Care and Feeding of the Debut Author, #1

So now I’ve started along the ‘debut author’ path.  It’s not like I haven’t published before, so I’m not as terrified as I suspect some are.

Terrified of what? you ask…

Well, the main terror is that of having a flop on your hands.  Of having a book that sells poorly, causing your publisher to think they’ve wasted all the time and money they’ve invested in you.

What can readers do about that?  The answer to that is obvious: Buy the book.

But these days in the connected universe, it’s more complicated than that.  Because now the public can communicate back with the publisher and the booksellers…

Here are some of the things that are different than they used to be:

1) Pre-orders

This is one of the early indicators to the publisher of what size of fan-base an author has, how well a cover promotes on its own, and how many people are in the author’s immediate family (that actually like them.)

I always try to pre-order my friends’ books.  Not that I wouldn’t have bought the book anyway.  But there’s a difference between ordering the book the day after it’s released or picking it up in a bookstore…and telling the vendor ahead of time that you want them to order more copies.  In the old days, this really didn’t happen.  Now it’s a fact of life.

2) Clicky-clicky

On the pre-order pages, you can find things that communicate back to the seller (and ultimately the publisher) what you want.

In the case of my book, there’s not a e-book version showing yet.  So on the Amazon page, you can tell them (by clicking) that you’d like to see a Kindle version of the book.

On Barnes and Noble pages (and some others) there’s always the LIKE button.  The point is, the reader can actually have some effect by surfing around the pre-order page and clicking a few times ;o)

The one thing I don’t know how to fix is how to make the book available in the UK and Aus.  My publisher has those rights, but I’m low on the totem pole, so I don’t think that they’re currently planning to bring my book out in those countries…drat.  Don’t know how to fix that one…

3) Campaigning (putting up with it)

This is more the author’s job than anyone else’s; however, it means the author’s friends have to endure it.  Sorry folks.

So the thing I recommend is patience while the author repeatedly begs for scraps of attention.  Admittedly, for me this is months off.  My book doesn’t come out until November.  But that means that I have 7 months during which people can totally forget that I have a book coming out…and that means death for me.

Therefore I’ll probably be online in the last month or two before the book comes out, boring people to tears.  I’m really sorry for that, folks.  But it’s part of my job now.  I’ll try not to spam you, I promise.  All I’m asking is that you be patient with this frightened author ;o)

So….for other authors who’ve endured a debut, what can you recommend?  What was the hardest, most frightening, part?

6 thoughts on “Care and Feeding of the Debut Author, #1

  1. Enjoy it! This is such a great experience. Yes, there’s lots to do and it’s overwhelming. Now more than ever authors have a lot more responsibility with regard to publicity and marketing. But remember to enjoy. You have a book coming out with the backing of a huge publishing house. And it is such a great feeling when you can hold that book in your hands. So enjoy it, bask in the accomplishment, and all that. Oh! Back to publicity — send press releases to your alumni magazine and your hometown paper, and set up readings around town. Especially if you are a regular at your local coffee shop — if they do open mikes maybe they will let you have a reading/signing.

  2. Hmmm….my alumni magazine? Hadn’t thought of that. Good tip. There’s a bookstore down in OKC that I’ve already started looking into, but I’ve got 7 months for that. (I was actually going to check and see if a local buddy would be interested in a joint signing.)

    Open mic? Hmmm…

    Thanks for the ideas!

  3. Set up a Facebook page for the book… Or series, since it sounds like it is one. Maybe not yet, but by September. Post cool stuff there. Newell suggested I post interviews with my characters, and I plan to do that for the next book out in July.

  4. Some kind of promotional material you could put out at FenCon. With their guest list this year, there are going to be *a lot* of people there. Bookmarks and posts cards are traditional, and would do well I think because you have such a fabulous cover. Anything that is unique to your story would be cooler – like how Martha Wells had printed up an identification guide for the Raksura (silhouettes like identifying birds) – something creative that would stand out on the freebie table.

    1. Hi Heidi ;o)

      I’m still trying to decide what to do about that. I’ve ordered some postcards to give out at the DFW Writers Workshop (I’m presenting there with Patrice Sarath on Historical Research). Hopefully by the time FenCon and WorldCon roll around, I’ll have something better ;o)

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