attention of the reading public. And maybe it is that idyllic for J.K. Rowling, E.L. James and a fortunate few others.

For the rest of us, however, getting any level of attention for a book is a grind, whether it’s a book you’ve put out yourself or one that comes out through a publisher. I should know, because I’ve done it both ways. There really isn’t that much difference because the truth is that no one else is going to care as much about your book as you do.

I’d always wanted to write books, going back to my time in Austin when I was writing for the Daily Texan and the Austin Chronicle while getting a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Texas – class of 1985, hook ’em. A decade later, I finally started writing a novel called “Off The Record.” It was a roman a clef set in the music business about a fictional one-hit wonder, and kind of a crazy late-night hobby from my day job as rock critic for a daily newspaper, the Raleigh News & Observer.

I spent three long years writing the first draft and a fourth year pitching it. Hooking up with an agent seemed like a breakthrough, but he could never sell it. “Rock novels are a tough sell” was a phrase I heard repeatedly before he bowed out and we went our separate ways. I’m not sure if I was his last straw, but he left the field not long after that.

Faced with a choice between letting it languish in a drawer or putting it out myself, I opted to go the do-it-yourself route and published “Off The Record” in the fall of 2000 through the print-on-demand publisher iUniverse. It cost me all of $134 (a price that has since risen to about $400), and what I spent on wholesale copies to sell at bookstore readings. Most people bought copies online via Amazon.com. My only other expense was web-hosting, about 100 bucks a year.

I promoted it the way you would an underground rock record. Inspired by the faux-realist approach of “The Blair Witch Project,” I did a website that masqueraded as a fansite for the fictional band in the book. I wrote a fake music-encyclopedia entry, band member’s tour diary, newspaper feature; even had a friend record some songs I posted as “bootlegs” of TAB, the greatest band you’ve never heard of. The message board was disabled long ago, but 12 years later the site is still there.

Despite the vanity-press taint, “Off The Record” met with a surprising amount of success. I scored reviews in some fairly sizable outlets, including the Los Angeles Daily NewsHartford Courant and Arizona Republic. And in the thrill of a lifetime, legendary rock scribe Greil Marcus included my book in his “Real-Life Top-10” column on Salon.com one week. Most (but not all) of the reviews were kind, and I sold enough copies to make a little money.

This fall, I had a book come out on University of Texas Press, as part of its new American Music Series. Titled“Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown,” it’s a rather idiosyncratic biography of the musician Ryan Adams, with whom I have a long and intermittently painful history (in a further example of irony or synchronicity or both, Adams was also one of the real-life models for the crazy rock-star character in “Off The Record”). It’s still early in the cycle, and so far the response has been good. I actually had more and bigger reviews of the self-published book, but I’m hoping a few more “Losering” reviews will come through before it runs its course.

I should say that I am thrilled to be working with UT Press, and I’m also co-editor of the American Music Series that “Losering” is part of. I had to do everything myself last time, so it’s great to have a publicist and marketing folks in my corner on this one (and also not have to lug boxes of books around myself). They’ve been wonderful to work with.

Nevertheless, to this point most of the press attention I’ve gotten for “Losering” has been from me getting out there and flogging it myself, just like last time. If you think there’s an audience for your book, it’s up to you to go find it, even if you’re on a major publisher. You should start laying the groundwork up to a year before your publication date – after first making sure your book is as good as it can be, which is obvious but worth repeating. Unless a book is burning a hole in you to get out, don’t bother writing it. But if it is and you’ve written it, here’s what to do to get started:

1) Get Ready to Blog. I was talking to someone recently who was gearing up to launch a self-published book, and he said he thought blogging was a waste of time and the province of charlatans. “I never bought a book because of a blog,” he sniffed. That’s a mindset to get over, pronto.

Thanks to social media, people expect a certain amount of interaction and transparency to go with their culture. They want to know who you are and what went on behind the scenes (if you’re lucky). And chances are that you’ve got a lot more material than you had room to fit into your book. That’s perfect fodder for a blog, where you can give people a peek behind the curtain.

The blog can also be a place to link to coverage of your book when it comes up; to respond to reviews, if it seems appropriate; and to post pictures that people send you when they see your book in a far-away bookstore somewhere. Doing a blog takes planning, and a commitment to posting every day (or as close to that as you can manage) during the initial launch period. But it can be fun, and it doesn’t have to be a huge drain of either time or money.

My blog for the Ryan Adams book is at LoseringBook.wordpress.com. Worth noting: WordPress is free to use. Other than paying for the photo at the top, I’ve not had to pay a dime for it.

2) Get Social. Speaking of social media, if you’re not plugged into maximum usage of Facebook and Twitter, you’d better be. The people you’re already connected to there will probably be your most avid fans. And you’ll need to be prepared for the people who hear about your book and go looking for you. Facebook is where they’ll search.

You should also set up an author page on Amazon.com that’s linked to your book. You can link that to your blog and Twitter feed, publicize your bookstore readings and check sales via Amazon’s “Author Central.”

Bookstore readings, by the way, are kind of a best-of-times-worst-of-times proposition where you’ll experience both the highs and lows of the process. There’s nothing better than a good hometown crowd, when you can count on friends and family to turn out; seemy account and pictures on the “Losering” blog on the reading I did at Raleigh’s independent Quail Ridge Books & Music, a night that could not have gone better (and I sold 75 books).  But those crickets can be deafening on those nights when you wind up reading to the store clerk and no one else. My advice is to do every reading you can, within reason, but don’t expect too much. Maybe you’ll get a review or a blurb somewhere you otherwise wouldn’t have. And if it’s a disaster along the lines of Spinal Tap opening for the puppet show, consider it a rite of passage and a funny story for the memoir someday.

3) Network. If you want to know the future of marketing and publicity, read this essay by author Michael Ellsberg on the single most effective exposure he received for his book, “The Education of Millionaires,” and take it to heart.

Ads in newspapers and magazines are nice, especially if you have a publisher willing to pay for them. But you’ll probably get more immediate results by figuring out the right corner of the blogosphere to troll.

After you figure out where you want coverage, you need to cultivate relationships before you go asking for anything. If you wait until you have something to sell, then you’re just another faceless person who is asking for that most precious commodity – time. But if you’ve already established a relationship with the right gatekeeper, you’re far more likely to catch a break, even if it’s not as dramatic as what Michael Ellsberg experienced via Tim Ferris.

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